The hardest part was that almost no one even asked our names or interacted with us as people. Here we were, living in a new country, caring for our young children, struggling with the language, and also homesick for everything and everyone that we left behind.
Bishop Herrera said that the witness of a faith-filled family is the greatest gift missionaries can offer. What a relief and what a joy to hear that coming from the bishop. We are fulfilling our mission here simply by our yes to the Lord and our presence here at our mission post.
All my thoughts culminated in me screaming at God, “Why do you let this happen? Especially to those who love you! Do you even exist? If you do, YOU NEED TO DO SOMETHING!!” Then I heard it. The whisper of the Lord. And he said, “I did do something…I sent YOU!” Even as I write those words, my heart stirs in a way that it never did before, in all my years of missions. I prayed for God to comfort these people, to help them move forward after tragedy, to have food to eat, that they will not feel alone, that their needs can be met.
Along with the blessings, there have been some challenges…It is hard knowing that most of my friends and classmates are not Catholics, or even Christians for that matter. It is also discouraging because there are so many temples! 15,000! But, like I said earlier, trust in the Lord!
At Easter we are reminded that resurrection is possible everyday. Everyday we fail. I argue with my wife or am yelling at my children. And I’m like, “Lord, why do I constantly fail under these patterns of sin?” He’s there to encourage us and pick us up, to give us that second, third, fourth, fifth, or five-hundredth chance that we need.
If we aren’t capable of seeing the Eucharist as this great gift of God and his desire to love us and be near to us, then none of these teachings will make any sense.
I walked into that confession as the hemorrhaging woman, frustrated and discouraged. I still often feel like the hemorrhaging woman. I am beaten down by the burdens of this year and am waiting and reaching out for Christ to walk by. But, I also know that Christ used that encounter with Fr. Gabriel to continue to heal me, encourage me and bring me life. That encounter gave me the hope I needed to believe that Christ can heal, is healing, and will heal me.
Only five months after our family’s arrival at our new post, we found ourselves in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, locked away from those we were sent to serve. Jesus, being who He is, still led us to the poorest of the poor. He opened so many closed doors—both literally and figuratively—for new ministries to flourish, despite the repercussions of the virus.
I said a quick prayer for the man on the corner. Not ten seconds later I was plagued by a litany of doubts. Why did I give him so much? What if he uses it for alcohol or drugs? I should have had a snack in the car to give him. I could have at least asked his name instead of only throwing him money.
Do I recognize God when he interrupts my day or am I walking around with a senseless, darkened mind unable to accord him glory or thank him for the unexpected? Now I see more clearly the Good News which I am called to share: God has a plan even amid the unexpected and interruptions.
His words cut me to the heart. The love of God is a sturdy shelter. His love never fails. His love transforms. His love heals. He fills me with peace.
Yes, our passports are itching to be stamped—they haven’t been opened for over a year now! I dream of being on one of the hundreds of flights that pass over my head every day, or of going out and finding a local homeless person just to be able to say I talked to a stranger. But this is my personal sacrifice, one that the Lord has placed on me.
When I sat down next to one of the men somebody sneered, “Don’t give him any money. He’ll just use it for drugs!” My heart sank. All these people were just in church professing their love for Jesus, who of course loves the poor. All these people call themselves Christians, and claim to follow Christ…and yet….
We have seen firsthand the unfolding of a place where heaven meets earth. Hours upon hours of sweaty labor has groomed the grounds, torn out whatever was rotten, and renovated the interior and exterior of the buildings. Shelves have been cleared and equipment has been put back in proper order.
If I were to be honest, I would have to admit that sometimes it is very hard to walk, as Simon of Cyrene did, carrying someone else’s burden so that they can move forward. He did not even want to help! I admit I have felt that too! However, in the end I know that this cross is the path to salvation, and not just for me, but others as well.
I realized that for my whole life I’ve been fasting to seek my own pleasure. To show myself my own willpower, or that I am better at Lent than other people.
Madanm Silfiz was in the worst situation of anyone we have taken in. We found her living in a hut in the jungle alone. She laid in her bed all day due to being blind, not being able to walk, and having no wheelchair or crutches to help her. There was a nearby family that would check on her, give her food occasionally, and sometimes bathe her, but this family didn’t have much patience or love for Madanm Silfiz.
As a mother guiding my children as missionaries, I want to help my children claim ministries of their own. We were called as a family into missions, but not every member of my family feels passionate, excited, or gifted to be in foreign missions. For example, we get a lot of knocks at our door; the extroverts excitedly answer, while the introverts are more hesitant.