Miriam Copenhaver's Reflection

During the summer of 2016, I was lucky enough to be able to visit Liberia Mission. Flying to Liberia was my first time leaving the country. On the plane I couldn't help but ask myself over and over again what I was doing. I'd had a burning desire to go to a 3rd world country to see first hand how other people lived. Now here I was going to a 4th world country!

My plan was to bring school supplies and help with some educational materials/planning for the school (at home I am an elementary teacher). However other than that, I had no idea what to expect. On my way there I couldn't fight this fleeting thought that maybe I shouldn't be going, maybe I should be using my ticket money to donate directly to Franciscan Works. However God had opened all of the doors for this trip and I really felt like He was calling me to go. So I went.

While in Liberia, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see the country, to meet the students, see the villages, hear from the teachers, try new foods, see the resilience of humanity and see the raw faith of the Liberian people. I heard all types of stories from the people. I had the opportunity to hear heart wrenching wrenching war stories as well as and fun light hearted stories from the people I met. I loved hearing all of the stories.

It was amazing to see how our donations as Americans are keeping Franciscan Works alive and providing an opportunity for livelihood for so many people. I heard over and over and over again people telling me how thankful they are for all of the donations from Americans. I am by far not the largest donor and a part of me felt bad being the one to hear all of the thanks. However, as I talked to the people and got to know them, I realized how grateful they were to have a living and breathing person to thank. Then it hit me. I wasn't in Liberia to do anything great or majestic. My time in Liberia wouldn't have any dramatic impact on the people or the county, but I was there simply to be with the people. All I could think of was the spiritual works of mercy. I was just there to be with these people who have endured years and years of suffering. I was the fortunate American who got to physically be with these people and offer a face of the American donors. I got the luxury of being able to comfort the suffering in person. I learned that while it is so important to financially support these people, money is not the only thing they need. They need us! We are an universal church. They have endured sufferings for years that our country has not seen. Now it is our duty to offer them our love in action.

I know that most of us do not have the luxury of being able to pick up and fly to Liberia. However, if you can pick and go visit, please do it. If you go and are truly with the people, while you won't make a monumental difference for the country, you can be an ambassador of love. No amount of money in the world can communicate love in the same way that your presence can. Your presence will not only communicate your love, but the love of all of the donors keeping Franciscan Works alive. If you are able to make a trip to Liberia out of love, I urge you to go! These are our brothers and sisters. Visiting the people of Liberia allows you to communicate love in a way that no amount of money ever will.