It’s actually crazy to believe that, as of tomorrow, I have been here for exactly 3 months. That time has gone by so fast! As I think about all I have done and the emotional rollercoaster it has been so far, I would like to use this post to talk about the ups and downs thus far and how I am doing now.
As I have mentioned before, I have struggled with homesickness. Of course this is normal and to be expected, but for someone who has never really been homesick before, this was a very new and difficult experience for me. I have gone from being sure I wanted to serve for 2 years, to wanting to go home 3 weeks in, to being comfortable with where I am and trying to take it one day at a time.
As with every time I am struggling with something, I turn to prayer. A few weeks ago I was having a really hard time and feeling very out of place, so I decided to start praying a 54 Day Rosary Novena for peace, patience, and to feel at home here. For any of you who don’t know, a 54 Day Rosary Novena consists of 27 days of Petition followed by 27 days of Thanksgiving, praying a Rosary every day. This is my 4th time doing this specific Novena, and I absolutely love it (and recommend it)! I am still in the midst of my 54 days, but I have already seen its fruits. I am feeling more at home and more at peace.
One thing I have been trying to do is focus on the good moments and take this one day at a time. When I first started struggling, I thought about how many more months I have and the number just seemed daunting. As I reflect now though, I realize how quickly the time has already gone, and I know the rest of the time will go really fast as well.
Now when I think about how quickly the rest of the time will go, that worries me a little as well. What if I don’t accomplish everything I came to do? What if I leave and the girls completely forget me and I don’t even make a difference at all? There are multiple things I have to keep telling myself:
- Last year at a mission conference with my internship at the US Catholic Mission Association, Dr. Carolyn Woo, the Director of Catholic Relief Services, gave a talk about mission and one line has stuck with me. “You will not always see the fruits of your labor. And that’s okay, even beautiful.” As a missioner, I am not always going to be here. I am not necessarily permanently in these girls’ lives. But that’s okay. I am here now.
- I have been receiving Daily Gospel Reflections from Bishop Robert Barron, and one from Christmas Eve was talking about John the Baptist as the last Old Testament prophet proclaiming the coming of Christ. The reflection stated, “His job is to point, explain, indicate–and then disappear.” That line really stood out to me. Like Dr. Woo’s quote, I realized again that I am not always going to be here. Of course I hope to visit and keep in touch, especially with my goddaughter, but I will not always be physically here. I will eventually go home, get a job, hopefully start a family, and the girls will do the same thing here. My job while I’m here is to do what I can while I’m here: teach them, take care of them, and above all, love them. As long as I do that, it’ll be worth it. Even if they don’t remember every little thing or they eventually move on and forget me, they will have the memory that they were loved and they will hopefully be more open to receive the love of Christ.
- I am good enough to be here. For a while I was thinking that I shouldn’t be here because I don’t speak the language, I’m not always the most energetic, I struggle with taking care of 40 girls, etc. But as the small things have happened, I’ve realized that I am good at a lot of things, especially the one on one moments. I’m good at taking care of the girls when they’re sick, bandaging them when they’re cut, talking to them when they’re in trouble, sitting with them when they’re crying and feeling left out. Rather than focusing on the things I’m not the best at, I’m trying to focus on the things I am good at.
I definitely still have moments that are hard, but I am doing better and feeling more comfortable here. I want to thank all of those that have listened to me, given me words of encouragement, and have walked this journey with me so far. As always, know of my prayers for all of you, and please pray for me, the girls, my community, and the Sisters.
Have a Blessed Christmas!!