December 1, 2023

St. Clare parishioner makes mission trip to Ecuador

Walden is pictured along with children and other missionaries.
Walden engages in manual labor.

I felt called to do mission work after hearing about the mission work of the diocese in Saltillo, Mexico. I was given the chance to do mission work in Ecuador with a Catholic Missionary group — Family Missions Company. The missionaries I stayed with are Jonathan and Teresa Kiehl (Teresa — daughter of Deacon Bill Vrazel).

This was a three-week mission trip called “Summer School of Missionary Evangelization” (July 8-29) in Chonta Punta, Ecuador
I would like to share with you some of the experience I had while on a mission trip to Ecuador.

Daily activities: Liturgy of the hours, formation with missionaries (song, prayer, Gospels. Reflection, study/discuss Pope Francis on the “Call to Holiness,” work (travel to communities), work with community kids for song-dance-prayer-catechesis-serve them dinner. I guess each day we had about 40 kids.

Also, there were trips farther in the jungle to visit communities. It was challenging yet very fulfilling to celebrate Christ and the love of God with them. One thing to do when there is to shake hands with each person. That was interesting. A very simple touching of the fingertips and a smile. Three trips we went on touched me. To be honest I wasn’t even sure if I could make it two of them.

We spent several hours walking in the jungle to retrieve fresh cut boards and carry them out for a family whose kitchen fell off of the house. The house really needed these boards because in the house were several families and a young lady who was eight months pregnant. Traveled to a community in the jungle called “Mango Playa.” This was the longest and I think hardest journey into the jungle where we celebrated games, song, Mass, baptisms, and lunch.

I attended Holy Hour at a community in the jungle where we had adoration of the blessed sacrament. I had the blessing of being prayed over by the community. That was a very intense Christ moment for me.

The last week of my trip was devoted to the first ever Vacation Bible School for the missionaries and the surrounding communities. There were 5 age groups, with different activities for each hour (songs, sacraments, games, bible, crafts, and sports).

Charles Walden, portraying Jesus, washes the feet of Angel, who portrayed Peter, during Vacation Bible School.
Walden and other members of the cast.

I was assigned to the Bible (biblia) class. We would do stories from Jesus in the Bible and act them out. What an amazing experience this was. Teresa Kiehl (missionary) and Angel (team member) had all the ideas and we made/setups and props. They were amazing at all of this. I had the blessing of being Jesus for our stories. The stories of Jesus for our class were: John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in the Jordan; Jesus foot washing and Last Supper; The sending of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit; the wedding at Cana. What I gained from this was how much fun it can be to tell the stories of our Lord Jesus and yet teach the kids at the same time. I was greatly moved by the whole experience.

I experienced so much but most of all the presence and love of God through people who I did not know and could hardly speak their language. It is only through God’s grace this was possible. I thank God for bringing me to this place where He could show me His love, my humility, my fears, the love and joy in children, and the compassion of the missionaries. I experienced most of all that no matter where you go, no matter who you meet, the language of love and God breaks down all barriers you might encounter. Amen.

I have to say that Jonathan & Teresa Kiehl (missionaries) were a gift to me in that they showed me true friendship, the love of Christ from their actions, their ability to evangelize in any situations, the care that was given to me and simply to just be the example of Christ in all that they did. I fell in love with them and their beautiful family. I pray that I will be able to return and serve the Lord once again with them in Ecuador. God bless them, their family, and their team.

If you would like more information about the mission in Ecuador and/or to donate to their mission here is the link:


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