This year from the 18th to the 22nd of September, a group of sixteen young men and two Servant Priests of the Home of the Mother had a missionary experience in Rio Chico in Manabi, Ecuador. We had been preparing this trip during the month of September, raising funds through the selling of food and rosaries.
With great excitement, on the morning of Monday the 18th we took public transportation from Guayaquil to Rio Chico, Manabi. We arrived in the afternoon for a get together to prepare for the week.
The next day we went to the community of Zapote to begin the evangelization work. One group organized a get together for the children from the catechism class and another group went to visit the homes. Since the community of Zapote is one of the largest in the area, it was necessary to split up into groups of two to reach all the homes. The main mission was to communicate to the faithful of the community a new letter from Archbishop Lorenzo Voltolini about the existence of false priests who deceive the faithful. At the end of the day, we reached all the houses of the community and a good number of the faithful were able to receive the sacraments of Confession, Anointing of the Sick and Communion, thanks to the Servant Priests.
Wednesday was a day dedicated to the Maria Elisabetta farm in Chone. Many of the boys had never worked in the field and were eager to help. Some helped in the installation of a new door for the pigs, while others worked in the field. At the end of the day, when we returned to Rio Chico to rest, we providentially passed through the cemetery where Maria Augusta is buried. Maria Augusta is one of the candidates who died in the earthquake with Sister Clare. We took the opportunity to visit her tomb and prayed and reflected. When the Servant Priest indicated that it was time to leave, none of the boys wanted to leave. Later on, some commented that it was a moment of grace for them.
On Thursday we went to the school in Playa Prieta to have a get together with the youth of the town. We began with a brief explanation of what the school was like before the earthquake. Following we had a penitential act in the school chapel. The rest of the morning was dedicated to sports. In the afternoon, two young men, Carlos Javier and Bryan, told us about the six sisters who died in last year's earthquake. Their testimonies captured the attention of the young people and encouraged them to follow their example of surrender. Finally, we celebrated Mass in the chapel of the school in Playa Prieta followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
The last day was powerful. In the morning, before returning to Guayaquil, we had the possibility to visit Valeria’s family, and so we did. Listening to the words of her grandmother touched the boys. What caused them most admiration was Valeria's love for Christ. She called Jesus her boyfriend and was filled with joy when her grandparents signed the permission for her to enter as an aspirant in the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother. After this, we were able to go to her grave to pray and reflect.
We thank God for having given us such a profound missionary experience. The young men who took part in this mission have returned to their homes changed. Some have made the resolution to grow closer to the Lord after the example of our six deceased sisters. Now, these young men must be faithful. As one of the boys said the night before returning to Guayaquil, "This week is not a just an experience." It has to become life.