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A Letter from the Ixcán


We are honored to be able to share a reflection and letter from one of our Return Missioners, Kathy Snider. Following her three years of service with Franciscan Mission Service, Kathy helped to found the Ixcán Ministries, a Christian lay mission organization serving as a ministry of presence among the indigenous poor of the remote jungle of Ixcán located in Guatemala.

A picture of the chapel where Return Missioner Kathy Snider (FMS Group 11; Guatemala) prays her morning ritual she calls “The Spirituality of the East Window.” Here is the east window.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him/her will bear much fruit because without me, you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

In the early morning hours before sunrise, I arose and made my way to the chapel of St. James in the mission house where I live. I designed the chapel to be situated in the east corner of the house specifically because part of my spiritual practice is to watch the sunrise from an open window during morning prayer. In the adjacent corner to the east window is a simple round wooden altar where I lit a candle and placed a freshly brewed cup of tea. With journal, Liturgy of Hours, and the bible at hand, I watched in awe as the morning sunlight broke through the darkness and awakened the dawn to a new day. I call this morning ritual “the Spirituality of the East Window” and it is essential to my life.

After morning prayer, I made my way to the kitchen and went to the refrigerator (we now have electricity in the village!) and took out a beautiful, farm raised, organic fresh egg I have received from Natividad, one of our woman weavers. When we have meetings, the women often bring me gifts of food or flowers and many of them have become my friends. Natividad has gifted this egg to me along with five others. As I thanked her she declared with pride, “These came from the chickens I bought with the sale of my weavings.” I congratulated her and gently placed each one in the egg rack in the refrigerator. I smiled now, cracking the firm egg with a deep yolk into the frying pan and soon enjoyed a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs and tortillas.

Natividad, one of the woman weavers, presented five organic eggs, the result of her involvement in Ixcán Ministries‘ micro-business program.

As I reflect on these simple actions of prayer and eating an egg breakfast thanks to Natividad and her chickens due to her involvement in our microbusiness, it occurs to me that this symbolizes what we try to do as a ministry: praying, forming relationships with the people, and exchanging gifts.

Prayer is vital not only for personal spiritual growth and health but also for the active element of our ministry. It is being contemplative in action whereas the “what we do” flows out of our prayer and a sense of moving in God’s will. Fr. Rick Thomas, S.J. (d.) used to say, “Do what God is doing.” We try our best to do that which includes forming relationships, extending our help in outreach (education, health, pastoral ministry, economic development) and receiving help in return…

I invite you to brew a cup of coffee, light a candle, open the window and allow the resurrected Jesus to come anew into your life beginning with the light of a new day.

Grace and Peace to you,


Thank you, Kathy, for sharing these words. To learn more about her and this ministry, follow the link: Ixcán Ministries.

We prepare and support lay Catholics for two-year international, one-year domestic and 1-2 week short-term mission service opportunities in solidarity with impoverished and marginalized communities across the globe.

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