Thank you for being so numerous to follow our Rosa Mystica mission every year! After thirteen months, here we are again in the Philippines, on the island of Mindanao in Polomolok, a small town south of General Santos, at the very bottom of the Philippine archipelago. We are close to the equator, it is 30° on average, the dust twirls around us, the ants come in colony to taste the least candy which hangs out in our luggage, and the cockroaches are faithful to the appointment!
A great lack this year: for the first time, our dear Doctor Dickès and his wife are not here. After using so many years of his health for the Filipinos, the doctor could not come; from consultations to treatments, he had a difficult year. Doctor, the Filipinos and all our readers thank you and pray for you. Get well!
But we are not orphans: welcome to Dr. Geofroy who has taken over. After proving himself last year, he was unanimously welcomed by all the volunteers!
5 AM: meet at Manila airport. Americans, French, Belgians and Germans meet again after a few hours of sleep. We have the chance to travel with Philippines Airlines to the south of the country, which allows many to finish their night comfortably.
On arrival, Elaine welcomes us with her usual kindness, while Father Peron plays the Philippine anthem. She's in charge of all mission preparations with Yolly. Then luggage and volunteers are loaded into military trucks; along the ruts of the road and sudden braking, we see the huts on the side of the road, against a background of lush vegetation or a dusty quarry.
10:30 AM: Mass in GenSan, in the church which has improved a lot after one year. No more scaffolding, no more white painted walls, and now there are pretty high openings. Thanks to Caroline's talent, we improvise a quite correct polyphonic choir, while the Bethanian sisters sing Gregorian chant. For the past two years, this parish has taken off well, many of the faithful are regular, and the catechists of the Legion of Mary send tricycles around every Sunday to bring more people to church.
After lunch, we go to Polomolok, the place of the mission this year: the gym for the day, a school and a "resort" for meals and overnight.
3:30 PM: briefing by Elaine in the presence of local personalities. There are representatives of the LGU (local government unit), the MHO (municipal health office), and a military delegation to ensure our security. Elaine, who is native here, has even gathered several alumni of her High School in Polomolok . They come to spend the week to help, and are easily recognizable by their black T-shirt with a red heart and blue hand. There are also the Bethanian Sisters, many Filipinos from the parish, and of course all the volunteers from other countries; To be introduced to you in the next episode.
Father Timothy Pfeiffer in turn took the floor to recall the spirit of the mission: the great leader is the Blessed Virgin, it is to lead souls to her that we are setting up this whole organization. This is why the day is punctuated by the Mass, the Rosary, and all the religious formation offered to patients by priests and nuns.
At the end of the meeting, we make a procession in the streets to honor Our Lady of Fatima and officially enthrone her at the place of the mission.
Rosa Mystica, ora pro nobis!