This quote resounds in my heart as I remember our missionary experience in the third largest island of Ecuador, Puna Island. It is made up of 27 communities.
The most incredible thing is that, despite the great territorial extension and inhabitants, the island only has the presence of one priest, who reaches each community once a year due to the long distances between the communities. Sometimes he has to travel from one community to another by boat because of floods on the island.
In spite of the basic deficiencies--no running water, health centers, roads, etc.--what most moved us was the great spiritual deficiencies we came across.
We visited two communities: Campo Alegre and Rio Hondo. In Campo Alegre, there is a large Protestant presence. A protestant pastor and several missionaries live among them. They have a small health center in a very miserable state and a school for children from Campo Alegre and other surrounding communities.
Five doctors from Guayaquil attend to the health center. These doctors, after finishing their studies, decided to spend a year outside the city to learn more. The center has three rooms where the doctors use the scarce medicines that the government sends them. When we visited them, they did not even have the necessary materials to sew stitches in a simple wound.
Both communities have a chapel dedicated to the Our Lady of the Merced, but due to the lack of spiritual attention, the chapel is used just once a year when the priest arrives to baptize. This means that many of them are baptized but have no religious formation. Most of them have not received their first Communion or Confirmation. Nobody has taught them how to pray!
In the community of Rio Hondo we met with a large group of families. Many of them have a great thirst for God. Our Blessed Mother was especially present when we began to teach them how to pray the Rosary. They were very open to everything we taught them. As we said goodbye, they insisted, “Please don’t leave! Stay here with us!”
With the help of the Lord, we can evangelize and conquer souls for Jesus Christ, yet we need your help to make sure they live with the dignity proper to human beings: access to clean water, a healthy diet, good hygiene, education, etc.
Abundant is the harvest and few are the workers. Pray to the Lord to send workers to His harvest so all these souls can really meet the Lord and Our Mother.