Walking Forward in Accompaniment
Editor’s Note: As Anna Metzger concludes her two years in Bolivia, she reflects on how God has worked through her time as an FMS missioner.
The past two years with FMS have brought their own ups and downs, twists and turns. For years, I dreamed of doing international mission and living in Latin America. When I was invited to participate in the international mission program with FMS, that dream became a possibility. The joy, excitement, and peace that came with my yes to Franciscan Mission Service is something only myself and God can understand. Since saying yes, my mission journey has not been what I expected, but it’s been just as it should. I always say God knows what He is doing, and that rings ever true with my mission experience with FMS.
After months of formation in DC, I found myself in Cochabamba, Bolivia in January 2020. I hit the ground running by learning the Quechua language, and then soon after, began searching for ministry opportunities. My enthusiasm and passion drove me full speed ahead. The joy I felt as I was beginning to live my long-awaited dream was indescribable. Just as soon as my dream was coming to life, it came to a halt when COVID-19 crashed into the world. I then found myself living in strict quarantine, unable to leave my apartment … unable to experience the life and culture of the country I was already falling in love with. After months of quarantine, for various reasons, I was on a plane back to Kentucky without a set return date. However, this determined girl left all her things in the apartment in Cochabamba because she knew her dream wasn’t over; it was simply taking an unexpected turn.
While home in Kentucky, I experienced joy, hope, contentment, and sadness all at the same time. My heart was content at home with family, yet it was sad and longed to be in Bolivia. After a few months of family time, volunteering in my home city, and spending time learning more about Bolivian culture, I was ready to go back. In December of 2020, I was on my way back to Cochabamba. Once I arrived, I spent a few weeks getting adjusted again and spending time with good friends. Then, once again, it was time to discern ministry. I felt a little overwhelmed by my possible interests and opportunities. My caring heart can often take me in many directions. My previous service experiences had me leaning towards desiring to work with those living in the streets. My newfound love of the Quechua language drew me towards working with the people in the campos. And yet, my background in education pulled me towards the school atmosphere, and that’s where I stayed. I landed working at a boys and girls home, helping with school work, and supporting a team of professors as they build their new language school. These two experiences have prepared me for what is to come next …
My time with FMS is ending in December. The two years have flown by. Yet, every twist, turn, and moment have been so very intentional. Each step along the way has led me exactly to this moment of moving on. As I move from FMS, I will not be moving on from that dream of mine. I will continue living mission in Bolivia, simply in a different context. I will remain in the field of education, where God has clearly created me to be, and I will remain rooted in the Franciscan charism. Our emphasis on simplicity and ministry of presence will remain with me forever.
As I move on from having the title of “missioner” and back to the title of “teacher,” my attitude and posture of living my new mission here in Bolivia will not change. I will walk forward and accompany my future students, coworkers, and friends with that same love, compassion, humility, minority, and Franciscan joy that FMS grew inside of me. That same joy, excitement, and peace that I had saying yes to FMS two years ago, I have again in my heart as I say no to another year with FMS and yes to a new opportunity in Bolivia.
I leave with a grateful heart … grateful for the values FMS has grown in my heart through St. Francis and St. Clare, grateful that they led me here to the beautiful country of Bolivia, and grateful the Lord led me straight back to the profession of teaching.
God’s steady hand and guidance over the last two years is nothing short of incredible. My time with FMS was far more purposeful and intentional than I could ever have imagined.
Thank you, Lord and FMS for the ways you grew my heart and guided my path.
Reflection: How has God guided you in the last two years? And for what are you thankful?