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Treasure - A 2014 Trip Reflection by Andra Liepa

There are three emotions that stay with me, even several weeks after making my first trip to Honduras: unconditional love, joy, and gratitude. Visiting the people of St James the Apostle was unexpectedly similar to visiting my cousins in Latvia, my parents’ birthplace. These people had never met me, but they were eagerly awaiting us, and greeted me by name with a big smile and an even bigger hug. I was immediately accepted and offered love and friendship, solely because I am from St Monica, just as if I were a relative coming to visit for the first time. This feeling stayed with me all week long, while we were graciously hosted by the Carmelite priests and seminarians, accompanied by parishioners on our travels, and welcomed into the various communities we visited.

I witnessed joy in a people who have very little “treasure” but share their talent and their time in great measure. They praise God by making beautiful music, singing and dancing, learning enthusiastically and serving each other. Most memorable for me was after the 3 hour Pentecost Vigil mass, we all formed a circle and danced around the parish hall – a congregation so filled with the Holy Spirit that no one wanted the evening to end!

Lastly, our brothers and sisters at St James the Apostle are extremely grateful for what God has given them and what St Monica has done to help meet their needs. They went to great lengths to thank us by showing us how they have put our contributions to work, by proudly sharing their traditions and most importantly with their words and prayers. It was overwhelming to learn that they pray for us at all their masses and read the names of those who are sick and who have recently died from St Monica. With all the assistance we have provided over the years, I now know that what they give us is even more powerful, and that is offering their frequent prayers for us.

So I have resolved to hug my family and friends more frequently and more enthusiastically, to find joy in simple activities, and to give thanks every day for all the immeasurable ways that God has blessed me, including giving me the opportunity to visit our brothers and sisters in Honduras.

Andra Liepa