Going to Lourdes for ten-day was one of the best experiences of my life. It definitely changed my life to see the suffering of other and to see the joy they have in that suffering. It was so inspirational to work with my peers and see their selfless love and willingness to serve. Watching Chuy and Justin play with Makayla every evening and looking at her while they hung on her every word was precious. Seeing the way Mike and Joseph bonded with Gabe and took care of his every need was beautiful. Watching Andrew and Casey anticipate Fr. Menei’s needs to make sure he was able to celebrate or concelebrate Mass from his wheelchair was unbelievable. The way that Grace so tenderly cared for Janet and the love she showed her made me want to cry. Seeing Mary Grace and Cecelia assist Joan and Judy was hysterical because by the end of the week you could see that they knew what was coming and whether it was a word they said that would remind the ladies of a song or a story they had probably heard thirteen times already, they still listened with an eager smile and attentiveness. Being able to watch Ben, Chuy, and Peter waiting to assist anyone with wheelchairs was very special and watching the way Peter respectfully called each of the female pilgrims Miss so-and-so was absolutely inspiring. Watching Joanie push her little cart around and to the pilgrims drinks, snacks, and blankets with Becca, Angela, and Marissa, Melanie was so sweet because it showed that even the smallest things can mean a lot to people. Seeing how Keri was nervous about going into the baths but then eagerly volunteering to take a shift in the baths was really amazing. Turning around and always seeing Shannon smiling and offering to do anything always made my day and seeing Domi and Grace on the cleaning crew in their green aprons always made me smile.
One of the things that struck me most about this week was how everyone was able to give so completely and willingly of themselves. It’s like St. Bernadette digging for the spring. The students gave and gave and gave of themselves and then when you thought they couldn’t give anymore, they dug a little deeper and found some more to give just like when St. Bernadette was digging and digging for the clean water.
People have always told me that when you go on a mission trip, you go into the trip thinking you have so much to give but you come out of the mission having received more that you ever could have given. I feel this way about the Lourdes mission in that I gave all that I had, but what I gave is nothing in comparison to what the pilgrims gave me. The lessons they taught me in how to love and how to open up and trust people are lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I feel so blest to have had this opportunity.