The summer missions of 2012 were unforgettable, and as I look back over all that the Mission Youth missionaries did, I am amazed: our work went beyond what we built with our hands and truly touched hearts. There’s no way I can describe everything that happened, and I don’t want to bore you to death, but I will share things that stood out to me as little miracles.
Now, why the unusual title above? Let’s go word by word…
‘Babies’: Throughout the summer, 65 young women went to Haiti. I have taken many groups to Haiti and I always discover the same thing: the power of a baby’s smile. The smile of a little baby who is sick or hungry or without a family can break the strongest heart. One missionary shared at the end of her trip that before coming to Haiti she didn’t believe that God existed, “But now I know that there is a God.” What years of education or catechesis couldn’t do, a Haitian baby did!
‘Cement’: Mexico was blessed with 62 missionaries within 2 months: talk about overload! They ranged in age from 12 to 25, so you can only imagine the amount of stories -scorpions, masonry work, painting, carpentry, all the way to baptisms and first communions.
When we think cement we think of grey, dull, hard to mix, work, heavy load… and trust me, all of that is true! But cement is used to hold the bricks in place, smooth the walls like plaster, and give texture. A similar thing happened to our missionaries. By mixing the concrete, plastering walls, building scaffolding to reach the ceiling, bonding began and true friendships were formed, great teamwork developed, muscles grew… but the most amazing thing was that hearts were starting to break. The masks that we all have were taken off little by little and the missionaries shone all the more for who they were. Some of them commented at the end of the day, with blisters on their hands and aching backs, “I have never been so happy in my life and I have never felt so free.” The cement served its purpose: preparing the ‘walls’ for the next step.
‘Paint’: The walls are smooth, ready to be painted. The library and the mission center have turned from grey to white. Wow! Light enters in, the rooms look big. Something similar was happening in the souls of the missionaries. The paint also touched them. The grace of the sacraments started to cover them. Their self-giving brushed their souls, and suddenly the light of joy radiated through their eyes more clearly. 17 years ago I left my country and my family to follow Christ’s invitation. During those 17 years many tears have been shed, but I would do it again just to see the light in those eyes. I looked in the eyes of those 62 girls and knew that everything was worth it. I would do it all again for them.
‘Wood’: The wood arrived to us as raw 2x4’s, 4x4’s, and plywood sheets. But after we sawed them, sanded them, and gave them shape, we were able to make doors, windows, benches, and chairs for the library and mission center. The missionaries also arrived as ‘raw material’ and Christ was able to mold them into masterpieces. Their hierarchy of values was challenged and shifted. Some found a ‘reason to pray again, others discovered the richness of their personalities and qualities and were able to accept themselves more. Others hammered away at their past and sanded their insecurities and weaknesses, and were able to assemble a beautiful, secure, joyful giver. But the biggest of all masterpieces was when one of our missionaries became a daughter of God through Baptism and received Christ for the first time in her soul. She was not alone - nine children from the village accompanied her and received their first communions.
Again and again, I realized what a young person can do when you give them a higher ideal. The 127 missionaries who participated in Mission Youth missions in the summer 2012 left all their “securities” – iPhone, iPad, Facebook, families, countries… Some of them left for a week, some for 15 days, and some for a month. They were sent to the jungle of Cancun or the hot island of Haiti. The place didn’t matter; the object was the same: to take them away, to teach them to use their hearts to the max, to bring out the best in them, and to put them at the service of others. I can testify that each one of those 127 missionaries gave their 100%, and Christ was faithful: he gave them ‘a hundredfold’ in return: but a new heart full of light, joy, self-giving, and gratitude. Every mission has a story; we challenge you to write yours!