Tuesday, August 18, 2015

We Remember Moments

Explorations in El Paso Continued
El Paso Missions ~ San Elizario 

During my friend Kara's visit this summer with her son Jeverett, we went all over El Paso and in parts of New Mexico exploring the area, the museums, the gardens, and the El Paso Missions. On her last day here, we took it easy and strolled through 3 different Spanish Missions. The original missions were established in the early 1800's but were destroyed by the Rio Grande flooding in 1829.  Each mission has been rebuilt and each has it's own architectural style and history of the different Indian tribes who had settled here. This mission provided protection for those traveling through the area and those wishing to establish a new settlement. The San Elizario was by far the most beautiful in it's decor. On the outside, it's just another adobe mission much like the others. The inside, however was gorgeous!

While these buildings were all beautiful, each mission had images of Christ on the cross. Each mission had images of Mary and others whom are prayed to. Each mission was steeped in religion and not the Truth that Christ is risen, that there is only One Who can answer your prayers and provide salvation from sin, and that there is only one Mediator between God and men; Christ Jesus (I Timothy 2:5).   Even so, we enjoyed our tours through the missions and learning about the history behind them.

After touring the missions, we went to the El Paso Connection which is a warehouse that sells local art, handmade furniture, and home decor.

I posted Kara’s last trip to Juárez a bit too early in the last post. It should have gone here. Kara and I enjoyed our reconnecting after all these years in person and had a good time exploring all over town and beyond while she and Jeverett were visiting us in the Sun City. We explored the zoo, the mountains, the desert, a massive cave, several museums, a few gardens, a bit of Mexico, and the Mission Trail. In writing these posts, it was difficult to remember what activities we did on which days! We went a lot of places! There were moments of excitement and chatter and moments of awed silence at the rugged beauty of the southwest. Like the quote in the butterfly photo above says, “We do not remember days; we remember moments”. How true that is!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Our Perpetual Help

 Explorations in El Paso Continued
El Paso Missions ~ Socorro Mission
 La Purísima (the Purist)

The final day of my friend Kara's visit, we spent exploring the missions on the El Paso Mission Trail. "Socorro" means "perpetual (continual) help". The Socorro Mission is the second oldest mission in Texas and was built in 1840 by the Piro, Tano, and Jemez Indians. They, like the Tigua tribe, fled New Mexico during the Pueblo Revolt. The original structure was destroyed when the Rio Grande flooded earlier in the 1800's. The Ysleta Mission as well is not the original building as it, too, was ruined.  We spent a lot of time here talking to a woman who worked at the mission in a little gift shop. She was very knowledgeable about the history of the surrounding Indian tribes.  Being a Piro Indian, she knew personally the struggle of her ancestors and shared stories that had been passed down to her through family. There are only about 87 Piro Indians left in the Socorro/El Paso, TX area. Many have settled in San Antonio, though. Her dad and his 4 brothers each received a land grant way back when. Her dad is the only one who still has all the land granted to him. Her uncles have sold off bits and pieces over the years.

There are 2 buildings on the property. The one next door to the old mission is newer and larger. It is used for various occasions for their congregation. Inside this building is a replica of a Michelangelo sculpture. Here he depicts Mary holding Jesus shortly after the Crucifixion.

Note: The Scriptures do not imply that Mary had any physical contact with Jesus after he died.

Matthew 27: 59,60 -”And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, and departed.”

Mark 15:44-46 - "And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.  And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre."

Luke 23:50-53 -"And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid."

John 19:40-42 -"Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand."

Our guide told us a fascinating account about the sculpture. When Michelangelo had made the mold (1498-1499), it was magnificent and admired by all. In town one day, he had overheard a discussion over who had created this piece. Several artists were named. Michelangelo became proud and wanted everyone to know he was the creator and carved his name on the sash of Mary. When he realized what he had done, he became repentant and sorrowful that he had done this thing. The Pietá sculpture was the only piece of work he ever signed. The original sculpture is located in the Vatican City in Italy.

Each Catholic mission, we were told, has replicas of paintings portraying the ‘Fourteen Stages of the Cross”. The Pietá was inspired by number 13.

On Wednesdays, we have our mid week church service over in Juárez. We were able to show Kara and Jeverett my dad’s work over in Tierra Nueva (new land) on our way over to our work. Here are a few photos Kara took that night. The three children belong to my dad's associate Luis and his wife Mary. 

John, our fearless driver over the border and back, was able to go in the ‘fast lane’ on the way home due to a SENTRI card we have. Only approved persons can cross in this lane.  We could have crossed in the other lanes with Kara and Jeverett, but that could have taken hours in the line of traffic. I walked with them over the border and it only took about 15 minutes. John picked us up on the other side. 

Next and Last Stop on the Mission Trail: The San Elizario Mission

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

On a Mission

 Explorations in El Paso Continued
El Paso Area Missions  (Part 6)

I had planned on only one more post to record Kara and Jeverett's visit with us. While reviewing all the photos Kara took of the three missions we visited on her last day with us, I realized that I couldn't bear to put the photos in collages. It would not do to confine these images of beauty and craftsmanship into small boxes. (Remember, you can 'click' on any photo or collage to enlarge them.)  Each mission will have it's own blog post so that I can post the pictures as they are. ((I hope to post the right pictures with the correct mission!)) The El Paso Area Missions were definitely on Kara's 'wish list' of places she had wanted to see. With this day being a Wednesday and it being the last full day she would be with us, I wanted to make sure we made it around to see these historical buildings. 

We visited the Ysleta Mission, the Socorro Mission, and the San Elizario Mission.  Each mission was breathtaking in it's structure, woodwork, stain glass windows, and carved images. Each one has a story to tell of hardship and a quest for independence. 

The Ysleta Mission del Sur Pueblo (mission of a southern town or people) is located in the lower valley of El Paso and dates back to 1851. It is the oldest operating mission in the state of Texas and was built by the Tigua Indian tribe. There is a long history of the resettling of Indians due to the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. Missionaries, settlers, and Spaniards all contributed to the unrest and eventual migration of the Tiguas from New Mexico to present day Juárez, Mexico/El Paso, TX area. You might see the word 'pueblo' in these posts. Pueblo refers to the different Indian tribes living in the southwest. While the different tribes live similarly, they each have their own identity in language and culture. The Tigua Indians are the oldest remaining tribe in the area and have held fast to their ancestral traditions and ceremonies. 

Next stop on the Mission Trail: Socorro Mission