Hagerstown woman plans to return to mission work in Ecuador

September 09, 2008|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- Three years of high school Spanish and two college courses in the language were just the foundation Molly Jameson needed for a two-week adventure in May.

The 19-year old Hagerstown resident traveled to Ecuador with 15 other missionaries from Franciscan University in Stuebenville, Ohio, where she is a sophomore.

After attending a mission fair at the university last fall, Jameson said, she was drawn to the trip to Ecuador because she liked its focus on the "formation of missionary hearts." Another plus was working with children.

Jameson's group worked at Santa Maria Del Fiat, a Christian mission on the southeast coast of Ecuador founded by a Swiss priest. The mission cares for about 170 children who come from extreme poverty, with a history of physical or sexual abuse or who have been abandoned. It also operates a school for about 800 students.


Jameson said it was easier for her to communicate with children than adults, in a community where only Spanish was spoken.

"I could communicate with children. That's my level of proficiency," Jameson said.

She was so moved by the experience that she already has plans to return as a co-leader for next year's trip to the same location.

"The thing I remember most was the kids, just the joy they have. They have such broken lives, but a joy I've never seen before -- and a need for love," Jameson said.

It is a personal goal of Jameson's to do some fundraising for the mission. She said that without an infusion of $60,000, the mission and school might have to close.

"The mission provides education through high school, a place to stay and a loving home," Jameson said.

The other focus of the mission trip was community building within the missionary group. Those signed up for the trip took a noncredit college course where they learned the basics of living in community, ministering effectively in a different culture and techniques for evangelizing to all kinds of people.

They also spent time getting to know each other.

"They went from strangers to being my family," Jameson said.

While Jameson said her Spanish skills definitely improved during her trip, she said she discovered that love is a universal language.

"You don't really need to speak Spanish to love them and have them love you," she said.

Jameson is majoring in humanities and Catholic culture, and is considering graduate school. She is hoping to discern whether long-term missionary work is a good fit for her.

"I really hope to work with people in a way that makes a difference," Jameson said.

More information on Mission Santa Maria can be obtained at

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