Project Title: Mission Trip to Mexico City
Service Organization: FOCUS Missions (Fellowship of Catholic University Students)
Describe your involvement with this organization:
This organization is not currently located at Ohio State, but I am involved in a similar group at OSU called Saint Paul’s Outreach. I was connected to FOCUS through some of the missionaries who work for SPO. I’ve always desired to go on a mission trip, especially one that incorporated my faith, and so when I heard that FOCUS did international mission trips, I went online and applied for one. I didn’t know anyone going on the trip with me (everyone was from other FOCUS campuses around the USA), but I made some amazing friendships that I know will last forever. We spent the week serving with the Missionaries of Charity. Most of the people we were ministering to were severely mentally and physically disabled men and women, from infants to the elderly, most of whom have been abandoned by their families and left in the streets to die. In the Mexican culture, where family life is so central, these people are in desperate need of love- to know that they are worthy of love, that they have dignity, and that they are worth fighting for because they are our brothers and sisters in Christ! I am planning to stay involved with FOCUS- I am going on another trip with them this summer and hopefully will do another mission trip next year as well!
Describe what you gained as a result of this experience:
This trip opened by eyes to serious poverty in a way that I have never experienced before. I learned so much about myself, how blessed my life is, and everything that I take for granted on a daily basis. Since being home, I’ve had a greater desire to serve people well, in whatever capacity that may be- in school, at work, in my house, in the organizations I am involved with. I have a greater desire to serve those in need, both spiritually and physically- there are so many people on this campus and a lot of homeless people in this community that need help. I realize now that I don’t have to be on a mission trip to serve others- there is a great need in Columbus and I can still be “on mission” here! I also learned a lot about non-verbal communication and how to love and serve people even with a language barrier. I cannot speak Spanish, so not knowing the language was challenging for me but it gave me an opportunity to learn how to communicate and respond without actually speaking. This is a skill that I can take into whatever future career I might hold, as not everyone is going to be able to communicate with me in the ways that I am used to. This trip is something that I know I will continue to go back to, I learned so much from serving with the Missionaries of Charity who have dedicated their entire lives to serving God in the poor and they love without preference and regardless of circumstance. This is the type of love that I want to bring into my relationships now, and also into my career in the future.
Describe positive changes to the community as a result of your service experience:
The things that we were doing with with missionaries might seem very basic to some, but by doing these things in love, I learned a lot about humility and patience. I learned that things are not always going to go the way that I want them to, and I am not always going to be super excited about something that I am doing, but I can still choose to do those things with joy and love. Some of these things included: feeding, changing, bathing, cleaning, making beds, scrubbing floors, doing laundry, playing, dancing, praying, and just simply loving. The children, girls, and women that I had the honor to serve taught me more about love than I can even write to you here- I encountered Jesus when I looked into their eyes. Most of them might not have been able to speak or do anything for themselves, but I saw how the Lord uses each of us differently- they not only changed the lives of the other people on my trip, but the Lord is using them to bring the missionaries closer to Him as well. So while it might not have seemed like we were making a large communal impact, the Missionaries of Charity take these men and women who have been abandoned and left on the streets and they give them a home, they give them love, and they give them the medical and spiritual love and care that they deserve and need. Their ministry is changing the community by showing others that everyone’s life matters, they are bringing in people off the streets, and they are showing others how to love.
Describe a person with whom you interacted with that made a strong impression on you, positive or negative:
Gabriel, one of the children who lived with the missionaries, made a strong impression on me. He was probably about 6 years old, with Downs Syndrome. I got to spend a lot of time with Him, and I learned so much about just being human- how to love and how to accept love in return. He couldn’t talk to me, and yet He loved me so well. I realized that sometimes words aren’t enough to care for people well, but actually providing undivided attention, a loving smile, and a willingness to serve is what actually makes a difference in people’s lives. Little Gabriel taught me valuable lessons about communication and love that I will be able to use as a physical therapist someday.
Complete the following sentence: “Because of this service experience, I am _______.”
Because of this service experience, I am better able to love and care for those around me and those in need, as well as, better prepared to serve people as a physical therapist in the future.