Filled with GREAT Joy! A Mother’s Perspective on Missions
By Jennifer Dold
My daughter, Lindsey Romero, her husband Sammy, and my three grandchildren live in Malaybalay, Philippines, as FMC missionaries. When they joined Intake in 2011, I was stunned. It’s not easy for a parent – especially a grandparent – to accept this decision and the changes that come with it.
A confusing barrage of shock, anger, sadness, and excitement hit me in the midst of their giant garage sale and preparations to move across the globe. It was so hard for me to think of my grandchildren living halfway around the world that, during their first year in mission, I stubbornly refused to visit them in the Philippines. But during Holy Week this year, I was at church every day and God began a mighty work of softening my heart. I felt God’s Peace return to me in a way that I had been missing, and I ended up traveling back to the Philippines with Lindsey’s family and staying with them in missions for a whole month this past June.
During my first week in Malaybalay, God took me on a journey through my wrong mindset about my family in missions. The very poor community of Isla Bonita, where Lindsey’s family had spent a great deal of their ministry, rallied around them for a heartfelt “Welcome Home” reunion. The Joy of the Lord was on every face at this gathering and there were hugs and tears all around. In the States it is sometimes difficult to find a loving community when you move somewhere new, but with God doing the work it can happen much quicker! My grandchildren were running around playing with their friends and everyone wanted to meet me, “the Mother of Lindsey.” The love and care that Lindsey and Sammy had invested in each person became a tangible reality to me. I finally comprehended the very real call that they had obediently answered and understood that they are “at home” wherever God places them.
God brought me face to face with a woman whom Lindsey had asked our family and the Romero family to donate enough money to build a house for. This wonderful Filipino woman would not let go of me, her “American Sponsor.” She brought me into her new house and showed me the view from the little balcony upstairs. It was the most amazing view of mountains and banana trees! She hugged me our entire visit, and I kept thinking that I didn’t deserve this gratitude and that I could have given more to help. Looking around at the Floors for the Poor that had been donated and the piggeries that the community was beginning to build, I kept thinking that I could have done more … for years and years past. I wasted time and money that God had blessed me with on things that did not matter, instead of building floors and roofs that really mattered.
My first week in the Philippines I felt heavy carrying all this around, but God knew it. A priest friend of the missionaries came for dinner and stayed to hear confessions. Jesus met me in front of the tabernacle, in the form of this priest, in one of the most blessed confessions I’ve ever experienced. God is so merciful! I returned home with His GREAT joy in my children and grandchildren’s call to missions!
By Jennifer Dold (Our Lady of the Bayou Retreats Coordinator)