by Brittany K., Missionary in Guayaquil, Ecuador
"So much of my life has changed as I have been living this mission life in Ecuador for one full month now. I would like to paint a picture for you of what I am living and experiencing here:
We are present in our neighborhood, available with an open door policy. We offer ourselves. The kids call to us from the door, “Give me water, give me water.” And we always bring them water. Our doors open at 3 p.m. for all the kids and teens to come play inside. They color. They jump rope. We play Banagrams and Dominoes. We watch over them and their interactions with one another. Every day we go 2 by 2 into our neighborhood and visit. There are hundreds of families we have a friendship with after being here for many years. While visiting S. after her surgery, she began telling us of her concerns of the path her teenage daughter is taking. Through tears she told us that we and 2 other people are her only friends and the only ones she can share her struggles with openly. Her words helped me further understand the purpose of our visits. Consolation: “to be with” (con) “the lonely ones” (solus). To console does not mean to take away the pain but rather to be there and say “You are not alone, I am with you. Together we can carry this burden. Do not be afraid. I am here.”
We go to Missionaries of Charity House of Peace -a home for the sick, elderly, and homeless. We hold lots of hands and kiss lots of cheeks. We help feed those who cannot feed themselves. Mario, who I had not met yet, kept looking at me as I was talking to some others. I ventured over, unsure of what his gaze meant. Mario could barely hear but we talked for about 30 minutes at above normal volumes. He told me about his kids and grandkids and what growing up was like. When it was time for me to go, Mario said “Thank you for taking time to visit with me. A lot of people come and give something and leave. It’s good that you visit.” Mario helped me further understand the purpose of my being here as I have often questioned if I am doing enough. The charism of compassion through presence was initially hard for me to swallow. I want to paint a house, teach a nonviolence class, build an orphanage, do something that really makes a difference. I want to see tangible fruit and immediate results to know I have been successful. My American value of being successful battles with my Christian value of being faithful. “He has not called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful” (Blessed Mother Teresa).