From July 10th-26th, a group of six Italian girls and 2 Servant Sisters went to Ecuador to have a missionary experience in the three different communities that the Servant Sisters have in Ecuador. In reality, the missionary experience started the week before we left with a get-together in Brignano as a preparation for the mission: we prepared spritually by reflecting on the principal objective of a missionary trip which is announce Salvation to all who do not know Christ; we prepared psychologically by learning about the Ecuatorian culture; and we prepared materially by preparing packets of medicine and school supplies to bring with us. We also wrote the song which became our hymn, based on the theme that Fr. Rafael gave us for our trip: “Don’t complain about anything or anybody, offer everything up.” To finish off our get-together we watched the documentary about Sr. Clare, an example of a life lived to the fullest and until the end to serve the Lord.
The long awaited day finally arrived and we landed in Guayaquil, a little tired but very happy to be in the mission. We went straight away to Playa Prieta which was our first stop. There we spent the mornings going to classes in the school that the sisters have there, Holy Family School. We met the students and answered some of their questions, we taught them songs in Italian and gave them some advice from St. John Bosco. We also were blessed to listen to their memories about Sr. Clare. In our free time we helped paint the classrooms and one afternoon we went to visit Valeria’s grandmother. Valeria is the 15 year old aspirant to the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother who died in the earthquake in April, 2016. The grandmother told us a lot of things about her granddaughter, above all about her love for Jesus and her love of poverty. She showed us Valeria’s bedroom and went with us to her tomb where we were able to ask for her intercession to help us have that same love for the Lord.
While we were in Playa Prieta we also had the opportunity to give CCD classes and to bring food baskets and medicines to the families who receive aid from the Missionary Groups of the Home of the Mother. One of the biggest graces for all of us was when the youth members of the Home of the Mother shared their memories about Sr. Clare and the five girls who died in the earthquake.
On Tuesday we went to Chone. One of the days we were there we went to bring Communion to a sick person and it was an experience that touched all of us very deeply. This person recently had a complete and radical conversion and had given himself over completely to God’s will, even in the midst of suffering. We also went with the sisters to a women’s therapy center called “Born Again” where the sisters go each week to help the girls reflect about different subjects that can help them heal their wounds caused by drugs, alcohol, prostitution, and other problems. It was a very powerful experience to be able to see first hand and almost touch God’s infinite mercy. In our free time we went to the Maria Elisabetta Farm. From what come from the farm the Missionary Groups of the Home of the Mother sustain the families that receive food baskets and at the same time offer work opportunities to three different families and other people in the area. There we helped build a garden which will soon be a place for meetings and get-togethers.
The last few days of the trip we spent in the community of Guayaquil where we helped clean a chapel that is being rebuilt and served in the soup kitchen with the poor kids in the Trinitarian Island. We also participated in the meetings of the different groups of the Home of the Mother. We spent a lot of time with the candidates and the girls who belong to the Home and we spent very joyful moments together which have helped us all to think seriously about how we need to restructure our lives. To finish off our trip, we went to the Marian shrine of Schoenstatt where we made a pact with Our Lady: we thanked her for all we had received during our trip and we each asked for a particular intention and the strength to be faithful to our commitments in the future.
We hope that we will be able to continue to give testimony and live out everything that we have received as we return to our every day lives.