Maryknoll Missioners July 15, 2018
Jul 18, 2018
Good morning/afternoon everyone.
Before I begin I want to extend my thanks to Fr. Matt, Michelle, and Peggy for welcoming me here and making my presence with you all possible.
As Fr. Matt said, my name is Annie Burns. I am 24 years old. I am a native of Cleveland, Ohio. I currently live and work in Cochabamba, Bolivia, a city in South America. And I am a Maryknoll Lay Missioner.
Maryknoll Missioners is one of the oldest mission sending organizations in the United States. Founded in 1911, we have worked across the globe witnessing to the experiences of the poor and marginalized and using our skills and expertise to respond. Maryknollers work in healthcare, sustainable development, education, human rights, pastoral ministry, and everything in between, with the hope of celebrating the inherent dignity of each human person, while working to envision and create structures and systems that are equitable and just.
We are lay people, just like you. We are families and single people. We are very young and very old. We have children. We are retired. And we are scattered across 6 countries on 3 continents.
Part and parcel of this life as a missioner is the understanding that we have been sent. We are not natives in the places we serve. We come from other countries, other communities, other cultures. And it is that community, that home, which sends us out into the world to share the Good News of the resurrection.
We are sent, just as the apostles in today’s Gospel, to go out into the world, and provide spaces of healing and communion.
According to Jesus’ mandate to the apostles, we don’t need much for this journey. We are to take with us only a walking stick, a pair of sandals, and a companion.
A walking stick to scare away the snakes that try to trip us up, and to hold our weight when we are weary.
A pair of sandals to protect our feet so that we can keep moving forward.
And a companion along the way, someone with which to share the joys, sorrows, triumphs, and pain.
The rest, we trust, will be provided us by those we encounter, by the grace of God at work in our own hearts and in the hearts of each person we meet.
I recently acquired my Bolivian drivers license. Having this license allows me to support a team of Bolivians that provides training and resources for rural communities on topics effecting people with disabilities. One day they asked me to drive for them. We piled in the pick up and headed off down the red dirt road, 11,000 feet up the Andes mountains. At one point they asked me to pull over. Half of the team was going to go one way, and the other half was going to continue on with me. They pointed to a distant point on the opposite side of the mountain and said, pick us up over there! When it came time to go pick them up I thought I was following the right road. We even asked a woman herding her goats for directions, just in case! We started down a rocky path and realized quickly that this was not where we wanted to be. But there was nowhere to turn around! We kept going down the rocky, narrow road until we could finally manage to turn around. And then I gunned it. I tried to get some momentum going back up the rocks, but the truck wasn’t going to make it! We took turns trying to push. We shuffled the rocks on the road around, hoping to make an easier path. We opened the hood and let the engine cool off. Nothing. And AAA hasn’t made it quite that far south yet! The sun was beginning to set and we were afraid that we would get stuck in the middle of nowhere on a cold night in the mountains! But then we took stock of our situation. We rested for a minute, letting our minds and bodies recalibrate. We shared our worries and fears with one another, and then we kept pushing forward. We tried one last time to get up the road and, lo and behold, we were able to! We found the rest of the team and laughed together at the tales of the day’s journey. We shared stories of successes with various community members and challenges facing the people we serve. And then, all together, we looked forward to the work of the next day.