Rosa Mystica 2024: Second Day of the Mission

Source: District of Asia

This year, 38 volunteers from all over the world once again responded to ACIM-Asia's call to participate in the 17th Rosa Mystica medical mission, from March 3 to 10, 2024. The story is from our special correspondent in the Philippines.

Return to Pag-Asa

Tuesday March 6: The Rosa Mystica mission returns to Pag-Asa, one of the six villages visited last year. This time it is not the Barangay Hall (town hall) that opens its doors, but the elementary school. It was festive day for the children, put on leave, as in all the villages visited, so that they can enjoy the mission.

Many of them, unfortunately, are there to meet the doctor – throughout the day 75 children will parade through the “office-classroom” of our faithful Filipino pediatrician Dr. June Viray. As for the healthy, they will not hesitate to join in the games organized by the volunteers: volleyball, beret, rounds, etc.

The medical needs, noted last year and still present, are one of the reasons that motivated the choice of Yolly, the permanent nurse of Acim-Asia, to return to the scene of the March 2023 mission. In these first two days, the 8 doctors present this year all encountered cases which, if taken care of earlier, could have been treated more easily.

But the poverty of the patients (there is no social security here, except in cases of tuberculosis for which one can obtain six months of free care) delays or permanently postpones access to care, added to the lack of medical coverage sometimes explains this somewhat discouraging situation for our doctors.

Dr. Alexandre noted a cleft palate in a 9-year-old child, numerous very large goiters, advanced osteoarthritis (the Blaan's are mostly farmers and exercise their profession in very archaic conditions), and a maxillary swelling in a woman in her 40s that has gone on for seven years. Many elderly people live in a fog but will never be able to have cataract surgery, a procedure so common in our regions.

Dr. Ian Sokolar, a Croatian doctor and a faithful participant in the mission for four years, encountered cases of rheumatic pathologies at stages that are no longer experienced in Europe. Dr. Luis, who came from Spain, was also struck by the number of thyroid goiters (10 to 15 times more common than in Europe), and noted cases of leishmaniasis [a tropical parasitic infection]. A teenager had a very extensive case of scabies that had been developing for months.

Laboratory and Ultrasound Machine

This year the mission benefits, like last year, from two very useful technical contributions: an on site analysis laboratory allowing hepatitis B and syphilis tests, pregnancy tests, urine tests, blood glucose, and hemoglobin and blood grouping. It is to this position that Blanche, a nurse, who is also the granddaughter of Jean-Pierre and Bernadette Dickès, was assigned. 

She immediately understood the spirit of the mission, because she has someone model herself after. Here are her first feelings: “Together, we can learn to surpass our limits and live thrilling experiences… It is wonderful to see the patients gather at the feet of Our Lady, around the priests to receive miraculous medals and scapulars. This humanitarian mission is not only medical aid, but spiritual aid for the Filipinos, as well as for us, the volunteers!”

And we also benefit from the ultrasound machine provided by our Corsican doctor, Dr. Olivier. This globe-trotting radiologist, who has traveled extensively with humanitarian NGOs, was won over last year by the Rosa Mystica mission, which he described as truly unique He returned this year with his little miracle device which makes it possible to refine diagnoses and avoid sending pregnant women and other patients to the hospital for ultrasounds. 

Spiritual Seeds

Another essential reason which made us return: during last year's mission, some spiritual seeds were sown which are beginning to bear fruit. On the Sunday of our arrival, Fr. Tim (Fr. Timothy Pfeiffer) did not join us until late in the morning at Pinobre Park. It is in this campsite with a splendid view of the sea and the surrounding mountains that the young volunteers stay. It is under a covered courtyard, ventilated by the evening sea breeze, that we can attend daily Mass. It is also, like last year, the starting point for our morning expeditions.

On this first day of mission, Fr. Tim's arrival was delayed because he had spent the morning in Salimama, the first village visited last year, located two hours by road (and track) from Pinobre Park. In the early morning, he celebrated Mass there during which six children made their first communion, and he baptized one of the two hydrocephalic children met during the March 2023 mission.

For a year, catechists sent by Father have regularly climbed to these heights, to spend a few days and catechize the two or three families who approached the medical mission last year and have grasped the underlying reason. The mother of the little hydrocephalic child and some members of his family are among the catechumens.

The conclusion of this short daily report goes to Dr. Luis, a newcomer from Spain, who gives us his first impressions: “Describing the mission: joy is the first word that comes to mind. Joy that radiates from the veteran volunteers who come together, and with which they welcome the new ones. Joy of praying all in the same language, while we come from ten different countries and four continents, on the way to the villages, and during evening Masses.

“The joy with which our Filipino hosts welcome us. Joy of putting ourselves, out of love for Him, at the service of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of returning to Him a little of all the love He pours out on us. And the joy of offering a service not as a purely philanthropic and material product, but as a truly supernatural work. Because the spiritual and final objective of the mission is truly to lead souls to the Catholic Faith and to offer them salvation.”