“It Will Be One of the Best Summers of Your Life” Interview with an International ECyD Missionary

When she was 16, Beatriz spent a summer as an ECYD missionary in the Philippines. Once she knew she could help out, Beatriz decided to go, packed her own bags and with her parents’ help went from Barcelona, Spain to Manilla to help in the Mano Amiga School (info/help out) there.

“Operación Kilo” (A Pound of Good) and visiting old folks were the apostolates Beatriz worked most on. She has been in ECYD since 5th grade and is currently in high school. She dedicated a few minutes between her exams to answer a few questions.

Why did you go so far? How did you make the decision to go to the Philippines for an ECYD Missionary summer?

When I was told that if I wanted, I could be an international ECYD missionary, I just wanted to go to the USA to improve my English and because it seemed attractive. But they suggested I consider other options for a destination and looking at possible places, I saw Manilla. I was rather surprised to see there was Regnum Christi in Manilla – so, going to the Philippines became option #1.

I also loved the program, there, and – after leaving home – I was better able to understand a different culture. At first it seemed impossible for my parents to let me go but they were more supportive after talking to with Maida Ureta [consecrated woman of Regnum Christi] and Fr. Juan Sabadell, LC. When I kept insisting, my parents let me go.

I suppose it was a big change culturally and socially. How did you experience it?

As it was such a different culture, our first week included classes on history customs and basic Tagalog in order to adapt. This made things a lot smoother because, indeed, the Philippines is quite a different country from Spain: not only because of the language but more so because of the social inequality. Most families live in poverty. At one point, we went on a mission to a town a few hours from Manilla and helped poor rural families – this experience let me realize how lucky I am and helped me be grateful for what I have. Despite the inequality, the Philippines is beautiful with thousands of beaches and forests, and people who – although they have nothing – are wonderful. And just for this, it was worth going.

Your apostolate was centered around the Mano Amiga School. How are the children there? What degree of poverty to they have?

Mano Amiga is a Regnum Christi school that helps families who can’t afford to give their children a good education. These families barely have the necessities of life. Many parents of children work in the school as teachers, cooks, janitors, etc.

And what did you all do to help them?

The EYCD missionaries organized a “mini summer camp” for the children in the mornings. We put out various stations around the school (games, Gospel, crafts, songs, etc.) and the children went from station to station. At first it took us a while to communicate with them as they had little English and we had little Tagalog , but in the end everything worked out and we had a lot of fun. What they liked the most was singing and playing basketball, which they were good at.

My birthday was during the first Summer Camp and everyone sang Happy Birthday to me in Tagalog. I was quite thankful.

How has being ECYD helped you in this task?

Being ECYD and being a team leader has helped me a lot and above all in dealing with kids and organizing activities – it was like organizing activities for my ECYD team.

What memories did you take home?

On the flight home, I realized all the incredible things I’d lived, saving many good memories of my summer as an ECYD missionary: a stronger relationship with God; friendships with other missionaries, the Regnum Christi Consecrated Women and all the people we helped; a culture that taught me a lot; and beautiful landscapes.

If a young woman your age is thinking about being an ECYD missionary next summer, what would you tell her?

Don’t think too much! Being an ECYD missionary is an awesome experience, both humanly and spiritually. No matter the location – although I recommend Manilla – you will help people out, and in the end, you go where God needs you most. Your attitude is what’s important: be open to anything and you’ll be happy. You will see that it will be one of the best summers of your life

You can read the original interview in Spanish here.

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