This past week, the brothers and missionaries took our silent retreat about 30 minutes away in a little town located behind the Church of Bomfim on the bay. We stayed with a order of sisters who were both gracious hosts and delicious cooks. The retreat was simple enough. The day was filled with silence and was punctuated throughout with day with our divine office, rosary, mass, adoration, and talks by Bishop, Dom Marcos Eugenio. It was a cozy retreat center with beautiful trees and a cozy little chapel where we spent hours in meditation and prayer with our Lord and prepared for lent. It was not always easy . . . but I believe we all grew closer to each other and to Christ through the experience as he revealed Himself to us in the silence of our hearts.
Faith and I were blessed to have two “farewell” parties, one with the children in alto and one with the brothers. The party in alto was exactly that . . . a party! So many of our children and their parents and people from the parish came and celebrated with us with music and dance and delicious food. I have never received such love and saying goodbye was one of the hardest I've experienced yet. Although the language barrier is still present and I was not able to communicate very much with the people in the time here, I learned on this trip there are many other ways of communicating love and fellowship without using your words.
Our farewell party with the brothers was a final dinner and also doubled as a belated birthday for faith, whose birthday fell over our silent retreat. The patio outside was decorated with Christmas lights and Gabi and the brothers prepared dinner for us and they surprised us with a lovely
(and delicious!) cake. Faith and I were able to express some of our favorite memories and our gratitude for this unique experience in our lives.
It feels fitting to be returning home at the start of lent . . . today’s gospel spoke of fasting and of the true spirit of prayer and giving alms. The lessons I have learned at a missionary and as a Catholic I plan to carry with me into this season of repentance and throughout my whole life, hoping to shed away the things that further keep me from loving God as He deserves and serving those around me as a perpetual missionary, even in my home town. God bless you all and please keep Faith and I in your prayers, and we hope you have a very blessed lent.