Encounter Your Heart’s Desire: Reflections from the Amazon Jungle
By Ryan Lawless
Visitors from Houston
We just finished with another short-term mission trip from Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Houston, TX. Just down the road from my home parish St. John Vianney. I had such an amazing experience with these holy and faithful servants. I would like to tell you about the highlight of this trip.
On one of our days of ministry we hiked three hours into the jungle to visit a community called Mango Playa. Some of you may know this name from my previous posts. It is a difficult journey, practically ascending the entire trip, sometimes in mud and water like a swamp. Despite the difficulty, I constantly heard the missionaries encouraging one another with scripture verses and prayers, and by reflecting on the passion of Christ. (See Eph. 5:19-20)
No one was left alone; At all times we walked together.
As we arrived to Mango Playa, the Israelite’s pilgrimages to Jerusalem came to mind. What joy and relief to see our destination as “my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.” (Ps. 84) The people were all waiting for us joyfully, welcoming us with smiles and chicha… MUCHA CHICHA! Almost immediately we gathered with Kichwa songs.
One-by-one the missionaries gave testimonies. Their openness to share encouraged two people from the community to give testimonies. This is so powerful! The people are often very shy and hesitant to speak, but they gave themselves to the Holy Spirit and we became more united in the Body of Christ. At the end we prayed over people individually from the community.
The Holy Spirit was moving, and I watched souls yearn and pine for the Lord as they gave over to Him their pains and trials. People were crying as the hands of these holy missionaries acted like the Lord’s shield protecting His anointed, His poor. Praise our Holy God for He listens “to the needs of the poor.” You, Lord, “encourage them and hear their prayers.” (Ps. 10:17)
I wish I could do a better job of explaining the power of these prayers. In my mind, I can picture everything, it is so clear. Even one the missionaries, Mary, the next day in our morning sharing, said that as we were praying over people she witnessed a bright white mist surrounding each of us. Truly, He is listens to the cries of the poor!
Continue to persevere through all trials and suffering in joyful hope of what is to come. Learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Pray! Pray! Pray!
By Ryan Lawless