My 15-Minute Life-Changing Encounter with 115 Year Old Juanita
By Brooke Summers
I went on my first mission trip with Family Missions Company in January of 2009 to General Cepedas, MX. I was excited about the opportunity to serve, the chance to go to another country, and to encounter Jesus in a new way. I knew God was going to work in my life and change me but I did not expect Him to flip it upside down in a matter of fifteen minutes.
As we were driving into Mexico my heart was really struck by the poverty that surrounded me. Many families squeezed into tiny homes that were falling apart, many without real floors and sturdy roofs. I couldn’t imagine what it would be live like that, to be in their shoes. On our first morning we were assigned different work projects and ministry teams. I was assigned to home visits, a ministry that visits the elderly and people that are unable to leave their homes.
I was told that we were going to visit a sweet old lady named Juanita, who happened to be 115. As we headed out on foot to Juanita’s house I was mentally preparing myself to meet a very sad, probably bed-ridden woman. As we approached her house my heart began to break at the sight of her home. It was made of cement blocks covered by cement, the door was falling off, and the roof was not in the best condition. I took a deep breath, walked inside her home, and to my surprise she was sitting in a wheelchair COOKING HER OWN FOOD! She motioned for us to come in and sit down. I stand in the back in awe of this 115 year old woman. Then Sheila, a FMC missionary, asked Juanita how she was doing. I was expecting this woman to talk about her problems and hardships. Instead she said with a smile “I am so blessed, Jesus loves me so much, look at everything He has given me”. And with that statement I began to weep.
In that moment my heart really broke – I was the one that was poor, spiritually poor. This woman was RICH according to God’s Kingdom. She had an enormous love, trust, and devotion to Jesus – even in the midst of her physical poverty. I had way more than I needed and I didn’t love and trust Jesus half as much as Juanita did.
Right then I knew I was called to be a missionary. Not that I had some amazing teaching or that I was so knowledgable about the Catholic faith – but because I wanted to spend the rest of my life serving people like Juanita. I wanted to sit at her feet and learn what it really means to love and give your life to Jesus.
So in a 15-minute visit with a 115 year old saint named Juanita, my life was completely changed. Fast forward four and half years later and I am still a missionary, now wife and mother, trying to love and serve Jesus. Thank you Juanita for being faithful to Jesus; pray for us!