Going to Guatemala for my first mission immersion trip was amazing. It was never my expectation to feel as deeply or to love so unconditionally, but a single person on this trip made all that possible – her name is Alyssa.
One day we spent a few hours at an orphanage. We had shown a movie and were broken up into groups to talk with the kids. Though the girls were wonderful; I struggled to communicate with them. I felt ridiculous, uncomfortable, and even began to pray for our visit to end quickly. But then, a small round baby girl approached our group. She was 2 years old with her hair done up with a bow at the top of her head. She sat with us and when we took a walk outside, an older girl handed her to me to carry. Her small form in my arms made my chest tight. The other girls must have noticed because they tried to coax her away, but she didn't leave and hugged me closer.
Throughout the afternoon she stuck close to me, holding my hand, sitting in my lap; she even got me to push her on a swing for what seemed like hours. She said no word; barely gestured; but she had such a hold on me - physically and spiritually. Before I knew it, the afternoon was gone and I regretted that I ever wanted it to end. It was all because I could never forget that gentle smile or those bright eyes; being with her made me realize I was in the presence of God.
Real solidarity and real love like this does not need to be said in so many words. For me it came that afternoon without thunder and without lighting. It came in the form of a hug. A hand that took mine and showed me how to be with my brothers and sisters in Christ the way God intends.
|Danielle Doria is a Catechist at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Fremont, California and went on a Maryknoll immersion trip with other teachers and catechists in June 2013.|