“He is Here!”
An early January morning, unlike the cold and snow I had been walking through a week earlier, I find myself arising early in the morning to begin my mission by walking into the hot and humid jungle of the Amazon. Today I am going, with a number of religious sisters, a priest and group of missionaries, to visit Tres Hermanos, a small jungle village a few hours away from our mission base in Misahualli, Ecuador. Piling into the back of our truck and beginning to drive into the jungle, we had no idea the day that was awaiting us, what the Lord had planned.
An hour later, reaching the literal ‘end of the road’ we step down from the vehicles, put on our packs and begin our hike. The beginning of our hike seemed easy enough, trekking down a well trodden path, and making great time, we began to think that we would surely make it to our destination within the hour. Slowly that dream of ours began to diminish and we realized the work that we had gotten ourselves into. The once smooth and easy path was soon transformed into a winding and difficult journey through the thickness of the Amazon, made more difficult only by the thigh-deep mud we found ourselves trudging through. What to many would have been a back-breaking blow became for us a reason to rejoice! Songs of praise and worship began to echo throughout the jungle around us as we shouted out the glories of God. Encouraging and inspiration quotes and lyrics came to strengthen us after the first and second hours passed and we still seemed distant from our final stopping point. From Teddy Roosevelt saying, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led diffcult lives and led them well.” to Christ’s, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23), we began to realize that this hike was very much one of those crosses that Christ was speaking about, one of those worthwhile things that was in no way easy.
One group from this May’s trip to Ecuador, hiking through a river to reach one of the villages.
Approaching the third hour of our journey, now being covered and mud and having been weighed down by the last hour of heavy rain, someone in the front of our group shouted some of the most comforting words that could have been spoken at that moment, “We are here!”. With a sudden surge of energy, the rest of the group livened and ran, as best they could, the final hill up to the village. Arriving to meet the people we, here quickly remembered that the hike was not our mission, it was little more than the beginning. These people, they were our mission. We had come with one purpose, to bring them Jesus Christ. To bring Him to them in our words, our love, our testimonies and above all, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The incredible thing about this mission is that many of these people had never heard about Jesus and that Mass had never been celebrated there. Jesus Christ, had never once been present to these people in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity! We soon saw that the Lord was using our humble ‘yes’, as His missionaries, to bring Him so truly to these people in a way that He has never been there.
End Result: Tired, sore, muddy, blistered… and ready to do it all again in a second!
Hours into our visit, we had been able to share with these beautiful people the Word of God, how He loves them so unconditionally. We were able to share our testimonies, the incredible works that the Lord has done in our own lives, how He has showed us His love and mercy time and time again. Finally we were able to celebrate Mass with them. Many of them were not able to receive Communion, not having made the Sacrament, however all were able to look upon the face of God, of Jesus Christ, in a way that they had never been able to do before. Any lasting echoes of our earlier cry of “We are here!” would have, at that moment, been drowned out by our new cry, “HE IS HERE!”, Jesus had come! It was in this moment that our mission took on flesh, just as the humble bread was transformed into the flesh of the Son of God. We were blessed by one of those rare moments, one of those glimpses of heaven on earth, when the Lord shows to us the fruit that He is bearing through us His children. It was in that moment that our eyes were opened to see heaven come down and gently kiss earth, to see Jesus Christ use us humble missionaries as His hands, His feet, to walk to a corner of this earth that He not yet been.
Explaining to the children how each and every day the Lord desires to give them a new life in Him. They soon rushed out the door in search of the hidden Easter eggs (a sign a new life) that were filled with yummy treats and would forever be a reminder of the gift of a new life in Christ!
Our Lord does not need us to accomplish the work of salvation, it is only in His great love for us that He chooses to use us to participate in this holy and glorious work with Him. Having the power to physically come down to earth and walk wherever He wants, to have His voice heard at will by whomever He would wish to hear it, Jesus Christ waits on us and our ‘yes’ to move, to walk, to speak. We must be His, be at His disposal, we must be willing to be His instruments ready to be used and formed in His hands. And in doing so, His name will be known among the nations, all peoples shall come to praise Him and He will reign victorious in this world of ours!
Adelphi and Hofstra group (in January) after getting back from Tres Hermanos, such a blessed experience of the Great Commission of Christ!
Lord, let me only move to serve you! Allow these humble feet to carry you to the ends of this earth, to the places you were not able to walk when you were here. Let me be an instrument of your love and mercy to a broken world that so desperately needs you!