Giorgia, Marta, Ottavia and Gabriella recount the joy they got from meeting others during a mission in Bosnia.
Gabriella said, “This year for New Year I did something new. I was on a mission to Bosnia… It was without doubt one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. The mission gave me and taught me so much. I saw with my eyes how much suffering there is in the world.”
Gabriella then explained what moved her most, “I have seen the generosity in those who, even if they have nothing, feel they must repay you whatever the cost, depriving themselves of that nothing they have to give it to you. I saw love in those who take care of the forgotten. I saw the hope and joy in the smile of those who would have every reason to be disappointed and embittered by this world. I saw the thirst for a contact, a caress, a smile. And I saw happiness when that contact, that caress, that smile came… They were happy. We were happier. It is that profound joy, intimate, difficult to explain in words but that you know comes from God. I invite you to take stock of your life. What gives me happiness? Am I doing my best? In which direction am I going? Can I recognize happiness in my daily life?”
She was part of a mission over New Year’s that Regnum Christi Italy ran in Bosnia, the opposite of normal New Year’s parties. 60 Young people did this mission with Gioventù Missionaria (Mission Youth) from December 29 to January 3. Fr Riccardo, chaplain of the University of Palermo, wrote on Facebook: “They all have a smile on their lips and, in their hearts, the awareness that it was worth giving this beautiful moment to those who need them most.”
4 Legionary of Christ priests and 2 Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi accompanied young people from Florence, Milan, Padua, and Palermo, on a mission which brought 6 tons of food and clothing to the families. They delivered the relief to their family homes, to the home for the elderly, to the Muslim orphanage of Mostar, and to a home for the disabled. They also visited the homebound, they played games with the children and bingo with the elderly, and they gave generous amounts of time, hugs and smiles. In return, they got the joy of the people they met. They have experienced that it is possible to meet God in the faces of those who suffer.
Giorgio shares his experience of a different start to the year: “What prompted me to start 2018 in an extraordinary way? I don’t know myself. We were able to deliver tons and tons of food, basic necessities, clothes and happiness to orphanages, old folks homes, refugee camps, psychiatric hospitals, and needy families – to families that no longer have anything, not even furniture but have retained HOPE. The hope that everything can change.”
Giorgio continues explaining the mission, “Traveling means not only seeing new places; traveling means experiencing, giving your heart new memories, encounters, and knowledge. I met people with a different light in their eyes, a special light, light that gave them life again. I started with zero expectations and with 10 fellow adventurers [from Palermo]; I came home with 70 special Missionary friends with whom it was an honor to be able to share this wonderful experience. I wish you could live such a unique and moving experience once in your life, because it changes you; it’s one of those changes that you have always hoped for.”
They celebrated the New Year with a Christian rock concert, and then on January 2 they went to Mount Krizevac, to retrace, through the steps of the way of the cross, the falls, the pain, and the suffering of Jesus. Overlooking the small town of Medjugorje, this mountain is rough, rugged and rocky. If it rains and mud forms, it can almost impossible to climb. However, after the mission, these difficulties appeared insignificant, becoming a joyous offering, an opportunity to meditate on all that Jesus has done for us.
Ottavia doesn’t usually share her experiences, but she thought this experience was important enough to share: “I could see with my own eyes the face of the war. We have often heard of them in the stories of our grandparents, read in history books or observed in some film, but they always feel far away from us, or imaginary… From this trip, I return with the knowledge that there is still much to do, but that each of us is able to make the difference. I am grateful to the priests and consecrated who have guided and supported us in this mission, and Gioventù Missionaria that made it possible.”
Like the other three, Marta shared her experiences on Facebook. She felt the need to share her experience because, as she said, she wanted “To give a small piece of my heart to all the people I love and to all the people who need it. Since my return everything seems different but nothing has changed: I have changed. We all need guidance to rediscover the path and on this mission my guides have powerfully conveyed an immense love for life. I hope to be able to pass this on to all those with whom I will speak a little about this love. My true mission begins now.”
Each of the four shared different aspects of the mission, but the common denominator was the joy that comes from the encounter with others, an encounter that blurs the distinction between those who give and those who receive.
See the photo gallery on Flickr here.