Walking with the Poor – My Life On The Missions
Fr Martin Chambers

Each month I will publish an extract from my book – Walking With The Poor
I hope you enjoy reading about my journey, and you will be touched by the people of Nueva Prosperina.

I was settling down and getting used to living in another country even although it was completely different.  Tom arrived back from his preaching holiday in the States.  He had had a minor heart attack while there so had stayed for longer than planned but it was great to have him back.  He is a very keen reader and was always handing me articles and books to read.  I loved them all but was embarrassed not to have as many to give to him in return.

Each day his housekeeper would prepare a healthy meal of home-made soup along with a plate of rice and chicken or beans so I was glad of the healthy diet.  However, one thing I did have to get used to was drinking loads of water.  As it was so hot (never really went below 30 degrees) and there was no wind, I was sweating heavily every day.  I would have to change my shirt twice a day if not three times as well as refreshing myself in the evening with a second shower.  At first I thought that sweating so much was simply disgusting but then I saw that everyone, even the locals and even the women were sweating, so I got used to it although I still suspected that a Scot was sweating much more than the locals.

In those early days I would fill my days going back and forward into the city to do endless paperwork for my missionary visa and my driving licence.  I also began to spend a lot of time at the Parish school.  Initially I thought that I did not want to spend so much time at the school as the Parish was so big and I had so many things to do but then I realised that, with a roll of 350 and growing, I had great contact with many families spread out across the wide Parish.  Archbishop Arregui, who was to become a good friend, had made arrangements with an American charity to build three classrooms in our school.  This was to be a great boost to us in those early days as we still taught in bamboo huts which were awful for both teachers and pupils.  From the very beginning of my time in the school I taught two subjects, Music and Religious Education, so I knew at first hand that teaching in a bamboo hut was an impossible task: I could hear everything that was going on through the latticed walls and therefore found it difficult to teach; I suspected also that it was impossible to learn.

Fr Martin Chambers