As we make the final preparations for our missions this summer, we want to introduce to you some of the missionaries who have stepped up this year to take on leadership roles on the trips. After each mission trip, we ask the missionaries if they would consider returning as leaders to lend their experience to new missionaries. Without fail, these young adults will joyfully respond to the call, showing us how the Holy Spirit truly moves in those who receive Him. This year, there are several people returning to Alaska and three of them have stepped up to take on a leadership role amongst their missionaries. Below, we asked Dylan Allen, Maggie Parks, and Ali Rabalais some questions about their experience in Alaska and what they are looking forward to this year. They served together in 2017 for two weeks in Alakanuk, Alaska, as their first mission trip. Please keep these missionaries and their trips this summer in your prayers!
Dylan Allen is currently a Secondary Social Studies Education major at UL.
This summer he will serve for two weeks in Kotlik, Alaska.
Maggie Parks is a Social Studies Education major at UL.
She will serve for two weeks in Mountain Village, Alaska this summer.
Ali Rabalais graduated from UL this past fall with a degree in General Studies.
She will serve for two weeks in Mountain Village, Alaska.
1. Why did you choose the Alaska mission trip last year?
Dylan: I was pressured into going to Alaska by a friend, so I actually didn’t want to go. Now that I’ve gone, it was the best decision I have ever made. I made some great friends, great memories, grew closer to Jesus and started to grow deeper in my prayer life.
2. What was your biggest fear about going on mission? How was that fear overcome?
Maggie: My biggest fear for going on mission was that I wouldn't be enough for the people we were serving. However, what I learned while being on mission is that we shouldn't fear being inadequate. Christ, if we are open to His work, will make us instruments of His love. He is the one who ultimately was serving through us.
3. What was the biggest surprise about being on mission?
Ali: I think initially there was a huge temptation to doubt my ability to serve. I wasn’t quite sure what gifts I had to offer, had a lot of hesitations at first, and assumed the mission was not a good fit for me. (With having no experience to base that off of!) I was surprised to find that while on mission those fears never occurred to me! With the right disposition to being open to new experiences and always ready to put my best effort into the opportunity in front of me, I never once considered myself unworthy or incapable!
4. What was one lesson about service that you took away from the mission trip?
Maggie: Service isn't measured in the amount of work you do. It's measured in the amount of yourself that you give.
Ali: Service, even in the same situation, looks different for every person! It was really beautiful to encounter each missionary discovering and using their particular gifts and talents in their unique way. Every person, working in that freedom and using those God-given gifts, made our impact so much greater and allowed us to complement each other.
5. What was the biggest joy you had from being on mission?
Maggie: The biggest joy I received during the mission was bringing the Eucharist to the homebound villagers. Witnessing the joy they expressed after receiving Christ, I could not help but be joyful.
6. How did you see others growing on the mission?
Ali: It was incredible to see each person grow into discovering and practicing virtue. We spend a lot of time preparing our hearts to serve through prayer and being faithful to the Sacraments, but it is truly inspiring to see those virtues put into practice. Through each of our witnesses to the faith, we get a glimpse of the beauty of the universal church!
7. What did you love and hate most about community life?
Ali: One thing I hated and then loved about community life was our proximity. We lived in a very small space together and at first it seemed like a huge burden, but after a while it was my favorite part! We grew so close in friendship with each other and we were able to get to know each other because of that. It also allowed us to support each other in our struggles and joys within serving since we had the opportunity to stay close.
8. Why did you choose to return this year?
Dylan: After experiencing Alaska for the first time, I decided to come back for a second time to share my faith, share my love for the sacraments and bring Jesus to those who don’t know Him and rarely get the opportunity to experience Him.
9. What advice would you give to a first-time missionary?
Maggie: I would tell him or her to be ready to say "yes." The Lord calls us in unique paths while on mission, and I would advise someone to prepare his or her heart for the courage to give God that "yes."
10. Who is your favorite saint that inspires you about being a missionary?
Maggie: I would have to say it's a tie between St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta. They both had such a beautiful passion for loving and serving God's children.
Ali: St. Thérèse! She is the patron saint of missionaries and ironically lived most of her life in a cloistered monastery. She had great desires to serve the Church as a missionary, but knew that her mission lied in a deep prayer life on behalf of those called to travel. She is a great friend, supporter, and intercessor for those called to actively serve!
Dylan: By far St. Thérèse of Lisieux. She’s a patron saint of missionaries and there’s even a statue of her in the church we did mission with last summer in Alakanuk. It always felt like we were under her protection.