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Be Not Afraid: “Therefore Will I Trust You Always”



Editor’s note: Missioner Anna Klonowski reflects on her past experience studying abroad in Guatemala and the fear she overcame in traveling to a new country.

My sophomore year of college, I was accepted into my university’s study abroad program in Guatemala for the following spring semester. I felt so excited–ready for a new journey and new growth. I thought of all the experiences I would have, the places I would travel, and the people I would meet. With a whole year until going abroad, Guatemala felt like a far-off adventure.

Between my sophomore year and the spring semester of my junior year, I thought a lot about how much opportunity for growth I would have and how excited I was to study Spanish. I didn’t really think about how afraid I would feel in the moment of actually leaving.

On January 2nd, 2015, the moment to leave finally arrived.

And I felt terrified.

Questions started forming in my mind. Was this the right program for me? Would it be too hard to be away from my family? Could I adjust to the culture shock?

I arrived at the airport really, really early in the morning and spent some time there with my family. Though I didn’t know what the future held, I tried to recall all of my original excitement and the hopes I had for the next four and a half months.

Saying goodbye to my family in the airport and stepping onto the plane was a moment that I put my trust completely in God. As the plane took off from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and headed toward Guatemala City, Guatemala, I thought of the prayer by Thomas Merton that has comforted me in times of fear. An excerpt says,

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you… Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

Even as I ran through the Houston airport so I wouldn’t miss my next flight, I took comfort in that prayer. When we landed in Guatemala, I still felt a little fear, but I also felt again excitement and hope for the upcoming semester.

Deciding to study abroad in Guatemala was one of the best decisions I have ever made. When I chose to trust in God’s plan rather than my own fear, I began to grow as a person every day. My experience there made me want to pursue international lay mission with Franciscan Mission Service, and now, as I prepare to head abroad yet again, I am determined to be filled with the excitement and possibilities that come with trusting God’s plan for my life.

Reflection Question: How is fear holding you back from living in a trustful surrender to the blessings and experiences that will shape you for the future?

Long-term overseas mission is a natural extension of the ideals and interests that direct Anna’s life. At the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota, she connected her deep faith with her enthusiasm for social justice and women’s leadership while studying theology, Hispanic studies, and global business leadership. Anna fell even more in love with the Spanish language and Latin American culture during a semester in Xela, Guatemala. Her call to care for creation revolves around a desire to preserve the world for those who are marginalized, as well as for future generations.