Continuing our daily Advent reflection series, returned Missioner Catherine Giller writes about a man whose service for his family exemplified the commitment of selfless love.

During my first mission experience for FMS in Sacaba, Bolivia, I met Eulalio. Fortunately for their family, Eulalio’s wife had steady work selling food staples. In their relationship, the care of their children fell to him. Two of their adolescent children had disabilities, and Eulalio took them to the Puntiti Center, run by religious sisters, every day, which was a significant commute. Then he went back again in the afternoon to bring them home.

He truly cared for his kids and wanted the best. But with this schedule he could not have a regular job, so he sold popcorn as street vendor in the plaza on the weekends.

Popcorn cart in Sacaba plaza

When I went to take the yearly photo of his son, Juan, to send to his sponsor, Eulalio was the one who dressed him, groomed him, and tenderly got him to smile for the photo.

We also took a photo of Rosa hoping that she too could have a sponsor. Eulalio had one other son from this marriage who fell in birth order between the other two. Javier was as gentle and kind as his father when it came to care of his siblings.

I think Eulalio was a great role model because of his great dedication to his children.Years later when I returned to Bolivia and was able to meet again with all the people I knew from my first mission work, I met Rosa and Juan at a gathering. I was shocked and saddened by the news of Eulalio’s passing (he was only about 50 years old). I worried how much the “kids” would be missing their dad and who would take such good care of them.

All Eulalio’s kids are adults now, and I finally met some of his older step kids, who have jumped in to take care of their younger half brother and sister. He is greatly missed. I only have a picture of him in my mind, and he is always smiling. I think of his patience when things can be trying and try to learn from his great caring.

Coming up tomorrow: “Preparing to be Overwhelmed” by Michael Carlson!

 

Catherine served with FMS from 2002-2004 in Sacaba Bolivia at the Parish of San Pedro. She returned in 2010 to serve for three years with the Franciscans and Voces Para Latinoamerica in Cochabamba. She currently works in NY State with migrant farm workers. 

Help shine the light! Make a donation to Franciscan Mission Service this Advent.