Leave Your Comfort Zone

It is truly better to give than to receive.

Karla MartínezWhen I finished my college studies in Guatemala, I decided it was time to do something more. I had always wanted to participate in a volunteer program, and I had gathered information on the various volunteer programs of religious congregations.

I met the Scalabrinian Missionaries of St. Charles. I talked with Father Pat Murphy, the provincial at the time, who told me about the Scalabrinian charism and invited me to a weeklong mission in Kentucky. There were other youth with the same concerns there, and it turned out to be a very enriching experience. We got to know and work with migrants most of them Mexicans working in farms.

Afterwards I participated in formation sessions. I decided to leave everything behind and took a train to Los Angeles. From there I went to Tijuana, the headquarters for intensive formation before being admitted to the Scalabrinian Volunteer program and assigned a place for mission.

I was assigned to the House of the Migrant in Tijuana for a year. This was a call from God to serve as Jesus served by serving others. Of course this was not easy, but I have listened to so many stories of migrants who have left everything behind their families, land, and harvest, and who bring with them only their memories or some photos of their loved ones.

Most also bring a cross or an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to accompany them on their long and arduous journey. They have a strong faith that becomes even stronger as they experience God's presence in the pain of their blistered feet and their parched mouths after walking for so many days through the desert. God has accompanied them in their desperation on seeing a friend or relative die.

I found this experience priceless, and so I am extending an invitation to young people to come and live for a year outside their comfort zone to share with a new community: the community of migrants. When we serve and share with others, the most wonderful thing is that we receive in abundance. The sincere smile in the exhausted face of a migrant or the grateful handshake of someone who feels that no one respects her dignity are great rewards and they're free!

Your turn:

  • What is your comfort zone?
  • Would you dare to leave it in order to respond to a call from God?

Saint of the Little Way

St. Thérése of Lisieux was almost a child when she died; she had never left her convent and died at age 24. Yet she is the patron of missions and one of only three women doctors of the church. How did she manage all that in her short life? She lived very intense experiences and was able to articulate them. She now has millions of devotees throughout the world.

  • How can you have a universal influence from your own world?
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