Nine participants and a small team of translators traveled to Ecuador July 22-August 2 for the Interprovincial Experience of Charism and Mission trip. This is an annual event sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill that immerses Sisters into the lives of teachers, parents and children in Pedro Carbo, Ecuador. Among those participating were Sister Sandy Howe SC-Cinti, Marylu Vasquez, Sister Tracy Kemme SC-Cinti, Sister Brenda Fritz DC-St Louise, and Sisters Lee Myoung Suk, Park Jong Nyeo, Jyoung Mi, Kim Min Suk, Ko Jeng Ja, Kim Kyoung Ae, and Edie Strong SCSH.
The trip began at the Seton Hill motherhouse with several days of reflection and formation talks by Fr. Edward Udovic, CM. Then the group traveled together to Ecuador and spent a week at the Seton Hill sponsored school for 120 students with auditory and intellectual disabilities named INESEM, or Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes Foundation. There they joined a handful of Seton Hill sisters who are there full-time and together they helped with projects, made music, baked cookies and ministered together to the families in the area. The group also traveled to Recinto el Jebe, a remote village with a one-room school and several homes, to put on a field day. Finally the trip ended in the capitol city of Quito.
…”After a few hours of sleep during which a rooster relentlessly told us of the day to come, we jumped into our Sunday schedule which included Mass in Nobol at the National Shrine of Santa Narcisa de Jesus, an Ecuadoran lay woman canonized in 2008….Mass was one of eight offered that day, and had standing room only. It was wonderful to experience so many families with children of all ages lovingly cared for. At the special blessing held after Mass, people crowded near the sanctuary holding up babies, animals, religious objects and gallon jugs of water, a scarce commodity here, to be blessed. Faith of the people is strong and simple. Life is harsh, with adequate food and water hard to come by…
…We made home visits on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. These brought home to us the conditions of poverty in which many of the people live, as well as the graciousness with which they welcomed us and the happiness they know.
…On Friday, July 28, we went with the staffs of INESEM and the clinic to Recinto el Jebe, the Village of Jebe. I think we were about 50 people in all. Most rode in or on an el chiva, an open bus-like vehicle with rows of benches on the driver level and riding capacity on the top—with little to hang on to. The ride was one-half hours long on a rutted, hilly road, of which only a short distance was paved… There were about 50 children present for the field day we planned for them. The day included dancing, races, art and face painting…”