“Pack light. Only a small duffle and a backpack.”
Those were the words spoken to me the day before I left for my first mission trip in 2018. I threw three pairs of scrubs, my journal, Bible, and Rosary in my bag and got in the vehicle to leave. In a matter of a few days, I went from living in a big city with everything you could possibly imagine or ever need, to being surrounded by poverty at every corner. With only a few pairs of clothes and a Bible, I already had more than 80% of the population I was living with. Nervous about encountering the impoverished, I said a quick prayer on the way to the homeless shelter for the first time.
It was the first time I ever really sat down and talked with the poor to get to know them as the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ that they are. I expected to be sad throughout my time on mission due to the circumstances we were facing. Instead, what I found was so much joy and peace. Most people’s stories of how they came to know Christ end with some type of retreat story, or they talk about someone they met that gave them hope and reignited their desire for Christ. My story is different. For me, I found Him in the desert surrounded by poverty. With just clothes and a Bible, I came to know God as the loving Father that He is to you and I. The two weeks of mission came all too quick and I soon found myself back home.
It was the day I came home that I realized I had to go back. It was calling me and tugging me with too much force to ignore. So, with my sister, I signed up to go back. Ten months later I found myself back in the desert, surrounded by the poor, broken, and lost. Being with them made me realize how beautiful of a thing it is to rely fully on God. Being poor in material items, but richer than kings in spirit. Having my sister there to share that beautiful journey with the broken and Christ strengthened my relationship with God. I had someone whom I loved dearly and who knew better than anyone else there how to learn about these people's lives and grow with them. Because she was with me, we can bring mission home with us. We can share that feeling of spiritual richness with those around us and continue to share the Gospel in our every day lives.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati lived by the words “Verso L’alto”, meaning “towards the heights". His motto is to keep moving upwards to greater things. Never settling for mediocrity, but striving to be closer to Christ and to serve His people in need. Don’t be afraid to live in poverty or to leave your worldly possessions behind. Be poor in material items and rich in spirit because you never know how high you will go towards Christ if you just trust and pack lightly.