When asked to write a blog for today, my heart sank and panic rushed in. I don’t consider myself much of a journaler let alone a writer. But this is mission. We are here to serve, stretch ourselves beyond what we thought was our limit, and “leave it all out on the court” (in the pep-talk words of Sr. Elizabeth). We aren’t here to be “good” at anything, we’re simply here to serve and be fully present wherever we are needed.
Throughout this Mission trip journey, we have experienced summit highs and valley lows. We have questioned our capabilities... on just about everything... but throughout this journey we have seen the joy in accepting the reality that “the body is not a single part, but many” (1 Cor 12:14). Therefore, we’ve seen that some of us have the gift of teaching, some of offering service through physical labor, some of being with the kids and families, and some with simply being in the present moment making personable interactions even with just a simple smile. We learned to embrace our individual gifts and to not compare ourselves with anyone else. For we mustn’t let the fear of not being perfect at something keep us from giving ourselves completely to another in service. For it is in giving of ourselves fully, that others experience the love of the Lord.
This past week, we acted out a skit for the parable of the Good Samaritan where the Lord teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves. The man in the story fell victim to robbers and was beaten, becoming soiled and with stench. We came across such victims of poverty where we could either choose to look away and cross on the other side, or make eye contact and pick him up right where he fell. This is the sharing of Jesus’ love for us- to take the time out of our busy lives, to risk getting dirty, to love a stranger in need of compassion, mercy, and love.
Our last day serving in Belize has arrived. Today, we met at 5:30 in the morning to pray the Rosary and make breakfast to take to the poor. We packed up the food, piled up in a couple of trucks, and headed to downtown Belize City for our next mission. Our service commenced with Father Mark blessing the people. He read Jesus’ words from todays Gospel, “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (John 16:29-33). We truly encountered Jesus in these people--the poor, the homeless, the sick, the naked, the neglected, the abandoned, the forgotten. That is, the poor of this world, but the rich in the next--because they were overflowing with joy and courage by simply knowing the Lord as their hope and strength.
Everyday, we’ve had the chance for Adoration and Mass, which has been a beautiful blessing to be continued in our lives after mission. There, we gave the Lord our fears and hopes that He might empty us to be fully filled by His holy love. After feeding the hungry this morning, we were refilled in Adoration and then explored the Caribbean seaside. We then set out to do door-to-door evangelization. What a fruitful experience with beautiful encounters. We sought out the people in homes of shacks in the middle of swampy wasteland where the rains often bring floods, and where easy paths to these homes were lacking. Visitors must be rare. As we handed out rice and soy bags, the Divine Mercy image, the Miraculous Medal, and rosaries we saw how gracious these people were to simply receive a visit from some friendly faces and to welcome the gentle, loving, and consoling face of Jesus in the Divine Mercy image in their home. Once again we are struck by the love Christ shares through us if we only give ourselves fully to the people in that present moment and we are again struck by the presence of Christ in the poor.
Our final mission of the trip was to serve at a nursing home this afternoon. There we visited and consoled the sick and abandoned. We sang songs, talked, danced, and even simply sat silently holding hands and smiling with the residents. It was a breathtaking encounter to offer a certain closeness of companionship and a listening ear.
As this mission trip is coming to a close, it has been a beautiful journey where we have truly been able to live out the Faith and share the love of Christ with His people. We have learned so much about ourselves and have gained an understanding of our gifts and talents while also realizing what we have doesn’t really matter. What does matter is emptying ourselves of self-doubt, fears, and insecurities to allow Christ to work in us for His glory.
“For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ” -Romans 12:4