May 5, 2016

I am hesitant to begin this letter, because I know that human words are incapable of adequately describing the work of God and the inspiration of His Holy Spirit. There has come to be no doubt in my mind that Heart’s Home is just that. I am a former volunteer who recently returned from a 15-month experience in Peru. From the first time I met the members of the NY community, throughout my mission, and now that I am back and adjusting to life in my own country, Heart’s Home has been a loving family that has welcomed me and provided me with an atmosphere in which I have been able to keep working towards my ultimate goal of growing closer to Christ.

No Christian organization such as Heat’s Home has any worth if it only exists for itself and its own growth, as a secular business corporation might do. Rather, it must be a means to an end, and is only effective if it directs others to Christ. As Christ is Love, Mercy and Compassion itself, the formation I received during my mission, which included all these, did indeed point me toward Him. It helped me to see Christ in the children who came to our house to play or take a drink of water, in the eyes of our sick friends who could not speak except with their gazes, in the sorrows of mothers who cried with worry for their children, in the young people whose hearts ached for real love after having been raised in households of abuse and violence. During my time on mission I was exposed to heartbreaking as well as joyous situations, and through the instruction of the Blessed Sacrament and the support of my community, I learned to embrace each of these moments as a gift from God from which I could grow in love if I so chose.

The pains of my farewell five months are are still sharp, but I believe that’s so because I left more fully alive. In no way would I wish away those pains of having to say goodbye to dear friends, because in knowing them and trying to be faithful to my promises day in and day out, I have gained a deeper understanding of love. It hit me that something was different in my life toward the end of my mission, when at the end of each long day, no matter what I’d been through, I would go to bed happy, at peace, satisfied and fulfilled. I was able to offer each day up to God and truly look forward to waking up and starting a new day full of encounters, for I was realizing that through these daily, simple encounters Christ was being made visible to me!

The lessons and memories from my mission remain with me now and I know will continue to be with me for the rest of my life. Heart’s Home, like the Church, is just a means to a great end. For me, however, it was and is a very crucial step in my journey towards Christ. I could go on, but will end here with a word of gratitude to Christ for having loved me and called me to be His hands and feet, to each member of Heart’s Home who has responded to His call, and to the friends of Heart’s Home, each of whom is a vital piece of the Network of Compassion we have been asked to form.

V.R.

Former American Volunteer to Lima, Peru