Every encounter – as we know – calls for openness, courage and a willingness
to let ourselves be challenged by the presence and the stories of others.
D'Orbigny belongs to the rural area of the San Pedro Apóstol Parish in Yacuiba (Bolivia), where we carry out our pastoral work.
It is about 35 communities of native peoples, "Matacos", or as they call themselves "Guaynayé", who live according to their traditions and customs, on the banks of the Pilcomayo River, the border between Bolivia and Argentina.
They are especially fishing villages, and for this reason, they are trying to build a chapel or temple to their patron, "Jesus the good fisherman", in the little town, where they share with the "criollos" or mestizos, the school, the assistance room of health, and a Tinglado, or covered space that allows us to gather them in groups when we visit them.
They live in family groups that make up about 30 adults and more than 70 children in each settlement. Each one of the communities has its “captain” or head of families, with some of whom they are having more frequent communication; and those who act as translators for us on our visits. During the season when there is no fishing, they live by collecting fruits and hunting in the mountains.
The priest and the little shepherdesses share with us:
“In the beginning, in our first encounters, we came as missionaries, and they ran away from us. But little by little, we were transmitting to the captains that we had no other intention than to share with them for a while, bring them food and clothing, meet their needs, and above all, be there and listen to them. We were not looking for any other interest, except to impose anything on them, at a social, political or religious level.
We began to bring audio, music, to make plays, sweets, later with some lay missionaries, we made campaigns to collect and bring them clothing, food, medicine, etc., to meet them and let them know us.
We made the living manger for Christmas, and one of the captains translated the gospel stories into his language. We began to play with the children, and now they come closer and accept our gestures or expressions of affection, they teach us words in their language, ...and at the same time, we encourage the parish community to be on "out" towards these brothers and sisters with unmet basic needs".
These Guaynayé communities are about three hours away from Yacuiba, along difficult roads that are impassable when it rains. The meeting with 3 of the 35 communities is just being achieved. Some of them are going into the bush. On the other side of the border, in Argentina, are the native communities of Santa Victoria, Salta, where the shepherd sisters of Salta also organize the mission.
We share some photos so you can get to know them. They are our existential peripheries, mission land, where everything is to begin, “from the manger”. But at the same time, it is the land where we are missioned, where the gospel calls us to announce, where life cries out and awaits our response.
“Go and announce the Good News to every creature”
Community of Yacuiba, Bolivia