Tuesday, May 8, 2012

First Fire of the Season

Today I had another new experience at my new home in Sierra Vista, Arizona-the forest/mountain fires began!!!  One could see the panic and concern in the people's faces who were in the parish office and school. Those who went through the fires of last summer. Our school and parish were evacuated twice last year. No plan in place then but we have an evacuation plan in place now. But are you ever ready to evacuate from a huge fire that a forest fire creates? I don't think so.

The call came in to the U.S. Forest Dept. at about 10:00am this morning that the fire had "jumped the border" into the U.S.It is 20 miles southwest of Sierra Vista. So far 1,200 acres have been charred. The fire is burning in the Montezuma Pass where I have hiked several times. Strong winds today drove the fire north toward us. Several campgrounds have been evacuated.

Fighting the fire are six air tankers, two helicopters, four water tankers, 12 engines and two 20-person crews have been assigned to the fire so far. The fire dept. on our road has gone there to help with a "brush engine". I need to learn what this is.

At 1:30pm when I was looking at the white smoke clouds in the sky it was hard to tell at first that it wasn't just a cloud. At 2:30pm I looked out in front of our school and this is what I saw over the Huachuca Mountains by us:

I was glad to see the fire still burning on the other side of the mountains. Eventually the smoke clouds turned an organish-brown which means they are fighting the fire from the air and the chemicals are turning the smoke this color. When I left school at 5:00pm the smoke clouds were getting whiter.

I think we have a long summer ahead of us with fires, especially since we are in a severe drought. They are predicting the monsoons to start June 15th which many say is too early a date.

Besides the fire here is what else is happening at All Saints Catholic School and Our Lady of the Mountains Parish:

  • Sunday all the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity who work in Arizona traveled to Gila Bend, the "fan-belt capital of the world" (it is so hot here and by the time you drive across the desert your fan belt is burnt out). There were 22 of us. We met at Little Italy Restaurant. We traveled the farthest to get there - 3 hours. Gas in the Fan Belt Capital of the World is $4.06.
  • The first Friday of May was our school Mass. We had benediction first to conclude the 24 hour adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. After coming all year to the Benediction our students now know the prayers, songs and what to do. Very impressive!
  • During this Mass the students crowned the statue of Mary to honor her during the month of May. Students in Grades 3-9th were invited to write a paragraph as to why they would be honored to crown Mary. All those who were not chosen would be in the Court of Honor. After Fr. Ariel's homily, the Court of Honor, ( most of them wearing their 1st Communion dresses and veils) lined up in back of hurch with the 4th grade boy chosen to crown Mary. They each had a flower in their hand and their songsheets-On This Day O Beautiful Mother and Bring Flowers of the Rarest.

  • After Mary was crowned each student and teacher were invited up to place their rose at the feet of Mary.

  •  My secretary called the local grocery store for some old roses. We got them-7 dozen long stem red roses for a $1.00 a dozen. They are still blooming beautifully 5 days later. I think they gave us a deal to honor Mary. Many of the older parishioners had tears in their eyes at how reverent the children were and how beautiful the ceremony was. They hadn't seen this done in years. I know it was a first for the school children because when I first brought it up they had no clue what I was talking about.

  • Another new experience for me is "house shopping". Since they never had Sisters at our school and parish they did not have a convent for us. A three bedroom house was rented for us 10 minutes away, 4.1 miles and two stop lights that sometimes make it longer than 10 minutes.
  • I am looking for a house with four bedrooms and a room for a chapel and within a mile of school. There are six houses for sale just in our school neighborhood. I have gone to see all of them either when they held an open house or I called the realtor to see it personally. I read the ads in the newspaper and when I find one for four bedrooms I do mapquest to see how far from school. If close, I give them a call.
  • This past week I put a "help wanted ad" in the parish bulletin to help me find a house. I got two responses. One is a strong possiblity. It is .3 mile behind school on the dirt, rocky road - no county maintenance. It has four bedrooms upstairs and a large office that could serve as a chapel. The deer come to those windows in the morning to eat grass. The owner is going to Germany to live with her husband who is stationed there for over a year now working for the government. Now I just need the pastor to take a look at it to give his approval to go ahead and sign the lease. Then the packing will begin. St. Jude, St. Joseph and Our Lady please intercede for us. Time is running out. The pastor leaves May 23rd for the Philippines and the decision needs to be made by then. Say a prayer for a Yes!

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