Mercy Week Mission
Mercy Week Mission
A Reflection by Gunnar Goodwin
I’ve never done anything exciting for spring break. Although I’ve always wanted to, I’ve never gotten around to planning a trip. Well, this year was no different. I had no plans for Spring break. Meanwhile, some of my friends were encouraging me to go to the Mercy Week mission trip to Atlanta. I thought to myself, “well I don’t have anything planned for Spring break, so why not?” Little did I know, this small “yes” would turn out to be a huge blessing.
In the days leading up to the trip, I had no idea what to expect. Before this, I had never been on a mission trip, and I could only assume there would be lots of service and prayer. To no one’s surprise, I was correct! However, there was much, much more than just that. I was able to see God in numerous places and faces throughout this trip.
First, I saw God literally during Adoration and Mass. We went to Adoration almost every day we were there and mass every morning. I also saw God in the face of the community. We had opportunities to provide food, and enjoy fellowship and worship with the homeless at the Mercy Community Church. We also spent lots of time renovating an apartment used by the Missionaries of Charity for religious education for refugee children. During our breaks at this apartment, we would all hang out with the children and get to know them very well. One thing that stood out to me about both the homeless and the children was that, despite how little they had, they were constantly filled with joy. They were happy with what they had, and didn’t think about things they went without. That stuck with me throughout the trip.
While I’d be getting aggravated because my phone battery was running low, or upset that I got paint on my brand new Chacos (It’s okay I ended up getting most of it off), many of the homeless and refugees were wearing the same clothes day after day, and the kids were playing outside all day because they had no toys or games in their homes. It really put things into perspective and allowed me to appreciate what I have much more. The relationships that we made with all those we served were strong and gave us a sense of family.
On the second day, when we arrived to continue our work on the apartment, the children ran up with excitement, calling us by name. This was touching to me, as I had spent maybe 30 minutes the day before visiting with them yet they still remembered my name, as well as everyone else’s. When we would arrive at Mercy, the homeless reacted the same way. We had a place in their hearts, as they did in ours.
On our third day, Mercy took us on a field trip, along with the homeless, to a monastery. There we got to experience how the monks live and witness their midday prayer. We also got to play volleyball and other games with the nuns, monks, and the homeless. Those who weren’t playing were sitting and having fruitful conversations and enjoying the beautiful weather. Many of the homeless were very excited to share their wisdom and life experiences. The sense of community was incredible.
I’ve still yet to mention how much I saw God in my peers who were also on this trip. Most of us began this trip clinging to the ones who we were already friends with and staying within our comfort zones. This, however, changed very quickly. By the end of the first day of work, most of us had already developed individual relationships with one another. At the end of each day, we would all get together and share the things we had seen or learned that day, and seeing each other’s growth was beautiful and encouraging.
The host family that all the guys stayed with was around an hour away from the girls. Because of this, we had to wake up much earlier in order to make it into the city to go to daily mass with everyone else in the morning. I just thought that we would be sleeping in the van to and from our home, but instead we experienced some of the best conversations and times of prayer. We would begin our van rides with a rosary and follow it up with someone’s favorite prayer.
Throughout the trip I felt happy and at peace. It made me realize how important it is to keep God and prayer as a vital part of your life. This week we experienced beauty alongside the homeless and refugees. The prayer and community made it very apparent that we are all children of the same God, and we are all striving for Heaven together.