Editor’s note: Missioner Misty Menis-Kyler reflects on her childhood experience with fireworks and her love for the Fourth of July, relating it to her time now on mission in Guatemala with the students at Valley of the Angels.

Growing up, the Fourth of July was my favorite holiday. It still is. It wasn’t because it celebrated our country—I was too young to understand what that meant—rather for me, I loved it because of the fireworks. They seemed like magic and wonder all rolled into one. The sparklers were my favorite. They were a light I could hold in my hand like a magic wand. I used to imagine that when a firework went off in the sky and rained down its beautiful lights, each of those lights would touch someone who was suffering and heal them.

As I grew older and understood that the holiday was a celebration of our country, I would swell with pride on the Fourth of July to be an American. How blessed I am to be born in a country like the US and given opportunity and potential. The US is definitely not perfect, but it has put a lot of opportunities into my hands. My family and my community have given me the opportunity to share my own light with those around me. I want my presence to be like the fireworks I so loved growing up, showering love on everyone in my adoptive community of Valle de los Angeles in Guatemala. It is truly magical to work with the kids and see them discovering that they have their own gifts, their own unique light that they bring to the world. Being in a different culture also helps me appreciate that there are different ways to express belonging, and I love learning about community celebrations here in Guatemala.

Yes, the Fourth of July is a wonderful holiday that will always be a favorite, because it will always be a reminder that I was given this life to share it with others.

This poem is a great reminder of how we are meant to share ourselves with those around us.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that
other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”

— from A Return to Love,
by Marianne Williamson

Reflection question: What was your first childhood insight that you had a responsibility to care for others?