Being a Missionary of the World

We chat with SPEC volunteer missionary Mia, 19, who is from the United States. She tells us about her experiences being an overseas missionary, including her recent trip to Nicaragua.

Mia on mission in England at our SPEC retreat centre (Photo: WYM)
Mia on mission in England at our SPEC retreat centre (Photo: WYM)

James: So tell us Mia, why did you go to Nicaragua?

Mia: I went to Nicaragua to visit my family. They’re missionaries there, with a small mission company.

James: What was it like?

Mia: I was there for only a week, so it was hard to get an in-depth sense of what they’re doing there in the short space of time. However, they’ve been there for only three months, so they’re still figuring things out, getting to know the country, its people, working out what the local people need, and what are we able to give them.

James: Why is your family doing this?

Mia: My family have done missions since 2010 and quite recently they joined this small mission company, which was only in the United States before this. So this is the mission company’s first time outside the States. What they’re doing is called ‘Friendship Evangelisation’. So they’re not really setting up a whole bunch of catechesis programmes. They’re more just trying to live out their faith there and to just try to be there with the people.

They’re also hoping to set up a business in Nicaragua; the idea is they’re going to set up a business that can eventually be run by locals, so it’ll be self-sustainable and will help the economic situation there. It’s just a small way of helping; they’re not hoping to transform the whole country! They’re just hoping to make a lasting difference, rather than just giving handouts to the locals.

James: Do you think it’s important for young people to be doing overseas missionary work?

Mia: Yeah, but I think it’s really good for the local people as well. I have quite a few siblings (12 including Mia), so I think it’s good for the people to see this large Catholic family that’s living out their faith. I think it’s good for the young people of Nicaragua to have that kind of positive influence in their lives, which is quite new.

I think it’s just really good for young people to be able to grow in their faith and to see it in action and see what the point is of what we’re doing. When you’re in a developing country and actually helping people who are in need, you think “This is why we do what we do.”

James: Where else have you been on mission?

Mia: I’ve been to Mexico, St Lucia and the Philippines. And now in England.

James: Do you have a favourite?

Mia: They’re all quite different. The Philippines is by far my favourite. The people are a very generous people and their food/fruit(?) was really good.

James: Why do you, on a personal level, do this missionary work?

Mia: The reason I choose to do mission work is because my family took me to other countries and I was able to see for myself why we do what we do and I wanted to continue doing that. After I left my family, I wanted to take more ownership of it myself.

James: How does missionary work in Britain compare to other countries you’ve been to?

Mia: I guess the kind of mission work I do here in England is very different from what I’ve done before. Obviously, I’m not in a developing country and I’m not actually around people living in poverty. In the other places, whenever we went out, we never actually lived in a nice part of town. We tried to live with the people. So here it’s very different, because I’m not helping people on a material level; it feels solely on a person-to-person and spiritual level.

James: What’s the most important thing about being a missionary?

Mia: As Catholics we’re all supposed to be missionaries, and I guess the way my family and I are doing it is a particularly active way. An important aspect is helping people encounter Jesus, because that’s obviously the point of what we do. But I feel like a really important part of it is you yourself encountering Jesus and having a relationship with him, because you also give out what you receive. You can’t tell the young people to have a relationship with Jesus if I don’t.

James: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Mia!

Mia: Thank you!