Alcalá de Henares - Spain - 25 years old
I studied Mathematics and Statistics and after a year and a half of working in a company, I decided to become a teacher because spending the majority of my time practically alone and in front of a computer “didn’t fulfill me.” I thought that I would like working with people better because I would be able to help not only in the subject of Mathematics, but anything else that might come up, especially spiritual things. I have spent a little more than a year as a teacher in a Catholic School and it has truly been wonderful. I am the eldest of four children, one of whom is now a seminarian (Pablo), another who is in the military (Emilio), and the youngest of whom is studying nursing (Beatriz). We have grown up in a Catholic environment. Our parents always spoke to us about God, about the importance of prayer, and have always taken us to Mass, catechism classes, and have always encouraged us to participate in parish activities, etc. That’s why I have always been lucky enough to have had personal experiences with God and be able to count on our Blessed Mother’s help over the years. Nevertheless, it has always impressed me to get to know many Catholics who talk about when something has happened in their lives and how it has implied a “before and after,” and made them radically change and live day to day, not just being conformed with being good, but truly looking for holiness. I have also looked and strived for holiness, especially from 2013-2015, due to certain circumstances (I had broken up my 4 year relationship with my boyfriend, wasn’t participating in parish activities, wasn’t giving catechism classes, wasn’t receiving formation, etc.). I felt empty. I knew that theoretically the Lord had to fill me, that He had to give meaning to my life, but I didn’t experience it. I started looking into different Movements, but nothing supposed a “before and after” for me.
It was in April of 2015, when the Servant Sisters founded in Alcalá de Henares, that the long awaited moment had arrived without me foreseeing it or looking for it. From the beginning, I felt like I was in my place with them and was attracted by their joy, closeness, the fact that they were young… To top it off, I started receiving formation again, going to activities, taking trips, and formed part of a group. Above all, they helped me to draw close to the Lord and our Mother in a more radical way. All of the sudden, I experienced the beginning of the filling of that void that I had been experiencing. I already had the habit of going to Mass and making time for prayer every day except Saturday, but I understood that the idea of “every day except Saturday” didn’t make any sense. So, I started to take my relationship with the Lord more seriously. I also started to pray the rosary every day because it was a way for me to feel closer to the Sisters, who were always so close to Our Lady. That summer in 2015, Sr. Paqui invited me to the “Garabandalada” that was going to take place during the Family Encounter. It was there that I got to know the Home aside from the Servant Sisters and I loved it. I felt the presence of Our Lady among us in a very tangible way as she accompanied us during the whole pilgrimage and received us in her arms when we arrived at the Pines. I felt her presence very strongly and my heart was filled with an immense joy that I had never felt before. I loved seeing so many people who lived a truly committed prayer life and who were happy and united. It was clear that they formed a great family in the Lord and our Mother and which, in some way, I felt I was part of. Because of everything I experienced, I decided to stay in Santander for a few days and continue filling me with all of that. I stayed with some girls from the HMY and had a very beautiful time. I was able to experience with absolute clarity that this was my place. Nevertheless, I didn’t join the Home during that time because a Sister who was in front of an image of Our Lady in the chapel in Zurita said to me, “Have you asked our Mother if she wants you as her gift?” That question made me think that I had clarity, but wasn’t sure if she wanted me as her gift and so I couldn’t enter until I asked her. I didn’t dare ask her because I didn’t see Our Lady as a close Mother yet, only as a model of holiness, someone I admired and wanted to imitate. Six months went by, during which I made an effort to live the commitment of veteran, until on January 20, 2016, I entered along with two other girls from Alcalá: Marta and Natalia. Getting to know the Home has supposed a renewal of my faith and given it a deeper, stronger, and truer meaning. It has helped me a lot to discover Our Lady as a close Mother who takes care of us, protects us, accompanies us, and draws us closer to the Lord. This past year, I have lived with greater intensity every liturgical celebration and it has been a true blessing. I have received so many graces because the Lord doesn’t let Himself be outdone in generosity, and with me, He has gone far beyond that! The last two biggest graces that I have received have been the missionary experience I have had in Ecuador, which has been an authentic gift because I have been able to fall more in love with the Lord and get to know the wonderful family of the Home of the Mother and its members there, who I felt very close to, like a true family. The second and more important grace has been to enter as a candidate of the Servant Sisters on September 8th. This summer in particular, I have experienced very strongly how Our Lady, being the Mother that she is, knows me and has wanted to give back this gift to Jesus so that I can be His forever. And Jesus has given me the gift of sisters in the Servant Sisters, through whom I have discovered the Home and have experienced that “before and after” that has radically changed my life forever.
Ecuador: My missionary experience has been an authentic gift from the Lord. I feel that I have barely given anything but instead have received so much. It’s obvious that the Lord doesn’t let Himself be outdone in generosity, but it’s surprising to see how He can do wonders when you offer just your “month of vacation time.” Above all it has helped me in my spiritual life to learn how God speaks to us in every moment, and how we should pay attention to Him and always follow His will. Only then will we be truly happy, even when our desires don’t coincide with His and seem to be the “better option” on a human level. We should always be very generous with Him and begin today and continue until we can say like St. Teresa of Calcutta, “I have never denied God anything.” The fact that we had left everything in Spain, our comforts, our securities, having control of our lives, our plans, and everything else, obliged us to place ourselves in His hands. I have learned to place more of my trust in Him because that’s how it should be. But it’s also true that, in the end, you experience that it’s always better that way, placing everything in His hands, because no one can take better care of us than Him. I truly feel like we didn’t do “anything,” but if I had to choose something, I think that perhaps my experience in the “EJA” and in Playa Prieta has been what has stood out the most. The “EJA” was a youth encounter in the Archdiocese of Portoviejo where we were able to do our small part in the organization of the event. It was amazing to see so many young people spending that day with the Lord in an atmosphere of prayer. With regards to the time spent in Playa, the work we did in the school was very beautiful. It was incredible to see the generosity and wonder that those children have in their hearts. They were so grateful for everything that we did, as little as it was. It was also beautiful to be able to hand out “food baskets” (bags which contain the basic food and hygiene necessities) to the sponsored families. Many of them had lost everything with the earthquake: home, work… and yet what they didn’t lose was their joy and hope, because obviously they didn’t place it in material things, but instead, in the Lord. It was incredible to see how they didn’t blame God in spite of their circumstances, but continued giving Him thanks for the little that they had. It has been a very strong experience that has, without a doubt, made us come out of ourselves so as to try to be instruments of the Lord. In that sense, everything we lived was a blessing, beyond what we did and the good that we could have done, because it went hand in hand with our drawing closer to the Lord and our Mother, who gave meaning to the trip and have allowed it to be a priceless experience.