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December 20, 1996     The Message
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2 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Bloomfield volunteer back after year in Bol with majors in Spanish and art. During a two-week semester break in 1994, she went to El Salvador and Guatemala with her aunt, Providence Sister Mary Montgomery. After gradu- ation from college, she toured Spain for two weeks. She left for Bolivia Sept. 29, 1995, and returned home to her family, Nov. 21, in time for Thanksgiving this year. She said the year gave her the chance to discover her strengths and weaknesses. Before Bolivia, she was "pretty much caught up in the whole way of life of a col- lege student, with a job, work- ing, and going out, having a lot of fun with friends." During that time, she was "really busy" but did not take much time "to think about life." In Bolivia, she worked with students, and learned to hope that what she did was of help to them. She also learned about her own need for reflection. Before she went to Bolivia, Montgomery made a TEC week- end (Teens Encounter Christ By PAUL R. LEINGANG Message editor Sonya Michele Montgomery is back in the United States after serving with the Salesian Lay Missionaries for a year in Bolivia. She found it difficult to judge the impact her work had on the people she went to help -- but the difference in herself she found to be quite clear. Sonya and her parents, Frank and Cindy Montgomery, are members of Holy Name Church, Bloomfield. She went to Bloom- field High School, and then to Marian College in Indianapolis, where she graduated in 1995 Weekend #11 in the Diocese of Evansville). In Bolivia, her roommate, Ana, introduced the community where they were liv- ing to something called a Jor- nada, which Sonya said was very similar to a TEC weekend. Since her return to Bloom- field, Montgomery has been enjoying being with her family, which includes three sisters and two brothers. After the holidays, she will look for a job. For other young persons, especially recent college gradu- ates "with no obligations to any- body or anything," she "highly recommends" a period of service in missionary work or with some other organization. "There are so many problems, there is so much to be done," she said. She feels that "no one will ever see the results of the work they do," but those who serve will find the changes in them- selves. Excerpts of a letter which was dated Sept. 23, 1996, are re- printed on this page. Hello from South America.* A year has gone by since I arrived here in Bolivia. I've done things that I never would have dreamed possible, and I have experienced things that I don't ever want to experience again. I've met many wonderful people from across the States to Europe. Some became close acquaintances, and others very close friends. Together we sought out the "mission" that we were called to do. The most profound thing I've noticed throughout the year are the changes that each one of us has gone through in order to fulfill our mission here in Bolivia, and to continue with whatever missions lie ahead of us. The first four months ! worked in a boys' orphanage in the city of Santa Cruz. I was never given any responsibilities there, because they have full-time educators working there everyday. I felt that my presence wasn't really need, which in fact it was, and I didn't real- ize it at the time. Then in January I heard that there was a need for an art teacher at a Salesian school in Okinawa. Okinawa is one of the many Japanese settlements in Bolivia, and it is also a large farm- ing area where there used to be a jungle. It's a two-hour drive from Santa Cruz to Okinawa. I accepted the job as the art teacher for the Salesian school, San Francisco Xavier.... The Salesian sisters assigned me to teach grades 6-12, and English with grade 6. In all I've been teaching about 400 students a week. ,. I have found the work here to be challenging beyond all belief. First of all the children have no interests whatsoever to learn anything. It is very hard to get these kids animat- ed. Also they have major disciplinary problems. Most of the children come from generations and generations of abuse, which is the main cause of their disciplinary problems. Some of the native Bolivian teachers beat their students as well .... Also living way out in the coun- try made for very limited supplies. I had to go to Montero or Santa Cruz for art supplies, and even then it's been hard to find enough things for an entire class. I was very excited when I received a large donation of art supplies, and ideas for projects. These kids lack the use of their imaginations. They live in a society where copying and cheating is accepted, and the faster the work is done the better, as long as it looks good. So we've done a lot of free drawings, coloring exercises, and water-color painting, just so that they have to use their imaginations. With a lot of encouragement, I can only hope that I got the message through to some of them. Back in April, I was asked if I would like to paint a mural in the church. I accepted the offer, and have been working on it since. I was able toget most of it done during vacations and whatever weekends were free .... I've had some really mixed feelings about this paint- ing. It's my first mural to have ever painted, and I'm not really satisfied with it. There is plenty of room for improvements, which I simply don't have the time for. Also the quality of paint is not good. If somebody tries to clean it with a wet cloth, the whole thing could be washed away.... One day my roommate, Ana, was telling me that she saw a woman praying to it. I felt really strange after hearing that. I didn't think my painting was that important, until hearing what Ana had told me. I do know that I feel honored to have been the one to paint the mural in the church while here in Bolivia, and who knows how long that painting will be there? Maybe some day, ten years from now, I will be able to show my family the painting. During my free time I usually try to relax, read a book, or reflect upon my life. It was during those times of reflection that I would discover the changes within me .... At home I knew I had gone through changes, (but) living in the fast-paced society (did not allow me) time to think or reflect upon those changes, whether they were good or bad. So I accepted whatever changes they were, and continued full-speed ahead. It wasn't until I came here that I felt the consequences of living in the fast lane, with no real time to reflect. Needless to say I spent many an hour under the shade of our olive tree contemplating my life, and the changes I was going through. I would have to say this experience has been a very positive one, so far. I've learned so much about myself that I wouldn't have learned had I not come to Bolivia to experience it. I would seriously (recommend) volunteer work for those who are willing to give up the time to help those who are less fortunate. It could also be a time to help yourself, to search for your soul. Sonya Montgomery pauses to check her work o a Bolivian church. Coloring con w|nners annou By MARY ANN HUGHES Message staff writer Students in Catholic schools and religious education pro- grams throughout the Diocese of Evansville participated in the annual Message coloring con- test, which was open to students in grades kindergarten through four. The children of Message subscribers also participated. Winners of the contest are: Kindergarten Jessica Bivens, St. Bene- dict, Evansville, grand prize; --Anjuli Buechler, St. Mary, Huntingburg, first prize; Brianne Kormelink, Holy Spirit, Evansville, second prize; w Jessica Feagley, Good Shepherd, Evansville, third prize. First grade Kiersi Cox, Washington Catholic Elementary School, Washington, grand prize; Matthew Market, St. Joseph, Vanderburgh County, first prize; Jonathan Welte, Sts. Peter and Paul, Haubstadt, second prize; Emily Lahay, St. Mary, Sullivan, third prize. Second grade Lindsey Wedding, St. John, Daylight, grand prize; --Aaron Field, Sts. Peter and Paul, Haubstadt, first prize; Jenna Whorl, St. Philip, St. Philip, second prize; Laura Hall, St. philip, St. Philip, third prize. / Third grade Andrea Schnur, Resurrec- tion, Evansville, grand prize; Haley Alizabeth Wandtke, St. Joseph, Vanderburgh Coun- ty, first prize; D Holy Family, prize; St. James, Fourth Allison Rosary, Joe tion, cis Xavier, prize; -- Roy Vincennes, Grand priz a $20 gift Ritzy's. received pizza Cheese's. received and S prize cate for a assorted Stephen Page photo, from The stained-glaSS found on page Message Raphael Message s Hughes. According Spaulding, was cued Church was torn down'