by Cody Bobick
If I had to choose one word to describe day four of our mission trip in Joplin, it would be transformation. The day began with our family breakfast in the living room, accompanied by praise, worship and group prayer. This morning we had a bit of a delayed start getting to our work sites because of rain and thunder. As we were praying by going around and having each person give their intentions for the day, Steve recalled from our recent Campus Ministry retreat discussions that rain is often symbolic in film, and indeed in life, of transformation, some sort of profound change. (What this transformation would be today, I did not truly know.)
After the weather calmed down, a group of us went to the local hospital to visit a woman dying of cancer, the sister in fact of a neighbor who came last night to our evening of s’mores, songs and campfire. We walked into the room and Sonny began to converse with her, asking if she would like us to pray over her. Then she said, “He is coming.” To witness her deep faith and to see her in pain because of her illness was so moving. In her, I saw Christ. Because of her, my own faith has increased and my heartfelt desire to bring the Good news to others through the witness of my life has been nourished. In her illness, you could see the light of Christ within her, as she prepares to meet God face-to-face and experience his overwhelming fountain of love, mercy and eternal life.
Later in the day when we arrived back at the house, we began moving debris from a pile in the side yard into a nearby dumpster. Let me just say that after we were finished, I could have worn my “blue jeans” as khakis! Of course, we had lunch, some had PB& J; I had PB and honey (the only “J” I need is Jesus. I do love (strawberry) jelly though, no need to worry!) The sweetness of the honey, and indeed the sweetness of Christ’s intimate presence in our lives more than made up for it!
In any case, the neighbor whose sister we visited in the hospital and his wife came by later to say that they had went to the hospital and Kay, the woman we saw, mentioned how much the singing and praying over her meant in her time of need. That affirmation, that what we had done was bearing fruit in someone’s life, was an apt reminder of today’s Gospel reading, in which John spots Jesus and says to Peter, “It is the Lord.” That recognition of Christ in others is exactly what we are called to do, as well. To see how Christ is transforming hearts, to open ourselves as vessels of His love so that we may, as our Holy Father says, spread the “hope that animates” us through the witness of our lives.
After we moved the debris and cleaned ourselves up, we went to a nature trail and waterfall nearby for a “desert day” of prayer and silent, individual reflection and journaling. Once there, I found a serene spot on the side of the water and threw a rock in. The water and I thought to myself, how great the Lord’s mercy truly is that when we give our burdens to Him, laying them down at the foot of the cross. They are consumed by HIS love and washed away so that we may begin anew, with new life. All we have to do is ask. I later felt called to take a sip of the water and I realized that we are all called to “drink” the water of life and to ensure that others do no thirst.
This evening, we closed the day with some chili and mac n’ cheese (always an interesting, yet palatable, combination!) by giving our personal witnesses, both about the mission trip thus far and our own lives. To see and hear everyone open their hearts to share how the Lord is molding them each and every day in accord with HIS will, to see their emotion and feel their faith and the impact that Christ’s love has had on each one of them in a very intimate and profound way was truly transforming for everyone in the room.
The other day when we went to Eucharistic adoration, I was looking through the hymn book and came across the following: Just as a fire is meant for burning… the Church is meant for mission. May our time here in Joplin transform our hearts and those that we served. May the Lord send His spirit upon us so that we may live through HIM, with HIM, and in HIM more intimately. +A.M.D.G.+