2010 Mission Trip
Katie Brown: We did not stay in Guasmo this year, as there have been so many changes with Hospital Madre Berenice. It is now under the direction of the Guayaquil diocese.
The Comedor we worked in for 5 years, and bought so much for, is closed now. There is no one to go to the markets to ask for food, as the Sisters always did.
The Sisters of the Annunciation are no longer in the hospital, and only two were assigned to the Reina Del Quinche School. It was hard not to be close to so many we had become family with over the 5 years we visited Guasmo.
We made the decision to help at Damien House, with Sr Annie Credidio, and visit a couple other areas with Priests from the Missionary Society of St James the Apostle.
When I arrived at Simon Bolivar airport in Guayaquil, there were several people from Guasmo awaiting me--all from the Grupo VIH/SIDA. My first hugs were from Anthony and Jocelyn and their Mom, Rocio--they are very special to me. We had about 15 minutes to visit, and then I had to leave for Damien House, for more hugs and welcomes. It is always like going home when we get to Ecuador.
We did get to spend time with all the residents at Damien, and I got to visit with Camilla, who was dying of cancer. We think she waited for me to come, as we had become friends during prior visits. We learned that she loved guitar music, so Marc played for her, and she smiled--it brought her such peace, and she passed away later that day.
An Ecuadorian funeral is held within 24 hours of someone’s death, so we attended her funeral, and went with the workers and some residents of Damien House to the cemetery for her entombment—not on the usual list of tourist activities, that is for sure.
My other special times were our visits to Guasmo, to the school, to see the children we visited every year--and so many remembering us, and wanting our hugs. We were invited to the grupo VIH/SIDA meeting, and received the report of all their activites in the past year, as well as the financial report of how the money we have sent has been spent. We have the complete report with us now. We also visited with Tatiana and her new baby boy, and Jessica, who was due to have her baby within days. These young women are sure growing up too fast.
Three of us were able to get to La Libertad to visit Fr. Cornelio Keily at his new country parish, too. He has turned 75, and semi-retired from the Society of St. James, but the Bishop in Guayaquil offered him this established Parish with three chapels (large enough to hold a couple hundred people). It was like a mini-retreat for us, as we had Mass and Holy Hour and the Angelus prayed 3 times daily.
Betty Matteson: In July, we stayed at a lovely hostel in Guayaquil. Sr. Annie asked us to help paint the chapel in Damien House. We scraped, sanded, scrubbed and painted the chapel, pillars and chairs.
It was beautiful when we finished. It was a joy to spend time with the residents who are healed of Hansen’s Disease, men and women.
We went out to the community of Duran, and met a young Irish priest, Fr. Liam Reilley, of the St. James Society. I was delighted to discover that one of Father Liam’s professors was Fr. Ralph Drennan. He is the brother of my good friend, Fr. Mike Drennan, a Jesuit in Dublin.
Marc P. Smits: The main thing I learned on my mission trip to Ecuador was to expect the unexpected.
Whether it be singing to a dying woman, cleaning a statue of Jesus, or being inspired by a blind woman, I quickly learned it was useless to plan for what was going to happen every day in Ecuador.
The experience leaves me wanting to return but also to see my life in San Diego as a mission where I should also expect the unexpected to happen in my daily life.
Bob Olson: When I headed to Guayaquil I had an agenda to help get a little girl from the Guasmo slums some necessary medical attention for her heart problem.
I thought I could do it alone, but, I needed Sr Annie Credidio from Damien Houseto help. She brought me to the large children's hospital to meet social workers and others who could help.
She arranged for the appointment for this child as well as two others with hearing impairments. All have been seen now and being helped and now the Sisters from the school in the Guasmo slums also have access to this hospital for special needs of the children.