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The Winter Before the Spring


Editor’s Note: Missioner Erin McHugh shares how she trusts that despite some uncertainty, her time on mission in Jamaica will be one of much growth.

Spring is beginning back in the States, but we all know that spring doesn’t come without a winter. I felt like this winter I was being hit with one snowstorm after the other. My first storm was while I was in formation in DC, when my discernment for my mission site turned into a much harder road than I had expected.

I went into formation trying to be completely open, but I felt very called to one mission site, Uganda. It was a rough day when I was told that Uganda wasn’t going to be an option.. I had to completely shift my thoughts and begin to picture where else I would want to spend my mission experience. I had to let go of that dream and listen to where God was leading me now.

After weeks of much prayer and going back and forth between Jamaica and Guatemala, I ultimately felt pulled toward Jamaica. After that storm there was a little bit of calm, as I was excited about my placement and was ready to see what God had in store for me.

Just as things were going along smoothly, I was hit again with yet another storm. In January I received news that it would be another six to eight weeks for our Visas to be approved and we could leave for Jamaica. While I made the most of this storm and enjoyed the extra time with my family and friends, that doesn’t mean it was easy. It was hard to see my fellow missioners go and begin their journeys and know I was still waiting for mine to begin.

However, before long, my time came. After two months of waiting, we finally were able to leave for Jamaica. When I arrived, I was so excited to be here and ready to start the journey. To be honest though, I feel like I’m being hit yet again.

It has been a very slow start here in Jamaica for me and I have been filled with a lot of doubt. I have doubted if I chose the right place. I have doubted if I can open up and be myself here. I have even found myself doubting God’s big plan for me.

I keep reminding myself that after every winter, no matter how long or harsh, there is always a spring, a time of new life and growth. I have been clinging onto that hope, knowing my time to bloom is coming. My new life has just begun here; I am just a little sprout popping out of the ground. I have no idea how or even when I will bloom.

As I continue to patiently wait for my new birth, I am placing my trust in God. God has a plan for me here and I know God’s timing is not always my own. I trust that when it is my time to bloom I will grow into something I could have never imagined!

Reflection Question: How can you view the arrival of spring as a time to start fresh?

Erin McHugh has a strong passion for working with children and a heart for those living in poverty. After serving in South Africa last summer with Experience Mission, Erin is looking forward to building relationships and immersing herself in a new culture through Franciscan Mission Service. While her family now lives in Cincinnati, OH, Erin has roots in her hometown of Louisville, KY. Before pursuing her calling for international mission work, Erin attended Butler University for two years. There she was involved with the Butler Catholic Community and was co-chair of the service committee. Erin has been in Guatemala since January 2017.