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The challenge of Joy and Shared Life

“If you want to follow Me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me…”

Indeed, to offer one´s life is to render it available to what lies ahead of our “Yes” to the Lord and the sisters who live with us.

It was a long trip to Peru, South America it took around 32 hours travel for me to reach my new missionary assignment. But, before going to Peru, I knew that there´ll be an intensive 15-day leadership training, I was to attend for 2 consecutive summer (month of February) and my Castellano was not really that good. I do understand what they are talking about but it was difficult for me to communicate given my new learning of the language . . . each time I spoke, I was not sure if they understood me at all.

I found it difficult when I wanted to explain and to share to them my thoughts. But with God’s grace I am more than willing to pass in the eye of a needle.

My language by birth is Chavacano (which I am so proud of). There’s no gender either masculine or feminine as the Spanish language. Everyone is referred with “el” which goes el mesa, el mujer, el casa, el perro…and there is no “TRAER” everything is “lleva aqui. . . lleva alla”. Besides “Chavacano” here in Peru it means nothing! To some they said, my castellano is somewhat like a caballo. . . hehehe… indeed it is true.

All I thought my 2 year study of Spanish during my college life was enough for me to communicate with people castellano speaking. For 2 consecutive summers, my sisters of Santo Tomas Province have sent me to study Spanish in Miraflores. At first, I was hesitant to study, but then, I realized that I am challenged to do so that I can speak correct castellano and no longer “de caballo castellano”. I was so grateful to the council who sent me to study even it was quite far from our convent in Rimac, Lima. I stayed with the sisters of Santa Rosa Province in Av. Brasil or at Colegio de Jesus. With them, I was so grateful too for my lovely stay with them.

Life as a missionary and a religious sister is a big challenge when you are far away from the comfort of home, friends and countryespecially when you are accustomed with what you were doing then comes an instant shift to a different way of sharing mission, faith and life among people of different cultures.

Right now, I am assigned in the formation of women, training them to do crocheting, embroideries, sewing, knitting and cooking to uplift their lives as well to let them go out from the four corners of their own homes. We also give them seminar work-shop on gender, child care and protection, how to improve and preserve their family as well as giving them time together with other women for prayers and retreats. Those who come to this Workshop, do not come only to work but to find a support group to share their sentiments, problems, worries of their families and of their own. In this group, they find consolation and some who can and are willing to listen to them, one effective way to release them from anxiety.

One thing that serves as a challenge in this ministry is in their endurance and perseverance. On rainy days, these women will not come and in summer days, when the sun is so hot especially in the months of Sept, Oct. and Nov. only 3 or 4 are coming.

Another great challenge for me in my Pastoral work was “Pastoral de Escucha” [pastoral of listening] in the school of Santa Rosa here in Puerto Maldonado.I experience the difficulty of finding words to console them with all the problems they have in their families. The majority suffers from dysfunctional families in which we had cases of two students from this school committed suicide. It is difficult to detect the root causes of such decision. Yet, God knows and surely will teach us how to remain open to journey with these people who are often in need of our presence more than our words. Above all, I feel privileged and blessed to have been here, to live among them and share my life in this unpredicted missionary destination which God not humans have prepared for me to walk on.

Right now, I am working at the Office of the bishop, I have never imagined working for such office with my “yet to progress” Castellano. On the other hand, I am happy that I got the chance to know several collaborators and missionaries working in this Vicariate as well some of the Dominican & diocesan priests.

The Pope Francis is coming to Peru, Puerto Maldonado in January and we are both quite excited and busy preparing for his visit. Surely, this will bring life to communities, strengthen our faith and bonds to the Lord and his people.

Many thanks to God who never tire to be at my beck and call, to my community, who journey with me in all the days I had been here- I am so thankful to them for their untiring support, care, love, concern. They are always there for me and I am always here when they need me, for we are one in the Heart and Hand of the One who cares for all when He first created the universe.

May God continue to inspire and send men and women to every place where the need is great and His grace bountiful.

Gloria Marquez Morte

Misionera Dominica del Rosario

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