2002: New Awareness

Dear Sisters,

 

During the 2002 mission to support the refuge, my friends, Sr. Maria Gloria Vega and Sr. Cecilia greeted me at the airport. Spring lavished its color and new life everywhere. After a short drive to the Refuge, Sr. Transito and others were there to meet me. I had been practicing my Spanish, so the language was not difficult. I felt at home. The Sisters live very simply. They do not have central heating, the bedrooms do not have heat, and the bottled gas stove or kerosene stove moves from room to room, depending on where the Sisters are. My room, an eight by ten-foot space, just fit. I remembered the hot water bottle from previous stays during the winter when I pulled the covers over my head to stay warm. That first night I welcomed the hot water bottle at my feet. My tasks during these three weeks were

 

  • to give a presentation entitled “Learning to Listen, Learning to Say Goodbye” to the sisters and their associates (A little polish and a little practice with Sr. Transito and I was ready. The sisters said they enjoyed my presentation!),
  • to teach computer skills to two of the older Sisters and a younger Sister an hour each, daily, including how to use a scanner, the internet, Microsoft Word, and basic word processing skills,
  • to help transfer the history of the Sisters’ community onto the computer,
  • to find and reconcile the different versions of the documents written about the history of the Refuge,
  • to help Sr. Transito with pictures for her history,
  • to help the mothers and babies move into the remodeled nursery, and
  • to review the programs I had started: the Infant Stimulation Program and the computer classroom

It was a profound pleasure to share the Sisters’ and young mothers’ joy in the new shower room, the new nursery, and the new corridor that connects the new cottages with the nursery facilities.

 

I saw that the sisters desperately needed reliable transportation: the pregnant girls needed to be driven to and from the hospital; the new mothers to and from school and doctors appointments and a myriad other Refuge activities. So I wrote a grant proposal for a van. This grant wasn’t funded; we’ll try another way.

 

At the end of this visit we started a ritual that we would repeat. We go to the airport early so that the last few hours are not rushed, we eat supper there and reminisce about all the years we have known each other. We talk about all the “coincidences” that reveal God’s grace and my connection with their community.

 

How I love Chile! I love my Chilean Sisters. Though tears welled in my eyes, I felt more than ever my grateful, full heart, and I felt blessed beyond measure.

 

Blessings,

Sister Yvette