The Blueprint for Blessings

Posted by Kacie Emmerson

April 15, 2024

Ava Culver is a senior at Bardstown High School interning at Nazareth’s Office of Mission Advancement, aiming to enhance her skills in design, writing, and media marketing for a future in business. She is also laying the foundation for a life dedicated to service and compassion. Her recent mission trip to Las Flores, Belize, to construct a home in honor of Sister Valerie Miller’s family, was a journey of cultural immersion, significant community contribution, and spiritual deepening. 

“Going on a mission trip, you immerse yourself into a new culture and walk in the way of Jesus. In Mark 10:45, Jesus said, For not even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as ransom for many. Allowing yourself to go on a mission and ultimately give your time, strength, and love to a family in need is one way to change your entire perspective of life. It will change how you walk about life, see others, and serve”, Ava shares. For Ava, going on a mission trip to Las Flores to build a house for the Ramirez family changer her. 


“Building this house made a family’s dream come true, but it also showed the pure love of God, when people come together to serve others, fully and humbly. Committing to this experience allowed me to have a new heart posture in the way I walk in life, the way I see others and the way I serve.” – Ava Culver, Bardstown volunteer


Ava was very nervous preparing for the trip. She did not know any of the other volunteers, was the youngest of the group by eight years and had never been out of the country before. However, upon packing her bags and arriving at the airport, she was filled with peace that only God could have given her. This was exactly where Ava was supposed to be. Meeting the other volunteers, she instantly knew she had nothing to worry about, and was about to experience the best ten days of her life.

Ava initially began this journey believing she was extending a blessing to the Ramirez family by dedicating her time and energy to help build their home. Surprisingly, she found herself on the receiving end of the blessing, thanks to the family’s remarkable spirit, joy, and profound sense of gratitude. This realization humbled Ava. 

This trip was more than building a house. The experience was about building bonds and spreading love. Ava spent time with the Ramirez children. She read books to Claudia, kicked a soccer ball with Daniel, and held darling baby Jasmine. Ava had the privilege of laughing with the grandmother about the silly things Claudia would do. Although there was a language barrier, God showed Ava things that words could never describe. 

The home was constructed in honor of Sister Valerie Miller’s family.

Building the house allowed her to trust that God would give her the strength to help. The house build helped Ava learn to always serve with a humble, loving, and optimistic heart. It helped her learn to be more patient. Even though there was a lot to do, Ava had to be patient and sometimes had to wait for someone else to complete their task before she could move forward. Over a span of ten days, the group followed a set schedule. Breakfast was served at 7 a.m., and from Tuesday through Friday, work hours were scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., including a lunch break, followed by dinner at 6 p.m. A local family provided breakfast and dinner, offering an authentic local dining experience throughout the week. Saturday was designated as a day of exploration and cultural immersion in Belize. 

The group visited a Mayan ruin to delve into the historical significance of the land and later explored a market to admire local craftmanship. On Sunday, the group attended an English Mass in the morning. The routine resumed on Monday, and by Tuesday, the group participated in a house blessing ceremony, handed over the keys, and enjoyed a final dinner together as a volunteer group. 

Ava stated, “working alongside such a dedicated group of volunteers assembled by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth to construct a home in honor of Sister Valerie’s family was very rewarding. The honor of participating in such a meaningful project, was made more powerful by Sister Valerie’s inspiring presence with the team in Belize.” 

“Building this house made a family’s dream come true, but it also showed the pure love of God, when people come together to serve others, fully and humbly. Committing to this experience allowed me to have a new heart posture in the way I walk in life, the way I see others and the way I serve”, Ava commented. 

After this experience, Ava hopes to see everyone she encounters with more love and compassion. This mission trip made her more mindful of her consumption, recognizing the extent of wasteful habits and acknowledging the blessings of her own circumstances. Ava shared that, “Everyone should experience a mission trip. Just listening to stories will never touch your heart the same way. It is better to immerse yourself, walk in the way Jesus would, and humbly serve others with all your heart.” 


  1. Liz Field, SCNA

    Congratulations, Ava, on risking, growing and sharing your experience that others may follow in your footsteps! God bless you as you move forward in your life of service and compassion!

  2. Lisa Downs

    A powerful statement to the value of the work of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth’s volunteer program. S. Valerie Miller and Ava, you all ROCK!

  3. Sr. Brenda Gonzales

    Thank you Ava for spending time with us at Nazareth this year. I am glad we had some time together. Blessings on your continued journey next year!


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