Esmeralda Labrador Mancebo, Spain:
"Now I see that it was the Lord that put Sister Clare in my path to take me to Him. "
Those who know me know that for eight years I lived in the school that the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother are in charge of in Belmonte, Cuenca (Spain). In spite of the tireless efforts of the Sisters to help me open myself to God, I never believed in Him. What I mean to say is that, obviously, I believed that God existed, but since I never actually felt Him I never really accepted Him. I remember that the first important experience I had of Him was at my Confirmation when I was twelve years old. That’s what helped me live that ceremony well. But after that, I went back to that same way of thinking: God was still nothing for me.
When I turned thirteen years old, for different reasons, it was the worst year of my life ever. At the end of that school year, when I went back to my house for the summer, things had already begun to go downhill, so much so that I was heading towards a depression. That summer was horrible, above all because there was a person that crushed my self-esteem. I ended up so distraught, that any time that I wanted to say something, I had to stop, so as to not start crying. This really happened to me, it was real.
When I began the 2011-2012 school year, I couldn’t even have imagined how much my life was about to change. Months later, Sr. Clare herself told me that when she saw me for the first time as I entered the house, she thought I was going to cause problems. Just imagine what look I must have had on my face.
The first month I was completely depressive, I did not talk to anyone, until the “International Rosary Day”. That day the sisters split us up into groups in order to pray the Rosary in different languages, and I ended up having to learn it in Gaelic with Sister Clare. I don’t know when it happened, but all of a sudden she made me laugh really hard, after months of complete silence. And through her, at that moment, I felt as if the Virgin Mary, our Mother, was giving me her love in such a powerful way that I was overwhelmed. Those who have never felt this love can’t even imagine how deep it is.
That was the moment of my conversion. I wanted to be good, pleasing before God’s eyes. Sister Clare was the one who helped lead me. She had a special love for me, and for the first time in my life, I felt that someone loved me for who I was, without expecting something in return. I know that the Sisters love us and give us what is best, but with her, I felt it in a special way. The love that she had for me made me see that I was important for her.
I have never had such a hard time saying goodbye to anyone like when I said goodbye to her. The day that we went our separate ways she gave me a big hug. Even today, remembering that moment makes me want to cry. I knew that it was the last time we would see each other, in fact, that is what I told her. She took it as a joke, but I was right.
When I turned fifteen years old, Sister Clare sent me a letter. I can assure you that it is the most cherished gift I have ever received.
Now I see that it was the Lord that put Sister Clare in my path to take me to Him. Thanks to her I have experienced Jesus’ and Our Blessed Mother’s love. He put her in my path so that I could also feel the love of a person who didn’t owe me anything yet gave me everything, bringing light to my life forever. She will live in my heart for the rest of my life, and along with that I will always have the certainty that God exists and that He loves me. And even though many years have gone by since I last saw her, her memory is very alive within me.