As if God could hear in the depths of my heart (a place where I often cannot distinguish what is being said) that I wanted something more than simply the challenge of not buying anything, He has invited me to experience a deeper level of poverty. For this, I am humbled and very grateful.
I was invited last week to join a mission team of young adults that will travel to Haiti for one week in May. Our mission is this (as stated in the informational handout from Fr. Rick Nagel, our fearless leader) :
To be Christ to our Haitian brothers and sisters and to seek Christ in the poor.
To bring the HOPE of Christ to a suffering people of God.
To grow missionary hearts for the poorest of the poor.
To raise up Catholic Young Adults as future mission leaders.
To build relationships between [Indy young adults] and 3 Haitian Parishes/Villages and seek ways to learn from one another and support one another.
To learn more about the Catholic Social Justice Teaching of having a preference for the poor.
To answer Pope Benedict's call to provide relief to a growing population of starving and uneducated children and families in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
As this is not beautiful enough, an extremely generous anonymous benefactor has donated the costs necessary for this mission team to form! Without that gift, I would not be able to accept the honor of being among fellow young adults on this adventure that has already deeply moved me - I can only imagine how the stirrings in my heart will grow as we prepare and then participate in this journey!
There is another dimension to this tale.
I was uncertain whether I could even dream of saying 'yes' to Fr. Rick's invitation because of a tiny little part of my life: my full-time job. I do not, and will not by May, have enough vacation time to take off a week from work. After praying for God to send an answer, I approached my bosses with my situation, inquiring if there was anything that could be done.
Without hesitation, the owner of the company I work for said it would be no problem if I simply took the week off unpaid. My direct boss had no problem either, and even mentioned he might like to help out with something like this.
I wanted to jump for joy!!
As I considered what this meant, I was filled with even more gratitude, because I came to two conclusions. 1) One week without pay while require some creativity for my budget that month, and this will perhaps call me forward to experience, not just in Haiti but in my own life as well, a greater sense of solidarity with the poor. I am happily anticipating this challenge. 2) My happy anticipation is largely rooted in the knowledge that while my budget is tight (as all young adults might say), it can withstand a one-time loss of one week's pay...this alone fills me with a great sense of thankfulness for the blessings God has showered upon me over the past year.
There is so much to say, but I will save it for another time.
Much is to come in the next couple months. +