Kendra Nusbaum, a member of Holy Spirit Parish in St. Cloud who graduated from high school in June, on her experience in Belize
It’s hard to put a special experience into words because you feel like anything written will never be enough for what the moment truly deserves; I feel this way about my time spent on a mission trip to San Pablo, Belize, with my parish.
It’s been a year, but each day since, I have thought about San Pablo, the people and God’s love. We traveled there to help them, but their caring hearts impacted us more than they will ever know. The entire village welcomed us with open arms, even so much as opening their homes to us.
We spent a week with people of all ages. We hosted vacation Bible school for the children. They were so eager to sing songs of praise, make crafts about the gifts they have to give to the world, and learn more about how much God loves them (Matthew 19:14).
We restored their Catholic church and received much help from those all over the village. We packed bags full of food and delivered them to those most in need. We handed out rosaries to villagers and prayed with families. We participated in Mass, though we did not always know exactly what was being said, we knew the Belizeans were living proofs of their faith. Their actions taught us how we can be better disciples of Christ. We saw firsthand how we are connected by our common faith — no language or distance can separate that.
We were blessed to see our faith in a beautifully, unique culture. I have never felt more welcome in a community, and though I was only in Belize for eight days, when I returned home, I felt homesick for San Pablo.
My faith grew tremendously, and I am still astonished by their kindness; they were a living message to treat others how we would treat Christ. My heart will forever be touched by Belize, the kind people and their inspiring faith.
Megan Nelson, senior at Becker High School, from Mary of the Visitation Parish in Becker/Big Lake
To be mission is to be a reflection of Christ’s love. It is open-mindedness and finding joy in selfless acts without any expectation of a reward. Mission is all about the relationships built and lives touched through the process of helping others. As Christians, this is what we are called to do, and I know this because of the fire I found in following the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
Alex Anderson, who attends St. John the Baptist Parish in New Brighton, Minnesota, reflecting on her mission trip to Peru
Before this summer, “building” was the primary word I associated with the phrase “mission trip.” After spending eight days in Peru, I can personally verify that missions do involve a lot of building. Yes, our group spent a lot of time building houses, but we also built so much more: We built relationships, we built a community, and we built up a lot of hearts.
More than anything, though, we built the name of Jesus Christ.
“Being mission” is all about being the hands of Christ. Sometimes that involves holding a hammer, and sometimes it involves holding the hands of another. My time in Peru taught me that no matter how we use them, our hands are meant to build something beautiful for the Lord.
Cody O’Halloran, University of Minnesota-Morris Newman Center, on his experience in China
To “be mission” can be interpreted in different ways. I see this as one or a group of people going out with the intention to better a community of other people less fortunate than themselves with selflessness following God’s plan through their journey of the mission.
I always thought in order to be a missionary I had to go abroad and help people living in poverty in another country, but anyone can be a missionary in their own town even. While we had the awesome experience to visit China and see the Catholic Church at work halfway around the world, to be a missionary you just need to spread the love of God, the teachings of Christ, and help those around you in need.
I learned the meaning of mission through the people we met on our trip. How they lead with such readiness to help and serve others. That even on our worst days we can always have that missionary way of thinking and selflessly help others in the name of God.
Frances Burr, University of Minnesota-Morris Newman Center, on her experience in China
To “be mission” is to go forth with the purpose of serving others. It’s to be a model for others and to go beyond your own comfort zone (be it speaking up or leaving your country) to make God’s love known to all.
A missionary is simply someone sent out. We can all be missionaries on some scale by living a faithful Catholic life in our secular society.
“Mass” and “mission” both come from the same Latin verb, “missa,” meaning “to send.” At the end of every Mass we are all reminded by the concluding rites that every day is a chance to evangelize and act as missionaries in our own families, social groups and country.
Alex Carroll, University of Minnesota-Morris Newman Center, on her experience in China
Through our travels in China, I learned that mission is about being open to God’s call; it is about listening to
the needs of others. We can be missionaries every day by being open to God’s presence and seeking to serve him in every person we meet. Mission is also about learning from those we serve. On our trip, we learned about the unique challenges that the church faces in China. Priests and nuns were banned from China during the Cultural Revolution and did not return until the 1980s, which seems very recent. I was inspired by the deep faith of the people we met who were passionate about their faith in spite of government suppression. Overall, I learned that to “be mission” means to see Christ in others, to serve them and to learn from them.