Hello from the Ver Sacrum Missionaries!
What a special blessing that we were able to land in Miami, FL and be at the Shrine for Covenant Day (July 18)! This date held special significance for us since it was the one year anniversary of our Covenant of Love and Blank Check Dedications in Schoenstatt, Germany. The Blessed Mother certainly poured out her graces upon us (No pun intended. It was pouring rain when we arrived!). We were greeted by a beautiful piece of land filled with avocado, mango, and coconut trees! Palm trees line the path to the shrine and cement footprints lead the way to the door. In Miami the shrine is called, “Light and Way to the Merciful Father.” The Hispanic population is very large near the shrine, and so we were emerged into their Spanish culture for the week. It was so beautiful! One of our favorite experiences was attending Mass in Spanish and learning their prayers and songs. Everyone was so excited to meet us and thanked us for coming to lead the camps for the girls.
The first camp we did was the day camp for the younger girls. They had SO much fun! The day went by fast and was filled with lots of activities: talks, crafts, games, snacks, and lots of laughter. We were often struck by the depth of their understanding and their questions. These girls were very excited to learn more about Jesus and Mary and gave us a great witness and example of childlikeness. The energy was certainly contagious! After camp was finished, we attended the Spanish Mass in the Shrine with many of the families. Sr. Miriam surprised us by calling us forward for a recognition, and Father gave us a special blessing with a relic from the true cross!
Our second camp was for the older girls and we began on Sunday night. We were blessed to have 12 girls attend camp, and most of them had never heard of Schoenstatt before. It was an honor to bring them to the shrine for the first time and share all of what we love about Schoenstatt with them. “Into her heart” these girls dove. Our days consisted of all the regular fun camp activities: talks, crafts, games, snacks, songs, movie nights, and many visits to the shrine. Since our afternoons were hot, a fun highlight was always the water games after lunch. Overall, their favorite part of camp was “Question Time!” During camp, we invited the girls to write down (anonymously) any questions they might have about the faith and put them into our “Question Box.” Then, we would have special times when we would go through some of the questions and find the answers in the YOUCAT. Everyone had such a fun time, and we all benefited from the deep faith discussions. For us as leaders, it was so beautiful to see how eager and excited the girls were to learn more about the faith! We enjoyed discussions about Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Confession, God, Mary, and everything in between! As part of the closing program, many of the parents were able to come and join us in the shrine. We thanked the Blessed Mother for a wonderful week and brought her our gifts and strivings. We left the girls excited to come back next year, and in the meantime, they want to start a few girls’ groups in the area! Keep them in your prayers as they begin these new initiatives.
A visit to Miami certainly wouldn’t be complete without some sightseeing adventures. On Thursday afternoon, Nellie, one of the dedicated Schoenstatters, showed us around the city. To start off the day, she took us to the Miami Seaquarium. We had so much fun watching the dolphin and whale shows, walking around the gorgeous tropical grounds, visiting the various animal exhibits, and cooling off with dip n’ dots. For our afternoon lunch, we were treated with high class style while we dined in a restaurant in downtown Miami. Our personal server helped us enjoy a delicious meal in an atmosphere of beauty! Nellie also took us to a part of the city called Wynwood Walls. Local and famous artists alike have lined the streets with beautiful artwork on the sides of the buildings. It was interesting to see the various styles of art as we walked along the streets and park area. The highlight of the day was our visit to Miami Beach!! The gorgeous sandy shore felt so soft under our feet and we ran into the blue water with delight. We could have stayed there all day relaxing on the shore. It was certainly hard to leave Miami, the beautiful shrine, the tropical trees, mangos, beaches, and sunshine. We hope to visit again soon!