by Brian Lyght, St. Michael and All Angels

Going on this mission trip to Puerto Rico with the Diocese of Maryland Youth was such a positive and life changing event for me. I’ll never forget seeing all the smiles on the faces of the people we helped in Ponce or making memories with my friends while walking around old San Juan. I learned so much about Puerto Rico, the people who live there, my friends, and even myself in only seven days.

I’m so grateful to have met so many amazing people in Puerto Rico. When we first arrived in Puerto Rico, we helped a man named Jorge repaint the community center he was in charge of. We later helped clear out the yard of a carpenter named José, whose house was heavily in need of some clearing of overgrowth. We even had the chance to help a woman we met at Camp Caribe make a traditional Puerto Rican dish for dinner one evening. I was able to see God’s love in all of the help we were able to give to all of these people. I’ll never forget Jorge being left speechless at the sight of the repainted community center. I felt so proud and happy to have been able to make such a positive impact on his life. And I am also really grateful that all of the people we met were so welcoming to us, a group of strangers who simply wanted to help. We all helped one another, regardless of who the other person was or where they came from, and I think that’s the way God wants us to be.

But I think the most meaningful part of the trip was being able to see God in new ways during the day. Every night our group would gather together to discuss our “highs” and our “lows” for the day.  In these talks we could also think about where we saw God in our day. This was new for me; I had never thought about the different ways God could appear in my daily life. Doing that for several days allowed me to see God in new ways. I realized I could find God in my life everyday.

Overall, my mission trip to Puerto Rico really changed me. It made me realize that missionary work doesn’t only happen when you are “on mission,” but happens everywhere you go. As Christians, we are on a mission to not only love God, but show God’s love by helping all those in need. I’m excited to be able to take the lessons I learned in Puerto Rico and continue using them here in Maryland. Our mission trip to Puerto Rico was fantastic, and I’m really thankful to have been able to go on it.