Maria del Valle Moreno Blazquez shares her experience of transformative missions this summer in Equatorial Guinea.
Maria is from Cordova and studying Pharmacy at the Francisco de Vitoria University. She summarized the mission: “This experience has made me realize the importance of living Christianity in community and how nice it is to take the gospel and the experience of the living God to others,” she explains. An experience with moments of serious self-giving was very special, because even the malaria and typhoid fever she suffered in this trip has been part of her missionary experience.
The rest below is Maria’s testimony. She begins with a prayer from Pope Francis:
“As you did with your disciples on the lakeshore, you, Lord Jesus, want to show us a way of life to achieve true happiness: that way is you. If I open the door for you, if I let you be present in my story, if I share with you my joys and sorrows, I will experience the inner peace that only God can give, an infinite love. Jesus, you call me and I want to respond to your life proposal. And, although sometimes I doubt, I want to decide on the way to reach true Joy. If I give you my ‘yes,’ then my young life will be full of meaning and will be fruitful. Jesus, help me to have the courage to go against the current. Help me to have the courage to choose true happiness.”
I wanted to begin my testimony with this prayer of Pope Francis at the 29th WYD because he has accompanied me during all the missions. It helps me get up in difficult times and reminds me that I am on the path of happiness, in the way of Jesus.
I am from Cordoba, I study Pharmacy at the Francisco de Vitoria University and I live at the University’s College. In both environments, I feel close to God and both help me grow in my relationship with him. I knew Regnum Christi, but it is the first time that I carried out an apostolate with Mission Youth. This experience has made me realize the importance of living Christianity in community and how beautiful it is to share the Gospel and the experience of the living God with others.
I said “yes”
I said “yes” to the invitation that God made me through my friend Menene to go on missions to Equatorial Guinea, and I can’t be happier. I repeated my missionary experience after spending the summer in Ethiopia with the Sisters of Charity, but each mission is undoubtedly unique.
I find it difficult to put the certainties in my heart into words, but I will try to do the best I can. To know Guinea has been a real gift, but knowing God more through his people has been precious. I have shared a mission with a wonderful group of young people from all over Spain, with the consecrated Elisa and Paulina, Fr. Borja and Fr. Victor. For them I only have words of thanks and admiration. How nice that there are people so beautiful and with so much desire to donate and give the best of themselves to others! They have been an example and a testimony of life for me and for all Guineans.
As a Christian, I base my faith on the cross. The cross on which Jesus was crucified as a sign of his love makes me follow the path of true happiness. The cross is formed by two sticks, one vertical and one horizontal. The vertical takes me to heaven, to God and his love. And the horizontal stick takes me to the people I have next to me in my day to day, my neighbor. The cross, without one of these two sticks, ceases to be a cross and stops having the immense value it has.
Love God… and men
I compare my faith and my Christian life with this phrase. It is no use loving God and forgetting those we have near who suffer; that is not what he asks of us. And to love others, following a horizontal line, putting God in the middle, is an authentic step forward. For that reason, I do not conceive the one without the other, and for that reason, I returned to say yes to give myself to the others this summer. This is the reason why I go on missions; for love, for love of God, but also for love of others.
I know that God does not ask me for big things, because he knows my limitations, but he asks me to do little things like this, because he also knows that they really make me happy, very happy. The missions make me leave me, my egoisms, my shadows. They make me heal wounds and allow me to put myself completely at the service of the other. Sometimes it may seem that leaving yourself to give to others is forgetting oneself, but it is not so. I feel that, the more I get out of myself to reach the needs of my neighbor, the more I find myself and with God in my life. I know myself, I know others and I welcome and welcome the other with limitations and strengths.
We have been missionary in the city of Ebibeyin, staying in the minor seminary with Fr. Alipio. Every morning, after breakfast, we went to mission in different neighborhoods of the city and be with families. We visited many houses, and we encountered different situations, but all unique and special. Sometimes we were surprised by how providence could get us to the right place at the right time.
And we talked about God
The Guinean culture is very hospitable and welcoming, and rare was the morning that a family did not invite us to eat peanuts in their humble room, they gave us to try the exquisite yaka or whatever they were cooking to eat that day. We shared with them a little while where we talked about their lives, we told them who we were and why we were there … And we talked about God.
We used to end up praying together for the intentions that family had in their hearts and it was a very special moment. In addition, we invited them to the activities that we did in the afternoon in the parish. Games for the little ones, group of young people and adults to do crafts or simply share life. Then, we ended up praying all together a rosary, celebrating a mass and finally we saw a film of which we had selected because they contributed values and helped us to understand other realities and empathize with other sufferings.
See every afternoon the smiles of those children who were excited to be with us has given us life, has made us remember that happiness is in the small things, in the details, in the love and in giving ourselves. We had nothing else to give that was not our love, our presence and our love, and that makes me experience a kind of happiness that I find hard in my daily life, despite being surrounded by luxuries and material things.
My disease, my self-giving
The last five days of missions, I fell ill. I have had malaria and typhoid fever, and I had to be hospitalized for four days in a hospital in Guinea. My illness has been part of the self-giving, it was part of God’s plan and it has been one more experience. I have not experienced anything as a negative thing; On the contrary, offering and thanking all the care and attention of my colleagues and especially those of Paulina, Menene, Elisa and Carmen, who have spent hours with me in the hospital. I have been able to know first-hand the suffering and physical pain of tropical diseases and thus put myself more in the place of these people and understand their reality in depth. Without a doubt, this makes me value more everything that has been given to us.
The missions do not end here; In fact, I would say that now the most important part begins. Our true mission is in our day-to-day, valuing what we have and making a conscious use of things. Our mission is to be close to others, to their worries, to their sufferings and to bring God to the people that are close to us. Give your hand to those around us to walk with us in a way of life to achieve true happiness; that way is Jesus.