Rosa Mystica Health Mission 2013

25 February to 01 March 2013 in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo City

Medical Mission Days

After months of preparation, it is finally the 7th Edition of Rosa Mystica Medical Mission. This year we find ourselves in Santa Barbara, near Iloilo, in the center of the Philippines. Iloilo is the home of Doctor Mary June Viray, the President of ACIM-Asia, and everyone is happy to be in her home ground for the first time.

Let the little children come to ME!
A refreshing breeze, along with vibrant flowers and sunshine greet the volunteers arriving from all over the world. As in past Missions, they come mostly from France, but also from the USA, Singapore, Belgium, Malaysia and even Poland (for the second time!). All are ready to work together for the greater glory of God, the salvation's of souls and the healing of bodies.

Philippines! Here we come
The day began with the Holy Mass at the SSPX Brothers’ Novitiate of St Bernard Novitiate, located on a 12 acres rice farm, a few miles away from the municipality of Sta Barbara. Fr. Daniel Couture, the District Superior of Asia reminded the volunteers to see Our Lord in every person they would meet during the 5 day Mission. The volunteers are not here merely for humanitarian purposes. What makes our Mission different from the other medical missions taking place in various places in the Philippines is our traditional Catholic character. We are here to heal souls as well as bodies. If every volunteer could say one short ejaculatory prayer for each person he comes in contact with, all the patients will go home with a ‘bag of prayers’ along with their vitamins and medication!

The welcome banner put up by the mayor of Sta Barbara
The HQ of Rosa Mystica 7
This year we have our HQ at the municipal health center in Sta Barbara, next to the gym where the Mission takes place. A great location and wonderful facilities. The volunteers took their brunch in their HQ after the Sung mass at the Novitiate, and, in the afternoon, we had a long orientation session: each volunteer presented himself, and received his assigned post and the necessary instructions related to it. Volunteers come with many various talents and professions: In addition to physicians and nurses, there are medical students, lab. technicians, physical therapists, pharmacists, dentists and ophthalmologists! Moreover one does not need to have a medical background in order to help the Mission. Indeed, we have secretaries and even a gunsmith-hunter-lumberjack who came from France, who said he wanted to come to the Mission to bring happiness to others. In fact, anyone who comes with true charity in his soul can help the Mission.

The orientation talk on Sunday afternoon
Fr. Couture told the volunteers how strangely Divine Providence can work. The patients come to the Mission seeking help for their bodily ailments, but in addition they will find medicine for their soul. The priests enroll hundreds after hundreds in the brown scapular, hear confessions, give the last rites and even baptism if necessary. We see how sickness can be a blessing in disguise. Perhaps some would never have received what was necessary for their eternal salvation, if their sickness had not brought them to the Mission!

We also have Oblate sisters from the House of Bethany who hand out rosaries, holy cards and provide catechism to the children and their parents. The brothers and postulants from St Bernard Novitiate are also here. The presence of the religious habit is quite a boost in the midst of a busy Mission. It is a constant reminder of the ever present merciful and fatherly God.

After the orientation session, the remainder of the day was spent setting up the Mission: tables and hundreds of chairs at the site. This is a gym divided into numerous sections: the registration, medical history, vital signs, then the areas for the adult patients, children, dentists, x-rays, ophthalmologists, pharmacy and referrals for those who need to go to the hospital. We also have in a separate section an onsite laboratory and a room for minor surgeries.

In the evening, while the whole pharmacy, still in boxes, is carried to the gym by the volunteers, our two eye-doctors who just arrived from Manila, with the help of some volunteers, sort out the 500 or so pairs of eye glasses donated to the Mission from abroad. Without such donations of supplies and funds, and especially without the prayers offered for our cause, it would be impossible to have such amazing medical Mission.
All for the greater glory of God!

SSPX Brothers' Novitiate
The Novitiate bold project for the glory of God
Laying earthquake-proof foundations

Mission Days

The crowd at the registration
It is the first day of Mission, and the volunteers are up bright and early to attend the holy Mass at the Mission site before receiving the Barangay patients at 9 am. However, the people in the neighborhood have also read our banners announcing the Mission; and the crowd starts building up even before the start of the 7:15 am Mass, so that by the end of the mass, there are more than 100 people waiting for the Mission to start. They came early to see the doctor; but, little did they know, the Divine Physician would be waiting for them, too. Perhaps, seeing the beauty of the traditional Mass for the first time, some supernatural seed will be planted in their soul.

The patients arrive by all the means available
Many need help
 At 9 am, the Health Mission begins. One can hardly believe the massive crowd waiting to enter the gym. In spite of the damp heat and the need to wait perhaps for hours, these lovely Filipinos are happy and smiling; and children run and play in the meantime.

These games which transcend time and space
Everyone finally gets to his post and begins to work out his specific duties. Some make sure that each doctor has all he needs at his consultation table: forms, water to drink, rubbing alcohol, chairs, and/or trash can; others control the flow of patients; in the lab, a clever volunteer fixes a loose ECG lead; back at the HQ, our secretaries type, print, and get the badges ready for the volunteers, and whatever the patients will need, and, and. pay bills! A real human beehive of charity, all for the greater love of God!

Today, we performed two minor surgeries; and, as simple as this may seem, the grateful patients left having been touched by the agents of divine charity.

Part of the stock of 500 glasses donated to the Mission
I can read!" Shared joy between Dr. Lee and the relieved patient
The eye doctors were a highlight of this opening day. Both came from Manila: Dr Elaine Araneta, ophthalmologist, and Dr Lee Versoza, ophthalmologist and eye-laser surgeon. The donation of 500 pairs of glasses that came a from 2 anonimous French benefactors was truly God sent! Faces would light up when trying the glasses: "I can see! I can read!!" The volunteer who had said he had come to make people happy was right; these poor people were beaming with joy! Thus, they were able to use 211 pairs of glasses out of the 500, in a single day!

Logistics plays a large role in the smooth running of the Mission, as well. Not only do supplies need to be obtained and transported by boat, by bus, and even by plane (since not everything is available in the provinces), we need to transport patients to the hospital (for more complex testings, such as x-rays, or when emergencies arise). The logistics team is constantly moving between volunteers to stay on top of all the needs. And, here, the Brothers play a great role with their rusty Kia van and their pick-up truck!
On this opening day, we broke one of our past records - 650 patients for a first day! And, all were well counted.
Deo Gratias!

The governor of Iloilo received the brown scapular...
...and does not hesitate to wear it even in public
Civil authorities (the vice-mayor, the mayor and the governor) with the
Mission leaders, Dr. Dick├Ęs, and Frs. Couture, Daniels and Castel
The joys of Philippine public transport

The convoys of patients never stopped all day long
It's Day 2 of the Mission, and the volunteers are ready for another challenging day. After Mass and a delicious breakfast of coffee, bread, jam, and fresh mangos (the season is just starting), the volunteers began by rearranging desks and chairs in the mission area. The experience of the first day suggested a few improvements that could be made in the floor plan to facilitate patient flow.

The children's pharmacy
However, around 10 am, here comes the rain! Buckets of it falling and crashing, flood-like, from heaven. The volunteers quickly spring into action, since the gym is half open on three sides. The dentist and his assistant, working in another area, took a while to realize they were working in 3-4 inches of water. With the help of the wind, water aggressively attacks volunteers, patients, the eye-doctors, and especially the children's pharmacy which is immediately relocated in another dry corner.

Priestly recreation

Ten or fifteen minutes later, the Mission continues. Flash floods are part of Philippine life. Water is then evacuated with brooms, shovels, and even a 3' x 8' piece of plywood operated by two enthusiastic priests! The laboratory has also been busy today, providing quick diagnostic testing onsite. Tests are performed to check for infections and anemia and tuberculosis (for which there is a local clinic as it is still quite common in the Philippines). Today, a patient was diagnosed with intestinal hookworms. How much better she will feel after receiving the much wanted medicine!

Our three veterans at the pharmacy for adults

Among the nurses testing for diabetes, worries grow as many grave cases are discovered and as our glucometer has the bright idea to quit working! One out of three of our patients unknowingly has a serious case of diabetes. A terrible puzzle for missionary doctors.

Our chief pediatrician detected two children with the frightening dengue fever which almost took four of our volunteers to the other-life, 3 years ago 

This smile, trademark of the Philippines,
which makes us cross oceans and continents

Imposition of the brown scapular by batches of 50
The day ends, after a surprise birthday cake for our dear Polish Eleni, with a meeting examining the pros and cons of the day and what is lacking in the pharmacy. Volunteers are eager to learn what improvements can be made in running such a missionary medical endeavor. 

Even the policemen want to put themselves under Our Lady's mantle

Lastly, every day sees all the workers at the feet of their Queen, offering that most precious bouquet of 53 roses, in gratitude for the day spent and in petition for the next to come and for the volunteers who went to bed early due to exhaustion!

Ave Maria!

Anne Jochaud du Plessix using to the full her medical talents

A Bird’s View of the Mission