United States - 2012
My name is Betsalia Nieto, but everybody knows me as Betsy. I am from Mexico, but currently, I live with my family in the United States. I still remember being in front of the TV watching one of my favorite shows, Life on the Rock. It was February 2007 when two sisters of the Home of the Mother appeared on the show talking about their community. One thing that jumped out at me was the fact that they said that they were bilingual sisters! I had never heard of such a thing before! This caught my eye because I am bilingual in English and Spanish. I did not know that sisters could also be bilingual! Wow!
I really enjoyed the show, so much that days later I went back to the EWTN website to listen to that same show! The way that they expressed their love for Jesus and His Mother really made an impression on me. I wanted to learn more about them, more about their spirituality!
Therefore, I decided to check out their website which I wrote down from the show. I remember reading about them and their founder, Fr. Rafael Alonso and everything would just pierce my heart. There was something calling me to the Home. I really wanted to meet them in person, but at that time I was a college student and could not afford a plane ticket. So in order to “stay in touch” with them I made it a habit to check out their website every month. I clicked on every single thing I could possibly find and I read everything on their website. My favorite things to do were reading the news and looking at the pictures. I used to wonder, “Would I ever be in any of those pictures?” I also made sure to check on EWTN for any of their shows! Watching these shows helped me learn more about the Home of the Mother, its mission and about their members. Every once in a while I would say, “I wonder what the sisters are doing right now? Will I ever find out?”
Years passed and eventually graduated from college and began my career as a bilingual kindergarten teacher. I was now able to afford a plane ticket to visit the sisters! Therefore, I contacted the sisters closest to me in Florida and they told me that I could come to the Holy Week Encounter. I said “Yes!” Once I arrived at the Chicago O’Hare Airport, I was told that the flight had been delayed! I said to myself “I’ve been waiting years for this moment; I guess I can wait one more hour.” Hours later, I arrived in Jacksonville where I was greeted by two wonderful ladies, Andrea and Jennifer. They took me to the place where the retreat would take place. I loved every second of it because everyone made me feel at home and because Jesus was truly present! My two favorite things were talking to our Lord by the lake and receiving Him in the tongue kneeling down. I had no doubt that truly the Lord had been calling me all these years to meet my home and spiritual family. I knew then that the Lord wanted me to become an Expert in the Home and so I did with the blessing of Fr. Dominic. Days later, I went online to their website and to my surprise I saw a picture of me on the retreat!
That weekend, I was told by the candidates that I needed to go to Spain and meet Fr. Rafael, Mother Ana and the rest of the Home. I couldn’t wait! So eight months later, I was once again at the Chicago O’Hare Airport on my way to Spain. I arrived in Santander and I was once again greeted by Jennifer! Two other sisters came with her to pick me up. They took me to Barcenilla where I met more candidates and sisters. That same day I met the rest of the sisters that live in Zurita along with Mother Ana and at night before going to bed I met Fr. Rafael when he came to the chapel to give us his blessing. I remember how tears started coming down my face because I realized that if it had not been for his Yes I would not be a member of the Home and have a place to grow in holiness.
I visited for nine days and every day I felt welcomed and loved. It was truly a home where it felt like I had been there for years which is why I did everything willingly and joyfully. This included helping with the cleaning, laundry, sorting coins and cans, breaking walnut shells, putting pages together for the magazine, listening to songs for the HM radio and sanding windows! I did not have to wonder anymore about their schedule, I knew it like the palm of my hand!
When it was time to come home, I was on fire and ready to continue with a deeper commitment to my Catholic faith. I learned from everyone at the Home to trust the Lord with all my heart and to let Him lead my life. Also, I learned to do everything joyfully for His glory and to rely on Our Mother Mary because she cares for me, her beloved daughter.
Every day I say my daily Home of the Mother prayers and follow my other commitments as part of being now a Veteran. I thank the Lord that He showed me the way towards my spiritual home and family because I know that He wants me to become the person He created from all eternity for my own salvation and for the salvation of others.
©HM Magazine No. 168 September-October 2012