• March 18, 2011

Orientation Program - Erika’s testimony

Erika, Sunny and Father Thierry

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!

Erika D.

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