It is now the month of April and with that comes the age old adage of “April showers bring May flowers.” We’ll see as the month continues how much rain we actually get but I couldn’t help wondering how much rain Sisters Rose Cordis and Bernice Marie must have encountered or had fallen before they began their journey from Jacaltenango to Huehuetenango! Read on to experience Sr. Mary Corde Lorang’s recollection of the two visiting Maryknoll Sisters, during her one year sabbatical exploring Guatemala and Mexico. Here you will find one of what I’m sure are many anecdotes they have collected from their travels, as well as a small insight into the life-changing work they offer to the world.

“That evening two of the muddiest and merriest Maryknoll Sisters I ever saw came in. They were Sister Rose Cordis and Sister Bernice Marie, doctor and nurse stationed at Jacaltenango at a small hospital there – a hospital which is a miracle in itself. They had left Jacaltenango twelve hours earlier and came down the muddy trail on horseback.

‘It was so slippery,’ Sister Bernice Marie told us, ‘that I began to think the horses had learned to ski on their bellies. When they went down on their knees, our riding boots got full of mud. That was bad enough, but when all four feet went out in opposite directions and they came down kerplop, knocking their chins on the ground, that’s when mud splashed over our faces.’ They washed and dressed and sat down to a late supper. Of course they were in town on business – and pleasure, too. At the fair, they hoped to pick up native woolen blankets for the hospital. Also medical supplies, pans, equipment of some sort. The two of them sat around our table, chatting, figuring out how many of each thing they could by, estimating the cost, wondering how they would stow the materials on their horses or on pack animals, and I marveled at what they were doing out there in their small hospital in Jacaltenango.

Sister Rose Cordis and Sister Bernice Marie are the doctor-nurse team which worked all through a night to rejoin a child’s foot to her leg. It was hanging by three-eighths of an inch of skin when the mother rushed the eighteen-month-old baby from a village nearby to Jacaltenango. A similar case, involving a boy’s arm, had occurred in Boston not long before. But there, a team of doctors and nurses had worked with all the modern facilities of a large hospital. In Jacaltenango, the lone doctor and nurse worked with a kerosene lamp and limited supply of instruments. This was a real miracle. The child runs and plays now like any other youngster.”

~ Footloose Scientist in Mayan America, by Sr. Mary Corde Lorang, p. 143-144