Comboni Lay Missionaries

Visit to the CLM community of Rondos (Peru)

Small chronicle of a great history

In February, I had the opportunity to visit the brothers CLM, Daniel (Peruvian) and Lety (Mexican) in the central highlands of Peru, in the District of Rondos, Lauricocha Province, Huanuco Department. It is a purely agricultural region where mainly potatoes, beans, corn are produced and cattle raised. It is famous for the production of cheese too.

There are already a few years that a community of CLM is present, since September of last year are Lety and Daniel and in late February 2014 Scharliman (a Brazilian sister) will join the team. So the international community will be completed.

We are at 3600 meters, the vegetation is sparse (eucalyptus and quinuales), and a few hundred meters above disappears completely. It is rainy season in the mountains; there is water everywhere, all green and mud galore. The road… a disaster…. and moving is an adventure. It is an area of frequent huaycos (landslides).

The height is serious stuff, oxygen is rarer, and many things are complicated: digestion, physical exertion, rest. I spent 4 nights up there and not many hours I could sleep well … over and over in the bed, one feels like it is choking and no matter how many sheep you count … that night becomes long. I already knew because I am a veteran of the mountain, but willingly endured because I wanted to visit the brothers. My respect and admiration for the brothers who go over there a few years of their life, for God’s sake, for the sake of that portion of God’s people, for love of the missionary vocation that has led them there.

Calle de RondosA village street of Rondos
El Mirador de Rondos The gazebo, a stunning beauty

I noticed immediately how people greeted the brothers, know their name, they appreciate their simple and fraternal presence. And the kids, here as elsewhere, also are the most joyous and participatory … every time you hear someone shouting: brother, sister… that pretty.

The Comboni parish of Baños, covers a province, with 7 districts. They are 2 priests and a brother. To Rondos usually goes Fr Eliseo (Togo) for the celebration of the Eucharist. With him they are an Italian elderly father (Fr Lino) and one Spanish religious brother (Amancio)… internationalism everywhere… It happens to be 6 people from 6 different countries, the miracle of the Gospel and the Comboni charism.

LMC en RondosFr Sergio (with the mustache), Daniel (CLM P), Ermelinda, catechist from Rondos and right arm of the CLM community and Lety (CLM Mx).

There is plenty of work: evangelism (celebrations of the word, visiting the sick, visiting schoolhouses to leave a message of faith and hope to the children, catechesis, etc. …and human promotion: library, remedial education, useful holiday, cooking workshops and crafts, games for the kids, etc. … everything go together, following the example of St. Daniel Comboni.

Daniel con niñosDaniel with some kids, look at his cheeks…. is the cold of the height.

In Rondos is being written a page from the gospel, without trumpeting. Being there, I remembered many words of the Holy Scripture made ​​raw flesh: is more blessed to give than to receive… or a glass of water given in my name to someone who is thirsty will not be forgotten… thank you Father for hiding these things from the wise and powerful and revealed them to the little… let the children come to me… whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel will save it…

Sharliman desde BrasilScharliman, CLM from Brazil, the last on the right.

It is definitely a small big love story, there are so many … in one of the many existential peripheries of this world. A story that makes this world a more fraternal, more caring, more beautiful place for those who have been forgotten by the great of this world but they are very close to the heart of God, the Father of all good.

Fr Sergio Agustoni (MCCJ advisory of CLM in Peru).

Back to the mission

DSC08793bAfter a short stay in the land of Peruvian mission I’m back, and I want to thank the CLM Movement that gave me this opportunity.

It was to help one of our families in mission: Isabel and Gonzalo with his two sons, Angel and Carmencita, after an accident. Gonzalo walking along a ravine to attend its work with the people, slipped and rolled about eight meters injuring his shoulder, arms, head … and the worst, a vertebra. This was in November and has been bedridden until mid-January, after a new review, the doctor advised him to start up for short walks.

I had never thought to return to Peru after a missionary period on top of the mountain over 10 years ago… but these are the surprises that the Lord gives us! So, totally open to what I could find there, without knowing exactly what would be my work… I “set off”, rather fly, to the land at Arequipa. There I met my brothers Gonzalo and Isabel.

DSC05867It has been so good this month that I want to share in this blog what I perceived to be at their side. They welcomed me with affection, making me feel like a member of the family, because from the first moment they show me what they are and what they live from their gut, their vulnerability, fragility and great generosity.

Leaving behind friends, work, family … they came out of themselves to take care of the others, to take to our brothers and sisters the Good News, the certainty that God is in their world of poverty, along with them, He does not forget them, that there is hope despite the harsh conditions in which they live. But these are words and were not sufficient for the truth be convince or be persuasive. So leaving the parish house in which they lived, they settled in Villa Ecológica, a settlement on the outskirts of Arequipa. And what I saw there is how with their lifestyle, imbued among the people as a family, have managed to bring the liberating experience of Jesus to the center of their hearts. Day by day they share poverty and environmental constraints, lack of amenities, serve and welcome each person with respect, patience and love, form groups to fight against violence and injustice, helping to recognize their rights and helping to denounce bad  situations; supporting pastoral and organizing youth groups of prayer … on this, sometimes I accompanied Isabel confirming what I somehow knew.

What this has brought me…? a “tune-up” in the meetings with the people relive many things: the joy of meeting, the listening, letting me to be welcome; create, though this little time, a relationship of respect, cordiality, they showed me their simple homes, the “dear God” hope for your life … and the feeling that arose in me was of gratitude and humility. What could I tell them with a return ticket in my pocket?

DSC05884On the other hand we find three moments to share about their work and lifestyle. We propose the challenges of the mission: the loneliness when a community lack, wear and fatigue times, the need to be physically and mentally strong, the difficulties in the presence of a family with children aged 4 and 7 years; lack, sometimes, to have a “companion” to help discern in times of frustration or dryness, loss of perspective when you go into a routine. Also, in certain moments, certain that you follow the steps of Jesus feeling His instruments…

We prayed together and this was a joy … There have been many frank and open dialogues that have warmed my heart and my missionary vocation was excited like a young girl.

Joining them in some way my life has grown because I had the opportunity to see Isabel and Gonzalo to live honestly the Love of God. May He bless you always.

M ª Carmen Polanco. CLM Spain

“God loves me so much”

dsc04962Dear friends,

Let me summarize what has happened to us and what we are experiencing. On day 6 I fell down an embankment while walking and I have a cracked vertebra. I should be in bed at least 1 month, until I do another x-ray. They excluded neuronal damage and internal organs.

Thank goodness is only that. From the first time I realized what had happened, I also realized that the Lord had taken care of me. I fell down a slope of rocks, sand and broken glass and I only make myself superficial wounds. I have even recovered my eyeglasses untouched.

Many times I’ve walked out there, shortening, knowing it was dangerous, but trying to do as everyone here. Why do I fall down now?

Now we spent every day with strength. Children notice it a lot, they are very anxious, scared of what could have happened to me. And all the work falls on Isabel. Life tests us.

We are trying to deepen this experience. We know that only in the Lord we can walk through this stage. This painful occasion is an opportunity to feel the Lord’s tender love and admire how He opens new paths.

First of all, the maternal host from the Comboni fathers. From the bottom of the gorge I called them by phone, in addition to Isabel, and two of them came down in a hurry through the same risky path that I went. They bring me water, fruit, comforted me and prayed with me. I felt in family. In these early days, as I strengthen a bit, the fathers have welcomed us into their home; they are more equipped and closer to the hospital. Children, with their concern, are also a joy in this house usually so quiet. They go around giving hugs and tickling the tummy of the fathers.

Then, the visits of the neighbors and friends, especially the poorest of Villa Ecológica. The clinic guard warned Isabel that it was coming suspicious people asking for me. In the three days of hospital I felt that I had no ability to receive more love. The neighbors gave me the soup carefully while Isabel conversed with the doctors. The fruit and yogurt they brought spending what they had gained in the day. Those who opened the Bible and prayed for me, as we have done in their homes when they have needed.

And the experience of stopping the activities, such beautiful projects that we were carried out, as adult catechesis, just one week ahead of the celebration of Confirmation. Trusting that this is a new time of the Lord where He is giving us new lessons that we need to be happier. Knowing that He will monitor the task because they belong to Him.

Thanks always to be near us, and a lot of encouragement to your missionary work.

Gonzalo Violero