by Joe Reichold
When asked to give my testimony, I was planning on sharing about a very tragic story in which I eventually found the restoring power of God’s grace. However, while I was reflecting on my time here so far, I completely changed my mind.
Before I came on this mission trip, I considered myself reasonably involved with my Catholic faith life. I frequently go on retreats, attend conferences, and lead Bible studies. On multiple occasions, I have dedicated and rededicated my life to Jesus. Now you’re probably thinking that these are all pretty good things to be doing, and you would be objectively correct. However, any fire that God lights in my soul always seems to fade in time. I become extinguished and not fully committed to Jesus like I know I want to be. So that is something I continually struggle with and often deny. I would see the joy in the people at Mass and become envious. I got upset with myself for continuing to feel the desire to hang on to a life of sin and debauchery. The devil really is a subtle master of manipulation. I can see him coming and I continue to open the door to let him in.
I was an extremely late addition to this mission trip…. I started fundraising three weeks before departure. I said “yes” to the mission on a completely uninformed whim, and even the missionary team leaders that invited me were shocked by my acceptance. So, by the Grace of God, I was able to mobilize the funds necessary to make the trip, mere days before departure. I had absolutely no idea what to expect.
But I’ll tell you something: God brought me here for a reason. God doesn’t make mistakes. This community has shown me what it truly means to be on fire for Christ. In my country, the United States, it is nearly impossible to find the kind of community worship and outreach that I’ve seen here. My country is rich, or at least I thought it was. We have big houses, expensive cars, and all of the latest gadgets. But after what you all have shown me this week, I would trade all of those things to get just a piece of the spiritual richness that is so overly abundant in your country.
But after what you all have shown me this week, I would trade all of those things to get just a piece of the spiritual richness that is so overly abundant in your country.
This week, I saw Jesus present in this spiritual richness at each extreme of life. I’ve been blessed to take some wisdom from some of the oldest members of this community, the people who are truly happy despite their physical situations. I’ve also been blessed to see Christ while working with the young children of this community. The children possess an innocence, an intrinsic joy that is only mirrored by the eldest and wisest of the villages.
Thanks to these experiences, I feel confident that God will work through me to take what I’ve learned and create more spiritual wealth in my own community. He will light me fully on fire in His grace.