The Tears of Lebanon

By Sr. Amelia Torres, DC

In 1965 I wrote a letter to our Superior General in France offering for the missions. I was only 6 months old in the Seminary of the Daughters of Charity. Time did fly fast, years came and went and I was assigned to different apostolates: schools, hospitals, parishes and development centers. Nobody took notice of my ardent desire. Superiors ignored my letters. They told me I was not physically strong to survive the rigors of mission life; that I was much more needed in my own country ... and so obediently I went on with the tasks assigned to me. Nevertheless, from time to time,  I expressed my desire.

Death of Sr. Aurora

During an annual retreat in 1983, it was announced that Sr. Aurora, one of my companions in U.S.T. Hospital, who had offered herself for Iran, had died in an accident. Her death shocked me for we had been such good friends. Right there and then I heard an inner voice “You are just the fit person to replace me here in Iran.” I did not mind nor put much importance to that ‘voice’. Meantime I had become very happy in my apostolate. I was enjoying my mission as educator to future nurses. I was peak of my nursing practice. I had finished my Master’s Degree. I was Directress on Nursing Service in different hospitals. and I was Dean of Nursing in Sacred Heart College. Professionally what more could I ask, Lord?

In another annual retreat in 1987, I was in the chapel when suddenly I felt a light tap on my shoulders. It was our Visitatrix. In short, I was invited to a dialogue about Iran. As a result eventually I was indeed sent to replace Sr. Aurora but at that very time my aging mother was not well so my heart was divided. I left her in God’s hand and said, “Yes, Lord”.

Off to Iran

On June 14, 1987, I departed for France to our Mother House in Rue du Bac, Paris. I knew nothing of the language. For three months I took the Intensive Debutant course in French.

In September I arrived in Beirut for a stop over of 4 -5 days. I stayed in the Provincial House. Meanwhile they were hurrying up my papers for Iran. In a week’s time everything would be ready. Of course, I knew it was difficult but nevertheless possible. So I waited and waited and waited. But Iran did not accept me. So I opted to stay in Beirut, the war-torn capital of Lebanon.

New Destination

I was assigned to the Military Hospital; in Beirut. Everything went fine and gradually I got accustomed to the military environment. Then October came where bombings were strongest in Beirut and its suburbs. The war situation became so politically complicated that poor Lebanon did not know anymore where to turn to. Bigger and powerful nations around it aimed at dividing the country among themselves.

Mass Graves

In 1992 there was a temporary ceasefire to give PEACE a chance. All the while we at the Military Hospital received and took care of all the wounded soldiers, the poor civilian victims regardless of religion regardless of race and color. I saw human lives end brutally and mercilessly because of greed and egoism. For me it was a horrible experience seeing the dead victims, young soldiers at that, piled up by the hundreds and buried altogether in common graves at night.

War Ends

Today 1996 has ended and the county is in full physical reconstruction. But the people, after 18 years of war, are very tired, so emotionally and psychologically shattered, so physically and materially empty. But St. St Paul gives us HOPE: We are often troubled but not crushed. Sometimes in doubt but not despair. There are many enemies but we are never destroyed. At all times we carry in our mortal bodies the death of Jesus so that his life also may be seen in our bodies.