Posted On 2016-04-23 In Missions

“It has nothing, and yet… it has everything”

PARAGUAY, Catholic University Missions (MUC) 2016, by Melanie Wenger •

This year during Holy Week for the last time, I returned to a town very far from home called Buena Vista.

Buena Vista does not have luxuries; it is not full of automobiles or people walking hurriedly, there are no businesses on every corner, and you do not hear the honking of those going to work. There are no city comforts; you do not see large crowds of people on the move.

It might be said it is a town that has nothing. And I like to think about the idea that I, along with a few friends, discovered that once you are there, you come to the conclusion that Buena Vista has nothing, and yet…it has everything.



I met Basilia on my last day of mission. Basilia does not have a life filled with luxuries. Her house is not constructed of solid material; she does not have an air conditioner that she can turn on when it is hot. You only see necessity everywhere and injustice in every sphere of her life.

You could say that Basilia has nothing. I like to think about the idea with a few friends, we discovered that once you are there conversing with her, you come to the conclusion yes; Basilia does not have anything, yet at the same time…she has everything.

Maria de la Cruz

A few years ago, I met Maria de la Cruz on my first day of the mission in this town, and I have had the gift of seeing her every time I returned. Maria de la Cruz is almost 100 years old, she has been unable to walk for several years or feed herself, it is difficult for her to speak, and her advanced age causes constant health problems, and she cannot afford the medical costs because of her poverty.

It could be said that Maria de la Cruz does not have anything. I like to think about the idea with a few friends, that we discovered that once you are with her, you come to the conclusion yes; Maria de Cruz does not have anything, yet at the same time…she has everything.


Encounter with God

This year, during Holy Week, I decided once again to give my all for the Catholic University Missions. I did not have a specific reason, and I do not remember the moment that I decided to go for the first time. However I am heartily grateful to God, because once you are there, you discover that God is full of surprises and shows you the specific reason like those people that I mentioned above who at a simple glance, yes, perhaps they have nothing, yet at the same time…they have everything.

And what is it? Simple, the love for God that they carry in the heart.

By definition, God is an infinite and incomprehensible love. Moreover, in the final analysis of everything, he is the reason that all these people, who I met, endure the what that they live with daily. Because apart from the needs and difficulties, they are convinced they carry their greatest possession and most important possession within their hearts: God’s infinite and incomprehensible love.


God’s melody

Being there, they spoke to us about the sound that some of the town’s trees make during strong winds. It seemed highly unlikely to me, because I had never heard it, but then the following morning while I sat down to rest awhile, I heard it. It was a soft, simple, tender noise, and although once you speak and get distracted by the things that surround you, it seems to be quiet. However when you are silent again, it reappears, showing you that in reality, it had never left. And for me, that is God’s melody.

God is soft, he is in the simple, he is a tender father, and although the noise of the world and its problems give the impression that he is not present, however if you stop everything and are quiet, you realize in effect, he never left.

And it is that same melody that Basilia, Maria de la Cruz, and many more Paraguayans in Buena Vista hear daily; it is the rhythm that marks their steps and the harmony that makes them happy.


God is in the simple

It took me three years to hear it, and I believe that in part, it was my obsession of believing that God is very complicated at presenting himself in our lives. Although it is experiences such as these that more and more lead me to be convinced that God is in the simple, the almost invisible, and in what many discard as insignificant. That is where God is most present.

Basilia did not say “hello” when we entered her house, she said: “As you can see, I am a person of humble means, but I am also a person of humble heart.”

And today, I hope, pray and want the sound of her voice saying this to remain with me for many more years. Because I am convinced that is where the secret of happiness lies, it is the reason that despite the fact one could be say that it has nothing, once you are there, you reach the conclusion that yes, it does not have anything, yet at the same time…it has everything, it has God.


I am a mission on this earth

I conclude with my favorite paragraph from Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, because before these missions, when the world stunned me with its problems and conflicts, I could not find anything to make me feel better.

And today, I like to think about the idea that I, along with a few friends, could discover that once the world wants to take away my peace, I can stop everything and remember that although there are insecurities and fears within me, in my heart I carry that courage of knowing that “I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world.” It is a consequence of God’s infinite and incomprehensible love, present in the melody that I hear every time I am silent, and I remember the sound some trees in Buena Vista made, as a result of strong winds.

“My mission of being in the heart of the people is not just a part of my life or a badge that I can take off; it is not an “extra” or just another moment in life. Instead, it is something I cannot uproot from my being without destroying my very self. I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world. We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing and freeing. All around us we begin to see nurses with soul, teachers with soul, politicians with soul, people who have chosen deep down to be with others and for others. But once we separate our work from our private lives, everything turns grey and we always be seeking recognition or asserting our needs. We stop being a people.” Evangelii Gaudium, 273.


Original: Spanish. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA – Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA

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