Maya Missions News Archive

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Maya Monthly October 2017

Oct 21, 2017

Why Do I Stay ????

Dear Friends of the Maya,

When my good friend Bob Ziolklowski died last month, I wanted more than anything else to be back in Michigan!


Many of my friends in Michigan and in Mexico have asked: ”Why do you stay?”


I think I have it figured out.


I’ve been back in Mexico for more than a month. I arrived just a few days before my Birthday. I was hoping I could celebrate quietly – maybe go out to the gulf for a swim, go downtown for a meal of pavo relleno negro, and catch up on what has been happening in the villages. Pavo Relleno Negro has a taste unlike anything you can describe or imagine. Burnt, hot chilies are cooked over a slow fire. Pork meatballs, filled with a hard boiled egg, are added to the black, burnt, sauce. Turkey legs, necks and God knows what else are added to the mix. I can’t say I like Pavo Relleno. But I have to have it once a year even though I usually end up with Montezuma’s revenge for a couple of days. That’s a hint as to why I stay!


A day before my Birthday celebration and my special meal, I advised Marcos Sosa, the young man who is coordinator of our Scholarship program, that I would be stopping by his monthly meeting with the students. They come from each of our villages. Just seeing 100 young adults gathered together, eager to continue their education, and reporting on their service work in their communities, makes me appreciate what we have been able to do. I had to be back in the city soon, but I was eager to see the kids once again.


As soon as I arrived, I knew I was going to be late getting back to the city. This wasn’t just a meeting to give out scholarship money and see the students once again. This was going to be a FIESTA!




There were balloons all over the place. I was going to complain about all the money we had just spent for a new microphone and loudspeaker system, but they were using it for me!


Each group had prepared a skit. I forgot about the trip downtown and joined in the fun. Some of the groups went a little overboard in their praising of ole Guillermo. What I really liked was their willingness to point out my impatience and willingness to push them to study more. They are beginning to know the real “Bill”.


A group of adults was there. I didn’t recognize them. The women were dressed in traditional white, beautifully embroidered dresses. The men in white pants, white hats and Guayabera shirts. When they started dancing, I recognized the group. They were all friends of mine. I have known them for 30 years but I was used to seeing them in jeans, baseball caps and T-shirts.


Watch a brief video of the wonderful fiesta dancing:



I was embarrassed by all of the praise. Fortunately I had a meeting with my psychologist last week and he reminded me that most of us need to be more comfortable with receiving the thanks of others and recognizing how good each of us is.


I do not tell you often enough how much I love you.Thanks for sharing your love with me and with all of our people. That’s one of the reasons I stay.


Here’s another one. Remember the relleno negro and the Montezuma’s revenge I usually get ? Well my toilet died last week, and I really needed a new one. I called the plumber. He bought and installed a brand new, white toilet in just three hours. And it cost less that $100.00. Try to get that done in the USA! That’s another reason I stay!


Paz y amor,



Our Friend, Bob Ziolkowski

Oct 07, 2017

Dear Board Members and Friends of the Maya Indian Missions,


I received word Tuesday morning, October 3rd that our friend Bob Ziolkowski died peacefully at his home in Chelsea , Michigan. I saw Bob just a day before I returned to Mexico. He had been diagnosed just that day with the sad news that he was suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).


I talked with Pat, his wife, a few minutes ago and have assured her of our thoughts and prayers. I am feeling horrible because I cannot be with Pat and Bob’s family at this time. I have assured them that we will get together when I return to Michigan in November to celebrate Bob‘s life and the gift he was to us all.


Bob helped us start Maya Indian Missions thirty years ago. He was a member of our original Board of Directors. His wisdom as Finance Director and his experience of service to others throughout the world, helped us to reach out to the Maya in Mexico.



There is a little book on my night-stand entitled: ”Keep calm and Carry on”. You all know that I need that kind of advice. I am so grateful that Bob showed me how to live that way. May his spirit and love continue to inspire and animate each of our lives.


Bob’s funeral will be Monday, October 9th at St. Rita’s Church in Clarklake, Michigan. The funeral will be at 11 am with a viewing one hour before. If you would like to read more about Bob’s incredible life and wonderful family, please consult the obituary which can be found on the mortuary’s web site: I am grateful that the obituary includes a suggestion for memorials to Maya Indian Missions.


May Bob rest in peace. May we have the grace to keep calm and carry on.


Paz y amor,



Maya Monthly September 2017

Sep 04, 2017

Local Boy Makes Good!

Dear Friends of the Maya,


I believe that applies to Erik Edgardo Jorge Ake of Cosgaya, Yucatan, Mexico. But it also might apply to me and to you too!


I first met Erik when he was about 10 years old. He is now almost 40.


Back then, I noticed he was an energetic leader in a village where not much was happening. Cosgaya became my favorite village. On Palm Sunday, I remember riding in on a horse. One of our visitors from Austria not only yodeled to our delight but sang at the top of his lungs the most popular song of the Lenten Season: “Perdona tu Pueblo Senor”. The lectors didn’t just read the Gospel of the Passion and Death of Jesus, they walked through the village with the cross stopping for “the stations” at homes which had experienced poverty, injustice, violence and death. Years later one of those teen agers who had carried the cross was killed by a drunken and speeding driver racing through the village.


The youth of the village prepared a special skit each year for the feast of the Three Kings. That skit became famous and was repeated year after year. One of the wilder youth took the role of “Herod”. A couple of his friends ended up being the “angels” (they were far from being angels.} The Virgin Mary really was a virgin (I think) and the youngest baby in the village was Niño Jesus even though “he” often ended up being a “she”. I loved that village and still do. One of our best after- school programs is taking place in that village today. We have had more than 100 students who have finished their education and gone on to find better jobs.


I have just returned from Manta Ecuador where Erik celebrated his perpetual Vows and was ordained a Deacon.




The day after his ordination as a Deacon, Erik, myself, and the whole Oblate Community had a special Mass which was celebrated by Leoclides Dalla Nora, the Provincial of our South American and Caribbean province. Erik spoke about his Journey from growing up in the little Maya Village to the point of his being ordained as a Deacon in Ecuador. I was in the first pew listening intently. I have been a part of his journey since the beginning. And you too have helped him with his education in Mexico, his work as a leader in our pueblos, his university and seminary studies in Adrian Michigan, Washington D.C. and Manta, Ecuador. When Erik got about halfway through his “journey”, he stopped and became emotional. He was at the part where he had to admit:” It has not always been easy.”


As our first Mexican Oblate, it has not been easy. In fact, I am of the opinion that he was often rejected. “He doesn’t fit” they said.


We say the same thing today about those who are different than we are. “They don’t fit”. The blacks, the Hispanics, the gays, the Muslims. “They don’t fit.”


When will we learn that all of us are created in God’s image? When will we learn to open our hearts, our lives, our families, our church to everyone? Pope Francis has said over and over:” To be Christian we have to go out of ourselves, go to the extreme ends of the earth and proclaim, “the good news”.




I don’t know if you can see it, but tears are rolling down my face. and I don’t cry!


Thank God Erik persevered. Year after year he had to prove that he wanted to join our community. He couldn’t enter our seminary until he had “experienced” the real world. So he worked in a factory in Merida for two years making false teeth. Now that is the real world! He still wasn’t ready to join our religious community so he served as a pastoral leader in three of our pueblos Cosgaya Sierra Papacal and Suytunchen. When he came to the States he had to take two years of extra courses in Michigan because his “credits” from Ecuador didn’t count. He had to return to finish theology in Ecuador because he didn’t write English as well as his classmates who were studying for a Master’s degree in Washington D.C. Last year he had to go to Brazil and learn Portuguese because many of our South American members only speak that language. He passed all the “tests”. I could not be prouder than when he finished his homily and everyone clapped!


We have just received word that Erik will be ordained a priest at the Cathedral in Merida, Mexico on February 2, 2018. He will celebrate his first Mass in Cosgaya on February 3rd.


I will be there. Friends from Adrian, Michigan; Toledo, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Reston, Virginia; St. Paul’s, North Carolina; Manta, Ecuador; Porto Alegre, Brazil; Port a Prince, Haiti and God know where else will be present. The Spirit which has been part of Erik’s life and is part of each of our lives will be there. Thanks to people like Erik and like you, we have learned that together we can make this a better world. Gracias.


Paz y amor,



Maya Monthly May 2017

May 18, 2017

Let’s Celebrate During May!


Dear Friends of the Maya,


Us “old time Catholics” used to celebrate May as “Month of Mary”. I still remember the song: “Oh Mary we crown thee with blossoms today” and I’ll bet that many of you could continue that song right to the end. It surprised me to find out that there is no special song for Mary in Mexico during May. Not even a May crowning. I think I know why.


There are so many fiestas during the month of May in Mexico that there wasn’t any room for Mary!


The fiestas started this year even before May. Fiesta de los Niños is supposed to be celebrated at the end of April. People weren’t happy that la fiesta de niños fell on a week day so they started on the last Friday in April but continued into May. May 1st is “May Day!” a national feast for workers and a holiday. Wow! Two feasts at the same time and a national holiday to boot.


Kids are really loved, really loved, in Mexico. No matter how poor, there has to be a fiesta for the kids. Our after-school programs in Sierra Papacal, Cosgaya, Noc-ac and San Antonio Hool have more than 100 kids participating. We had one big fiesta for all of the kids and I have a hunch each village celebrated another fiesta on their own. I was already in the States but the faces on these kids show how much they enjoyed the celebration. Thanks for making this possible.




One of the biggest feasts of the year, not just in the USA, but also Mexico is Fiesta de las Madres. Mother’s Day. That feast falls on May 10th every year (not the second Sunday in May as it does in the US). This is not a National Feast but it might as well be! Workers are supposed to work and students are supposed to go to school. What happens is that the workers go to work and then head home. Students go to school but so do their Mamas and everyone celebrates. We had a special celebration for all our youth and their Moms at our Facility in Cosgaya.



I cannot begin to tell you how special our mothers are. Since we have a high percentage of alcoholism among the men, the mothers are the way families stay together. The mothers make sure their kids go to school. Mothers make sure the food is ready, the house is clean, and there is enough food on the table to eat. Mothers keep smiling no matter what. The kids know this and their simple poems and loving hugs say it all: “Mama, thanks. Mama, I love you”. Yes! God love our Mothers!



May isn’t over yet. There is still another fiesta! This time it is Fiesta de las Maestras. Teacher’s Day!


Maria Eugenia Cruz Couoh, Nayeli Rubi Tzec Matu, Fanny Beatriz Dzul Cen, and Cintya Concepcion Sanchez Cen



We have four Maestras. Eugenia in Cosgaya, Rubi in Sierra Papacal, Fanny in Noc-ac and Cindy in San Antonio Hool. Each of them is Maya. Each of them comes from one of the villages. That means they had to overcome poverty in their homes, poor education at the local school, and long distances to get to schools for their degree. Each of them received a scholarship from Maya Indian Missions. Now, THEY are the teachers in our after-school programs. I’m happy to say because of them and the scholarships Maya Indian Missions continues to offer, our young people are able to continue their education and choose careers for the future.


We have more than 100 young adults who have received scholarships this year. More than 1000 young people have benefited so far from the help people like you have given. This week 43 young men and women asked to be added to this program. THANKS FOR MAKING THIS POSSIBLE.


LET’S CELEBRATE!!! Together let us make this world a better place!


Paz y amor,



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