by Joe Ertle, missionary

As our two teams of Mission Possible slowly settles back into life here at home, a number of missionaries took the chance to reflect on the many blessings and joys they have experienced here at home and while in the Dominican Republic.

A common feeling amongst the missionaries was the extreme sense of relief behind being wrong. How unusual! As Lisa Cinadr, principal of St. Ambrose School, put it, “I thought I was going to help our mission community, yet I was changed by our mission family and their goodness.” In The Power of Love, a collection of essays by the late Fulton Sheen, the venerable archbishop writes, “The help we give others is so often condescension. We look upon them as being in need, we being the suppliers. Heaven may look upon them, however, in a different way. It may be we who are in need, not the hungry and the naked. They only need food and drink, clothing and shelter. But we need to be tumbled from our jittery throne of superiority which rests upon such a fragile base as having.”

Julia Danko, a proud 2018 graduate of Padua Franciscan High School, said so well what was on every other missionary’s mind; “I never would have thought in a country so stricken by poverty there would be so much joy… Something as small as holding a missionary’s hand or riding on their back was enough to make them smile and pronounce you as their best friend.”

While each missionary had the chance to connect with and get to know many members of the Mission Possible communities, it wasn’t all fun and games. Our two teams spent plenty of time priming and painting houses, shoveling gravel, digging trenches, running camps for the children of La Comunidad de la Vida Católica, and giving medical treatment to those in need. The work was grueling at times; manual labor in 95 degrees is no walk in the park. It did, however, teach some valuable lessons. Andy Klemm, a long-time St. Ambrose maintenance worker and another 2018 grad of Padua, said, “This trip has taught me how to count my blessings, smile more, and change the world with one paint brush at a time.”

Local strongman and college student Jake Yurik echoed Andy’s thoughts when he commented, “The trip not only made me realize the true blessings I have in my life, but I also got to meet some of the most joyful, loving, and caring people along the way.” For Maria Antonius, a rising high school senior and a veteran of the trip, part of the joy was experienced in working well with the other members of her team. She chalked the great success of the trip up to the fact that “everyone had a job to do and filled in wherever needed without hesitation.”

Joe Ertle is going into his sophomore year at College of the Holy Cross and just experienced his first mission trip down to the Dominican Republic.