Below is a letter from Ann Henebery, a recent college graduate who spent several weeks volunteering at the Mission:
“For it is in giving that we receive.” – This is one of the last lines of the Prayer of Saint Francis, and my constant motivation when I decided to forgo job searching and head to South America immediately following my college graduation. Many people were shocked when I told them what I was doing but I knew that I needed to go. I’ve grown up in one of the richest countries in the world. In comparison to the majority of the world’s population I have led an extremely privileged life. On a daily basis, things like being late for work and not going over my 2GB data limit are my main concerns. However, for children like those I worked with in Ecuador this summer, my worries would be considered not just trivial but completely and entirely foreign.
The beautiful children that live and go school at Santa Maria del Fiat (the Mission) come from a variety of different situations. Some are missing one or both parents, some come from abusive homes, and some have mental disabilities. They are wonderful, hilarious, trouble making children. And despite the horrific circumstances many have come from, they are the most open, happy and loving children I have ever been privileged to spend time with.
My time with them taught me so many lessons that I could write for pages and pages and still have more to say. But I think the most wonderful thing they taught me was the beauty of unfailing and unconditional love. Given the situations these children come from they have every reason to be angry at the cards they were dealt, and yet I saw no evidence of that while I spent time with them. They live simply, they love simply and they are happy. They do not expect any free handouts and they work harder than anyone I’ve ever met. I attribute this to the wonderful work that the women and men at the Mission are doing. They are forming these young children into amazing human beings who will have an even greater effect on the world as they grow older. The work that is being done at Santa Maria cannot be overstated, but they need help. As I said before, I am lucky enough to live in one of the most prosperous countries in the world. I believe that God blessed us with this wonderful country not just for our own good, but so that we can help those who need it the most. I went to Ecuador because I have found that, “it is in giving that we receive.”
A special thank you to Ann for giving her time and talents to help serve the children in Ecuador. We are grateful to her for sharing her story and of course to you, our donors, who continue to support our work throughout the year.