Send us where no one wants to go
"Where do you want to go" - they would ask us. "Where others do not want to go," was our answer. And they sent us. We were sent in a dangerous neighborhoods; Salinas, San Pedro Luis and Las Brisas.
These "dangerous" places are our destination and the purpose of our work. We want to go with God through cities, neighborhoods, gardens, homes and streets, wherever there is a spiritual, moral and material misery, places where nobody wants to go.
Right there, walking around praying and blessing, we found children whom we began teaching solidarity that can ease the harshness of their lives.
We slowly progressed from talks to prayer, sharing food and hanging out under the tree. Children were drawing their small hands on pieces of paper with crayons. As we did not have enough crayons for everyone, they had to negotiate and share, learn to wait, to be considerate towards each other ... It is not a simple thing to do; it is easier to hit a weaker boy, to take by force, to be in charge.
But little by little, with the help of their guardian angels and our praises, they began to help each other out and, following the newfound gentleness and patience, joy also sneaked in. Children began to laugh and smile, sharing little snacks that we brought.
We sought and found new volunteers and arranged the cooperation with diocesan missionary pastoral care of children. The inclusion of children missionaries when visiting families was one of the objectives.
Women are often the ones who take care of children, food and survival, because the mother is always known, unlike the father, who often cannot be found. Therefore, we started our work with women, the mothers. To begin with, we blessed their houses and said our prayers.
In their houses, we found numerous statuettes of Virgin Mary to whom, although they do not know much about her, they pray when in trouble. Their lives are chaotic, often filled with violence, and focused on mere survival.
In one street, in the corner between two walls, we saw a little stable with goats. Right beside it, there were young and old people with children sitting on the low flange of the higher wall. This is where they live and sleep, where they are born and die. The head of the household is a woman - a mother, a grandmother or a grand-grandmother. She gives orders. People pass them by, turning their heads away, trying not to notice them.
A house without a roof
We approached them with Jesus' love in our hearts and prayer on our lips. We noticed them, we did not turn our heads away. We talked to them, it was not easy. We handed them food. We sprinkled holy water over them and their habitat, we prayed together. A special kind of peace was felt. We had a plan and proposal; after the New Year's Eve we will start working with children and their mothers in meeting their needs.
Yes, women accept solidarity gladly. They feel what solidarity means. Their hearts feel the Risen Jesus.
Miroslav and Tonino
Old people are in miserable condition, poor and often abandoned. We need to help them as well. It is the young people, the new generations who will have the opportunity to learn what it means to help someone who is old and no longer of any use.
One of our volunteers was of great help. His name is Miroslav Vučina and he is a civil engineer and a missionary who lives in Margarita. He is the president of "Zdenac" subsidiary as well. He is well respected and loved, so he opened the door for us, instructing us and taking us to visit people under his care, as well as other helpless elderly people.
At three sites we started our work with children, helping them with homework and teaching them about solidarity. We were soon joined by newly retired Nieves, a wonderful woman who became our new volunteer, ensuring that the program will continue when we leave. She introduced us to other valuable persons willing to help, so one more subsidiary of "Zdenac" was soon formed. We educated them in implementing our spiritual and volunteer programs and entrusted them to continue our work in the community.
In three "dangerous" suburbs and one school, people today pray and work on developing solidarity and getting to know the love of Jesus. Our job is to continue to further quench this great thirst.
In 2016 we would like to double our efforts. We prepare new manuals for education in responsibility, good manners, generosity and creativity for children, their parents and volunteers. We need materials for evangelization as well. It is necessary to educate volunteers, hire professional associates. Employees should be given a salary and have their transportation fees covered. Volunteers should be rewarded.
Missionaries from Croatia should be able to come here to live and do their work.
For all that to happen, a financial and spiritual support is needed!
All this arises from good changes in each of us. Because, if you're changing for the better:
- Joy will settle in your mind
- And babble in your heart
- It will come out of your mouth
- Keep flashing through your eyes
- And shine on your face
- Your happiness will grow steadily
- You will bring joy and happiness wherever you are to them that grow out of your own change.
Waves of good people: missionaries, volunteers, collaborators and sponsors change lives and change the world!
s. Lilja Loncar