The following is from our special correspondent in the Philippines.
As in every year since 2007, so in this month of March 2023, the 16th Rosa Mystica medical mission brought together around 30 volunteers from all over the world.
This Tuesday, March 7, 2023, the dump trucks climbed the steep slope of the mountain to take us to Paradise… to Paraiso: in visaya, this means Heaven. And it is indeed a real “little corner of paradise!” In these heights, it is easy to believe that one can touch the clouds, and the beauty of nature brings us closer to God.
The welcome is always as warm, perhaps more so than at Datal Anggas, because the population here is mainly Catholic and Fr. Tim will not encounter any reluctance to accept the miraculous medal or the scapular, due to the fact there is a resident Protestant pastor in Datal Anggas. In Paraiso, about sixty people will join the Militia of the Immaculata, a good pledge for eternal Paradise.
The doctors will not be unemployed despite a power cut from noon to 6 p.m. which would prevent minor surgery and certain analyzes from being carried out. A special tribute must be paid to the dedication of Doctor June Viray, our Filipino pediatrician on the mission, who would see 72 children in consultations during the day.
As well as Doctor Misperos, a faithful Filipino dentist on the mission, who will pull teeth from 78 patients. Unfortunately, this is the only dental “care” we can offer. The three GPs will receive 167 patients.
The end of the day will be more relaxed than the day before, with more favorable weather. The good Lord even offered us an evening breeze worthy of paradise on earth. When the “consulting rooms” closed, dozens of children gathered around the volunteers to play ball, circle around and sing at the top of their voices, showing with their child's soul the recognition of this joyful village community so materially disadvantaged.
Like the evening before, the volunteers’ day will end in Kawas with a Mass celebrated by Fr. Maret who will encourage them not to run away from or dodge the difficulties, the trials, or the contradictions which allow, with the grace of God, the butterflies that are our souls to come out of the cocoon of selfishness and withdrawal into itself to take flight towards… Paradise!
Here we are on March 8 in Hope, Pag-Asa in Tagalog, the official language of the Philippines. The beauty of this valley watered by a turbulent river and the luxuriant nature indeed give hope for a future rapid development now that the NPA (communist guerrilla movement) has laid down its arms and that these places have become more peaceful.
This Wednesday, a dentist and three Filipino doctors disembarked from Manila to come and reinforce the ranks of the volunteers. Doctor Victoria is a parishioner at the Society of Saint Pius X priory in Manila. She invited two colleagues from her class to accompany her on the mission. They are welcome because the crowd is waiting.
While they treat the bodies, Fr. Tim continues his mission: the director of the public school in the village has asked him to come and bless his premises. Followed by a crowd of children and their teachers, Father swung the aspergillum widely, singing the Asperges me and the Ave Maria. The director of the school who firmly declares to be “Roman Catholic” and to want to die “Roman Catholic,” is very upset by the attack by the Protestant sects in the barangay (district).
This year, thanks to Doctor Olivier, the mission is equipped with an ultrasound scanner. Some pregnant women have already benefited from it. A cachectic 39-year-old woman, weighing barely thirty pounds, came from her mountain village accompanied by a health worker, hoping to find some relief at the mission, probably suffering from a terminal malignant blood disease.
Doctor Olivier was able to observe the stage of evolution of the disease, by detecting, thanks to ultrasound, very significant anomalies of the spleen, an oversized liver and lymph nodes. He had the delicate task of announcing the diagnosis to her and suggesting that she meet with a priest.
Fr. Tim will tackle the task: this woman is not baptized and the members of her tribe are mainly Protestant. He will open the supernatural realities to her to prepare her for Heaven. Having obtained the consent of the patient, Father will go to the village, in order to proceed with the baptism in the presence of her husband and her children to whom he will also have to explain the urgency of the situation.
Father’s departure takes place at nightfall, on the back of a motorbike weighed down by his travel bag, his suitcase-chapel stowed in the tank of the machine. It is a storybook image of the missionary fully adapted to the life of his flock. The motorcycle overloaded with passengers and luggage is, in fact, the usual means of transport for the Filipino and his family.
Fr. Tim, who is totally immersed, has learned Visaya and speaks it fluently in order to be able to understand the faithful. He leads a simple life that resembles theirs with tireless dedication: a powerful means of apostolate that touch hearts!
He will finally be able to perform the baptism at 4 a.m., after having spoken at length with the catechumen and the members of her family the evening before and in the early morning. We imagine that he must have rested a little between the two, on a mat on the floor, like his hosts...
The ceremony will be followed by the celebration of Mass in the family hut, during which the newly baptized will be able to receive her God whom she now hopes to find in Heaven. Paraiso, Pag-Asa, Paradise and Hope… How can anyone believe in mere chance?