Girls’ Camp in Manabí (Ecuador), from March 12th thru March 19th, 2017.
During the days of March 12th thru the 19th, we had our 9th “Our Lady of Mt. Carmel” camp in the town of Honorato Vásquez in Manabí, specifically in “La Finca” (the farm), where we were able to enjoy beautiful views of nature that spoke to us of its Creator. About 68 girls participated in these days of grace and closeness with the Lord.
On the second day, we climbed a mountain and came to a very tall 50-meter waterfall. For many of us, it was a day of overcoming ourselves and, despite our tiredness, we were able to keep walking from rock to rock, helping each other out until we reached the goal.
Many of us compared this situation to our spiritual life, because if you were to look back, you could fall so you had to cling to the ropes. This can be applied to the sacraments, which we must not let go of in order to reach the goal: heaven. Similarly, on the climb to the waterfalls, it was essential to trust the one that went before you, as she said: "Put your foot here," "Don't put it there," because she preceded you and had already gone through where you had not gone yet. If you trusted, you advanced! It was impressive to see how the little ones relied on what we were saying, while for the older ones it was more difficult for them to trust, and we would look for a 'better' way that in the end entailed more work. One of the little girls said: "I learned that if I fall, I must get up, and that is how it should always be in life."
Our motto was "The joy of living"' and our patron saints were St. Philip Neri and Sister Clare, who last year made us laugh with her natural friendliness, and this year she accompanied us from heaven!
We saw the first part of the movie "I Prefer Paradise," about St. Philip Neri. Many girls were impressed by his joy, in spite of everything that happened to him, always with a smile, bringing happiness to the lives of others.
Every day we meditated on a saint and a specific subject, such as holiness, joy, fear ..., discussing them one by one. Many girls discovered that they were called to holiness and went home with great resolutions. Now we have to pray that we stay firm and that the camp keeps being fruitful in us.
The games we played encouraged the girls a lot. In one of them ̶ the one about "spiritual combat" ̶ they had to defend themselves against the enemies and fight so as to not lose the weapons that they were gaining during the game.
On another day of hiking, we went to the Church where the Combonian priest, Alberto Ferri is buried. He was a missionary in those lands during many years. It could be said that he gave all he had for the souls that lived there, without caring about the number of hours he spent walking or on horseback, in order to reach the families that lived farther away. And with his example of life, many were converted, even those who were further from God.
On the last day, some girls made their commitments to enter the Home. It was very nice to see how Our Lady welcomed them. Some of them had been in camps before, but this time they were opened to grace. The Virgin Mary knew how to touch their hearts, and they responded.
We thank God for so many spiritual benefits received. We hope that each one of us has really assumed everything we’ve learned and can keep alive the fire and the desire for Holiness, in spite of the circumstances that we have in our everyday lives.