Today we had quite a different experience; a day full of contrasts! Here are a few words that we used to describe our day from our moment of sharing tonight: Humbling, love, hope, grateful, surreal, full, stretched, hope, Heaven, yes, Catholic, universal, silence, dignity, moving, action, overwhelmed, overload, overdrive, light.
Our first experience was a long drive through the marketplace to the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, to a town called Carrefour, where the Missionaries of Charity have their Home for the Dying.
We arrived seeing the beginning of the MC’s dispensary outside of the supply room where we were able to store our bags and water. And then we immediately dove in to the mission of the day by walking up to the wards full of patients. Quite a few guys were stopped even before getting into the rooms and were quickly drawn into card games with them men, while others overcame a bit of fear to encounter the sicker men who were still in their beds and tried to bring them comfort.
But beyond the external experience was what these encounters with the patients meant for us. We, as missionaries, were able to bring Christ to them, but they, on their part, also gave Him back to us.
We spent the entire day there (some even trying their hand at “naptime” on the cement benches after lunch).
We also had a moment of “song practice” because in the afternoon we meant to go up and sing in each room and take time to pray with each patient. This was a very beautiful, very powerful experience. Some of the best moments we had today were the moments of prayer with our new friends.
A lot of missionaries were also able to pray at the bedside of patients while Fr. Benjamin gave them the anointing of the sick. There were so many who asked for the anointing, that he even lost count! (We are sure that it was close to 20, if not more!) It was special because until today, as a new priest, he had yet to give the anointing! He said that it was moving to be able to take the suffering of these people and turn it into grace.
On our way back to the guesthouse, we were able to go home by a different route and stopped by the ruins of the Cathedral. It’s been 5 years since the devastating earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, but they have yet to tear it down because it stands almost as a monument (much like the Colisseum in Rome). During the earthquake, the Bishop, his vicar general, a large number of priests and all the seminarians were killed along with a great number of the faithful when the roof caved in while they were celebrating Mass. We all knelt to pray together there. What suffering this country has endured!
Please join us in praying for all the beautiful people we have encountered today!