By Victor Hugo Aranda, lay missionary
Sr. Anita Perron’s heart was singing as she left on a mission expedition for the remote and neglected village of San Antonio, nestled somewhere in the mountains of Bolivia.
She wasn’t alone. With her was a Bolivian Sister, Betty Natusch, member of the congregation of the Daughters of Ste Anne. Leading them was a lay missioner, Victor Hugo Aranda, a zealous apostle if ever there was one. The team had been organized at the express wish of the Bishop, Mgr. Roger Aubry.
This itinerant team was being sent to evangelize people of this far-off village which had not been visited by missioners for the past 20 years. Victor tells us about this mission in his own way:
“We started off toward the village of San Antonio where the Aymaras lived. What a shock when we reached the place! We could read in the people’s expression the disfigured face of Jesus Christ. Like Him, in Golgotha they were saying: “Why have you abandoned me? Where were you ?”
True enough that the aim of our mission had been a response to the Church calling for more collaboration with the pastoral ministers of the area. With them now, we would seek to renew the faith of these people while we were forming leaders to animate their Christian community.
It sounds easy, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t quite that easy. The Aymara peasant is a very special person and needs to be approached very carefully. For many real and historical reasons, he now mistrusts everyone. He is a meek and introverted person, so his reflections run deep.
To be one of them, to be fully accepted by these Aymaras, we had to walk along with them, accompany them on their journey of life. So we joined them in harvesting the cacao, the yuca, the corn. This solidarity warmed them towards us […]