I was born in Managua, Nicaragua on the 28th of December 1964. I am the first child of my parent’s five children. The second child died before he was born. After him came my two sisters, Gioconda and Maria Gabriela, and lastly, my youngest brother- Fabio.

I was told that since I was a baby I was taken care of by my maternal grandmother- Ana, or as I nicknamed her- Mamana; now everyone calls her by this name. Mamana and my aunt Francisca (may she rest in peace) or “Panchita,” as we affectionately called her, were God’s instruments in my personal and, I might add, in my vocational formation.

From the time I was a baby until I was five years old, I lived the greatest part of the time with the two of them on the farm; it was my “paradise on earth.” By worldly standards the farm was poor, but in the lessons, care and love, my sisters and I received -it was very rich. My entertainment was playing in the fields looking for oranges and mandarins; I played with the chickens and with the parrot -teaching it to say the prayers Mamana and Panchita taught me as a little girl.

When I was five years old I entered school; it was heartbreaking for me, since I had to separate myself from my grandmother. But eventually my grandmother moved to Managua so that I could go to school peacefully and we were still able to go to the farm on the weekends where my paradise awaited me. Since I was child, my life on the farm next to the poor and simple people taught me to be satisfied with whatever I had. I had no preferences or inclinations for special toys. It was the same for me to play with a can and a stick- which I used as a drum, or to play with a Barbie my parents brought me from the United States. I remember on one occasion we were asked whether we wanted to go on vacation to Disney World or Panama. I chose the farm. We ended up going to Disney, where I also had a great time since I easily adapted to everything.

I would like to share something very significant that happened in my life. On a Saturday in 1971 while we were going out to the farm, we had a very tragic automobile accident. It had been raining very hard and a car suddenly made a U-turn in the middle of the road and crashed against us. Three men from the car that hit us died instantaneously. The fourth passenger in their car was sent to a psychiatric hospital for the rest of his life, due to the impact. In our car the woman who took care of me, when she realized I was going to go flying through the front windshield, held me in her arms and took the impact in my place. As she guarded me in her bosom, she smashed against the glass and died instantly. When I realized that someone had given their life for me, I understood that God had a particular election on my life.

After this event- everything changed for me. Although I was only seven years old, I could no longer look at my life as something casual, I realized that God had a special plan for me, a plan that in time I would come to discover. After the accident, my life also changed externally. I could not spend much time with my mother, since I was overwhelmed at seeing her stretched out immobile on a sick-bed, and my father had to work a lot. Thank God I had Mamana who had moved to Managua to be with me and my three sisters.

During my weekend visits to the farm, I started receiving Catechism classes in preparation for my First Communion. I applied myself and enjoyed the classes. When it was time for me to receive my First Communion, at eight years old, I asked my parents if I could celebrate it in the Parish Church in Belen- the little town in Rivas where our farm is located. I asked if they could invite all the farm workers’ children and my cousins. They finally agreed and gave me a breakfast with all the children of the town -which I thoroughly enjoyed. Days later, we had a party where they invited all their friends and our family members. The only thing I can actually remember about this special day was that my mother, for the first time in a year-and-a-half, was able to get up from her wheel chair and take her first steps. It was the happiest day of my life.

While I attended the Theresian School, I began to develop a great love for my school. I had good professors, very good friends and I loved the religious sisters. My favorite subjects were religion and sports. I spent my days in school and my afternoons joyfully with my younger sisters. I have always dearly loved my sisters and I always loved playing with them. Every day we left home early for school and I would not return home until almost 5:00 pm. I participated in many after-school activities such as: the “MTA” group for spiritual growth, all kinds of sports practices- since I was involved in all of them, or I went to work in one of the poor neighborhoods where the religious sisters had schools for children who came from low-income homes.

I loved seeing and being with the religious sisters. When I was in my third year of high school a religious sister, within the first five years of her first profession, came to our school. I got very close to her because I admired her. I would say to myself, “When I get older I want to be like her.” This is how I first began to discover my vocation…. I desired being at school and getting involved in all the different activities. Unfortunately, political difficulties plagued my country until eventually war broke out in 1980; at that time my entire family left Nicaragua and headed to Miami.

This new stage in my life was very difficult for me. I did not want to live outside Nicaragua. That is when I called the religious provincial on the telephone and asked to be admitted to her Congregation. She told me I was too young and that I should first go to the university for a while and live outside the school environment so that my vocation could mature. At that time I was not able to understand what was being asked of me, so I felt very rejected.

In 1981 I providentially returned to Nicaragua and my school-mates who where in their last year of high school, where getting ready to go on retreat. It was a “pilot retreat” being tried out first on them, and later it would be taken to other schools. They invited me to attend and thank God I did. It was there that I received what we call in the Charismatic Renewal, the “baptism in the Holy Spirit.” I received the gift of tongues and much encouragement to return back to Miami to continue my life with the Lord.

When I arrived back in Miami I looked for various individuals who had been recommended to me so that I would have some kind of support system. A married couple began to help me tremendously. I still I remember them with great love in my daily prayers. Later on, I attended another group and asked if I could join them. They told me I could not since they had just begun forming the group. This was the second time I felt rejection in a religious environment. Other than that married couple, I was left without a support group. And although the couple was very solicitous towards me, I felt I could not be bothering them all the time since they were quite busy with their own children and personal situations; I only looked for them every once in a while.

In spite of my loneliness, I tried to walk firmly in this new life. I began working at a chain of jewelry stores and became very successful. I worked hard, almost 80 hours a week. Eventually, at the age of 19 I became the supervisor of all the company’s stores in Miami, Tennessee and Ohio. Unfortunately, in the midst of this work environment, I started getting together with a group of friends who did not care for the spiritual life. I allowed myself be taken in by the world, to the point that I even stopped attending Sunday Mass. I lost the grace that God had given me.

In the midst of this I met a young guy whom I started dating. Every day my faith began to weaken more and more. Fortunately, at this time one of the leaders of the retreat I had attended in 1981 came to visit Miami and I had the blessing of getting together with her. I shared with her how I was and what I was doing. Our time together allowed me to realize the craziness of my life. In one sentence it became clear. She said: “Ana Margarita, you know that if you continue like this you will be building your eternal damnation.” When she finished her sentence, I stood up and said, “Let’s go….” She got scared and said, “Where?” I said: “to go to confession… since I do not want to live far away from the Lord.” That is how I returned to the life of grace. As a result of this conversation, I left my boyfriend, I left that group of friends, I stopped going out at night to the discotheques and I stopped working so many hours.

Unfortunately, one day, these friends called me to go out. I went out with them and met my old boyfriend; once again I began my old routine. The following week- I remember it was a Sunday, I decided I was not going to Mass; instead, I was going out on a boat. As I was walking around my house making preparations for the day, I twisted my foot and broke my tibia in three parts. Instead of going to the beach, however, I ended up in the emergency room at South Miami Hospital. I ended up in a cast for four months.

During this time I realized I had misused all the freedom the Lord had given me. So I returned to the sacrament of confession. As I left confession I promised the Lord I would receive Him in the Eucharist every day of my life as reparation for all the times I did not go to Mass on Sundays. Since July of 1985, every day I have kept my promise.

After some time, I called a religious I knew and asked her to help me find a group and to guide me with my life. Curiously, she told me: “You have a lot of good wood to work with, but we are not able to carve it. I will introduce you to a priest that perhaps can help you.” This is how I met Father Jordi; he in turn sent me to meet, the one who is now- Madre Adela. From the first moment I met her, I knew I should live out my vocation next to her. By God’s grace I am one of the first four sisters that followed “Mother” (as we endearingly call her) since the beginning of the Foundation. I’ve already shared more than 20 years with her and my sisters.

I can say that through the years I have been able to discover the hand of God in all the circumstances and experiences of my life. It was He who called me, and it was He who brought me to Himself. I am a happy religious and I always keep before me the words of St. Paul: “We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.” (2 Cor. 4:7).

 “All for the Heart of Jesus through the heart of Mary.”

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