A Vincentian priest once encouraged us Daughters of Charity not only to see the face of Christ in those who are poor, but to etch "the image of Jesus Christ onto her heart, her mind, and onto the retina of her eyes in order to recognize Him later in her work" (Father Javier Alvarez, CM, Echoes of the Company, January–February 2006, p. 47). Powerful advice!
|Huts in San Lorenzo|
I traveled to Bolivia in November with three other Daughters of Charity and two lay staff for a special meeting of the Stewardship Assistance Fund Board that helps support the Sisters' ministries in Bolivia. Since this was my first visit to a developing country, I desired to experience the trip as a pilgrimage to become immersed into the culture and lives of the people.
|Asunta and Maria|
|Sister Victoria (left) and Sister Jean|
|Two elderly helping one another|
|Elderly men's dormitory, Hogar de Ancianos|
Frank related the good self-policing process within the prison as well as the various trades each "intern" (aka prisoner) learns: metal work, shoe repair, carpentry, sewing, etc. Frank himself is a trained carpenter and helps interns make gorgeous hand-carved bed frames as a source of income to cover costs for food and rent in the prison. Only 21 percent of the men's court cases ever come before a judge, so the majority of interns serve very long sentences in this firetrap of a building.
|Handmade bed frames from "interns" at prison|
|Sister Maria Angeles in front of prison|
The purpose of my trip to Bolivia was to enhance understanding of the Daughters of Charity ministries our board assists through financial management. The Lord's purpose seemed to be different—that is, to guide me on a pilgrimage where I could find Him dwelling in a forest, home and prison, and, most especially, in the faces of many beautiful people! The experiences were too numerous to count and, at times, too deep to put into words. Hopefully, as they were etched into my heart, mind and eyes, I have grown closer to the One who calls me His Daughter. And so I humbly say: ¡Muchas gracias! ¡Dé gloria a Dios!