You’re a college student. You’re in Greek life, so naturally you know what your answer is for spring break: a big ol’ beach house with all your closest friends, relaxing and chilling by the waves.
But as fun as that sounds, sometimes we need to give ourselves a break from the norm of Greek life and give our religious life a little breath of fresh air.
Now don’t get me wrong: I love the beach. I love my sorority sisters and getting a great tan. But after going on a FOCUS mission trip for spring break my junior year, I’ve gained a new perspective.
Here are five reasons why you — yes, YOU — should go on a FOCUS mission trip on your next spring break:
1. “Hi, my name is…”
New, Catholic, friends! The second I arrived at our departure spot for our mission, I was overwhelmed with new faces from all over the country. Many were from my university (Auburn), but so many came from the University of Alabama, Texas A&M, Wisconsin Lacrosse and Ohio State.
The crazy part of all of this was the amount of people from Auburn on this trip whom I had never seen or met before, and yet we all went to the same university and attended the same church. I gained an entire community of friends to share my faith with and amazing new friends across the country.
2. Look at all these missionaries!
Not only can you make a multitude of amazing new friends, but going on a FOCUS mission provides you with so many resources and people who can help you grow your religious life. Entering the mission, I and a lot of my peers came with many doubts about our faith. These missionaries were our mentors and guides throughout this journey, helping us to reclaim our relationship with Christ and answer our faith questions.
Seeing how these young men and women living a life fully in Christ and having such a deep relationship with Him reminded all of us why we go to Mass, why we participate in the sacraments, why we pray — and, ultimately, why we believe.
3. Experience a new form of discipleship.
I had absolutely no idea what it meant to “disciple” someone before going on this mission trip. As Catholics, we all know what disciples are and all that jazz — but putting it in everyday context was a completely foreign idea for me. Silly, right?
This experience reminded me that the Catholic Church is built off of discipleship, and we must continue this process to keep the Church going. On our mission trip, we got the chance to go out to a college campus (Anahuac University) and talk to college students in Mexico City. This was exceptionally amazing because many of the students we spoke to were Catholic by birth but weren’t practicing. Talking about the differences between our universities in the States and their university gave us an opportunity to talk on common ground while also allowing us a chance to talk about religious life. Later we invited them to attend the stations of the cross with us on their campus. Revitalizing their faith life was truly amazing to see, and it gave me hope for what I can do on my own university campus.
4. Discern your vocation.
As college students, it is easy for God’s voice to be muffled by everyday distractions and the temptations of the devil. But putting ourselves in a place that completely strips us of these distractions allows us to enter a state of quiet and silence, letting us hear God’s call to us — which allows us to better discern our vocation with a clear mind and spirit.
As Catholics, we are all called to bring that silence from Him to our own lives on campus. We are constantly talking to God through prayer, but it’s just as important for us to let Him answer and to be open to hearing what He has to say. The will to hear Him was something I learned while on mission, and I felt called to bring this back to my university. It is one thing to say that we want what the Lord wants for us; it is something else entirely to actually accept His will for our lives.
5. Meet the Universal Church.
Going to a foreign country with a language barrier can be daunting, to say the least. But once we arrived, our host only asked us to remove three words from our vocabulary: “No hablo español.” Even though we all were not Spanish experts, we didn’t need to share the same language to share in the presence of God and to share in His love.
Communicating with people who were speaking a whole different language did not seem possible; however, something I soon realized is that God and the Catholic Church are two of the most universal things in the world. The first time I went to see the Tilma was an amazing example of just how universal the Church is. Seeing the reactions of all the people viewing this miracle for the first time was so beautiful. People wept, fell to their knees in prayer and were all astounded by Mary’s beauty. Experiencing this showed me that we don’t need to share anything too specific to share in the love of God; we just need to be open, ready and willing with each other.
The reasons why people attend mission trips are different for everyone. Now it’s your turn.
Go make a difference in the world. Apply to go on a FOCUS mission. It’ll change your life. I promise.