Since my first encounter with Jesus through serving the poor in college, mission trips have been a pivotal part of my faith life. Coming back from my first mission trip in college to Saint Lucia, my life was changed. After spending a week serving the poor, living in community and participating in the sacraments daily, I felt like I had discovered a new way to live. From then on, my faith life consisted in going from one mission trip to the next; seeing myself as a worker in God’s garden, I felt like I was closest to him when I was furthest out of my comfort zone. The more exotic and distant the mission, the closer I felt to the Lord.
After a long journey of completing seven mission trips, becoming a full-time FOCUS missionary and living in 3 foreign countries, the sudden coronavirus pandemic halted my travel plans overnight; and my world came crashing down.
My bags were packed, and I was ready to go on my 8th mission trip, this time to Albania. The night before my flight, I got a call saying that the pandemic was going to prevent the trip from happening. Suddenly, without being able to travel and serve, I did not know who I was in the eyes of the Lord.
Who am I if I am not doing? Does God love me if I am not constantly on the go? The trip cancellations created a new, uncomfortable stillness in my life.
The problem is that I did not know what my faith life should look like in the silence and stillness of being home and feeling grounded. My prayer at the time was, “God, send me wherever you want. I’ll go to the ends of the earth for you.” I was open to being sent anywhere, aside from my own home. I viewed going on a mission as something that required hopping on a plane and crossing international borders; so being home, I felt stuck and useless, and I thought that my desire to share the Gospel and serve the poor had to pause.
Then, with the help of Saint Therese, the patron saint of missions, I realized something about disappointment and accepting God’s will. Saint Therese was a Carmelite nun who died at the age of 24. She had an ardent desire to be sent to a convent in Vietnam. However, her health was too frail; and she died shortly thereafter, never accomplishing her wish. While it might seem ironic that the patron saint of missions never left her own convent, because of her fervent desire to love, to save souls and to joyfully accept God’s will, she is the perfect example of what it means to be a missionary.
This experience taught me the necessity to serve close by and far away, but most of all to joyfully accept God’s will. This year, more than ever, people are suffering from both isolation and physical poverty; the world needs missionaries to be Jesus’ hands and feet. If you desire to serve with FOCUS Missions on a domestic mission trip or abroad, please join us. Just remember that the most important mission is joyfully accepting God’s will, wherever it may lead us.