News about the school in Playa Prieta, Ecuador from May 27, 2016.
The Servant Sisters write to us from Playa Prieta:
“We are seeing firsthand what St. John Paul II called the ‘Revolution of Love.’ He said that pain and suffering are in the world to provoke love in us. And that is true. It is amazing to see the generosity everyone shows us after the earthquake. So many people have prayed, so many people have given everything they had, even their life savings. So many people have forgotten about their problems and sufferings to unite themselves to ours.”
They tell us that many people have visited the site of the school just to offer them food and show their support; others give of the little they have to help with the expenses. Several professionals have offered their work or their machinery to lower the cost of the construction. Mothers of families from the town of Playa Prieta have put aside their domestic work to help out in whatever they can. Some young women travel with the Sisters from Chone to Playa Prieta to collaborate, and others dedicate time to cooking food and desserts to sell and raise money for the reconstruction of the school.
The Lord is also moving the hearts of many towards conversion:
“Yesterday we were told about the conversion of a wealthy lady from Playa Prieta. Before the earthquake, she was indifferent to the things of God, but she had a sudden conversion. She told us she ‘felt thirst for God,’ that she wants ‘to speak with Him,’ ‘to pray’ but she doesn’t know how. She also wants to come to the weekly meetings of the Home of the Mother. She follows everything on our website and she knows Sister Clare’s and the postulants’ biographies by heart. She downloaded the audio of the rosary from the internet and prays it every day.
The boss of the machine operators later approached me and confessed that he was a little jealous, ‘I also want another rosary, hermanita’ (diminutive for ‘Sister’). From the beginning he said he wasn’t very close to the Church because he didn’t share some criteria. ‘I don’t go to Church, Sister, because I don’t like people who beat their chests and then do bad things.’ We told him that God would judge us for what we do, not for what our neighbors do. He listened. When we gave him the rosary, we encouraged him to pray it every day, asking Our Lady to help him be good and go to heaven. We soon found ourselves surrounded by all the workers, the boss, the truck drivers. We were speaking about heaven, how we have to see each other there, how we had to change our lives if we wanted to win heaven… The conversation ended with the words of the boss, ‘That means I have to change my criteria, because I do want to win heaven.’”
The Sisters have also received visits from the Archbishop Emeritus of Portoviejo and the Auxiliary Bishop of Quito.
“The visits of the Bishops have also been very consoling. Monsignor José Mario Ruiz Navaz, Archbishop Emeritus of Portoviejo, visited the school last Sunday. It was he who insisted upon bringing us to the school in Playa Prieta. Since we were not present, he greeted the young women of the Home of the Mother and gave them some chocolates. He said he was very proud of them for helping the Sisters so much, and expressed his affection for the Sisters. He even went as far as Chone to look for us, and also left some chocolates, saying, ‘Especially for the community of Playa Prieta.’ Monsignor Danilo Echeverría, Auxiliary Bishop of Quito, together with Fr. Ramiro and Amparo Medina came to visit us last Wednesday to pray with us. They blessed the school, and blessed us. We prayed together and then conversed. We feel so close to them that we consider them a part of the family.”
Some of the students from our school had to retake certain exams from last semester. We asked and were granted permission to use the Town Hall for the exams. “That was our first contact with some of the students. They are obviously worried and sad, but most of them are excited to start the new school year.”
The Sisters are working hard to make it possible for class to begin in July. Parents continue to ask if there is a place for their children at our school, despite everything that has happened.
“It is surprising, but mothers are still asking to enroll their children in our school. ‘Sister, can my son study here?’ The first thing that comes to mind is to ask, ‘Here? Where?’ Because ‘here,’ everything is razed to the ground. This shows the great trust the parents have in the Sisters. Even though they can see that the school is a wreck right now, they know that we will find a way to move forward, and that their children will have a place to study. One father said that the structure wasn’t important. ‘There may not be a building, but you have spirit; if you are here, that’s enough. You will give spirit to our children.’”