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.
Dear CLM the world over. With great enthusiasm we share the experiences that lately have filled our hearts with joy, fraternity, unity and energy.
We, the Guatemalan Comboni Lay Missionaries of the Province of Central America, are happy to be involved in the process of commissioning the first missionaries of our community, who are about to leave for a foreign land. They are, as perhaps you already know, our brothers Alejandro and Ana Cris Camey Figueroa who, with their four young children, will soon go to Brazil.
It has been a great adventure for our Guatemalan community, since it is our first experience of this kind. It means that we all feel like we are all going to be sent, and lately we have actively taken part in the search for benefactors, in mission promotion activities in communities and parishes, and above all, we have joined our creativity, talents and efforts to organize the sale of artifacts we made with our own hands, using recyclable material.
We have been producing baskets, bottle-holders, flower pots, dolls, jewelry boxes, candy jars, crucifixes and other things, by recycling paper, cardboard, cans and plastic bags.
As a community, we thank God for all these opportunities stemming from the mission journey of the Camey family, because it has motivated us to get together and become active, thus discovering that together we are a source of mutual support. We have become much more conscious also of the love we share for mission in the style of St. Daniel Comboni.
We wish to see Jesus proclaimed all over, especially in those places where no one wants to go!
On Friday, June 30 we, members of the CLM-PCA of Guatemala were sent to El Salvador by our community.
The first meeting took place in December 2016. On that occasion in our mission promotion we shared about St. Daniel Comboni, the members of the Comboni family, the CLM, how we are organized and, at least a little bit, how in Guatemala the community followed a journey based on the indications of the directory.
On this second occasion, the mission promotion part took place on Saturday, July 1 and lasted from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
These were the points of our program of activities:
To go back to recognize St. Daniel Comboni, the Comboni family and the charism that identifies us;
The missionary vocation and how to be community in the Comboni style;
The directory and an explanation of the stages of human, spiritual and Comboni formation. At the same time, as an example, how we took care of our formation over two and a half years;
A small workshop on human development to end the day and to explain a little bit the role of the CLM in the field of the integral development of the person.
Results of the meeting:
Identification of and connection among the people who will be the contacts between Guatemala and El Salvador;
Several people were motivated to know better the Comboni charism in order to discern their vocation;
To start having meetings the last Saturday of each month, beginning now in July;
From our part, a commitment to nurture properly and periodically the seed that has been planted;
To pray for fruits and for our brothers of El Salvador.
We, the CLM of Guatemala, believe in the name of Jesus and with the intercession of St. Daniel Comboni, that this work is from God and will have success. The people of El Salvador are intelligent, fighters, lovable, accessible, open and, above all and most importantly, full of faith and of love of God and ready to serve the most needy.
This past weekend, we, from Guatemala, without any merit on our part, have enjoyed and shared in the mercy of God.
“THE MISSIONARY MUST AT TIMES BE HAPPY WITH SOWING A SEED THAT WILL GIVE FRUIT WITH THE MISSIONARIES WHO WILL FOLLOW.”
St. Daniel Comboni
COMBONI LAY MISSIONARIES OF THE PROVINCE OF CENTRAL AMERICA
“HOLY AND CAPABLE MAKING COMMON CAUSE WITH THE POOREST AND MOST ABANDONED.
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