RMHM 2010 PAGE 1


organized by ACIM-Asia
from 25 July to 5 August 2010 in Tanay, Rizal.

The departure and the arrival: from July 23 to 25, 2010

Beautiful Philippines!
 JULY 23, 1.30 pm. “D” Day

35 French volunteers meet at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris for the great adventure. The ‘old timers’ renew their ties with joy, and welcome the intimidated newcomers. Progress is slow at the Emirates Airline checking counter for the first leg of the journey that will bring us to Dubai. Unfortunately, for a name misspelled by asingle letter, one volunteer is refused access by the ruthless immigration services. We climb in the latest Airbus, the luxurious A380 for a smooth flight towards the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, well known for its Duty Free. For some, it is their first flight!

Welcome to 4th Rosa Mystica!
In Dubai, while some browse through the Duty Free, others can’t resist an expensive beer at 8.50 euros per can! Then on board again for the Philippines and one can already feel the spirit of the Mission taking hold on us. We move from the A380 to the B777 for a turbulent flight of more than 8 hours. And finally, the descent on Manila.

As soon as we land, cell-phones buzz like crazy, and we are emotionally welcome by the 6 volunteers who are already on duty preparing the Mission. Sylvia has been there for 3 months with our Generalissima “Yolly”. All is well organized. In typical Filipino fashion, we climb a bus for a long three hour trip for our destination, Sampalac, a mere 45 miles from the airport.

The orientation meeting.
 After a refreshing meal, Dr. Jean Pierre Dick├Ęs, our leader, gives the first instructions. There is a wonderful fraternal charity between all volunteers, old and new: more than 50 French (twice last year’s number) one German, two Canadians, two Americans, and as usual, many Filipinos: all in all over 90 volunteers! We are welcomed with open arms by the warm and ever smiling Filipinos.

After a reinvigorating night, we attend the Mass sung by Fr. Couture who, arriving late in the night, manages to give us quite an encouraging sermon. However, our numbers are already down: just before the Mass, a first group has left for another parallel mission in “GenSan” (General Santos City) in the South. After the Sung Mass and the breakfast, we begin the “Orientation meeting”, with the chant of the Veni Creator. Each volunteer introduces himself, and receives an assignment. We also have the honor of welcoming the Mayor of Tanay, and other personalities of the Barangay who came to thank us for our presence and what we are about to do for the poorest of their people.

Blessing of the Gen San Volunteers.
Soon, another group must leave the Mission HQ, and head for another mission on the island of Leyte in the Central Region of the Visayas.

A much needed rest caused by the jet-lag and all the excitement is the program of the afternoon except for a few who set the St Anna Pharmacy in order.

Between smiles . . .
. . . and tears !

DAY 1: 26 July

The Chapel of St Philomena, site of our mission
Finally! We are about to start! Rosa Mystica 2010 edition officially begins today, on the feast of St Ann, the Mother of the Full of Grace, under a shining sun. It is 7 am and our mission is already a little ‘ants’ nest’. There are people everywhere. By 8 am, strengthened by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered for all the miseries of the world, breakfast over, Magali having given the last instructions, the pharmacy opens its doors. Each doctor, each dentist prepares his country side clinic, and comes to ‘pillage’ the pharmacy of dear Hughes, the chief pharmacist, who has to face this early ‘flood’ of requests. Each medical prescription must pass through his able hands. He is assisted in this delicate task by the efficient and polyglot Sr. Mary Concepcion, a Society Oblate, whom we meet again with great joy.

No need for computer games, any scrap of paper can do
The Filipino smile and tears touch every heart. What do you do when this poor mother of seven, living alone, walks away from the Mission leaving behind her 3 year old boy with the Sisters? We are truly reliving the days of St Vincent de Paul….

A great novelty for 2010 is that we have a mobile lab, and can therefore do lung X-Rays, the most common blood tests, and ECGs. It is a tremendous advantage firstly for the patients who until now had to be referred to the nearest hospital, and secondly, to the physicians who can get a diagnostic far more rapidly.
A happy Canadian seminarian, Robert Suzuki, on his month of apostolate.
We are very pleased to welcome ‘our’ two military dentists with the assistants for the second time. They are a much appreciated help to our own single dentist.

During this time the Sisters, the Bethanians and Legionaries of Mary catechize, distribute rosaries and sacred pictures, and even find time to make a few more rosaries when the supply runs short. However in her enthusiasm, Sr. Mary Remedios ends up doing a six-decade rosary! “The Mission’s Decade” is born, exclaims our attentive pharmacist!

Meanwhile Fr. Couture is gone on a particular mission: with Col. Etis, he succeeds in meeting Brigadier General Amat of the Second Division of the Philippine Army, to thank him for the aid the military base is giving to our mission, and to ask for tents and transportation for our people. In return, Fr. Couture proposes a little singing concert by our volunteers to the Military base this coming Sunday.

Fr. Couture with Brigadier General Amat
 At the end of the day, our goal hasn’t really been reached: 207 patients ‘only’, instead of the 300+ we were aiming at. This can be explained by the fact that two of our efficient doctors are on other missions, and many cases are demanding more attention. Well, in fact, we find out that we are well over our goal considering the mission as a whole.

No wasting of time - catechism for the waiting patients!
A team had gone mid-morning to the Barangay of Teresa where the SSPX has a mass center since the days of Fr. Santiago Hughes (+2004), in the late 1998s. Our team, composed of a priest, a seminarian, a doctor and his assistants nurses, pharmacist and interpreter, set to work after the Holy Mass. Fr Castel blesses, blesses and blesses again. When he blesses one of these shanty houses, with raised split-bamboo floors, split bamboo walls, all open to air and bugs, Father stresses the importance of living Christian lives, now that the house has been blessed.

From 12 to 6 pm, our herculean doctor saw 179 patients. God bless her heart!

It was a long day, but all was orderly, and much was accomplished.

Deo gratias!

DAY 2: 27 July

The second day began with 7 AM Mass, as usual, and with a short sermon in English and French on sanctifying our work in the midst of a busy day. While a retreat is a spiritual exercise that teaches us contemplation, this mission is a spiritual exercise that teaches us action.

Catechism is taught to the waiting patients and children inside...

...and outside.

The volunteers were at their stations for 8:15, still a little tired from the previous day, but eager to set to work. The flow of patients was more organized than the previous day, with the help of numbers distributed to help keep the patients in order. Our mobile laboratory, which had been such a great help yesterday, was unfortunately not with us today, so we were forced to ask some patients needing tests or x-rays to come back tomorrow.

The patients waited patiently for the next doctor or the dentist to be available. Admirably, the children did not complain much when waiting, or even when they had a tooth or two pulled out. When shade became increasingly scarce, the burning sun passing almost directly overhead, patients were allowed to wait their turn sitting in the chapel, where children were taught Catechism and willing adults were instructed in and enrolled in the Brown Scapular.

 Fr Castel enrolls the waiting patients in the scapular.

 Curious onlookers watch the dental procedure

 Fr Couture finds a spot to type up some reports on the Mission.

 Dr Dickes with one of his patients.

 Eager hands reach out for a mission rosary.

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