In the weeks before our mission trip to Puerto Rico, I felt I was not prepared emotionally, mentally or spiritually. I was made well aware of our mission trip agenda, but I would later find that my personal mission would go beyond what we did in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico. During our stay at the retreat center, I felt that my heart came to know God just a little bit more.

Joelle Galapate

Joelle Galapate at El Yunque National Rain Forest

After that first full day of travel, I was finally reassured that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, thanks to our wonderful Magnificat Travel guides who lead us in prayer every day. 

My initial uncertainties blinded me from realizing that I was actually fulfilling God’s call. It was no longer about me, but about the mission.

This excited me wholeheartedly as we prepared to go out to spread the message of joy in a place foreign to us. Some of us went to schools to offer our help and interact with the students. Some of us helped Father Jorge with his prayer garden at the retreat center. Wherever it was, it was right where we were supposed to be.

I also learned it is not always about doing big deeds, but to also go about the little things with great love. The retreat center liaison who helped run the show got every single one of us to where we needed to be. He was outstanding in helping facilitate our mission projects.

I was inspired by his personal mission that involved touching the lives of children in schools and other organizations, like the orphanage within the community of Aguas Buenas. My mission team and I also got to know Father Jorge and hear about his vision for expanding the retreat center and his quest to reach poverty-stricken individuals in Puerto Rico and beyond.  This experience came at a very important time for me, as I am coming to realize exactly how it is I want to spread the joy of Jesus to others as I follow my career path.

First and foremost, it taught me that I must learn to know God. Through Scripture I feel I will come to know Him and trust in Him. From there, I shall know what it is I am supposed to do.  It was the Word of God that motivated my actions. I looked forward to each Morning Prayer together that prepared our hearts for the day’s work.

“Praise, Ask and Listen” was a simple and effective prayer format that I was introduced to while on this mission trip and one that I plan to make a part of my daily routine. As a graduate student in school aspiring to be a speech pathologist, it is my calling to help facilitate effective communication in individuals.

At one point during the mission trip, I asked myself, “How effectively am I communicating with God?” Listening is the biggest component of that formula, and I realized I need to take more quiet time to listen to Him to know what it is He is calling me to do.

It is impossible to boil down into one testimony all the emotions I encountered. I could not have asked for a more inspiring first mission trip experience with wonderful brothers, sisters and admirable role models in Christ. Each person I came across embodied the love of Christ in different ways.

Joelle Galapate
Our Lady of the Lake University