#BraceletStory from Donald Hoff

The San Lucas Mission has a history of distributing bracelets to visitors upon their departure. Visitors are encouraged to gift two of the three bracelets to friends or family back home and tell about their experience in San Lucas. Earlier this year, we asked you to tell us your #BraceletStory. What happened to you bracelets? Who did you give them to? What stories did you tell? Each Friday this month, we’ll share with you one #BraceletStory we received.

Written by Donald Hoff

A “pulsera” (bracelet) from Fr. Greg was a treasure meant to be shared. [My wife] Donna and I began our relationship with Guatemala, San Lucas Toliman, and Fr. Greg in 1991. A woman asked us to drive her car from Cuernavaca, Mexico, to a country we were knew little of.

This was a time of violence and kidnapping, in Guatemala, and we were captured, not by armed forces but by the beauty of the country, the needs of the people and the ministry of Fr. Greg in San Lucas.

The “pulsera” shared by Fr. Greg became a link, not just a souvenir, a “recuerdo” (keepsake). We wore three or more on our wrists. They moved from San Lucas Toliman to other invitations of service.

One time we paid a hospital visit to a dear friend, the Rev. Fr. Hans Van den Blink, an Episcopal priest and Seminary Professor. His own story was extraordinary. He was a 9 year old Dutch child, when he and his family were captured in Java, Indonesia during WWII and held captive for 5 years. He had a heart for missions. Our visit to him found him recovering from a stroke, at the same time we were off soon to visit San Lucas Toliman. Fr. Han was interested in the bracelet, and appeared lifted up. He asked: “Tell me about the bracelet”. We explained about the Mission and Fr. Greg, and in departing, gave him a bracelet saying we would pray for him as we traveled. Our prayer and bracelet was to unite us. After our time at the Mission, we were on the plane homebound, seated next to a woman, who shared her personal tragic story. She had just come to bury her sister who had lost her life, a victim of domestic conflict. She seemed to be broken, at a loss and without hope. She then asked softly: “Tell me about your bracelets.” I did tell her about Fr Greg, the Mission in a place with a hard history, and the place of hope and promise. At the end of the flight, I took one of the two bracelets from my wrist. This is to remind you, of hope and promise. We will pray for you in Morning prayer time.”

Over the 25 years we have given “pulseras” around the world. They have woven their way back and forth, between San Lucas and the other places, being present where healing was needed. Long after the giver gifted a bracelet, it was a channel of hope, inviting others to ask: “Tell me about your bracelet”.

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