"Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel" - Mark 16:15
I came into this mission to Long Beach expecting the work projects, expecting the devastation, and expecting the evangelization. I thought I had a pretty solid idea of what this mission would hold for me and I was prepared to give myself over to the work I was going to do. But what would a mission be if I could actually anticipate everything that was going to happen? God had a bit of a different plan and decided to take me by surprise.
Never in a million years could I have anticipated what I would get from the missionary team I worked with. It sounds a little silly, but on this mission, I got more from the missionaries surrounding me than from any of the work projects or evangelization or actual missionary work. Don't get me wrong, it's always very humbling and rewarding to act as the hands and feet of Christ doing physical work in His name, but I was already expecting that; I had experienced that and been moved by that on missions in the past. I wasn't expecting to be moved by my mission team.
For this mission, we joined with Adelphi, so I didn't really know about half of the mission team, but that didn't last for long. I quickly developed an amazing relationship with every missionary. There is something so moving about seeing such a deep love for Christ and His Church in the eyes of so many people. To live with about 25 people who are so devoted to Christ for 10 days revived my heart in an unexpected way. I led music for the group during prayer and adoration during the mission, so I was often sitting a little bit away from the rest of the group. This provided me with a vantage point that I wouldn't trade for anything. I watched each person, day after day, as they gazed upon our Lord lovingly in Adoration or Mass, or as they prayed with incredible humility and reverence during morning or night prayer. People so often speak poorly of college students, but what I saw on this mission was college students more on fire with their faith than most people I know.
I came into this mission expecting missionary work. I went through this mission and experienced more joy, laughter, love, community, and faith on fire than I have in a very long time. I came out of this mission a different person: renewed, hopeful, and joyful beyond description.
-Elizabeth Woods, Sophomore at Hofstra
Before the mission trip, I honestly wasn't even going to sign up. As a freshman who wanted to enjoy his winter break at home, I couldn't be bothered to spend another week and a half away. However, after learning about some of the needs of the Long Beach, NY community, and a little encouragement from friends, I decided to sign up. I'm so incredibly happy that I was chosen and was able to join the mission team. The experience was one of the most fulfilling that I've had in my life.
During the very first workday, I was assigned to a family whose entire basement was flooded with water and sand. Literally everything aside from the house's supports and framework had to be removed. All of the drywall ripped off, and all of the electric work torn out. It was a lot of hard work for the entire day, but we cleared out all of the moldy material and all of the sand. Seeing how overcome with joy the family was, I immediately realized that I made the right choice to come on the trip. Bringing God's light into the lives of the afflicted beats out hanging out at home any day of the week.
This day was so incredible that I didn't think any other day would measure up to it, but day after day I was proven wrong. One of the greatest parts of mission work is spending time with the people you're helping. Whether you're helping them drill sheet rock or having a conversation about where they grew up, eventually you realize that you're doing God's work. It's what He intended for all of us; to help those less fortunate than ourselves. I'm so glad I was able to experience this so early in my college career, because I'll never hesitate to volunteer my time for this type of work now. The joy I get out of it combined with the love spread to those we're helping is so great, I'd feel foolish if I did.
-Sean Grealy, Freshman at Hofstra
Our College Missionaries
This blog is by our student and missionaries so that you can learn a little more about our experience on our mission trips!