Ireland, Summer 2014

Four best friends going to Ireland. First week, vacation. Next two weeks, working with Franciscan friars at a summer camp for underprivileged kids. God plans awesome things if we are open to letting Him make them for us.

My love for Guatemala never diminished, but all of a sudden I couldn’t stop thinking about Ireland. I need to go to Ireland… I need to do mission work in Ireland…I had no idea where in Ireland I was suppose to go, or even what I was suppose to do, but I knew God was putting Ireland on my heart. That is something that is very hard to ignore. So I tried looking into organizations who went and I couldn’t really find anything that seemed to fit. Then I did what I always do when I’m not exactly sure what to do next: Pray really hard, and talk to as many people about it as possible. I have found that people love helping other people. What joy that discovery brings me, because sometimes it’s hard to see that. But its the truth, people long to help one another. So I started talking to everyone and their mother about how I wanted to go to Ireland and people would tell me to call this person or look up this organization and so on. When my friends heard about the trip they wanted to come, which was completely in God’s plan it turns out! Eventually, my friends and I were eating at a Mexican restaurant talking about Ireland when we ran into our priest. He told us about a woman whose son was a friar in Ireland who ran a summer camp for kids and was looking for helpers. The next thing you know we are booking a flight to Limerick. God gives the best surprises. He also always has a plan.

This experience was also life changing, but in different ways. For one, I was going with my 3 best friends, which in theory sounds great, but spending every single second with someone for three weeks can cause some serious tension. We ended up growing even closer than we ever were before the trip, but the start of the journey definitely had its challenges. Secondly, when we were at the camp with the kids we experienced poverty, but not a material poverty that I had experienced in Guatemala, but rather an extreme emotional and spiritual poverty. These kids were rough. Most of their parents were involved with drugs, gangs and all things in between. They certainly did not get the love or attention they desperately wanted and needed. This leads me to the third thing I experienced, and probably the most life changing – the Franciscan Brothers of the Renewal. The most kindhearted, loving, patient, Jesus-filled people I have ever met. No matter what was happening around them, or the terrible things people around them would say, they remained the same. This was one of the few times I looked at a group of people and saw Jesus. I have grown up a Christian my whole life, I have been surrounded by Christians my whole life, but here I was, at nineteen years old for the first time seeing people who lived out what Jesus told us to do in its entirety. Not just in what they felt like doing that day. Experiencing the way they truly loved everyone and gave everything they had everyday to others, and their devotion to Jesus, caused me to examine my life. I called myself a Christian, but I certainly wasn’t doing everything He was calling me to do. This is something I believe we all struggle with, and something we will all continue to struggle with forever. I learned the difference between knowing that everyone is going to struggle with it and using that as an excuse to not try harder, and realizing that you are struggling, or failing, and picking up your cross and starting to walk again. Just like Jesus did. Truly love everyone. Give what God gave to you to those who need it more. Be filled with the joy of Christ. Bring that joy with you all the days of your life. These truths I will never forget.

Here’s a video I made from the trip!

Here are some pictures!

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