Second-year missioner Kitzi Hendricks has decided to renew her contract for another year! We are thrilled to have her continue her ministries of providing social services for children and supporting survivors of torture in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Kitzi has also been part of a team working closely with the Archdiocese of Cochabamba to open a new shelter for girls, Centro de Acogida Temporal Guadalupe. This work has arisen from her ministry in Bolivia.

During her first year in mission, Kitzi was at the Madre de Dios shelter with adolescent girls who had been abandoned or abused. Kitzi served as a mentor and a tutor; created individual lesson plans for each girl; implemented a positive behavior reinforcement system within the classroom; introduced meditation and guided relaxation each week to decrease the teen’s anxiety and stress; and created a safe, supportive environment for the girls.

“I loved every aspect of my life-giving service work, including the inevitable challenges that I had to face each day,” Kitzi said.

This January, though, the shelter closed. Kitzi had really treasured the relationships with the girls and the staff, so she was heart broken. It was difficult time for Kitzi as she worried about the girls and went through her own time of transition in finding a new service site, support system and community.

She was happy to eventually connect with ITEI and their work with survivors of torture. “I was excited to have, yet again, found an incredible, dedicated, and passionate staff,” Kitzi said. She joined the two full-time staffers in their desire to meet the needs of the clients and community. She has now been with ITEI for five months now and enjoys being a member of the team and the life-giving ministry.

With her mandatory two-year mission contract expiring at the end of 2013, Kitzi considered her work with ITEI, her wonderful Franciscan community, and the beautiful relationships she had formed and felt anxious.

Kitzi talks about her discernment process:

“I was finally feeling very much at home in Cochabamba and then I would have to leave? Why did this sense of peace have to be overridden by my increasing anxiety as the end of the year approached? This sense of anxiety is what really encouraged me to discern a third year with Franciscan Mission Service. 

I remember learning about spiritual discernment during formation and learning how to practice the gift of spiritual discernment in my own life. One of the words that I remember most regarding discernment is the word ‘peace.’ There may never be a perfect, easy decision, but the path that provides you with the most peace within your heart is the path in which the spirit is guiding you.

When I envisioned myself staying another year, I immediately felt a sense of inner peace–a peace that instantly took away all of my previous anxieties. I allowed myself to sit with these feelings and promised myself that I would wait until I spent some time in the U.S. with family, friends, and familiarity before making a final decision. After a few weeks in the U.S., I knew that staying for another year was the right decision for me!

I am really looking forward to this third year with Franciscan Mission Service. I know just how monumental my third and fourth years of college were at Creighton and how much those two years allowed me to form into the woman that originally joined Franciscan Mission Service. I’m excited to see where the spirit leads me in this third year with Franciscan Mission Service!”

To support Kitzi’s continued mission in Bolivia, please consider making a donation.