• March 10, 2011

Natalie H. - Thailand 2011-2013

I grew up in Sacramento, California, the oldest of five chil­dren. I majored in Theology and Science Pre-pro­fes­sional Studies at Notre Dame, where my nose muff and my slip­pers helped me barely sur­vive the win­ters. After I grad­u­ated in 2008, I stayed for another year to work in their Campus Ministry depart­ment. This July I’ll grad­uate from the Notre Dame Echo Program, which has blessed me with the oppor­tu­nity to pursue my Masters in Theology while serving the won­derful people of Nativity Catholic Church in Indianapolis the past two years.

I find God in joy and in the timing, and both of these have led my journey to min­istry with Heart’s Home. I’ve thought about inter­na­tional ser­vice for years, but the timing had never been right, so I’d kept it reserved to a back corner of my mind in the “re­ally cool dreams” area. Then last spring, I came across the Heart’s Home web­site. I was struck by the pro­found sim­plicity of its mis­sion: “To live com­pas­sion among the most suf­fering people, starting with the chil­dren.” As I con­tinued reading about the orga­ni­za­tion, I kept repeating to myself, “Oh my gosh. IT EXISTS!” Its form of con­tem­pla­tion in action in sol­i­darity with the poor seemed to put words and actions to the deepest desires of my heart, man­i­festing the things that have given me the greatest joy in the past few years.

Then the timing fell into place. Through phone con­ver­sa­tions, a meeting, and my Come-and-See weekend in New York, I was pro­foundly affected by the radi­ating joy of everyone in Heart’s Home. Their gen­uine love of God and neighbor shone in all they did. This was some­thing I wanted; these were people with whom I could learn the meaning of Christian love. And so, with a deep knowl­edge that I am going with God, I’ve com­mitted to 18 months of ser­vice with Heart’s Home. In October of 2011, I look for­ward to let­ting go of the familiar in order to say to the people of Bangkok’s Klong Toey slum, “I rec­og­nize in you a divine pres­ence. You are the Christ who comes to me in the stranger, the pris­oner, the one who is naked, who is hungry. It’s not because of your needs, but because you have spe­cial gifts to share. Through you and your giving, I receive the gift of love and see the face of God. I am grateful. And I hope you rec­og­nize how beau­tiful you are!” (Henri Nouwen). Aware of my weak­nesses and the great chal­lenge posed by this simple mis­sion, I am hum­bled by and grateful for the oppor­tu­nity to answer this call. I know that I’ll receive far more than I will give, and that I can only do this with God’s grace and much sup­port.

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