Being an international congregation, some sisters are called to be present and integrate in another country and culture....

July 2010: God called me as a missionary to Peru...   My name is Sr. Diane Lajeunesse...I want to tell you about my call and experience of mission.  In 1994, our Superior General had sent out a call to any sister who would like to serve a few years in Africa or South America. They needed more mature members to balance the influx of younger sisters and to share the spirit and charism of our community.

    S. Diane Lajeunesse visiting the sick, Peru

I felt a stirring in my heart at that time, wondering if the Lord was leading me there.   Sr. Hilda Simard, a novitiate companion of mine and a 35 year missionary in Peru, came to visit. This desire to go to a third world country stirred again in me. Having worked among our Aboriginal people for the past eight years, my heart has been opened and become sensitive to their needs and life situations. I have been attracted to their values, the slower pace, their sense of humour and their simpler lifestyle.

I really think that God manifests His will through people, events and the peace in one`s heart. Therefore, in the 60th year of my life and after 40 years of religious life, I left for Peru with hope and joy in my heart. I knew it wouldn’t all be easy.  But I knew that God, who had placed that desire in my heart, would see it through. I love this saying on a poster I saw: “Never be afraid to entrust your unknown future to a known God.”

My experience in Peru for two years was challenging but at the same time very enriching. I loved the culture, the people, the language, the food, their zest for life, despite the difficult circumstances they live in.  The environment of poverty, the scarcity of green (I lived in Lima & Ica which are in the desert area) and the dusty surroundings were a challenge for me.

After reflecting on this experience, I realise that I am changed forever.  I am more open and accepting of differences in  people. I am happy with less, having seen how little material possessions they have. Having experienced how careful they were about how much water and fuel they used, I am much more aware and frugal in the use of these commodities.  I am much more grateful for what I used to take for granted.

Many of the people in Peru live in dire circumstances and still life filled with hope and joy.  I visited the elderly and the sick with a lady named “Felicia”.  Her home had only a dirt floor because her husband drank the money away, so she could not build a cement floor.  However, her home was always clean.  She accepted her circumstances and still volunteered to visit with me and bring joy to these people.  Her life impressed me!  I am much less likely to complain about my circumstances now that I am back in Canada. I will forever be grateful for this experience.