A mission reflection by Ellen Sprigg
As I reflect on my recent mission week in Beattyville with Kentucky Cornerstone, an amazing group of teens and their dynamic leaders from Old St. Patrick’s of Chicago, I am left with many “take-a-ways” and feel certain the same is true for each of them. It always amazes me how in one week, a volunteer mission team can build relationships that leave such a lasting impact.
On our last evening together, after a week of very hard work — painting, organizing, cleaning, clearing, hauling, and replacing flooring, while dodging rain showers and adapting schedules — we reflected together as a group on Jesus’ words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” The group journaled and shared the individual gifts they brought to the week and also reflected on what they received from their giving. Some of the sharing included: how good it felt to step out of their comfort zones, facing fears and being glad they did, being disconnected from social media and actually liking it, new friendships made, new skills learned, great feelings of accomplishment, etc.
I challenged them to be open to noticing how God continues His work in us long after the mission week is over in ways we cannot foresee. That is the true beauty of how the mission lives on in the lives of those giving and those receiving the generosity of others. The pictures from our week together tell a story, but they cannot truly depict the conversations, team building, playtime, laughter, music, prayers, share time, and simply the outpouring of love that was given and received. This relationship-building is what stays in the heart and continues to tug at our call to do more for others.
As the team was packing and working together to clean up before departing for home, one of the recipients of our week of giving stopped by to say a few words to the group. She shared a bit of her story and hardship and how hard it was to be on the receiving end. She told them she was in a very hard place in her life and that throughout the week, working alongside the group whenever possible, the weight of worry and fear lifted, and she felt renewed hope. She thanked the group for bringing the light back to her heart. It was a gift for the group to receive her heartfelt words.
Jesus gave us so many “take-a-ways” from his life on Earth, and it is so powerful when we experience his message so clearly as in Acts 20:32-35 from Paul:
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Our Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Volunteer Program goes in mission to deepen our spirituality, to broaden our vision, to grow in appreciation of cultures, and to stir in our hearts the desire for lifelong service to others. If you are interested in a mission experience with us, please visit our website at Nazareth.org/volunteer or email our office at firstname.lastname@example.org.