Laid before him are the chalice, the paten, the sanctuary candle and a book of prayers and Bible readings called the lectionary. All are placed upon the corporal, a white linen cloth.
These are the tools that Father Jesús Guerrero-Rodriguez uses to conduct Mass for the members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Johnson City, Tennessee.
He looks up and says, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Members of the congregation move their hands to mark the points of the cross on their bodies and a uniform “amen” ripples through across the crowded pews.
Cruz Ortega is an ordinary guy with an extraordinary story of overcoming adversity through patience and persistence. It took him 14 years, but this year he finally obtained U.S. citizenship.
As a child, Ortega lived in a rural area of Mexico, but today he helps run a company called SPC Manufacturing in Johnson City, Tennessee. Ortega recalls what led him to the United States, where some of his family already lived.
From humble beginnings in Mexico City to a life in Northeast Tennessee, brothers Josiamar and Carlos Martinez dreamed of owning their own business.
During their childhoods in Mexico City, the brothers were already earning their own money.
“We made favors to the people,” Josiamar said. “They asked, ‘Can you buy something for me at the store?’, and we made money and would use bicycles to get there. We were 6 and 11 years old. Older people, they don’t want to go out, and would tip us and things like that.”
Visiting yard sales throughout the year helps keep the brothers in business at the Jonesborough Flea Market, where they work on Sundays.
For 10 weeks last summer, six immigrants attended classes in Johnson City, Tennessee, to prepare for the United States citizenship test. Alejandra Malfovon was one of the four who graduated after completing the class.
"With the class on Saturdays, it gave me time to study and prepare throughout the week," said Malfovon, who is from Mexico. "It also helped that the class was in Johnson City so that I could attend."
Passion and dedication is what two students needed to journey 1,400 miles from home, determined to improve health conditions in another country.
Milca Nuñez and Chris Bush traveled to the Dominican Republic in early September to begin their field experience for the College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University.
As of 2013, the Dominican Republic had a population of 10 million, with 40 percent living below the poverty line, according to The World Bank. Receiving medical care is a challenge most Dominicans face; there are an estimated two physicians per 1,000 persons.
The Dominican Republic also has a higher number of adolescent pregnancies than any other country in Latin America, and according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, the infant mortality rate is 23 per 1,000 births.