Monday, February 29, 2016

The trip instilled in me a lifelong commitment to helping and supporting NPH…

Below is a reflection written by sponsor and Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Associate Board co-chair Bo Mlnarik.
I first visited an NPH home as a sophomore in high school.  My local parish sent a group of young people each year to the home in Mexico, and I was fortunate enough to join one of these trips.  The initial experience was incredible and overwhelming.  The kids and the home were so full of love and appreciation that it forced me to look at my own life and values in a way that I hadn't ever before.  The trip instilled in me a lifelong commitment to helping and supporting NPH as I witnessed firsthand the impact NPH's mission has on the children and community.  I have since been back to the Guatemala home three times, and each time I am reminded of how special and important that mission is.  NPH seeks to break the cycle of poverty in Latin American countries by providing the very basics of life: food, shelter, clothing, etc., to under privileged and disadvantaged children.  Most importantly, NPH provides these children with the essence of a happy and fulfilling life: education, faith and family.  The family community and sense of belonging that all children crave is the very fabric of the NPH home and is what makes it such a special place.  I have no doubt that the work I do and the money we raise to support NPH's continued mission goes to great use, and I look forward to staying involved with this organization in a meaningful way for the rest of my life.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

The trip to NPH Dominican Republic was a beautiful, eye-opening experience...

Below is a reflection by Emma Towne of Northeast Catholic College who went on a Mission Trip to NPH Dominican Republic. 
For me, the NPH Dominican Republic mission trip was a lesson, first and foremost, in giving. Giving on a mission trip sounds complicated and hard, but as I discovered, giving does not consist of many difficult tasks, but in seemingly little things that must be done with your total self.  When first touring NPH, I was swiftly captured by a little boy who proceeded to teach me how to dance the salsa. At first, taken aback by his boldness and not being much of a dancer, I thought hurriedly of ways to politely get out of dancing. But then I realized that the purpose of this mission trip wasn’t maintaining my own personal comfort, but giving myself, even when it was annoying and uncomfortable, or simply a nuisance.
Throughout the course of the week, I reflected on what is meant by the words: give yourself. Giving yourself on a mission trip does not mean you show yourself off, or have a set plan in mind that absolutely must work. “Giving yourself” is when you set aside your own desires and focus completely on the person next to you, listening to him, playing with him, enjoying him. You must cast aside your own ideas and visions of glory and be content with playing on seesaws and kicking deflated soccer balls. The paradox of giving yourself is that you also must be receptive to love, in the varying forms it takes. At NPH, love was expressed through the children’s constant hand-holding and playing with our hair, their unceasing hugging and dancing, which made me mildly uncomfortable as an introvert. And yet here was the call to love! Love is simple and uncomplicated, but it demands surrendering yourself, even when it is awkward or painful, or simply not in your comfort zone. It was this that I found the most arduous—because it demanded me to surrender myself for the sake of someone else. Yet when I surrendered myself, I was rewarded with the greatest of gifts: the friendship of a child.
Of all the wonderful things that I saw and experienced while in the Dominican, it was playing with the children that struck me the most. At NPH, the children are so joyful and happy, despite the circumstances many have faced. There was a love of life that was delightful to witness, and an energy and enthusiasm that was certainly hard to keep up with! Their openness was a blessing to us on the trip, as we struggled with Spanish, the heat and basketball. The children gave us so much, more than we could possibly ever give them.
The trip to NPH Dominican Republic was a beautiful, eye-opening experience, a trip I am very happy to have undertaken. The exposure to an entirely different culture, poorer than America, yet rich in faith, love and joy, has influenced me incredibly; it taught me about love and self-gift, and what happens when you truly open yourself up to others.


Monday, February 15, 2016

The Langugage That Everyone Can Speak

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.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I owe a heartfelt thank you to NPH Honduras…

Below is reflection written by sponsor and Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Associate Board co-chair Allison Ahern.
Traveling to the Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH) Home in Honduras in 2012 was a rare and special opportunity. I feel abundantly blessed that I was able to spend time with the children there, as they quickly refreshed my perspective on having compassion for others, showing gratitude, being generous of spirit, and the value of service. I witnessed the children's unquestioned willingness to share love. I also saw the positive impact of the NPH Model, for I was welcomed into a large, considerate family, in which the oldest members care for the youngest, and everyone sacrifices for the good of the whole. I was humbled by what the children have and do not have. Overhearing that some of the littlest ones graciously prayed to God for chicken, watching all of them lick their bowls after each meal and seeing the ongoing efforts to repair the roof over their heads, made the news that the NPH Homes need financial support very real. What these children do have though is a tremendous opportunity to succeed in this life, despite what they have already lost. Through NPH's support, which is truly the support of their "family," they can thrive academically, learn a practical trade, and grow into adults while enjoying happy, healthy and safe childhoods. This leads to what I consider a successful life, being able to support oneself and one's family while giving and receiving the love of God and neighbor. I owe a heartfelt "Thank you" to NPH Honduras for this reminder, and I look forward to journeying back there in the future.