|August 12, 2013 • VOL. 51, NO. 14 • Oakland, CA|
| Maryknoll offers mission training September 13-15
When you hear the word "mission trip" you might think of building wells, or feeding the hungry, or putting up walls for a house for which a family has been waiting a long time.
The retreat, Watson said, is designed for "people who want to learn more about what it means to actively live our faith."
"God is on a mission of love," he said. The opportunity is there for the faithful "to be that love, wherever we are."
Learning to be a missionary
This was the first stop on our mission trip to Esquipulas, Guatemala — La Escuela de los Campiones (The School of the Champions). This was a school for children with special needs on the outskirts of the town.
As we entered the school, I felt a little awkward. It's always humbling to walk into another person's home or place of work but this was especially awkward because I was a foreigner who didn't speak the local language very well. How would I be able to communicate to the children? How could I possible do anything for them?
My guarded state was immediately challenged by a young boy, Saul. Saul was a joyful, outgoing 8-year-old boy with Down syndrome. He made himself the official greeter to our group. No one entered the room without getting a big hug.
Despite my reserved state, Saul made sure I met every one of his school friends and teachers, pulling me from one person to the next. Saul's joy was contagious. Throughout the morning, I could see that Saul made it his business to connect with anyone from our group who was not otherwise engaged with someone else.
Reflecting back on my first encounter with Saul, I could see that he was my first instructor in what it really means to be a missionary. It is not about good programs or profound words. It is about being a person who unreservedly reaches out to others in love (especially those on the margin) as a beloved child of God.
— John Watkins
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