By Christine Saah
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”- Proverbs 16:3
July has come and gone, and I am just amazed at how God has been working in my heart. I came to Poland extremely nervous about everything. I didn’t know any Polish, couldn’t fully grasp what each retreat was like even with a schedule, and I doubted my abilities. I also didn’t want to disappoint anyone. As I left Poland, I realized I was limiting what God could do.
I learned that love and kindness could be understood without knowing the proper words in English or Polish. I learned that no two retreats were the same, and that no matter what the schedule was like, all I had to do was worry about the present moment. Lastly, I should have never doubted my abilities. I was more than just an extra set of hands or eyes to watch the children. I could still play with them, try to sing their Polish songs, share my English songs, and most importantly I tried my best to just love them. There were always so many people helping me with important translations, but all that really mattered is that I showed up each day ready to do whatever was asked of me. Some days were better than others, including getting sick at the end of one retreat and going into a new retreat, but I made it with lots of grace from God.
Prayer was essential. I didn’t always have someone to speak to in English, and I didn’t hear a homily or Mass in English for a month. I had to go to the one person who I knew would always understand me and that person is God. He comforted me always, guided me through scripture, and helped me to fall in love with the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I started praying that everyday, and continue to now. Prayer was my strength, and God always put people in my life that I could openly communicate with at the very moment my heart needed it. He also showed me how to trust Him when I felt like I couldn’t possibly go another day of having to constantly think of the simplest way to articulate my thoughts. I was so thankful for always having peace at the end of each day, despite the long days and having to be so attentive to the needs of each child.
During my 3rd week, with group B, I was in the chapel during a special time of prayer when the community called upon the Holy Spirit. In that time, I felt Mary calling to me saying, “I choose you to be my daughter”. I knew she was my spiritual mother, but I think she wanted to really help me see just how loved I was through her and God’s eyes. I carried on and the final retreat started. The last group was the largest and I was able to work with 9-13 year olds, meaning they would be able to learn more English than the rest of the groups. I knew it would be a great week, and I discovered a few of the groups would have to perform a drama in front of everyone. I was excited for my group, and then somehow I was chosen to be Mary. The Director kept saying that Mary has a way of choosing who she wants to portray her. Of all the things I could be doing at any one of these retreats, and I got to dress up as Mary. I even had one line in Polish to memorize. I felt so unworthy to play Mary, yet somehow made the connection to the moment of prayer the week before. She wanted me to do this. I did it for the girls in my group, for God, and in a way for myself. I was worthy before God always, and needed to be reminded of that.
I hope that I was able to do something for each group in the community I worked with, even if it seems like something small. They taught me so much through their dedication to the sacraments, prayer, and their family life. I have never been around so many Catholic families at once, and seeing them all together showed me that the sacrificial love that Christ showed us is something that is still alive. I didn’t teach formally as much as I would have liked, but now I feel more confident in knowing that when I give my work to the Lord, He will take care of me. I want more then ever to teach English well, and am looking forward to this next set of LCI students.