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Love in the Midst of Tragedy


Editor’s Note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble shares how a tragic event in the community brought her back to the realization of the urgent importance of love.

“There is a small but significant chance that this will be my last year – but whether or not this is so, my life will certainly be transformed, in a radical way. Questions of love and work, of what really matters most, have taken on a special intensity and urgency.”

I found this quote while reading Oliver Sacks’ The Mind’s Eye, and it struck me. Sacks wrote it when he had just discovered that something was wrong with one of his eyes, and was considering the fact that it could be cancerous.

The quote was beautiful, and I thought about it for a bit after reading it. Do I live for what really matters most? It was a question that deserved some reflection, but I soon forgot about it in the midst of wrapping up this semester’s English classes.

That is, I forgot about it until last week, when someone in the community died. He was a beloved community member, friend, husband, uncle, and father. In an instant, everything for their family was changed. Although I was not very close to him, I am very close to his little girl, who often comes to the children’s library. And now she, a little girl of only about 4 years, is left to grow up without a father.

This little girl is someone whose joy is contagious. She always screams my name every time she sees me outside, and always walks me to the door of my house when I’m done with classes or work. She gleefully grabs my hand to walk with me.

I just feel heavy. I want to take the pain away from their family, but there is nothing I can do.

A deep sadness has settled among the Carmen Pampa community, but in the midst of this tragedy, I have witnessed what community is all about. It’s about being there for someone who is suffering. It is about sitting with them all through the night as they mourn those who have passed. And again, even in the midst of so much pain, God’s presence is plain as day. His love is visible everywhere, especially in those who make up our community.

This sudden turn of events brought me back to Sacks’ quote. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I believe that love has “taken on a special intensity and urgency” for me. It’s what mission is all about – it’s what life is all about – and I couldn’t be more grateful for the lessons I am learning in Bolivia.

Reflection Question: Spend some time considering what really matters most in your life. How could your daily routines shift to reflect your priorities in a deeper way?

Aubrey has been in Bolivia since January 2016 serving at Unidad Académica Campesina-Carmen Pampa, a rural college. She works at the children's library and in a daycare for students' babies. She also accompanies students in their daily and after-school activities, such as Pastoral group, English Club, and Mujeres Valientes, a women's empowerment group.

Aubrey’s heart lies in service, the Spanish language, and music – she has been playing the cello for 11 years. While studying economics and Spanish at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Aubrey became a Catholic and discovered her love for service through Newman Center alternative spring break trips to Philadelphia and Staten Island. Her desire to be the hands and feet of Christ among the poor motivated her serve on overseas mission.