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Turning Fears to Gifts - A 2014 Trip Reflection by Ellen Sanders

My husband Steve and I gave our 18 year old son Jason the trip to visit our sister parish in Lepaterique, Honduras as a high school graduation gift. We wanted him to experience a culture that was different from his privileged upbringing in the U.S. and we also thought it would be a great opportunity to use his three years of high school Spanish. Jason had an amazing time and if a miracle occurs, he may actually write about it.

The problem was that I also signed up to go with him and by far the biggest thing I packed in my baggage was fear. I’m an experienced traveler, but never to Central America, never when I didn’t plan the entire itinerary and never when I was so afraid I wouldn’t be able to meet the physical demands of the experience since my fitness level post menopause and foot surgery was pathetic.

But the incredible thing about God is that He can take all of your fears and by enveloping you in His love not just help you face them, but turn them into spectacular gifts.

Because I was afraid I got to ride in the truck with Fr. Jose Antonio, Sr. Patty and Debbie Good who interpreted beautiful conversations about faith and vocations. Because I was afraid I made friends with Juan, the sweet man who lead my mule on the treacherous trek to and from our medical mission. Because I was afraid Jeimy, this beautiful 19 year old woman, worked with me as we determined the proper strength and handed out over 80 pairs of reading glasses. And because I was afraid I overcame the language barrier and learned to accept the boundless love from our brothers and sisters in Lepaterique.

At the Mass at St. Monica on the eve before our departure, Fr. Dustin spoke about how when we embark on a mission trip, we may think we are going to change the people or circumstances of our destination. But in fact we are really going to allow God to change ourselves. It’s too soon yet to see how my wonderful adventure in Honduras will impact my faith journey, but I have learned that when I step out in faith (and fear!) that God is waiting to change me to bring me closer to Him. And I also learned that the relationship we have with the people of St. James the Apostle really is built on love and our shared experience with Jesus in the Eucharist. If God ever places the desire to visit Lepaterique on your heart, I hope you’ll listen because along with joining the Catholic Church through RCIA and making a Cursillo weekend, it turned out to be one of most amazing spiritual experiences of my life.

God Bless!

Ellen Sanders