Editor’s Note: Today launches a special series written by missioner Amanda Ceraldi about learning to “bear the beams of love” to all those she encounters in her ministry at Valley of the Angels school in Guatemala. Join us for the next three Mondays as Amanda shares the experiences that reassured her that she is exactly where she needs to be.

“We are put on earth for a little space that we might learn to bear the beams of love.” -William Blake

The months of November and December were spent counting down the days until the kids returned to Valley after their vacations. When they returned in the beginning of January, I felt so special, so important.

From the second that the kids walked through the doors I was greeted with hugs, kisses, kids shouting my name, and questions of when English class would start. Joy overflowed in my heart. I knew that I was right where I needed to be.

It’s even more amazing to think back to when I first arrived at Valley. Last year, upon my arrival at Valley of the Angels, I didn’t know anyone and many of the kids were scared to talk to me. One of my students, George, even told me that when I came to Valley he didn’t trust me.

So many kids at Valley face constant change in their lives—people walking in and out like its no big deal, and many of those people are their parents. I understood why some of the kids didn’t trust me at first, so I did everything I could earn their trust.

Much of my first year on mission was spent gaining the trust of the 200 students I was working with. That meant showing up to tutoring every day, playing games with them on the weekends, and most importantly, listening to their stories. Sometimes these stories were about the soccer rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid, but more often than not they were stories about their lives—their struggles and triumphs.

In listening to and really hearing these stories I gained the trust of the students at Valley.

Amanda with some of her students

Amanda with some of her students

That trust made the start of my second year on mission even more incredible. With the pre-formed trust, my students came to me wanting hugs, wanting to play games with me, and wanting to share their stories. It was in these moments that I was reaffirmed in my love of mission and my understanding that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

In a recent re-reading of Tattoos on the Heart by Fr. Greg Boyle, I came across this quote from William Blake: “We are put on earth for a little space that we might learn to bear the beams of love.” Being on mission, and especially being at Valley I have learned that this is the “little space” where I have been called “to bear the beams of love.”

In this blog series I hope you are able to enter into my “little space” and to see how I am learning “to bear the beams of love.”

Reflection Questions: What “little space” do you have in your life to “bear the beams of love” to others?

Featured image: adaptation of “Beams of Love” prayer card by artist Mary Southard, CSJ.