Evangelin Maria Rose reflects on her one-month mission exposure and the way it deepened her faith and desire to serve others.

My name is Evangelin Maria Rose. I am a fifteen-year old girl from Adudhabi who went on a one-month mission exposure trip to Delhi on February 5, 2020. Being a Jesus Youth family, we had already been on a month long, 30-day Mission Exposure trip to Uganda, Africa in 2013. But this was my first time on my own, and as it was a choice I had taken, more than fear I was excited.

My parents entrusted me to a family that belongs to the ‘Santvana Community of Disciples’. It consisted of Alexy Pallan, Shiny and their five children (their eldest son is in seminary undergoing priesthood formation). Living and experiencing daily life with a family just like mine (except for the fact that all the children are home-schooled), in doing things I never dreamt of doing and in actually finding a new purpose in small acts of service, has changed my life and touched my heart in ways I cannot now adequately express through words.

Those 33 days, in and out of villages, seeing the wonders of Delhi, living in community and experiencing different kind of lifestyles, were all blessed moments, which I share with you.

At first, I was sad as I thought I was going to be alone without any gadgets or things to do, which those around me was encouraging me to do for God. I questioned myself about my decision, but afterwards, I experienced how to open my heart and set aside my pride to surrender myself to the will of God and for the happiness of others. Alexy uncle’s family and the Santvana Community taught me so much in just one month, so many things which school could never teach me. All through these days, I never missed Holy Mass and I learnt to pray in adoration and do my daily prayers, not just for the sake of others but for myself and with love for God.

I began my journey to love God and myself when I started teaching the teachers of Santvana Sahara – a free education mission of Santvana community in Loni village, Uttar Pradesh. Most of them were mine or my mom’s age. Along with my friend Ruth, I used to travel every day from our house to their village to teach English. That’s when I realised how English – the only language I knew and loved – could both be funny and weird. We started our lessons with prayer and ended with smiles and laughter. The experience of leading something like this alone was new for me and I truly understood what real joy is, no matter the circumstances.

Later I attended a retreat and was able to make a very fruitful confession, which is when I really understood the meaning of the song ‘Cotton Ball’ from the Master Plan (a Jesus Youth band from UAE) album ‘’Sandtunes”. I started having stronger faith in my loving Jesus and allowed his love to slowly work in me.

I went out onto the streets of Delhi with the Delhi Jesus Youth Campus Ministry and Rosa, a young missionary from Santvana who is also Alexy uncle’s daughter. They put on a flash mob with love songs written for Christ on Valentine’s Day, which was amazing. As a teenager it was a totally different experience since that day was for God and nothing else. When I saw the young people singing and dancing fearlessly and praising the name of God, I saw power and energy flow out of them. I thoroughly enjoyed this moment and it made me determined to understand more about this amazing God and his creation. Afterwards, we went around giving food to the homeless and distributed cards containing information about Jesus Youth to total strangers. The joy and smiles I got from them when sharing this amazing God of mine – it is still impossible to explain it. I thank Rosa who took me to them and helped me overcome my shyness when meeting new people, because in the end it was worth it.

I was also thrilled to go to Mother Teresa’s convent for a three-day volunteering experience. I reached there with my friends Agnes and Ruth (teen missionaries of Santvana) and was happy to help the differently-abled girls there who were all below the age of 16. Helping them and spending time with them made me realise how effortless it is to be happy and made me reflect on how I sometimes spent all my energy trying to find something to be sad about. Even with all their physical and mental difficulties, they still laughed and smiled through everything. I thank and appreciate Mother Teresa’s sisters for their selfless and loving care to these orphaned girls. During my time there, I had the opportunity to meet a beautiful and amazing orphan girl called Kajal. When I told her that I was leaving, the way she looked at me really broke my heart and as I left I knew this wouldn’t be my last time coming here.

Soon the next task was living with the Sahara teachers in the slums of Burari village, Delhi to learn how to live in a poor community so different from mine. I was living in a teacher’s house and visited girls who dropped out of school to teach them stitching, and other children who couldn’t go to school but were attending Santvana Sahara’s free tuition centres to learn. I realised that they were doing a great thing for these underprivileged kids. We also visited the rag pickers’ houses and taught kids action songs. We had food from different houses in the village and had an amazing dinner from one of the rag picker’s houses. I have only three words to describe it: “It was delicious”. There, I overcame my fear of street dogs because all the streets were full of them. I came to love street food and I started to smile more. I also understood the value of things I had never appreciated before. Leaving Delhi in a splash of Holi colours celebrated with all the community members was a beautiful way to end my mission trip.

These 33 days gave me purpose in life, and I decided that everything I do will be for the love of God and others. I finally understood that having a big family and being part of a big community not only brings out the light in others but also brings out the goodness and the love of God which we have in us for each other.

This mission trip is continuing to influence me in profound ways. I used to be arrogant but now I am able to be more understanding and listen to people, which makes life simpler and less complicated. Before, I used to doubt God, but now I am a strong believer in His plans and I feel a peace of mind and happiness, more than I have ever felt in the past 15 years. I came back with a clear mind and gratitude towards Jesus. I love my family and thank Jesus for giving me such a blessed family and for allowing me to have lots of dreams for the future. I have the desire to do something for the needy and understand the need to do more in my life. I am going to let our God decide first what he wants me to do and I am always ready to say “Yes” to the Lord’s call.

I want to give special thanks to Rev. Father Dheeraj Sabu IMS; the Spiritual director of Santvana, Alexy Pallan and family and the entire Santvana community. Even though I missed my gadgets back home it was totally worth it as I realised how these material things won’t suffice the longing I have in me to experience the full love of God. Amen.

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