Dom Walmor, Archbishop of Belo Horizonte, BM responsibles - Nilza and Altino with group of volunteers
This BM serves 700 dishes of soup and bread daily.
The people are spiritually assisted and supported by the Prayer Groups. Every Wednesday the prayer group meeting takes place with the people in need taking part. The biggest difficulty is to get daily meals ready because all the food comes from donations.
Read this heart warming letter from a homeless person who is served by the Belo Horizonte Beth Myriam volunteers
2nd anniversary of the house
Testimony from the Beth Myriam caregivers:
We would like to take this opportunity to mention the graces and events connected with the Beth Myriam, that fill us with joy, for they show God’s loving presence and allow us a glimpse of the fruits of our work. We present you some summarized examples:
1 – In our letter of 7.26.05, we wrote about 4 fugitive prisoners that had been to the Beth Myriam and, following the advice Nilza (the coordinator of the BM volunteers) was able to give them, returned to prison “because now they know that their families would not be hungry any more.” Recently, one of them (J. C.) finished his prison term and was set free and went to the church to search for Nilza. He fell on his knees to thank Our Lady, for he was back home, together with his wife and children in a small town in Minas Gerais (another state in Brazil). He asked for the names of the people who help in the "Casa de Maria" (Beth Myriam), so that he could bring them to the priest in his town to ask him to pray for them, he was grateful because he was converted in the Beth Myriam. He also asked for a Rosary and a statue of Our Lady's Rosa Mystica image.
2 – In our letter of 7.22.04, we wrote about beggars that changed their lives after having been fed and treated with dignity in the Beth Myriam. One of them (M., who gave us the “widow’s offering”, cf. Mark 12: 41-44) became a legal employee, earned some money and bought a little house in a poor area here in Belo Horizonte. And now he is a donor for the BM, and gives us 1 or 2 kilos of meat each month. He and his wife left drugs, converted, and now go to Mass every Sunday.
3 – On August 1st, 2 poor ladies came to the Beth Myriam. One of them was a widow with 4 children, and the other one was a single mother with 4 children as well. Both were unemployed and live in Vila Taquaril, a poor area in Belo Horizonte. The widow told us that her husband was accidentally shot and died. The other lady had been abandoned by her companion to live with another woman. This single mother used to give her children 'cachaça' (a strong and cheap alcoholic drink) to drink in the evening, so that they could sleep and not cry of hunger at night. The day before, they were going to the Sunday celebration in a Protestant church, when they passed by the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary and listened to the priest, Fr. José Resende. He was talking about the Beth Myriam and the food offered freely there, etc. So they took down our address and the following day, they came to the Beth Myriam where Nilza offered them coffee and listened to them. The rest of this story, we let them tell you with their own words:
"We liked her (Nilza) very much. Everybody called her ‘Maria’. At 10.15 a.m., she called us and the others to wash our hands, while she prayed the Our Father. When they prayed the Hail Mary we didn’t pray. That woman was very attentive and noticed that we were not praying the Hail Mary. She noticed that, even with her eyes closed. So she repeated it, and we prayed with her. We took our seats at the table and had a very good soup, with meat, with everything that a poor miserable creature can eat. I thought about the priest and asked that ‘Maria' if we had to pay anything. She said: ‘You have already paid by coming here.’ I said that I came because I heard a priest talking about the house. She said ‘Fr. José Resende’, and started weeping and said the he is a great envoy of God.
It is he who talked about that blessing from God, for my children and I have our stomachs full. I Thank God, because now my children and I have what to eat, thanks to that great Jesus’ envoy on earth, who showed me that there is still so much love in the world. For we are a little like Saint Thomas: we must see to believe. That woman that I talked about has such a great love that people call her at every moment and she answers everyone attentively. She gave a gallon of soup to my friend and to me so that we could give to our children in the evening. I’ll never forget Fr. José Resende or Nilza and the other volunteers. God bless them all. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! Fr. Jose, I send you a kiss in your heart."
We noticed an improvement in the Beth Myriam, because Love is contagious. People say that hate produces hate. But, based on our experiences, we can declare that love multiplies the good feelings that God put in our hearts, which were asleep! See these examples: the house is clean and organized; drug and alcohol addicts left their vices and now they don’t have the smell of drugs or alcohol, nor vomit in the house as before; indigents that come to the house are cleaner now, etc.
By the way, some people come to us to tell that their financial situation got better from the moment that they started making donations for the BM. The same thing happens to the food furnishers and companies that co-operate with us. It is not something new, as we know, since it happens to those that help any charity work.
We thank all of you, our friends. And especially thanks go to the volunteers who spontaneously give their time and work every day, to serve our poor brothers and sisters, following Nilza's example. And this way we keep going, aware that somehow we are contributing to build Peace and improve the world around us. May Jesus and Mary bless you all!
Altino Mota dos Santos and Antônio Malta Vieira
Belo Horizonte Beth Myriam (Brazil)