Mission. The word won’t leave me. It keeps showing up in unexpected ways.
Like through an invitation from a special friend. She asked me recently to consider joining her on a pilgrimage to Amistad, “the Friendship Mission,” in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where more than half the population live below the national poverty line.
I decided to check out their website (see http://www.amistadmission.org/).
As soon as I saw the children’s faces, the Andes mountains, the indigenous women donning wide-brimmed hats and colorful scarves, tears sprang to my eyes.
I had to say yes. With no clear indication why. I simply felt a pull on my heart. A pull to be with the poor of Latin America.
Who can explain such things?
I’ve no idea what I’ll discover there. It’s only for a week. But I know I’ll come back with much more than I could possibly give. Just like what happened with the migrants in El Paso.
Last week Richard Rohr used the word “reverse mission” in one of his daily reflections. His words say exactly what I’m trying to say.
“An overly protected life—a life focused on thinking more than experiencing—does not know deeply or broadly. Jesus did not call us to the poor and to the pain only to be helpful; he called us to be in solidarity with the real and for our own transformation. It is often only after the fact we realize that they helped us in ways we never knew we needed. This is sometimes called ‘reverse mission.’ The ones we think we are ‘saving’ end up saving us, and in the process, redefine the very meaning of salvation!”
Here’s where I’ve experienced “the real” while on mission:
- In the sound of children’s joyous shrieks as we play a simple game of Uno at the health center in Anapra, home to Mexico’s poorest of the poor.
- In the migrant woman, who after being paid a meager $15 for a day’s labor of housecleaning, gave $5 to someone “less fortunate.”
- In the mud-caked, sole-flapping shoes of the little Guatemalan girls who showed up at our hospitality center with their mom.
- In the airplane drawing of a six-year-old “undocumented” boy assigned to a Texas detention center who sees God as that plane, ready to whisk him up and reunite him with his mother.
Wherever this mission is taking me, it sure is a slow process. But that’s OK.
I’m learning that each slow step is a piece of the puzzle. And everything is fitting together nicely, just as it needs to, in order to fulfill my unique purpose, my heart’s calling. All I have to do is listen. And not let myself get too comfortable. Something I doubt will happen in Cochabamba.
Truthfully, I don’t really know why I’m going to Bolivia. But I do know what I hear in my heart: “If you want to live a truly fulfilling life, you must follow me.”
As John O’ Donohue writes:
Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment.
These pics were taken from the Amistad website