For truly I say to you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.Matthew 17:20
Two years ago, I went on a life-changing mission trip to Nicaragua. This spring break mission trip organized by FOCUS strengthened my faith and gave me several encounters with God. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I said yes to going on mission, but from the moment I said yes, God made wonderful things happen. I felt him working even before the mission trip as he helped me get to Nicaragua. I fund raised my way to Nicaragua, and although it wasn’t easy, I was blessed with so many generous donors who made sure I could go on mission. There were times when I wasn’t sure if I would fund raise enough, but when you say yes to God, he takes care of you. The outpouring of support that I received as I prepared for my mission trip reminded me that God wanted me to go to Nicaragua.
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In Nicaragua, my mission team and I worked with an organization called Mustard Seed Communities, which quickly became close to my heart. On the Mustard Seed Compound, we spent our days playing with abandoned children with disabilities. We colored, played soccer, and prayed every morning and evening. The children were so quick to love us. Although they had just met us and they knew we would only be there for a week, they loved us so much. It reminded me of the unconditional love of God, which we easily returned to them. Each of those precious children were so easy to love. They didn’t have to do anything to earn our love. We loved them just because they’re them. There have been times in my life when I felt like I needed to earn my Heavenly Father’s love, but loving these children reminded me that this isn’t the case.
I still think it’s fascinating how much I deepened my faith in one week. Thanks to God’s grace, I grew so much closer to him during my time in Nicaragua. We went to Mass every morning, and every evening we prayed a holy hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I’ve never prayed a holy hour before going to Nicaragua, so during my first holy hour I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. I sat in the Lord’s presence and I heard him say in my heart, “Don’t be afraid to hear my voice.” That little sentence changed my prayer life. I became more open to the Lord, and even today I find it easier to turn to him and depend on him. I spent a lot of time in Adoration that week reflecting on each day with the Lord and talking with him. I’d thank him for the opportunities and experiences that mission has brought me. I asked for his guidance as I served him in Nicaragua and that my love for his children wouldn’t fade when I went home. I also had a once in a lifetime confession experience, where I received the sacrament outdoors on a beautiful, warm morning. I was truly surrounded by God and his grace in Nicaragua, which still helps me to share his love with everyone I encounter today.
I can’t write a blog post long enough to tell you about the blessings and experiences that Nicaragua offered me. I know that this blog post doesn’t quite do my mission trip justice, but believe me when I say that a week in Nicaragua changed my heart forever. I did not return to Pennsylvania as the same girl who left, and I’ll never be the same because of the children I met and the encounters I had with God. Two years later, the children that I met through Mustard Seed still have a special place in my heart. I still pray for them every day so that they’ll always remember that they’re beloved children of God. I love telling people about my mission trip and about the numerous memories that I’ve made. I always say that I left a piece of my heart there with the children, and if I could go back, I would in a heartbeat. I can’t say enough good things about Mustard Seed Communities and the work that they do. My mission trip to Nicaragua changed me in so many ways, and made me a more fit instrument of love. I grew in love for God and all of his children, and I learned what it means to have a missionary heart. Nicaragua might have been the farthest that I’ve been from home, but it was the closest to Heaven that I’ve ever felt.