We all yearn to have a happy and meaningful life, but many times we don't really know what we need to do to be happy and to be fulfilled. We may find ourselves looking all around with no real clue of how to achieve it. No one can give you the recipe for happiness. We are all meant to find it in our own personal circumstances and in our own way. But there is something that is unfailing and only those who have experienced it will be able to understand: there is more joy in giving than in receiving.
We normally spend so much time worried about what we want and what we need that we don't invest ourselves enough in thinking what others need. How can I serve others and help them be happier? It is not until we change our mindset and our attitude that we discover the world to be very different and to have endless opportunities to love and serve others.
Being part of the mission trip to Peru gave some of our parishioners the opportunity to experience firsthand the joy of serving others for a whole week. Taking time away from work and vacations, they made a choice to be available to help those in need in Peru. More than one of them shared with us that this trip had "changed their lives".
It is life changing to meet young children with physical disabilities and challenges that should make them feel miserable, greeting us with the widest smile possible and teaching us the meaning of true joy. It is not by chance that the school where we served is called "The Joy in the Lord". The little children there reminded us how God loves us how we are and that we have to be grateful for our lives, our health and the opportunities we have.
It is life changing to have a five year old foster child hug you and hold tight to you after spending only a couple of hours playing and sharing with you. You can tell that the love you gave was received by a child in need and the effort was worth it! It makes you understand that the little efforts we might put into helping others can make a real difference in their lives.
It is life changing to go and visit the poorest among the poor in their own homes. Our 10 missionaries went to 10 different homes to visit and we all came back with the same experience. We encountered people who live on $5 or less a day in homes that cost $200 but who still have time to worry about the needs of others. They save money to send to their relatives back home. They visit those who have more need among themselves and potluck for them when they have no food. Young and old worry about their sick neighbor with cancer and take turns to be with her and raise the money she needs to face her chemotherapy even if that will take away from their own resources and time, etc. We saw true happiness among the poor, and their joy and richness came from the amount of love they were giving to others, being selfless and not thinking about themselves but placing the needs of others first and making themselves available to serve.
When I hear one of our missionaries say that this trip changed their life, I understand this because I have had the same experience. We all need to come back to our normal everyday lives, but hopefully we come back with a new understanding of what brings joy to our lives and with the desire to spread the message that there is more joy in giving than in receiving. It is a life opportunity to take part in a mission trip, but the mission is also here at home. Our mission as Christians is to spread the joy in our everyday life, to serve and love those around us starting with family, neighbors, coworkers, etc. and stepping up through service when more is needed. We have to understand that we are all missionaries and that we are meant to work together to make this world a little better and that the secret of happiness is in the joy of serving others.BACK TO LIST