Women from St. Edward’s Church arrived at Teresa Toda on July 9th. Their expected return date is July 17th. They are providing a summer camp, called Campamento 2016, to one of our sister parishes—a home for very poor girls in the Dominican Republic run by Carmelite nuns.
Excerpts from Campamento 2016’s Travel Log
from Ann McGuire
Today every camper got her camp bag filled with camp supplies. We introduced the theme “Women of Faith” and the theme song “By the Grace of God” by Katy Perry. At night, we were treated to a Mass at the Hogar, given by a bilingual priest who is originally from Columbia, but is part of a community based in Milwaukee. His message coincided with the lessons of camp, especially the negotiation curriculum we have for the high school girls. All that plus we went to the beach!
We all made a big prayer circle. We prayed for Father Mike who not only supported Campamento and encouraged us but who also inspired others to join. We prayed for all parishioners at St. Edward’s Church, without whom we could not make Campamento happen.
Patricia read Ex 14:21-29 and Ex 15:19-21 which describes Moses parting the Red Sea and how his sister Miriam and the women celebrated. We broke into four age-based groups for journaling, math, and English. For math, the Dominican Republic has a standardized test in order to move to the next grade. Our girls tend to need help in math. And, English is very helpful for getting a job in tourism, a major industry here. Meanwhile, the oldest girls participated in the first session on win-win negotiation. It’s a curriculum developed for teenaged girls. After stations and negotiations, we gathered together to make tambourines. Finally, the group presented their skit and talked with the Sisters.
Estella read Mark 16:1-11 which describes how Mary Magdelene was the first to learn that Jesus had risen. In English, the dentist who is traveling with us gave a dental hygiene lesson and gave out cool dental care packs donated by a generous dentist parishioner. Meanwhile, the oldest girls discussed typical problems girls face. Next, we gathered together to make butterflies, which is a symbol that represents Mary Magdelene because she was transformed. Later, we visited five homes. Many of us have heard the statistic that 1.2 billion people live on less that $1/day, one billion are illiterate, and one billion do not have access to water. We witnessed how hard it is for people facing this kind of life and we saw how much we have in common, too, like a grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s.
¡Hola! Today was another special day at Campamento. A local party supply company brought in a trampoline, a big pool, music, face painting, and snacks for the girls. It was so much fun playing in the pool and jumping on the trampoline. They played from 11am to 6pm! It was fun for everyone. We were all tired and hungry at the end of the day. Usually we take an excursion, but the planned excursion fell through so this was plan “B” and it was a hit! After lunch, we toured the younger girls’ rooms. They were so proud of their neat closets and it was fun to see their school uniforms, the cincenera dresses, their dolls.
¡Hola! Today we continued on with our “Women of Faith” at Campamento and also did the math, English, and reflection stations while the oldest girls continued with their excellent negotiation program. At circle time at night, a group did a wonderful job on the drama about Tabitha, complete with costumes and a lot of action. The oldest girls recounted everything they learned in negotiation. It was interesting. I hope they can use what they learn at the home, at school, and in their neighborhoods. Two girls and the woman who designed the project presented Sister Fifib and Sister Carmen with the 16 blankets the girls made for poor babies in the area. The Sisters do pastoral work, so knew new babies who could use a nice blanket.
¡Hola! Today is our final official day of our “Women of Faith” camp. Continuing with our theme, we studied Teresa Toda and Teresa Guasch who founded the Carmelites of San Jose, “our” Sisters’ order. This mother and daughter started off with an alcoholic, abusive husband and father. The mother escaped with her baby; but, soon after, the abusive husband abducted the baby. Thanks to faith in God, they ended up living fruitful lives. They cared for and educated orphans war and famine. They founded the order. Julianna and Margarita read the story during opening ceremony. The oldest girls performed a drama. It was wonderful, emotional, disturbing, then in the end, uplifting. The Sisters commented that their order is still doing similar work, as the same problems still exist.The older girls also finished the negotiation program. We are so proud of them, as well as Jeane and Meghan who delivered this program in Spanish for the first time. The youngest three groups did the math, English, and journaling. For journaling, they had a list of character traits. They discussed the traits of the Teresas. Next, they looked at the list and selected their own traits, both good and bad. They each decorated a head with the appropriate words. They came out so cute! I had fun this afternoon with two of the older girls; both novices who are helping out this week. They wanted to learn more English, especially verbs. Ha! I’d like learn how to conjugate some Spanish verbs myself. We worked about three hours together. They were so in to it. We wrapped up that with some competitive games of Spot It. At final circle we prayed for all who have supported camp through past travel, donations, prayer. Thank you all so much!!
Final post of Campamento 2016! Today was our last full day together. After breakfast, we went to the beach. No pics, because I don’t bring my phone to the beach, just a waterproof camera. Sister Sandra greeted us when we came back from the beach! She looks so good! Her big news is that she’s going to be at El Carmelo, New York starting in September! I sure hope I can visit her there. She ran the home for the first 12 camps. We changed it up with circle time before lunch. We reflected on the week. The girls are so special. The older girls work so hard at their chores and are so helpful to us. The younger girls also help and aspire to be like the older ones. The Sisters are so gracious to us. They all make us feel like family. In the afternoon, we packed our craft room, and got ready for the Feast of the Virgin Carmen, which is important to all Carmelites around the world. A cloistered Carmelite order is in Azua since about 1 1/2 years ago. They invited the Sisters to join them at Mass. So the Sisters, the Americans, and the oldest girls went to 5:00 Mass. It was an absolutely packed house. Neighbors went home to get more chairs. It wasn’t just us, either. There were a lot of people there to celebrate. I wish I could have taken pictures of these Sisters, but didn’t think it would be polite. Think the “Sound of Music” movie; yes, full habit in this heat. They visited with us after Mass from behind a grate (like for an old fashioned bank teller). They were so happy to see us and tell us about their lives. They were exuberant and wanted to hold hands, which surprised me, given they chose a cloistered life. One Sister is an Italian WW2 orphan and the others were Dominican. They just seemed like a blast from the past. Next was our party with pizzas, ice cream, and pop. We gave out the gift bags, danced, played more cards and encouraged everyone to come back next year.