Below is a reflection from Sydney Mailloux of Northeast Catholic College on a recent mission trip she took to NPH DR.
Normally we do not think much about language. Most of the time, we are surrounded by those who speak our native tongue—we take for granted the extraordinary ability to understand and be understood. But despite our native tongue’s extreme importance in our lives, there is a language that all people of every race can speak, a language native to all people of all time. The instinctive understanding of this universal language appeared more and more evident to us in different forms throughout the week, in three major areas: in our work, in our interactions with each other, and in our interactions with the people at NPH.
We drove down a highway lined with palm trees to arrive at the Dominican NPH house on Monday evening. Our work began the next day. Throughout the week, we painted a house, worked in the kitchen, and worked on a farm. Despite the sometimes oppressive heat and exhaustion that we earned during our work, we were also the glad recipients of much joy—joy that springs from helping others with love.
We shared that joy with each other. The songs we sang while we worked, the jokes made, the conversations shared, and the friendships forged are all things that we will remember for the rest of our lives. Not only did we have the opportunity to help others through our mission work, we also had the blessing of lifting one another up, comforting each other in our difficulties and sharing one another’s joys.
We learned much from our work and from each other, but we also learned much from the children and others we came in contact with at and through NPH. So many of them come from difficult backgrounds and harsh pasts. Many of the children we met at the home come from weak or broken families—sometimes no families at all. Many of the people we met live in difficult circumstances for one reason or another. The people we met have very little in the way of material riches, but they possess interior treasures one can only marvel at. Their openness and kindness to total strangers was nothing less than inspiring; we went to give and received so much in return.
In the end, we did not come away fluent in Spanish. But we became more and more proficient in the language that everyone can speak. We learned charity for God’s children, friendship with one another, and love and esteem for every individual person—we learned to speak with greater fluency the language of universality, the language of love.