The missionaries are on break! From February to April the missionaries send the children at the mission to live with families: some with relatives, some with a potential foster family and others with families in the area. The intent is to give the children an experience of family life apart from living at the mission. I never appreciated this until I saw the transformation of children after they left the mission homes to live with a loving family.
This break also allows the missionaries a short rest before the beginning of a new school year (which begins in May in Ecuador). This usually entails a week vacation/retreat followed by preparing for the children to return. One of the missionaries, Fatima, has been caring for the small boys for 23 years. She has not had a vacation in four years so we are happy to hear she was finally given a week off!
The beginning of the school year at the mission is fairly chaotic. As the children return, they need uniforms and school supplies which the missionaries cannot afford. A few years ago, Mission Santa Maria bought uniforms for all the children and they were extremely happy on the first day of school. As I remarked how happy they seemed on what was a sad day in my childhood, the missionaries told me the mission kids were happy they didn’t have to wear old uniforms and were happy to look like the kids whose families bought new uniforms.
I am happy to tell you that through your generosity we are buying all the children at the mission uniforms and school supplies! This is in addition to the scholarship program and enables the children to be prepared for the beginning of the school year. On behalf of the missionaries and children, thank you!
The missionaries also wrote to tell me they are very excited that the new pope is from Latin America. Even those who are not Catholic can appreciate how Pope Francis brings joy to those who serve at the mission. Pope Francis’ small actions of simplicity have created a buzz the past few weeks: taking the bus instead of the papal car, living in a guest apartment instead of the papal palace and wearing simple shoes.
These actions strike a familiar as I hear stories about the missionaries who care for the children and our donors who make it possible.
(A Message of thanks from Gardenia – Click video to view)