Looking back over the trip, now a week removed from the experience, I just smile every time I think about it. It's so much easier to talk about and explain the challenges Padre Martín, Madre Teresa, and the brothers face every day. At the same time I feel like I can convey the joys and the triumphs, the laughter and the love, because I've experienced it in such a personal and touching way. But it had to end. As we left for the airport, Padre Martín had Brother Pio drive us. Brother Benito and Brother Miguel Ángel came along as well. They said they just wanted to spend a little more time with me. It was a great compliment.
On the way to the airport Brother Benito asked about all the countries I had visited while in the Air Force. It's a long list numbering toward 35 or so, and some of them surprised him. Then he wanted to know the weirdest food I had eaten and the strangest experience. He wanted to hear about some of my adventures. I felt a bit like Bilbo Baggins telling his Hobbit's tale. As we approached the airport it was Brother Pio who put it all in perspective for me. With Padre interpreting, he said he would have thought that someone who traveled and saw as much as I did would be more stuck up. Everyone got a great laugh from this. He then said I really suprised him with how full of love and joy I was. He didn't expect it at all. That was an even greater compliment.
After check-in we stayed in the food court for a while until it was time for them to leave and me to head to my gate. It was almost 11:30 pm by then. We were saying our final goodbyes and Brother Miguel said, "I really wanted to give you a gift, but I do not have any money for a gift. Will you please take my rosary? It was given to me by a very holy priest and I want you to have it." All I could think was how on earth could I take his rosary when he has so little already? I tried to refuse, but he said he would be very offended if I didn't accept it. So I relented and now have a beautiful wooden rosary blessed by two holy priests - his priest and Padre Martín who added his blessing on the spot. It was a fitting end to an incredible trip, and probably the greatest compliment.
If you are reading this and wondering if there is something you could do to help this community, there is. Find the donation button on this page and give whatever amount your heart is telling you. Trust me when I say they could use it. I've seen the need, and it is great. If you'd like to help one of the brothers you read about, please go to the Biographies page and sign up for the Adopt a Brother program. It's so easy and will make such a difference. Plus, we will put you in touch with the brother you select. If you were touched by Madre Teresa's story and would like to help her fulfill what God has planned for her and her new community, then please become part of the Missionary Sisters Sponsorship program. You can sign up for that on the Donations page. Help in all these areas is so desperately needed. These holy men and women are truly doing God's work. Help them. Please help them.
Day 1 - Prayers and Futbol!
Day 2 - Outside the Walls
Day 3 - Into the City
Day 4 - Help From a Saint
Day 5 - More Amazing Stories
Day 6 - Madre Teresa's Story