The people all over the world were busy preparing themselves to welcome the New Year 2024 on the eve of December 31, 2023, but the villagers around Mount Lewotobi, Flores Timor, NTT, Indonesia were enveloped with fear due to the tremors and the emission of smoke from Mount Lewotobi. Those who are very near the area right away run for safety in the middle of the night and the government responded on January 1, 2024 by evacuating residents from 5 villages to different shelter camps. The volcano did not really erupt as expected until now, however it continuously spews smoke, sulphur and volcano ashes that hinders the residents to go back to their homes. The government extended the stay of the residents in the shelter camp until January 30, 2024 for safety reason.

I feel blessed to have the opportunity to join the Divine Providence Sisters and JPIC volunteers to bring goods: medicines, foods, etc. directly to the shelter camps. We left Kupang on January 11, 2024 via ferry. It took 14 hours by sea to reach the island and an hour to the location of the evacuation due to bad weather. We were able to visit three (3) evacuation camps.

Contemplating on the realities of life experienced by the evacuees made me think of the sufferings of the “wounded Church”. Many of our brothers and sisters all over the world are suffering.

One of those in which I actually saw and touched is the sufferings of the victims of the volcano eruption in Lewotobi. Even though we have many deprivations in the convent, it is nothing compared to the poverty of those living in the shelter camps. The camps are continuously receiving aids from the different sectors of society but the one to manage and take good care of the needs of the evacuees are wanting. I felt helpless because my help is only limited in the kitchen and packing of foods. The faces of the Church that we can see are the aged, the sick, the children, the babies, the pregnant women, the faces of people who are restless and bored, eager to go back to their daily routine, faces who are worried because they left behind everything they have, some wear faces of hopelessness and desperation when in the middle of the night the rain and wind lashed out their tents and then came the flood. It was so sad also that we heard an aged man died inside the shelter camp.

May, we, Carmelite Missionaries truly live our identity as lovers of the Church, open our hearts and minds to see and serve with love and care our brothers and sisters who are in need…. to make our love of for God concrete, visible and tangible through our love for the Church – the mystical Body of Christ. love of God concrete, visible and tangible through our love for the Church - the mystical Body of Christ.

Sr. Maricel Humpay


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