We have had a very (VERY) full first day on mission here at the City of Joy! We awoke at 7:00 and started our morning with a few moments of prayer and then breakfast. We met in the lobby of the “Hogar de Desarrollo Humano” (the retreat center on the property where we are staying) to split into work teams and then after our group picture, we headed off to our respective places of work.
The first group stopped at the “Hogar de Ancianos” (or “Elderly Home) and got started right away helping the 45 elderly people who live there with their breakfast. Some needed more help than others and the girls took no time in launching themselves to help feed and give drink to their new friends. The language barrier caused a bit of frustration at times, but in all, we discovered that there are more ways to communicate than with just words.
The next group stopped at the “Hogar de Mujer” (Women’s Shelter) where they got to experience laying new sod and helping beautify the gardens for the women who live there (it is a home to help women in crisis pregnancies or who may have experienced abuse in their homes). Since they did such a wonderful job in the morning, they had a new task in the afternoon to help paint a hallway (and also had time to play with some of the kids!)
Our final group’s destination was the “Hogar de Cobija y Pan” (roughly translated “Bread and Blanket Shelter”). This is a place that receives donations daily of food, clothing, bedding, etc. We were a bit daunted by the piles of sheets that we encountered in one room (and figured that there was NO POSSIBLE WAY that we would ever be able to make a dent in the organization that this place needed). We started a friendly competition to see who could fold the most sheets by lunch time! (You will have to ask yourselves to see who won…it seems that one duo is contesting the other!) We were pleased to note at the end of the day, however, that we made a great headway in organizing!
So most all of this happened before lunch! After lunch (and a much needed siesta) we go back to work. A large group went to paint the lines on the basketball court at the Mano Amiga school that is also a part of this Joyful City! In all, it only took us about an hour and a half to finish it (and several shared tonight that when they first saw it that they thought we might never finish!) This project was entrusted to us by the last group of missionaries (also from Canada) who weren’t able to finish all of the basketball courts in their time here.
We ended our day with a beautiful Mass in the chapel here in the retreat center where Father encouraged us to thank God for the blessings of this day. By the time we got to dinner we were quite famished and ate all the sandwiches they had prepared for us and made a few PB&J as a supplement. We ended by sharing our highs and lows of our experiences today…and reflected on how much we had accomplished and what we had learned.
We thank you for your prayers for us and ask that you would continue to support us from afar! Tomorrow we have another long day of work ahead of us here in the City of Joy!