As a little girl, I could always tell when my mom had stubbed her toe. We would hear a crash from the other room followed by, “Praise you, Jesus!” Then, “I’m okay.” When I was learning the Ten Commandments, I asked her if that wasn’t using God’s name in vain? “No,” she answered decidedly. “I am choosing to praise God in my suffering. I really mean it.”
I love St. Patrick’s Day. He really inspires me. I am always awed by his story: to be kidnapped and enslaved, then escape, become a priest, and return as a missionary. He must have had some PTSD from his capture during which he endured many lonely years, probably abuse, and hardships of many other kinds.
In an effort to assist the poor in a sustainable way, several missionaries have helped those in need to build their own sources of income. Starting a business can be a slow and patient process, but it’s also fairly straightforward and common in many of the countries in which we serve. People simply need some starting cash, perhaps a little training and guidance, and a good dose of encouragement.
On that fateful morning commute, He changed my life forever. As I was sitting at a red light, my mind went blank and a deafening silence fell upon me. Out of nowhere I heard something that completely enveloped me. For the first time in my life, and as clear as day, I heard God’s voice: “Mark, I have put you on this earth to do something different!”
We met Francis and Riana after Mass one day here in Nepal. They, along with their four children, have fled horrendous, bloody, and unmentionable Muslim persecution in their home country of Pakistan. They achieved asylum refugee status and are now trying to rebuild their life. Still, life is extremely challenging for them here in Nepal.
Here, two priests are responsible for serving 42 communities. Three religious sisters, one other missionary family, and our family help with 17 of those communities. Four of the communities have a tabernacle and a regular weekend Mass. The other 14 have small chapels that are normally dark and locked up, opening for occasional communion services or Mass—sometimes only once every three months.
We often hear from folks that their work is very difficult and they don’t have time to go to the church and learn more. If we visit them every few weeks with a new card and scripture, we can bring the learning to them, ensuring that they hear the gospel proclaimed. Who knows what the Lord may do with those few loaves being offered?
Given the circumstances, it would be easy for us to conclude the task here is just too big, or even impossible. We should “shake the dust from our sandals” and move on. But then I think about Nicodemus and how he couldn’t understand what it meant to be born again in the Spirit. And so, Jesus talked to him about the wind.
I worried often about Maggie, if she was getting sicker, if she had food, and if she was healthy enough to take care of herself and Tika. As time went on, my worry turned to fear. It was my worst fear that I would find out she died; that one of the diseases she battled finally won. I was afraid of her leaving behind her young daughter.
Monumental changes are underway for training future FMC missionaries. Many of these improvements were inspired by missionaries in the field and Member Care staff who desire longevity and sustainability. Intake will look markedly different, with the goal of offering a healthy model for how missionaries can thrive in their foreign mission post.
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.
My nineteen-year-old son called me from his mission in Peru a couple of weeks ago. He was sick in bed and groaning occasionally with discomfort as he talked cheerfully about his work. I couldn’t reach him through the mail, couldn’t reasonably fly to see him. I wanted to teleport there and cook him soup, bring him to the doctor, hold him and pray over him. I wanted so badly to comfort him.