Erika D. who’s leaving for an eighteen-month mission in Thailand at the end of this month, writes about the Orientation Program she took part in last February.
"During training in February, I made a new friend, in the truest sense of the word. My first Wednesday in Brooklyn, I went out with Natalia and D. - a friend from the neighborhood. Walking down the street with a friend, and riding the subway with her gave me humility and joy! I preferred to be with her in Queens than sightseeing to Ellis Island or the Empire State Building. As I was walking, I actually chuckled with delight at my “tour” of New York City. It was something a bit unfamiliar, sure, but I was right where I wanted to be. I enjoyed being with our friend in that moment! Our friend on this Wednesday needed a presence, someone to hold her hand, to accompany her—how I love this word! To ‘accompany’ means to go along or in company with; to join in action. It contains warmth, presence, and movement when I hear it. This experience forced me to learn about her, to listen with a total sense of poverty, meaning having no idea what to do—except to give in to my heart’s mind: to love her---to listen, to look in her eyes, to speak with her, to be present without taking over her freedom.
I had the opportunity to meet Fr. Thierry during my final days in Brooklyn. In the short time shared with him, I couldn’t help but consider this profound correspondence between Fr. Thierry’s response to an inspiration he received to found ’Points Coeur’ (French for Heart’s Home) and my response to an inspiration I received to be a missionary. I would not be where I am today if not for Fr. Thierry’s ‘yes’. I see how Fr. Thierry’s positive answer has intersected my own. This forces me to consider what happens when we ignore a call from the Source of all that is, and moreover, to consider the ‘yes’ of Mary, 2000 years ago.
How has Mary’s ‘yes’ intersected with my life today? Over 1,300 individuals have been missionaries with Heart’s Home in the past 20 years. All of us, our friends, our sponsors, and all who have been touched by Heart’s Home would lack this encounter in our lives had Fr. Thierry’s answer been ‘no’. This is ever important in the mission, as in life. I am present not just to observe the life of our friends, in a detached way. My ‘yes’ to go was only the first. I cannot, upon arrival, say, “I’ve done enough. I’m here, aren’t I?” This life requires an investment of my heart, my emotion, my intellect and my entire will. Every day I must ask myself, “What will it be today: yes or no?”
Time for prayer each day allowed me the chance to reflect, gleaning new insight and understanding from the environment of the community and these experiences. This is all simmering in me to re-direct the attitude of my heart. I am learning a new way to live my faith each day, in friendships, in community, and privately with my Lord. The short two weeks has strengthened the peace in my heart that I am saying another ‘yes’ with each step of preparation for my arrival in Thailand!