April 3rd, 2010. I find myself, along with Bridget and Erika, standing in the candle-lit Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, in Lafayette, LA. The celebration of the Easter Vigil continues, the readings are beautifully read and the excitement is building. We all know why we are here, we know what is about to happen… we are about to re-live the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!!! The time has come, the bells begin to chime, the quiet trumpet turns into a blasting hailing in of the King as our voices are raised to the heavens, joining with the praises of the Angels and Saints… “Give Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth!” As a body gathered together to celebrate the day our Lord rose and opened to us the gates of heaven, the day death was conquered, the day reality was turned upside down, the day all things were made new… I realized that I myself was about to embark on a journey, a journey where I would have to ask the Lord to make something new for me. In less than a week I was off to Cuernavaca, Morelos. I would be settling down and living there for a month, attending classes to learn to speak Spanish. With virtually no Spanish on my resume, I knew that the Lord was going to have to take control of me and my journey, and in reality make me a new person, a new missionary, better able to be His servant.
– Market place in Mexico City.
– Cathedral in Mexico City.
– Interview the Gringo!!! 😛
A few days later, after an incredible, fun and refreshing stay at Big Woods, I find myself up early to catch a flight out of New Orleans, final destination Mexico City, Mexico. Two flights, a bus and a taxi ride later… Erika, Teresa and Myself, find ourselves seated outside of IDEAL, a language school of Cuernavaca. Our journey was beginning!!! After a little wait, we were each carried off to our individual homes where we would each be living with a local family for the duration of our stay there. After a few days of getting our bearings and settling into our new homes… classes began!!!
– Beans galore!!!
– Taxco, the city of silver.
– La Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Guadaloupe.
– Nuestra Senora… ruega por nosotros!
The next four weeks were composed of five hours of Spanish classes, taught completely in Spanish, five days a week. Having arrive with the idea that I was a student, I may have neglected somehwhat the fact that I was still and am always first a missionary. However the Lord quickly reminded me as I was blessed with opportunity after opportunity to share, not only with other students, but with the professors, my host family and a number of others who the Lord brought through my path, my testimony of how the Lord called me to missions and all that He has been doing with me and my fellow missionaries throughout all of our missions this year!!! With my broken Spanish, I thought that anything like this kind of sharing would have been impossible… however the Lord knew. He knew that He has the power to give us the words to speak when we cannot, that He can give us the grace, strength and inspiration to witness to Him even when it seems impossible. And this is exactly what He did. He gave me the words I needed, my Spanish once almost incoherent, was still very poor, but was enough… just enough. Whenever we share the Gospel, whenever we share truth, there is a look… a look that comes across the eyes or someone who is really listening. Whether they have decided yet to believe or reject what you are saying, as long as they are truly listening, this look is bound to come. Because with truth is God, God IS TRUTH! And with God, there is always change, there is always action. Needless to say, during our time sharing at the school, this look, this change was all around… not because of us, but because of Him!
– Me and Erika in front of the Basilica.
– Tepyac… the site of Our Lady of Guadaloupe’s apparitions.
We spent our evenings going to daily Mass, walking the city, stopping to visit the poor and the homeless… doing all that we could to be missionary, to be what He has called us to be! We may not have been able to say much more than “hola” y “como estas?”, but you would be surprised at what a simple hello can do. A simple smile can light up the streets of the darkest city. Helping others is hard, changing the world is hard… but one of the hardest things about it is our unwillingness to do it! Our unwillingness to love without reserve, to dive into the effort with all our being!! However once this hurdle is cleared… the rest continue to fall. Before we knew it, we were walking around the city on the night before our flights home. Having gone one last time to the cenrto, we found ourselves walking up Avenue Morelos one last time. Approaching San Jose, a church we attended for many of our daily masses, Theresa see’s a couple sitting across the street and suggests that we go talk with them. Jose and Teresa were a couple that we had stopped to visit with a number of times during our walks downtown. As always, they greeted us with the most beautiful. Teresa told us that she’s happy to see us, that she had seen us walk by on the other side of the street earlier but she knew that we’d be stopping by to see her on our return. We don’t stay for too long, but our time was blessed. They shared with us how happy they were to have met us and seen us during the past month. We tell them that it was really them who blessed us. They had so little, and yet so much. Without the things of this world, they were still happy, and they had nothing to stand between them and Jesus. They were closer to God that many of us who hold so many other things dear in our lives. They not only showed us a way to Christ, but they showed us Christ Himself, as He shone through both of their beautiful faces… faces that I will not soon forget. After a goodbye filled with smiles, we returned home to pack, to once again pick up and move where the Lord was calling us.
– The Old Cathedral… it’s sinking!!!
– Walking around the ruins of Xochicalco.
(Below- Exhausted from Language School :P) Next stop… Home!