Hope and misery in Muisne, Part 1

Frater Benjamin Le SVD soon will wrap up his Cross-Cultural Training Program (CTP) in Ecuador. As part of their education and preparation for ministry, Divine Word Missionaries in the formation process live in a culture other than their own for one to three years. Ben will return from Ecuador next week. In the fall, he will begin his final year of studies at Catholic Theological Union. These photos are Part 1 of a three-part photo essay.

By Ben Le SVD

I wanted to share a few more pictures I took of Muisne and the surrounding communities before I return to the United States next week. I’m not sure if you have heard, but after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, there were hundreds of aftershocks. Two earthquakes of magnitude 6.7 and 7.2 caused many more houses to fall and instilled more fear in the people. Fortunately, there were no deaths from those two quakes. Most of the people are living in tents, including those with houses that are structurally safe to live in because they fear more earthquakes.

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To get to the island of Muisne or to leave for surrounding communities, we use these lanchas, or ferries.

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Although this is not a very good picture, it shows the work of missionaries in Ecuador. Here, we are returning from the island of Portete after celebrating Mass there. When we left the island, it was complete darkness and we could not see much. If I was rowing the canoe, I think we would have gone straight out into the ocean! Without the light from the car to the left of the picture, all we can see is a lamp post on the island.

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Many residents are still living in tents. Immediately following the earthquake, they put up makeshift tents that were much smaller. When it rains, all the belongings of the people were soaked. Without warm clothing, the elderly just shivers and the children cry.

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A humble Mass kit is used whenever we go to the campo to celebrate Mass.

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The people cannot afford to buy flowers, so they cut the beautiful wildflowers to decorate their chapel.

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Yes, in the midst of suffering and fear, there are baptisms and hope.

Ben’s photo essay will continue with Part 2 on Saturday.


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