Reflections on Mission Experience

Posted by Spalding Hurst

November 21, 2021

Associate Member reflects on Mission Experience

The graphic on the front of the Associate Handbook shows a flower with four petals around Christ as the center and supported by the leaves of charism and mission. The petals are identified as: personal connectedness, deepening spirituality, growth in commitment and involvement in mission. Each of us “flowers” in different ways at different points in our lives. As Associates we strive to allow these components to shape our actions. Recently I was able to participate in a mission trip (along with four others including Associates Elaine Belflowers and Evelyn Faldowski) to Walls, Mississippi sponsored by the SCN Volunteer program. Each of these components was highlighted during the trip.

Associate Member reflects on Mission Experience

The graphic on the front of the Associate Handbook shows a flower with four petals around Christ as the center and supported by the leaves of charism and mission. The petals are identified as: personal connectedness, deepening spirituality, growth in commitment and involvement in mission. Each of us “flowers” in different ways at different points in our lives. As Associates we strive to allow these components to shape our actions. Recently I was able to participate in a mission trip (along with four others including Associates Elaine Belflowers and Evelyn Faldowski) to Walls, Mississippi sponsored by the SCN Volunteer program. Each of these components was highlighted during the trip.

Personal connectedness

As we worked together there were opportunities to get to know one another and share stories. The connections extended beyond just our group to the other individuals working at the home as well as to the resident of the home. The resident – who I will refer to as Joe – was hesitant at first when this group of women showed up at his home. Even though he knew we were coming, I don’t think he really knew what to expect! It took time but by showing Joe acceptance and respect instead of judgment, we gained Joe’s trust and increased cooperation. While we were cleaning the kitchen, laundry room, etc., Joe took the initiative to clean his room. It was encouraging and uplifting to see Joe take ownership of the tasks at hand and enter into the activities. In the afternoon of day one, Joe was asked if he wanted to paint the door to his room. Joe was enthusiastic about the opportunity and graciously accepted the brush and paint. Joe painted the lower half of the door then received help from a member of the group to finish the top portion. (Joe is in a wheelchair and has no use of his legs.) This allowed Joe to feel more comfortable with the group since everyone was working together. We were there “with him” and not there “to do for him”. Joe was in control throughout the project and made the majority of the decisions. 

Deepening spirituality

All involved in the week experienced Christ is some way during the experience. Seeing Christ in Joe and the other volunteers was an inspiration. One of the volunteers, not with our group, was installing a new bathroom that included a wheel-in shower. He was very generous with his time to the project but also repeatedly stopped what he was doing if we needed assistance with a task or explaining something in Spanish to Joe. I admired the way this individual shared his spirituality without any “religious comments”. Our group also gathered each day for prayer, reflection and sharing. This helped to bond us as a group and keep our service/presence centered on Christ. On the last day, Ellen Sprigg (leader of this trip from the Volunteer office) invited us to give a small wooden cross to one of the other volunteers if we felt compelled to do so. A cross was given to the coordinator for this trip from Sacred Heart Mission that had spent the week assisting with the needs of our group. The person’s response was one of tearful appreciation for the recognition. All it takes is a simple gesture to share Christ with another and thus receive Christ in return. The group challenged me on repeated occasions to simply receive and not always be focused on giving to someone else. This is an ongoing challenge for me. 

Another important way of sharing spirituality was being present to the others at the home. Listening to stories/experiences/challenges/feelings seemed to be a large part of the trip and an additional reason that we were all in this experience together. Showing Christ’s love in these little ways impacted all those present. 

Joe’s spirituality was evident through his concerns for the rest of us more than himself. Joe was constantly telling us to get water and always wanted us to turn on the air conditioner because he could see that we were sweating. Our physical comfort was more important than his own. 

Growth in commitment

Growth in commitment to the Associate relationship and growth in commitment to Christ. One conversation that sticks in my mind and calls me to commitment happened on the last working day of the trip. By this time, Joe had painted not only his door but the bottom half of the two most visible walls in his room. Our group had about 30 minutes before the scheduled time of our departure. I asked Joe if he wanted me to paint as much of the rest of the walls as I could get done in the given time frame. He gave a positive response and then stated, “I would do it if I could stand. I can do it if someone holds me up.” At that point, I knew I needed to finish the walls. I asked the group and they agreed to work longer than scheduled and a few people helped get the walls painted. Seeing Joe’s commitment strengthened my commitment. 

Involvement in mission

At first glance, I thought this petal was self-explanatory. However, there is actually more to it. Yes, I was there and yes, I cleaned and painted. But was I involved in the mission? I reflected back on my intention and presence during the week. I made an intentional decision to interact with and be present to, to the best of my ability, Joe and everyone involved in the project. I believe that is the call to being involved in mission. 

I share these thoughts to encourage all Associates to experience a trip through the SCN Volunteer Program. I know that many of you have served on numerous domestic and global trips and could add to this reflection. Let’s share our experiences and thus spread the charism of charity.

Beth Vetter, SCNA

7 Comments

  1. Sarah Ferriell

    Heart Warming, Beth, Thanks for taking us with you to this special man’s home.

    Reply
  2. Maria Brocato

    Beth, it is clear this trip to Holly Springs meant a great deal to you. What a blessing for you and all who share your beautiful reflection.

    Reply
  3. Louise Smith

    Beth, your sharing the experience as a volunteer is inspiring. I hope and pray that will inspire others to do likewise . Blessings and keep up your good. Ideas.

    Reply
  4. Liz

    Thank you for your reflection and your personal sharing of your experience. Your witness shows leadership.

    Reply
  5. Maggie Cooper

    Wow! Beth, your reflection was beautiful! How great to see the whole group of you working together with Joe!! It is truly inspiring!!!
    So glad you are SCN Associates!!! You are truly in MISSION!!

    Reply
  6. Judy Donohue

    Beth, your reflection was inspiring. I hope to go on a mission trip in the future.

    Reply
  7. Martha Borders

    Beth,

    Thanks for sharing your reflections on your experience of mission.

    Blessings,
    Martha

    Reply

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