“I thirst” John 19:29. While it is a simple Bible verse that we hear quite often, it is one that I never really understood, or better yet, knew how to put into action. I was a good Catholic, but no matter how much I did, I still felt that something was missing. I had the “why” fully understood, I just needed to find the answer of “how”. How can I use the talents God gave me to share my faith? How does God continue to love me when I struggle with sin? How can I continue to see the good in others and love others when the world is in the state that it is in? The answer came to me in August when I packed my bags and left for a mission trip to Gallup, New Mexico.
On a typical road trip, the only thoughts you have are those of excitement and eagerness. For mission it was different. While the excitement and eagerness was very present, there was always the subconscious feelings of worry and doubt. Will I be a good missionary? Will I enjoy my time with the poor? Will I learn from them? All these questions would soon be answered.
We arrived in Gallup, New Mexico to a convent run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. While there, I was introduced to multiple elderly residents. To see the joy and love they had for every little thing we did brought so much joy to my heart! Whether it was sitting with them during dinner, simply saying hello, or even throwing up a few baseboards downstairs, their smiles were so radiant. It was blatantly clear to see how much joy and love they received from these simple acts of kindness; things that we never even thought twice about. Through working with and being around these elderly residents, I was shown that true happiness doesn’t always come to us in big extravagant packages. Instead they come in small things. Mother Teresa said once that it is “small things with great love” that make a difference in this world. It was truly a blessing to see this put into action; to see the genuine smiles of gratitude and thanksgiving flash across faces as soon as our crazy group from Louisiana walked into the room.
Halfway through the mission, we moved to the Zuni Pueblo Tribal Reservation. While there, we worked on a local school, to get it ready for the school year. At this point, I was curious to see what growth could come from this. What I found, was not only eye-opening, but a blessing to see. The poverty at the reservation was so heartbreaking, yet the residents were happier than anyone I knew from home. Seeing this taught me that the only thing that is necessary for true happiness is each other and the love of God. When you strip away all the unnecessary items from our lives you can see God's true beauty shining through the times of darkness.
The mission to New Mexico opened my eyes to many things: new friends that I can lean on, that are constantly leading me higher; a new perspective on life and the things that we should hold valuable; and a genuine thirst for Jesus Christ and love for the Father that I had not felt before. The mission taught me that I don’t have to be a big public speaker or have this fabulous Instagram account sharing my faith through photos. I realized that I can be the hands and feet of Christ everywhere I go, with every person I meet. I can do small things with great love, and even though it doesn’t seem like much to me, it may just be the one little thing that turns someone’s day around and draws them closer to Jesus. It taught me to see Christ in every person and be Christ to every person, no matter their religion, race, gender or socioeconomic status. Most importantly, mission taught me to bring all my joys, accomplishments, struggles and fears to Jesus, the one constant in my life; and to open my heart and thirst for His love, and be receptive of His love in every way that I can.