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