by Kristina Viscariello

As our mission trip comes to an end, I have been given the time to reflect on everything that we have done this week. Yesterday we didn’t do any work. It was a day to see Joplin and to explore the neat things it has to offer. It gave me a lot of time to really reflect on how this trip has affected me. It is really hard to describe everything I am feeling. I am so happy I had the opportunity to come and was able to do physical labor. It was completely different doing work and not seeing the immediate effects of it. I had the ability to use a lot of power tools (which is always fun J ), but I also had the chance to get completely out of my comfort zone and talk to people that I wouldn’t normally. Each of the people I was blessed with this week will stay in my heart, and I will bring their stories back home with me. They need their stories shared because they are nothing short of amazing.

I met people with such great faith that they inspire me to continue to fall deeper in love with the Lord. They also showed me how much they need prayers and hope. They opened my eyes to the devastation that still exists even though it is almost a year after the tornado. The past two days we were blessed enough to go to the hospital and visit a women named Kay who is dying of cancer. We prayed and sang with her and the love for the Lord that I saw in her eyes made we want nothing more than that kind of faith. In that moment I realized that nothing mattered but Him. This really touched me because I have been worrying a lot about what is going to happen after I graduate. I have accepted a teaching job with Teach For America, and since I accepted it I have been doubting my decision. I have been nothing but scared because this is the next two years of my life that I just gave to them. Praying with Kay made me realize that none of those fears matter. I know that I have been led to this job by God and He has a plan for me. Kay told us that God is number one and she is completely right. It doesn’t matter what I think or what I want. It is what He wants. I still have fears, but I am at peace with my decision. I know that God would never give me something I can’t handle.

The other night we were sharing our testimonies and one thing that I definitely take away from that night is that I am not the only one who continuously deals with struggles. All of us mentioned struggles that we have to deal with daily. It was such a witness for me to here everyone stories. I have always felt that I have been dwelling on the same thing, but I found out that I am not the only one. It is comforting to know that I am not alone on this journey.

I can honestly say that I am very upset to leave Joplin. This is the last time I am going on a trip as a Hofstra student with my Hofstra family. It is very bittersweet for me. I am excited to get home and share everything that happened here. I want to shout the good news from the rooftops, but coming home means I am one step closer to graduation. I am one step closer to not being able to see my Hofstra family every day. I know I will never lose my family, but I don’t want to leave them. They have given me so many blessings that I will take with me wherever I go.

The challenge is now to keep this mission going. The mission doesn’t end here. It doesn’t end just because we are leaving Joplin. We are all called to be missionaries no matter where we are. Our goal is to bring back everything that we have learned and experienced. We need to bring home our love for Jesus and spread His good word.