Fifth missionary trip to Puyo (Ecuador), from February 2nd to the 7th, 2015.
From February 2nd to the 7th we carried out our fifth missionary trip to Puyo with the primary objective of inaugurating the chapel at the community of Yampís. Although it initially appeared as though only a small group was going to make the trip because the original dates were not good (the university students had classes, the graduates students had tests and the students of medicine had mid-terms), in the end Our Mother arranged it all, and the bus ended up being too small.
The week prior to the trip was very intense because of all the preparations that had to be made. Also, one of the priests who was planning to come with us, notified us two days before the departure date, that he could not join us, which meant that one of the two communities where we planned to go would be left without missionaries, catechists and Mass. After much prayer and after several phone calls to other priests, one of them offered to come with us. So in the end we got on the bus with three priests, eight sisters and 30 laity, between young people and adults. Two other young people joined us in Guayaquil.
We were able to arrange five missionary teams to travel to the communities of Chuwitayo, San Jose-Kunki, San Rafael-Shackay , Don Bosco and Yampís.
A group of lay people and young adults went to Chuwitayo and they were able to work especially with women and young people. The topics most frequently dealt by them in their meetings had to do with values and the married life. From Chuwitayo they were also able to visit other nearby communities, such as Sakap.
It was our third time visiting the community of San Jose. Although its inhabitants are somewhat cold, we have the certainty that the word of God that we bring to them produces much fruit. From there we went to Kunki, a small community which is accessed down a hill having almost a vertical slope, which was muddy and slippery because of the recent rain. The trip was worth it, as the missionaries were greeted by residents with real desire for God's love, much appreciation and, above all, generous “chicha” to drink.
With regard to the community of Don Bosco, it was the first time that we were visiting it. The access road, which they call 'beautiful', had deteriorated, because of the rains and because of the passage of some mules loaded with wood. Despite this small mishap, when we arrived we were well received and, although they were not very punctual for the beginning of catechesis, we had the opportunity to speak at great length with the families in their homes. We encouraged them to be prepared to become catechists and thus be able to have meetings every week. On the last day we were there, some baptisms were held and several couples expressed their desire to get married on our next visit.
In the team that walked to San Rafael, there was a teacher of ESPAM (Polytechnical Agricultural High school of Manabí), headquartered in Calceta, who was going to study the area where the community is settled, in order to improve their crops and to determine what type of animals might be able to graze there. We had never gone on missions to San Rafael; we had only passed through when we were travelling to Yampís. Our visit was a big celebration for them because it had been more than one year since Mass had been celebrated in the community. Later, two of the sisters who were visiting Puyo for the first time (Sr. Estela and Sr. Elena) headed towards Shackay, and were delighted with their visit.
But the protagonist of this trip was to be the last community: Yampís, where we arrived after overcoming many difficulties, because we had to walk five hours through the jungle on sticky mud that hindered our firm step. Also we went up and down hills with the help of a third foot: a stick. In addition, we had to cross a river whose current threatened our already weak legs in the middle of a torrential rain. But in the end we reached our destination: the Shuar community from Yampís. The first thing we saw when we got there was the wooden chapel that the natives had built themselves.
The young people took the charge of giving catechesis about baptism and communion to the children who would later receive these sacraments, and the sisters took care of forming the adults. We spoke to them, especially, about the spiritual maternity of the Virgin Mary for each one of us.
On Thursday, Father Pedro blessed the new chapel, whose patron saints are Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Saint John Paul II. On this day, the scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was imposed on everyone, while the humble choir sang.
Afterwards, the community had prepared for the occasion a great party with “pampito”, their best food, and chicken broth. They later danced a shuar dance and gave us typical objects of their culture, such as spears, pendants, earrings and the “mate” where they serve the chicha.
The following day it was time for the difficult return home, not only for how arduous it was to go back but also for the sorrow of leaving the natives with their daily struggle for survival. Nevertheless, we still had the joy of knowing that from now on Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, would live among the natives, giving them the consolation and the hope of a Mother who never abandons her children nor does she neglect the needs of her little ones.
Finally, we wanted to thank ESPAM who opened the doors of their hearts and put at our disposal a bus with two drivers and two teachers who accompanied us and worked hard for these communities.