Serving God in Guyana

Ashley is a young adult volunteer lay missionary with Scarboro Missions. Faith Connections had the privilege to meet Ashley while she was in formation here in Toronto this summer. We thought some of you may like to hear about Ashley’s experience thus far on mission. She writes:

Zebras with their black and white stripes all have a distinct unique pattern about themselves, sort of like a fingerprint that sets them apart from the others. When a baby zebra is born, it walks around the mother several times to imprint the pattern of stripes into its mind so that when the herd starts to move, the baby zebra will be able to recognize its mother. Therefore, the longer the baby spends with the mother, the easier it will be to recognize her in different circumstances.

Being in Guyana has made me feel like the baby zebra. My first month here has been taxing emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Never have I had my philosophies, my work ethic, and my personal autonomy challenged all at once before. It felt like situations, people, and my conscience was questioning why I act, think, and behave in a certain way. The last time I remember feeling this way was in first year university – in becoming independent. However, the more independence I get, the more dependent I become on God and His providence. It has been that in the midst of moving to a new country, culture, and people that I have been challenged to recognize the same God in a different context.

Although I joined with every intention to minister to others, I am finding that being missionary also means being ministered to by Jesus. With the Gospel incarnate in Guyanese culture, the external environment is bringing to surface my brokenness, which has been a hard reality to accept. All in all, it’s a blessing to be drawn closer to the heart of the Father.

In the past six weeks I have asked myself over and over again, why am I here? Why am I doing an overseas mission with Scarboro Missions? To be put simply: to serve God. I am not confident in saying why I ended up at Scarboro Missions and not somewhere else, which leads me to believe that I am here because of the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Although the beginning of mission life has been difficult thus far, I believe that it was necessary to be humbled and broken down, so that I am in a disposition of receiving what Guyana has to teach me about God. Just as the baby zebra gets better at recognizing its mother, I hope that my time in Guyana will allow me to get better at recognizing God in all things.

I am going to end with a quote from Pedro Arrupe, which explains why at the age of 22, I have given my life to God. “Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love and stay in love, and it will decide everything.”

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