by ACIM ASIA
The departure and the arrival: from July 23 to 25, 2010
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!
to Rosa Mystica IV
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 Dickès, 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 !