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Home BLOG: A Missionary Heart
A Missionary Heart
The Language of Laughter Print E-mail
THE ADELPHI
Friday, 07 February 2014 14:21

I have been on several different service or mission trips since I was in high school, but I never expected how special this international trip to Ecuador would be to me. I have always been a religious person, but coming up to the trip, I found that my prayer life was getting stale; I needed something to give a spark to my faith, and God provided me with exactly what I needed.

My favorite memory from the mission came from visiting two different communities. We were staying in the town of Mishualli, which was about five or six hours from Quito, and the surrounding community was very poor, but very Catholic. Our job for the first three days were to go out to the houses around the Church and ask the people if they wanted to take part in a Census, as well as talk to them about their faith. Considering I had taken German in high school and couldn’t speak a word of Spanish, I was disappointed because I had felt so useless because I couldn’t communicate at all with anyone and felt as if I was constantly my fellow missionaries constantly asking them to translate for me. Then, we had come to a group of houses in Mishualli that, at first, looked like it had very few inhabitants and I was disappointed to be useless for yet another day. All of a sudden, there were a group of children that just seemed to come out of nowhere and start playing with us. We stayed there for three hours and played with them the entire time—running around, playing tag and soccer, and carrying them on our shoulders, and just simply laughing. My day went from sitting down on the steps of a house, upset I couldn’t help in any way to being absolutely exhausted and almost wishing I could have a break. When we left that block, I was so thanked to God for answering my prayers and helping me see where I could be useful on this trip.

On Sunday, we had the amazing opportunity to hike about two miles to this remote community and bring them Mass. Being an outdoor person, I thoroughly enjoyed the hike, getting dirty from all the mud and loving the challenge of hiking. Once we got the community, we stayed there for most of the day. It was such a blessing to be able to share Mass with them and discuss our experiences with God and talk about Scripture. After Mass, we played an intense game of soccer with the adults of the community…Americans vs. Ecuadorians. Obviously, they won. Being able to spend an entire day with one community was an amazing experience because I felt like I was really able to connect with them, more than a community that we would visit for a short period of time. I also loved playing with the children of this community and hearing them laugh at my feeble attempts to speak in Spanish. After an exhausting day of hiking to the community, playing with them, we had the challenging task of the hike back down. Although this seemed like such a daunting task, we were all able to complete the hike with a positive attitude. We ended the day so exhausted and sweaty, but it was that “good-kind of sweat” as the missionaries would say. I was so blessed to be able to take part in bringing God to that community.

One of the first things I notice in people I first meet, and one of my favorite things about people, is their laugh. No two laughs are the same and I love to see hear the uniqueness of a person’s God given laugh—it becomes a way for me to identify someone. While on mission, I struggled to communicate, but the one thing that transcended all language barriers was laughter. I could feel the love of God in the laughter; I could see the face of Jesus in their laughing, smiling faces; I could feel Jesus working through me, using my talents to touch the lives of these people, these children as the sound of their laughter touched my heart. I will never forget all those memories of laughter and joy. One of the most important things I brought back from this mission trip was the idea that joy is not dependent on material possessions. These people had so little, yet they were filled with such joy just because they had the companionship of their family and friends. I realized first hand that material possessions are not the source of happiness, but people are; people who have the same values as you and are real true friends, who are there for you through thick and thin. I became so much closer with all of my fellow Adelphi missionaries, and will cherish their friendships for a long time to come. God has blessed me so much on this trip with newer and closer friends and amazing memories of the beautiful landscape, but He really blessed me with this renewed sense of my faith that calms my entire existence. I notice myself so much less tense and nervous because I know that I have God on my side and no matter what, as long as I trust in him, everything will work out the way He has is planned.

 

 
Ecuador: Bringing God’s Truth to the World Print E-mail
THE ADELPHI
Friday, 07 February 2014 13:59

by Natalia Rincon
Rincon38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 38-42

I feel as if there is no better bible story to explain the Ecuador Mission Trip than that one. Everyone on the trip came to know it as my favorite story because my best friend told me to read it one night when I became extremely flustered and overwhelmed with the amount of work I made myself do. I’m the kind of person to really spread myself out so thin. I take on too many tasks and responsibilities with the idea that I can handle them all. I forget that I’m only human and not God. I find the need to constantly please others and I become such a Martha when I should be a Mary. God should be the only person that I should strive to please and the only person I should want to have the approval of. The trip taught me that and more.

I was beyond excited to hear that the mission trip this year was going to be in Ecuador. IT’S THE COUNTRY RIGHT UNDER COLOMBIA WHERE MY WHOLE FAMILY IS FROM. I got this massive heartwarming feeling when I learned more about the trip. Jesus plus helping others was like music to my ears because they’re my two favorite things in this world. Also, being able to speak Spanish was amazing. It was also a lot of fun for me to be translating for my friends and even to have a good laugh when one of them would constantly mess up. I got to share my culture with my friends and the people of Ecuador. I never thought I would come to encounter such incredible faith. Missionaries aren’t just people that do things in the name of Christ, but a dedicated vocation to God and serving him through helping others whether in deed or word. There were days that I was left completely awestruck by the unshakable faith.

Every morning, starting off with family prayer and song, was the most powerful and strengthening way to commence a day that would soon be filled with so much preaching and missionary work. I felt like I was part of a loving family, a family united by the same God that created us and our undying love for him. Every day was packed with so much work to do; the hardest part was letting go of my insane organized planned lifestyle and letting God take control of the day. I guess, in a way, everyday was spontaneous, and trying to detach myself from utmost planning was difficult, but after the first few days I came to appreciate God’s insane work and I grew to trust him even more. I loved living in the moment and allowing God to decide what I was going to be doing. If you plan everything then you have extremely high expectations. The best thing to do is leave all things in the hands of the one that created everything.

My favorite part of the trip had to be when we did about a three-mile hike to go to one of the communities and our desert day. I am not the most active person on this planet, but I do love challenges and pushing myself. The hike was amazing. I was constantly in the mud because I have no balance and I happen to be the clumsiest person alive. At the same time, the hike tested my faith. My health problems are always a major factor when it comes to strenuous work. Every time I felt like I wanted to give up, I would pray, either Saint Michael’s prayer or Psalm 23, to give me the strength to persevere. At one point, I looked at my friend, Billy, and I really don’t know where it came from, but I said, “If Jesus can survive 40 days in the desert, then I can do this hike.” It was my motivation for the whole day. By the time I got to the community, I felt relieved to see the joy in the children’s faces. That was also my motivation during the hike. We were given the option to travel a little further and visit another community and I knew I wanted to take on that challenge as well and visit more people and express more of my faith, so I decided to join the group that was going. I didn’t feel as worn out as I thought I was going to. God had taken away the pain and tiredness I was feeling and converted it to strength and encouragement. It was worth the extra push to go see the incredible people of the community.

RinconOn our desert day, we hiked to go to a gorgeous waterfall. The hike, again, was enjoyable and I had become more aware of what to expect. I still fell a few times, but I laughed every time I did. I enjoyed it thoroughly. When we arrived to the waterfall I was left completely amazed. It was the most breathtaking view I had ever experienced up close. It’s amazing to think that God is responsible for the beautiful nature that surrounds us everyday. I found the perfect rock to sit on and journal. I came to the realization that Matthew is my favorite gospel writer. I enjoyed going through his gospel. God has also showed me, through some divine intervention, the scripture verses I needed to hear for such a long time. It was just the perfect moment to reflect on them and really let the Holy Spirit explain why I needed to read them. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the trip than to have experienced the desert day. I even took a swim in the actual waterfall and felt completely refreshed and renewed! It was a peaceful and much needed time to reflect and pray.

The one thing I really came to take home with me, from this trip, was the beautiful hospitality, generosity, self-sacrificing, simplicity that was shown by the people of the communities. I come from a completely different world where technology basically shapes our society and where what society says becomes a norm. The Ecuadorians understood the value of family, friendship, and unity. They were filled with remarkable faith. I was completely awestruck. They have so little, some may even say they have nothing, but they were filled with genuine joy and love for absolutely everything and everyone in their lives. They appreciate every little thing that comes their way and they thank God simply for giving them another day to live in accordance with his mighty will. One of the girls, from a community I had visited to help construct a chapel, was so amazed by my phone. I had brought it with me on the trip to take pictures. I’m usually very careful with my things for fear that they will break and I worry about repairs and the cost that come with it. The twinkle of excitement in her eyes changed my feelings about my cautious self. I gave her my phone and she became the photographer for the day. She learned how to use it quickly and she was extremely talented at taking pictures. She was phenomenal. She was responsible for ¼ of the pictures I took on the entire trip. The joy she felt made me realize to let go of such a material mindset and to leave all things in God’s hands. There are so many things in this world that I worry about, and I need to learn to recognize what’s important because if I place my trust in God, then nothing can go wrong.

RinconI loved spending so much time with the fulltime missionaries because they shared so much of their faith with me. It enriched me and inspired me to want to learn more about my faith and do more with it. I loved growing in faith as a community. I felt like I was part of a bigger family since everyday I woke up and saw the same lovely faces that I would share a full day of work with. I became closer with all of the Adelphi missionaries because of this trip and they understand where I am with my faith and have helped me dive into it even deeper. One of the days, we went as a group to one of the youth group meetings. I decided it was the perfect opportunity to give my testimony. I’m not the kind of person to get nervous to talk in front of a group, especially if it involves my faith, but I got this rush of fear and adrenaline throughout my body a few minutes before I had to go. It also happened to be the first time I had given my testimony in a different language, but thankfully my parents did a wonderful job teaching me Spanish, so I never felt stumped when I gave my talk. The youth group was incredible. They paid close attention as I spoke. It was encouraging to see the attentive faces coming from a group of teenagers. They were so amazed to hear what I had to say and were ready to pray as a community.

If I could go back and relive the entire experience, I would do it in a heartbeat. It was an amazing faith filled journey that I hope to always take with me everywhere I go. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20.

 

 
Rocks Were My Sign from God Print E-mail
THE ADELPHI
Friday, 07 February 2014 13:35

"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church” -Matthew 16:18

FaithRocks are everywhere. While this might seem like a very obvious fact, it is a realization that I found myself reflecting upon on one of our last days in Ecuador after a three-day manual labor project in one of the nearby communities. Several of us were assigned to this particular community, and on our first day we were asked to collect big rocks, probably weighing about 50 pounds or so, and form a pile to be used as foundation for the chapel that was to be built. We spent most of our day doing this, and after a wonderful and high energy day of hard work, we retired to our cabins for the evening to rest up for another day of manual labor.

We returned again the following morning and were greeted by the radiant smiles of the young children of the community who we had been playing with the day before. I was anticipating moving on to the next stage of building the chapel, since we made a rather large pile of big rocks the previous day, but my predictions were incorrect as we were asked to carry some flatter rocks from the river banks up the hill to the work site. After the short-lived moments of satisfaction by the idea of being “jacked” from all the lifting, I began to feel a little faint. After people prayed over me and I drank some water, I was feeling much better, but I couldn’t help my mind from thinking about how monotonous and seemingly pointless the work we were doing was. After spending a majority of the day carrying the rocks up the hill, we played some more with the children before we called it a day.

The following day was our last day in the communities, so I was excited to move on to something else now that we had a sufficient pile of big rocks gathered. When our translator told us what work we would be doing for the day, I almost broke out in bewildered laughter. We might not have been asked to carry big rocks that day, but we were asked to shovel the mini rocks from the river into potato sacks to be carried up the hill. I could not believe that we would, yet again, be making another pile of rocks. God blessed us with a beautiful day, so it was such a nice experience even though I thought for sure that because I dealt with so many rocks, I would have dreams about them.

FaithLater that day, we had “Dessert Day”, which consisted of an hour-long hike up a mountain through the jungle to a beautiful water fall. Once we arrived, we all sought out secluded rocks around the waterfall to sit on, read, pray, and journal. As I was sitting on my rock praying, reading my Bible, and enjoying God’s beautiful creation, an idea hit me like a ton of bricks...or should I say a ton of rocks. I had been reflecting on our work from the previous three days and all the rocks that we had collected in order to build a chapel, when I remembered that Jesus had said to Peter, “Upon this rock, I will build My church.” While the work might have seemed tedious and insignificant, we were gathering rocks for the foundation of a chapel in which Mass would soon be celebrated. As I was sitting on my rock and looking around at all the other rocks, I came to the further realization that rocks are everywhere, just like God is everywhere. It was in that moment that I felt God talking to me and calling me to accept Him as the sturdy rock in my life, and to trust that He is always and will always be there for me. I was filled with this overwhelming sense of joy and peace in my heart as I felt His presence. As if this wasn’t enough of a confirmation, later that evening at Night prayer, one of the Bible passages we read was from Psalm 31, where it says, “Be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.” I was astounded by this message that God had sent me.

My experiences on this mission trip have changed me in more ways than one. In accepting God more fully into my life, I have discovered a love for the Bible and all its wonderful parables and messages. I try to look for the blessings in all things as I go through my daily life, and find myself so joyful because of it. God can be the rock in each one of our lives, if we allow Him to be. God is everywhere and is always with us, so trust in Him and surrender yourselves to His Holy will.

 

 
Nothing Matters But Him Print E-mail
2012 Mission Trip to Joplin, Missouri
Sunday, 15 April 2012 22:54

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. 

 
Transformation Print E-mail
2012 Mission Trip to Joplin, Missouri
Friday, 13 April 2012 23:47

by Cody Bobick

If I had to choose one word to describe day four of our mission trip in Joplin, it would be transformation. The day began with our family breakfast in the living room, accompanied by praise, worship and group prayer. This morning we had a bit of a delayed start getting to our work sites  because of rain and thunder. As we were praying by going around and having each person give their intentions for the day, Steve recalled from our recent Campus Ministry retreat discussions that rain is often symbolic in film, and indeed in life, of transformation, some sort of profound change. (What this transformation would be today, I did not truly know.)

After the weather calmed down, a group of us went to the local hospital to visit a woman dying of cancer, the sister in fact of a neighbor who came last night to our evening of s’mores, songs and campfire. We walked into the room and Sonny began to converse with her, asking if she would like us to pray over her.  Then she said, “He is coming.” To witness her deep faith and to see her in pain because of her illness was so moving. In her, I saw Christ. Because of her, my own faith has increased and my heartfelt desire to bring the Good news to others through the witness of my life has been nourished.  In her illness, you could see the light of Christ within her, as she prepares to meet God face-to-face and experience his overwhelming fountain of love, mercy and eternal life.

 
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