There are so many mission stories that touch my heart and impact my life. For example, the story of a little boy in Ecuador, whose mother left him at home alone, from the time that he was a baby, up until he was two years old.
The mother worked as a prostitute. It was the only work that she could find that paid enough to buy food, and pay the rent for an unfurnished one-room apartment. One day, like all other days, she left. The only difference – she didn’t return. After a few days the rent was due. When she didn’t come to pay, the landlord went to the apartment. Getting no response when he knocked, he unlocked the door and entered.
He was shocked at what he found. In a cardboard box was a toddler. A portion of the toddler’s nose and upper lip had been gnawed, apparently, by rats. At the hospital, medical tests revealed that the little boy was severely malnourished. He was HIV positive and had a weak heart.
There was only one home, one family, that would take this little boy. It was St. Mary of the Angels, a home with many children – all HIV positive. When Fr. Alfonso arrived home with the toddler in his arms, all the children at St. Mary of the Angels ran to meet their new little brother. He was greeted with, “Hi, what’s your name?” The toddler looked at them, a little smile formed on his lips, but he was silent. Not a word. Fr. Alfonso explained to the children that their new little brother didn’t have a name, neither could he talk. All the children eagerly accompanied the toddler to his room. No more cardboard boxes, no more rats, no more hours alone, not even for a minute! At the toddler’s first Mass, he was baptized and given the name Elijah – God’s little prophet. For the next four years, Elijah would win the hearts of everyone who had the privilege of knowing him. But one night, while sleeping, the little prophet’s heart simply stopped beating.
At Elijah’s funeral Mass, Fr. Alfonso comforted the children by telling them that Little Elijah went to his new home. This time, he was being carried in the arms of Jesus. Everybody in Heaven will come to greet him. And, when they ask him, ”What is your name?” Like always, he will have a big smile on his face, and now he will be able to speak. He will tell them, “My name is Elijah.” Behind the smiles of all of the children are memories of very sad stories before coming to St. Mary of the Angels. Thanks to you, our benefactors, the stories change for all of them. They are living a normal life, going to school, doing homework, helping with chores – praying, playing, crying and laughing. Fr. Alfonso knows that their medical care is critical. It’s costly. It’s expensive to operate an orphanage with twenty-three children who are HIV positive, and most of the children, when they arrive at St. Mary of the Angels need therapy: physical and psychiatric.
Please give generously.