It is with great joy that I am writing to introduce myself as the Associate Director of Development for Mission Honduras International/Liberia Mission Inc. This past summer a friend of mine sent me an email with the subject line “Dream Job”. Both then and now, I couldn’t agree more; that MHI is just that. I am so grateful for this opportunity to be in a position that I am passionate about, that will challenge me, and that will enable me to work with such dedicated team of people!
Prior to joining MHI, I was a volunteer with Amate House, a faith-based program that incorporates faith, service, social justice and stewardship while living with 12 other volunteers in an intentional community. I volunteered as the Program & Events Coordinator for Camp of Dreams, a small non-profit that provides year-round programming for underserved Chicago youth. The skills I learned last year have made me confident in my decision to join the MHI/LMI team. I have had many other opportunities that fostered my passion for non-profit work. This passion started in college through my involvement with Loras College Dance Marathon, a student run organization that raises money for the local Children’s Miracle Networks. I’ve always had a strong passion for my faith, for service and for working with youth, which led me to participate in a Spring Break service trip to Honduras in 2009. I graduated with a BA in Social Work from Loras College in Dubuque, IA in May of 2010. I was born in California and raised in Iowa, but for now- I am loving the big city of Chicago and plan to stay here for a while!
My trip to Liberia Mission may be one of the biggest blessings in my life. Though humbling and stretching in many ways, it was the perfect place for me to grow personally and professionally and witness God’s grace in so many places. I embraced the month, the days, the hugs, the conversations and the sights the best that I could. Being back, looking through pictures, re-reading my journal entries, it continues to be an amazing journey of growth.
The children and staff taught me the importance of life, faith, love, forgiveness, hope, brokenness, hospitality, trust, simplicity, gratitude – the list is endless. Out of everything that I have learned from this amazing journey, the thing that I think about every day is the passionate faith lived out by each person that I met. From the 7 year old girl, Saba, who lives on the mission, to Fr. Tikpor, age 87, the oldest Catholic priest in Liberia. Faith is what keeps Liberia going, especially the children on the mission. Faith radiates from the children’s smiles, eyes, hugs and conversations.
On the mission each day begins and ends by “giving God the glory!” in song, dance and praise. I asked many of the children what they hope to be when they grow up and many of the responses are “I will do God’s will for me”. I know very few people who have faith as strong as these children. They have faith in God, in their community, in their school, in their country and in themselves.
One day a group of the kids asked if we could sing songs out of the Praise & Worship book that I brought and we decided upon How Can I Keep From Singing. This song quickly became something I heard when I spoke about faith, war or life in Liberia. If you are unfamiliar, the refrain is: “No storm can shake my inmost clam, while to that rock I’m clinging, since love is Lord of heaven and earth how can I keep from singing”. I heard horrific war stories from the children; but what I will always remember is their ability to leave the past, have faith now and hope for the future. More stories of faith were shared than of stories of the 14 years of war. These children have experienced more sadness in their life than I ever will. I have so much to learn from them. I miss sitting on the mission steps hearing their stories. I miss singing, dancing and worshiping with the children. I miss the hugs, the smiles and the laughter and I miss their strength and their faith!
I am lucky to have been blessed with the opportunity to visit Liberia Mission. I am able to weave my experiences into all aspects of my work. It brings me so much joy to share stories, photos and videos with YOU, our dedicated donors and supporters. Because our staff can only do so much, it is with your support that this mission thrives! Trust me when I say there is more that can be done. The children gave me a renewed faith – faith in God, in my work, and in myself. I have faith that together, we can and will continue to provide more opportunities for more youth in Liberia!
I look forward to connecting with each of you in the coming months. Please feel free to call or email me. I welcome the opportunity to speak with you, your parish, your co-workers or school group about our mission and the beautiful faith of Liberia Mission that has touched me so deeply.
Associate Director of Development