Comboni Lay Missionaries

Happy New Year from Brazil

LMC Brasil

LMC Brasil

For the Glory of God we have been here a month and a half. We thank ALL the people we know, who consequently are a part of our lives and of this project of life, whom we constantly place in the Lord’s hands.

By the grace of God we have been adapting within the Brazilian community, especially in Ipê Amarelo. Above all, it never ceases to surprise us how God already was here, namely, God always takes the initiative and no one is ever excluded from him, as we realize it over and over just by our being here, so far from the earthly place where we were born and lived, but where others live: my brother, my brothers.

During this time we joyfully celebrated the 60th birthday of Lourdes Viera. She has been a tireless CLM and charter founder of the CLM in Brazil for about 20 years ago.

For us as a family having her is a great blessing, she is our Vovó, especially to the children. She has been introducing us with great energy and with great charity to this community and to mission life in general.

We also celebrated Christmas (Natal in Portuguese) with great joy and enthusiasm because it was our first Christmas away from our home and our family. By God’s grace our children spent it in a normal and happy way. God’s gift is the fact that our being together is our greatest strength.

Gratefully, the CLM family of Alejo and Tere de Ramirez, who have provided a lot of inspiration for us over the years, decided to spend Christmas here at home. In fact, we had not known them up to now, because we had only seen a picture of them four years ago. They, too, have been part of the CLM for about 20 years, and even though they could never leave their country, they did it in the way God asks us to do it on a daily basis: moving from within themselves towards the others and for the others as a family, like many others who have not been able or have chosen not to leave. They are a beautiful couple with three daughters, and they have worked in the spiritual formation of many CLM and are an example of Christian life to be followed.

LMC BrasilWe are grateful to God for the coming of the New Year when we had the opportunity to spend it at home as a family, which is what we personally like to do. It gave us time to talk about all the blessings we have received from God our Father during the year that just ended. The best moment was to be able to exchange blessings, each one of us personally to recognize ourselves as a united family blessed by God now and forever. You may ask? Are the children aware of what is happening and of what they are doing? As it is for many things in life, this is not an exact science, but we are together and, from Lucia, the smallest, to Esteban, who is the most aware, each one is valuable, important, worthy, loved, and they know it and this is how we feel towards them: Our most cherished treasure!

Our local pastor here in Brazil, Fr. Agustinho, already said it during the last Sunday of the year, dedicated to the Holy Family: “the family is the best hospital, the best doctor, the best school, the place where we live in love, a place we have in common.”

We wish you all a Blessed Beginning of this Year of Humankind and a blessed life, as we entrust ourselves to the hand of God and to your prayers. We say good-bye to you with the blessing that our Father gives us through the Church every year to enable us to start anew:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up his face upon you and give you peace.” (Num 6:24-26)

The Camey Family, CLM in Brazil

 

Our Arrival in Brazil

Familia LMC a Brasil

Familia LMC a Brasil

 Our heart pulsating with love, fills up to overflowing with happiness!

On Thursday, November 22, we left Guatemala very enthused, with a lot of joy and hope. With a touch of homesickness we said good-bye to family and friends and started the much awaited journey to Brazil, exhausted by its length, but with the children happy to board the plane. Also with strong feelings over the blessing of being able to come.

Lourdes was happily waiting to receive us and we were just as happy to see her, amazed by the scenery and in a hurry to get home. We boarded a bus and then the MCCJ were waiting at the station to take us home. Quite an adventure, with 13 vehicles to take everybody. When we arrived we felt at home. I was thinking that, even had we left a lot behind in Guatemala, here we were getting twice as much. Simply put, the Lord is not stingy.

We rested some days after the journey and got ready for Sunday Mass. It was a beautiful celebration that filled our hearts with joy beyond description. This day, the Feast of Christ the King, reminded us of our short mission experience in San Luis Petén, where the Lord got hold of us in a deep way, and where we discovered that we wanted to be Comboni Lay Missionaries, because when we were there, we ended our mission experience on the feast of Christ the King. How joyful to know that the Lord spares no effort to win our hearts! This is how in the depth of our being the fire of love is born and generates a strength that cannot be silenced, a most pure love that gets into your very bones and makes you move out from where we are. During this beautiful Eucharist we were well received, the children did a dance representing Brazil, and we felt welcomed by the whole community where providence and the generosity of people certainly are not lacking.

After Mass we returned home for lunch, where Lourdes had prepared a banquet which we shared with Alejo, Tere and their family. With them we also shared many of our desires and aspirations of being missionaries out of our reality, as a family. We also met Neuza, a neighbor, laughed and started making acquaintances. How close one feels to Brazilians! The openness of the people here is quite impressive and especially in this little corner of Brazil.

We have been here a week and in truth it went by fast, between long trips to change money, to know the neighborhood and three-hour long shopping trips, it has been quite an experience. Many people approach us to talk to us, because the children draw a lot of attention and so does our poor Portuguese, which is improving by the day. Lourdes has been our strength and joy, takes us everywhere, teaching us, explaining and showing us everything, solving our doubts and loving our children.  By now she is already officially our Brazilian grand-mother: Vovó! Even though we did not know her, she opened to us the doors of her house and of her heart. It is so comforting to know that as CLM we are one in Christ, one in love.

Familia LMC a BrasilWith a lot of anxiety we took the first round of formation with Alejo. Blessed are the eyes and ears that are attentive to the word of the Lord! It was an oasis in the midst of confusion, a pause that refreshed the soul. We sang missionary songs, and does the soul vibrates when you sing about the call God has given you! We scrutinized the words of Genesis 12:1-4, Leave your land, leave your father and your mother, your family, your country and go to the land I will show you… I will make of you a fount of blessing…

At different times the Lord makes himself known in small things, in greater things, in simple events, in something personal. This reading, that had been the main theme of a retreat given by the MCCJ provincial Fr. Victor Hugo Castillo, reminded us of the moment that defined our discernment about three years ago, when we decided to leave everything and join the CLM, the moment when we made ourselves available to mission as a family. And today, as we start in it the Lord repeats to us: “I know you, I love you and you are here because it is my will.”

How great is the love of God! There is no measure and our mind is so limited that we can only allow ourselves to be loved.

Today our hearts are full of love and want to share all these details of His dealing with us. You cannot say no to God. How could we be so blind as we face the sweetness of his love? Only by living it we can know it and by giving of ourselves we can feel it.

Our hope is based in our faith in Him and, because we feel so loved, we are here. We hope that our life may be a source of animation and hope in the face of desolation, of purification for our souls and of light for those who do not know true love.

Pray for us, that we may be useful instruments of God.

Greetings from Ipê Amarelo, Brazil

Ana Cris de Camey

Arrival in Brazil of the Comboni Lay Missionary family from Guatemala

LMC Brasil

LMC Brasil

Daring for faith and for mission

With great joy the community of Our Lady Aparecida, in the town of Ipê Amerelo, in Contagem, State of Minas Gerais, has received the family that covered miles and miles to reach Brazil and, together with the Brazilian people, proclaim the Gospel and witness to Jesus Christ who lives and reigns.

There was a lot of curiosity and everyone admired both the courage of the hosts and above all the courage of those who came with their four children.

How many questions on both sides! How beautiful! How did you discover Ipê Amarelo? Do you understand Portuguese? How long will you stay? The Comboni charism and the smiles of the kids and of their parents answered without needing a translator, the hearts and glances spoke, faith, courage, love translated part of this missionary mystery. Already at the airport, as tired as they were, their faces were radiant.

LMC BrasilWe took a very long bus ride up to Contagem, where the Comboni Fathers and a young member of the community were waiting for us. Then three cars, what a risk, raced along the way as in a carousel, all that was left was to honk like crazy on the road all the way to the mission house. The faces were heavy with exhaustion, but the smiles betrayed the joy of having arrived.

They have only been on Brazilian soil for two days, but it feels as if they had been here for years! The value of having dared embraces them and here they are. Already this week we will start classes of inculturation, Portuguese, and all that the mission requires, discovering a little at the time the customs of our mining people.

May they be welcome and together we will follow the footsteps of Jesus, missionary in the land of the Mines.

May St. Daniel Comboni intercede strongly for all.

Amen.

LMC Brasil
Lourdes, CLM Brazil

The day has arrived… the day of missioning

LMC Guatemala

LMC Guatemala

Yesterday, Sunday, November 4, at Comboni House in Guatemala City, we lived through the much expected day… following a time of training, mission promotion, sales, celebrations, noise, joy, service, difficulties, fatigue, bureaucratic papers, after so much anxiety, insecurity, but also a lot of trust, love, prayer and commitment… the CLM of Guatemala lived through a great day, shared by the whole community, but naturally, more than most, by Alejandro, Ana Cris, Esteban, Isabel, Agustín and Lucia.

I will quote from the beautiful homily delivered by Fr. Victor Hugo Castillo, the Provincial of Central America, who started his message with these words:

“All the works of God start small. Just like a child is small and defenseless, but slowly grows. And so it has been with the Comboni Lay Missionaries of Guatemala.”

“Mission brings about transformation in the way we think, the way we live our faith, the way we approach others.” And the decision to go needs time to take shape.”

God performs miracles every day, and does not begin from what is perfect and grandiose, but from simplicity, with financial obstacles, but in truth, when God wants to accomplish his purpose… and we make ourselves available, simply… as if not knowing… not being able… only trusting… allowing ourselves to be moved… a little at the time, discovering God’s plan… walking together… stumbling and picking ourselves up… this way, as a community we reach a day like today.

The first reading chosen by Alexandro and Ana Cris spoke of this process for ourselves as a community and especially for them as a couple:

Jeremiah 1:4-9

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,

 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

and before you were born I consecrated you;

I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.”

 But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’;

for you shall go to all to whom I send you,

and you shall speak whatever I command you,

Do not be afraid of them,

for I am with you to deliver you,

says the Lord.”

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,

“Now I have put my words in your mouth.”

I continue with words from the homily:

“We are called to something great. To receive a blessing. We become blessings for others. To do mission means to put one’s life at risk. And life is worth living when we have projects. Projects are constantly in a state of construction. A project grows as we grow. In the project of a lifetime there is trust… Sacrifice”

LMC Guatemala

These words summarize the journey done and the journey remaining. To live it in a community is wonderful. With everyone united in the same feelings, the same desire to see the mission ad gentes being carried out, to see the Comboni charism and identity grow and be the instrument to announce to all nations Jesus who died and rose again, as Scripture says. United, we will all go out of our borders, in different ways, but cooperating so that those who can do it, will do it.
I am just reflecting and I am grateful that we are a generous community, unselfish, without envy, as a family, and wish the best for each one of our brothers. Alejandro and Cris have been courageous by being available to leave… we love them… we admire then and we are proud of them. While they will be there where God placed them, we over here will work hard so that they will not be in any need.

“The type of domestic mission that turns us into navel gazers. It is not a mission that grows. The only way to grow is through experience. The journey to mission entails a process: to feel called. To dialogue. To discern. To ask for advice, in order to start moving… and go.

We carry this mission treasure in clay pots. Let us remember that there is no mission without cross.”  This is what Fr. Hugo added to his message.

Strengthened by love, we want to grow, to open to new members, new spaces… today it is Brazil, tomorrow, God already knows the place and who will go. We pray for discernment and light to keep forging ahead. Without comfortable settling down, but on the contrary moving along, with dynamism, while there is life there is mission, projects, work, meaning, a reason for living. What more can we ask from Heaven? Everything bubbles over, and so is the love of God.

Mary is an example of service:

“Only when we accept the call we are capable of moving forward in an attitude of service.”

Fr. Hugo commenting on the Gospel said that Mary went on a journey, without planning, only wanting to serve her cousin Elizabeth. She left… on her own, from her home and people… to go and serve. All baptized people are called to this, and then this beautiful charism, Comboni’s, that unites one to a bunch of “crazies,” because of the love we have received and experienced. Crazy to ensure that others will see it and experience it. Crazy with passion for mission. Crazy for Jesus. This craziness makes us go and serve, understood by few, criticized by many, but God knows the heart of the missionary and affords what is needed to live a particular vocation.

“Mission is madness. How often do we hear: why are you going so far? Isn’t there enough to do over here? The answer is, Yes, but my vocation calls me to go farther. And vocation cannot be explained or understood, it simply stands as a gift from God.”

Blessed are we, Comboni Missionaries for this inheritance of our founder, St. Daniel Comboni. It cannot be explained. Married, single, young, not so young, but this vocation lived as a gift, wherever we are, however we are, is what gives meaning to our lives and to the gift of our Baptism. It follows the theme of the infinite love of God who does not spare his generosity.

To end, Fr. Hugo encouraged all present:

“Mission also belongs to the laity. Pope Francis insists on the fact that the laity is a sleeping giant that must be awakened.”

The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are the cause of our joy

St. Daniel Comboni, pray for us

LMC GuatemalaLily Portillo

Bread, Beans and Lemonade

panes con frijol

panes con frijol

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.

limonada

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.

St. Daniel Comboni, pray for us.

Lily Portillo