“The Lord foils the plan of the nations, frustrates the designs of His peoples. But the plan of the Lord stands forever, the designs of His heart through all generations.” Psalm 33:10-11
So, here we go! My very first blog entry. Writing a blog is something I NEVER imagined I’d be doing and I can’t guarantee I’ll be good at it, but I’ll try my best. Over the past year, however, I’ve been preparing myself for something even bigger than writing a blog entry – to become a full time foreign missionary! My journey has been such a rollercoaster; terrifying at times but such a wonderful ride. It has led to the most wonderful gift that God could give me – the gift to serve His people and proclaim Him on distant shores.
A common question for adults to ask children is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When I was little, I can remember myself answering the question and saying, “I want to help people.” As I matured, I became influenced by my mom – who has been a nurse for over 30 years. My answer to the question evolved into dreams of becoming a nurse myself one day. I wanted to be a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse so that I could be the voice for the tiniest people who had no voice.
Fast-forward to my senior year of high school. I was still dead set on becoming a nurse, and I was accepted to my dream university to study! Things were great; busier than ever and I Ioved it. Toward the end of my senior year, however, things began to change. I began having dreams about nuns! Reoccurring dreams. This was extremely strange to me especially since I had never really even spent time around nuns. I can vaguely remember a trip with my mom and my grandma to attend mass with the Carmelites once, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Over time, these dreams consumed my thoughts, and I couldn’t think of anything else! I remember sitting in church one day and crying the whole time because nuns were all I could think about. However, I didn’t tell anyone about my dreams for months; after all, I had college quickly approaching. I continued to pursue my dreams, and anxiously looked forward to starting my college career. Just four days before I moved to the university, my mom walked into my room and said that she had a funny feeling that maybe we should call the school and make sure everything was in order. I was extremely frustrated with her because I felt like it was a last minute attempt to convince me to study somewhere closer to home. Come to find out, there was something wrong and it was too late to fix it. I was forced to unpack all my things and scramble to a nearby university to enroll there. I was devastated. (The Lord frustrates the designs of His people.)
I ended up loving school despite what I had just gone through, and the best part was those dreams about nuns went away! I met really nice friends in my classes, and I even moved into an apartment with my cousin. Things were great! Around the end of my first semester, I met a priest who was told me that I should pray seriously about becoming a nun. Here we go again! Considering the dreams of nuns I’d had prior to this, I decided that I would pray about it. Not too long after, God introduced me to the Missionaries of Charity. I decided to skip a semester of college to be with them and understand their charisms. I spent almost every day with them for about four months. I would attend mass with the sisters every day, and we would visit patients in the hospitals and nursing homes. They even had a kid’s ministry that I helped out with! I had a lot of peace about what I was doing. What I grew to love most about them was their love for the poor. This new found love struck me because I never realized this about myself before. Now, instead of thinking about my dreams of nuns, I thought about my desire to become one. I did research on the Missionaries of Charity to learn more about them. One thing I found out is that they have a choice to see their family once every ten years, but most choose to never see them again after making their final vows. They do this because it’s a huge sacrifice for God. It was really hard to imagine not ever seeing my family again, but I told God that I would be willing to do it for Him. My family really struggled with this and I accepted it because God needed me. I even planned to take the first step to become a Missionary of Charity that summer. One day while we were doing hospital visits one of the sisters randomly looked at me in the eyes and said “Olivia, do you realize that you will probably never see your family again?” Despite me already accepting that fact, in that moment all the peace I experienced every day before, immediately went away. Just like that, I felt uncomfortable. I knew it was God in that moment telling me this wasn’t where He wanted me. After that day, I slowly began distancing myself from the sisters. I didn’t stop going all together, but I didn’t desire to go all the time.
I decided to try nursing school once again this time at a different university. I met amazing friends. Friends that helped me grow in holiness and closer to God. However, there was something wrong. I loved my friends, but I had absolutely no desire to be in school. I even considered switching my major! I’d never felt so lost. (The Lord frustrates the designs of His people.)
One day about mid-semester my cousin called me and asked if I would go to a conference with her. I was very hesitant mainly because it required money that I barely had, but after a lot of convincing I finally agreed to go. It ended up being the Proclaim Conference that Family Missions Company puts on once a year. It was all about missions and evangelization! There I experienced an amazing sense of peace; a peace that I had never felt before. I thought “Wow! God is calling me to be a missionary, but not a Missionary of Charity! I left the conference on fire and wanting to go on a short term mission trip to Mexico that was just three weeks away. The problem was of course money, but the pull to go was so strong that I couldn’t refuse. I took a leap of faith for The Lord, bought my passport and a plane ticket, and I went to Mexico. There I had the most amazing experiences, and God answered so many of my prayers and questions. It was obvious that with His poor is exactly where He needs me at this time in my life.
Now, the time to begin formation with Family Missions Company is quickly approaching. I’ve had almost a whole year to prepare myself to become a missionary, and I still can’t believe the whirlwind God put me through. I never imagined myself being anything other than a nurse, and now all I can think about is serving the poor for God! Please remember me in your prayers as I embark on this incredible walk with God, and I proclaim Him on distant shores.