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A New Year… A New Beginning


Editor’s note: Missioner Erin McHugh reflects on her mission in Guatemala at the Valley of the Angels school: past, present, and future. 

As this New Year begins and I embark on year two of mission in Guatemala, I have found myself reflecting on the journey of mission and this new beginning. I recently came across this quote from Dag Hammarskjöid: “For all that has been—thanks. For all that will be—yes.”

I am so grateful for my first year of mission at Valle de los Angeles in Guatemala. This past year has brought me so much peace and joy. I am thankful for the opportunities I have been given to learn and grow into my most authentic self. I am grateful for the love and support from my new Guatemalan family. I am grateful for the healing that has taken place inside my heart, and the pure joy and love I am experiencing daily here at Valle. I am grateful for the relationships I have formed with the kids and how they are teaching me what it means to love. I am grateful for the ways I have stepped outside of my comfort zone, stretching myself to become the person God has created me to be. I am grateful for the ways God has been working through both my strengths and weaknesses to share my heart and love with this beautiful community of people I have met in Guatemala. I am also grateful for the challenges and crosses I have beared, as they have made me a stronger and more compassionate person.

Still, as I reflect on the beginning of this second year of mission I am filled with much anxiety. Yes, I am more comfortable, and have a deeper understanding of life here in Guatemala, yet I can feel the journey getting more challenging. I am overwhelmed and unsure if I have the strength. As these feelings seem to consume me, I ask God why this road has become so hard. I hear God speaking to me in the silence of my heart: Because I knew you would say YES, I knew you would LOVE them. Trust and honor this new beginning.

Beginnings hold such hope of new lessons and adventures to be learned and explored. I am reminded to not let the lessons of my past or anxiety of the future dampen my excitement for this new beginning. Just because it has been hard doesn’t mean it will always be that difficult. I do not want to let my heart be darkened by these negative thoughts.  I want to remain open, with the doors of my heart wide open to love and all that this journey has for me. I want to be able to say YES to all that is going to come from this new beginning. I want to see the beauty and magic of this new beginning

I am no longer worried about how I will teach my English classes, how I will coordinate mission groups, how I will find time to spend cherished time with the kids, how I will have the strength, because I know a new journey has begun. A new journey that will be different from the last; one that will be a glorious unfolding. God will be my Strength, my Love, and my Peace. This new journey will be joyfully challenging, but I am ready to say YES, and continue to love this beautiful community of people who stolen a huge part of my heart.

Reflection question: How is God calling you to step into a challenging situation and trust Him?

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.