It happened again. 

A minor catastrophe reared up in one fell swoop this past week – all the water dried up at Girlstown in Chalco, Mexico. The underground water pump, which had started showing small signs of disrepair, finally stopped functioning and began to spit out grains of sand with water.

Students living and learning in Chalco.

Showers, spigots, and sinks have run dry in Chalco the past few days. With 3,200 young ladies, that is a problem.

But not really.

“The joy of the girls in this situation was amazing,” said Fr. Dan Leary, the Chaplain in Chalco. “I was watching all these girls with buckets and carrying water wherever it was needed – up the stairs, across the grounds, it didn’t matter where they went. They were just smiling and laughing and just did what they could in a tough situation. They are simply girls who want to serve and help wherever they’re able.

“It was actually a very beautiful thing to see unfold. It was a total giving of themselves without complaint.”

The past few days, water trucks have been passing through Chalco’s gates to supply water for the girls. To date, more than 200,000 liters of water has been trucked in for drinking and food preparation. But as of this writing, showering and bathing will have to wait until a new pump is installed.

Water trucks coming and going in order to supply water for the students.

“It is a small sacrifice,” said Sherlyn Comia, an employee in Chalco. “But the girls are making the best of it. This is what they always seem to do.”

When visiting Chalco in May, I found myself continually marveling over the rapid-fire adjustments the Sisters of Mary, employees, and teams of girls implemented in response to COVID-19.

For two successive days, I watched several hundred girls carry heavy boxes of pre-packaged milk to dormitories. Some girls walked approximately 300 yards to destination points. The walking journeys were necessary because the milk handlers for the trucking company weren’t permitted past the designated quarantine area by the front gate.

The chapel at Girlstown Chalco.

 

I will never forget what I saw unfold one morning when I was spending time in the chapel. As girls walked by carrying the 

approximately 30-lb. boxes of milk, many dozens of them stopped momentarily, placed their box down, and genuflected in  front of the tabernacle. Thereafter, the sound of laughter trailed them for their long walk ahead.

When the virus caused instructors to leave for their homes in April, the Sisters and teachers collaborated to hand-select industrious students to teach classes. Relying on the guidance and communication of the quarantined teachers, more than one hundred students volunteered to stand in front of the class.

Marlen with the reading class she’s been assisting in.

“It’s been an honor. At first, I thought, ‘Are they even going to listen to me. Are they going to follow me or obey what I have to say’,” said Marlen, a seventeen-year-old from Puebla who taught a reading and oral expression class. “But I took it as a challenge.”

In Chalco, and every other location where the Sisters of Mary are gathered with the children they mother, embracing the latest challenge with charity, patience, and grace is the way.

It was the way of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz. 

It is his echo; a play on the motto he left for the ages: Let us go and serve the poor with joy.