During this year 2018, we, the CLM community of Guatemala, have been spending mission days in the village of La Salvadora, in Santa Catarina Pinula, located about 15 Km from Guatemala City.
One Saturday a month, we visit the higher part of the village, the one called “La Salvadora 2.”
The program is always the same. We arrive at 8:00 AM, early enough to prepare with care some bread with “something” in it and a drink, to share it with all the villagers who show up. At 9:00 AM we start the program of evangelization, manual work, play, activities and then we leave around 4:00/4:30 PM.
On September 22 we had something special… something that made me feel alive, grateful and happy… a detail that revived in me the joy of being there, of sharing God through simple gestures of friendship, fraternity and generosity. These gifts that no money can buy are a sharing from God.
It turned out that, when we arrived, the children helped us unload the car. As we organized, some of us to start on the bread, which on that day held strained beans, several children offered to prepare it themselves for the first time in the whole year! Others immediately asked for the drink and offered to prepare the lemonade themselves. It was great to see them cooperate, enjoy and, in the end, be happy and satisfied. It was a gift! Just seeing their satisfied smiles for having helped to put together bread, beans and lemonade.
Mission does not consist in accomplishing great feats, but rather it is built from detail to detail, from stroke to stroke, from joy to joy.
So great, lasting, persevering and delicate is the love of God, the love we share with those who suffer discrimination, who are marginalized, those who have no opportunity to receive education and health care, those who need to receive the proclamation of the good news of Jesus who died and rose again.
It is not important if over the years these children will have forgotten these Saturdays… when some missionaries were coming to visit, and perhaps they will forget the day when they, themselves, prepared the bread, the beans and the lemonade.
I trust that in their hearts there remain a trace of each sign of love and closeness, and that in due time this memory will be transformed into a true encounter with Jesus, and they will be adults who will love him deeply throughout life. Only in this fashion will the world be transformed in a better place for all.
We are the Camey Figueroa family and we are happy to share with you our first steps towards our mission in Brazil.
We have been staying at St. Thomas, San Salvador, since September 7 and will return to Guatemala on the 22nd. This is we are going through or Experience of Detachment and community life prior to our actual leaving for our mission. It has been a very needed and enriching experience.
We could certainly try to imagine many aspects of missionary life, and even think that this experience is not even necessary, because it is enough to be very cautious in figuring out what we would do, carry along, how to work, and so on. However, It is only when you experience something personally that you see and live through things as they really are, and this is what has made this experience a great source of strength for us and for the CLM community of the Central American Province, because all the work we have done here has been possible thanks to the support of the new CLM that is taking shape in El Salvador.
Perhaps the most typical reality that we have experienced is the simple fact that we are a family. By the mercy of God, as a family we have my strengths and we know each other, we know how to be complementary and move on. But it is also true that the current situation is unusual, we never lived this way and it has been the source of some difficulties.
These difficulties have made us aware that we must stick together, be more conscious of our weaknesses and of the need to be patient and persevering in facing them.
More specifically, our missionary work, and it is worth saying that it is not separate from who we are personally and as a family, is very public in the context of daily life.
For the most part, we have visited seniors, some in poor health, others very old and ill and mostly afflicted by loneliness.
These are elderly people, who had large families, like in the case of Hilda who had six children, two died early and four lived with her. Her husband left her with the four. She had to work a lot and leave the children alone for many hours. Now her children, possibly without any bad intention, but wounded and never healed, reflect this same style.
Now she lives with one son, who only had one child and then his wife left him. This grandson, the only child of her own son, has also gone, but, at least this is good news, he has been in the seminary for several years and keeps in touch with his grandmother.
Even though we are neighboring countries, when we arrived we realized that we were seeing a degree of poverty and violence worse than in Guatemala. The social inequality has gotten worse since they changed from the local currency to the dollar without a referendum and the corruption damages any attempt to development. People are seriously abused and the Church is doing its best to help the communities face this evil.
We are very happy to realize how Bishop Romero was able to leave a mark in the life of many Salvadorans, who are anxiously awaiting their canonization in October. There is no house or church that does not have a picture of him, a true symbol of justice and a sign of God’s love, since he struggled to mediate between the army and the rebels.
These realities are not abnormal, because our societies are suffering in the same way. At time for the urge to enjoy “the good life,” and other times because of the poverty of our countries of Latin America.
Today, it is very important that we live fully our being family. We must believe in the promises of God, our good Father, so as not to worry about too many things, since the flowers of the field are so well dressed and the sparrows in the sky do not toil and yet eat. And so it is that our Almighty God always remembers us.
Our first preoccupation, or better yet, our first task must be love God and to allow ourselves to be loved by him. Life came from Him, and to Him it shall return (so we say daily) and so we should not be afraid to be father, or mother, or children and even more, to be family.
We thank God who gives us the opportunity to know him in simplicity and in daily life, but above all because it allows us to be witnesses to the abundant generosity of the people who welcome us in their homes, give us everything, and give us the chance to see that this mission belongs to God and not to us, who are simply a family ready to love and do his will, namely, “what is good, perfect and pleasing to God.” (Rom 12:4)
Thankfully, we had plenty of time for other activities, such as the mission promotion visit to the parish of St. Thomas on Saturday evening, where a Neo-catechumenal community gathers, they themselves missionaries ad gentes.
There we attended Mass presided over by Fr. Santiago Piccinelli, MCCJ, who introduced us as a CLM community together with our MCCJ advisor, Bro. Humberto. He also allowed us to promote mission even by selling our products we ourselves make with recycled material.
Human Development is also part of missionary work, as Comboni insists: Holy and able! So one afternoon we held a workshop to teach the women of the “colonias” La Hermita and La Moran how they, too, can make things with recycled material. It was, as always, a great experience, and even children came around. Even Niña Betty, who had her right foot amputated two years ago and still uses a wheelchair while learning to manage her prosthesis, did not give up and came.
On the weekend of September 14-16 three members of the CLM community of Guatemala, Mireya Soto, Miriam Herrador and Lily Portillo, together with our adviser, Bro. Humberto Rua, traveled to El Salvador, which is about a five hours drive from here.
The reason? …. Actually there were two and both very important!
First, Aljandro and Ana Cris Camey Figueroa and their four children are there to spend some time of community life, as a preparation for their upcoming departure for Brazil. The CLM community of El Salvador and the MCCJ community have welcomed them and guided them in activities of catechesis, visits, and have supported them in every possible way. They also had the opportunity to do some mission promotion in parishes and on radio. We saw their four children, Esteban, Isabel, Agustín and Lucia, quite enthused and busy in their mission with love and joy.
“EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR THE ADMIRABLE WILL OF GOD, LET US THEREFORE LOVE HIM WITH OUR WHOLE HEART AND PLACE ALL OUR TRUST IN HIM”
St. Daniel Comboni
The second reason was to visit the coordinators of the CLM-PCA of El Salvador, to give them our support. They are in their first year of formation, are well organized and, like in all beginnings, they experience joys and difficulties, doubts and fears. They are very committed people, full of faith and love. As they move forward, let our prayers and everyone’s prayers follow them.
“I FEEL SO TOTALLY FULL OF STRENGTH, COURAGE AND TRUST IN GOD AND IN THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, THAT IAM SURE I I WILL PREVAIL IN EVERYTHING AND BE READY FOR EVEN GREATER CROSSES IN THE FUTURE”
St. Daniel Comboni
We entrust ourselves to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, St. Daniel Comboni, pray for us.
We are fine and quite happy, because yesterday was a very special day. Piquiá de Baixo scored another victory, because we finally signed the contract of the second phase of the project of resettlement that makes it possible to begin the building of the new neighborhood. The joy of the moment was contagious and with laughter, hugs and tears hope was revived.
September 17 will remain impressed in our hearts as the day when a dream came closer to becoming reality and, while the journey is still long, people will continue to fight for their rights.
It was a very symbolic day for us, because it coincided with the memorial of Bishop Franco Masserdotti, a Comboni Missionary who was very active in Balsas, a city in the south of Maranhão. He witnessed with his life marked by the defense of human rights and of indigenous people, protecting the family and social justice. He always insisted that, besides giving the poor a fish and teaching them how to fish, it was necessary “to clean the river” contaminated by social injustice.
We thank you for your prayers. Let’s keep in touch.
Liliana and Flávio, CLM Brazil
We let you here a video to contextualize the reality of this people
Having recently returned to Bangui in early September, after completing her vacation in Portugal, CLM María Augusta, as is her custom, sends us a few lines on what is going on.
Greetings to all! With God’s help I arrived well. On the plane in Casablanca I met Fr. Fratelli, an Italian Comboni Missionary.
Not all went well with the luggage, because one of my bags did not arrive, but it was not the only one. One of the father’s also did not make it, and so it was with several other people. We went to post a claim and we were told that we would get them on Saturday morning.
When I arrived, I found out that Fr. Zé Carlos had died. I am glad I visited him! He was suffering a lot because he had two types of cancer. May the Lord receive his soul in peace!
I am grateful to all the people I contacted in the parishes and for how they welcomed me. May the Lord repay you for all you do for the missionaries, both the prayers and the sharing of your goods, and may He always keep you in his grace.
Thank you all for your generosity!
United in prayer.
Hugs to all
María Augusta, CLM
PS. I just got back from the airport and gratefully all went well. They let us go without opening the luggage. It all came wrapped in plastic to be protected.
Everything was as we packed it, for which I thank the Lord. Everything I carried is something much needed here.
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