Extreme Vacationing

Good news meditation.
by Peter Mullan, LC | Source:
A family gives up a week of vacation to live in extreme poverty and harsh conditions. And they come back happier than ever.

Holy Week in Mexico means vacation, the beach, relaxation. At least it used to. Now more and more families give all that up and spend the week before Easter “missioning” in remote villages.

Laura Arquieta had been wondering where to take her family this Holy Week vacation. Accustomed to the usual plan, the choice to forego the beach sun & sand and go to the less attractive, desert sand and heat of northern Mexico was anything but inviting.

Nonetheless her family’s faith was worth sharing, and so Palm Sunday found Laura and her family heading off into the countryside of Nuevo Leon. They were expecting hardships, which were not long in coming.

The desert wilderness welcomed them with temperatures over 90°, but by Holy Thursday they were down to almost 40°.

Tarantulas were a common sight in their living quarters. The stove that heated the hut one day suddenly exploded. Livestock entered the house at will, night or day.

Laura was starting to long for the commodities of city life. But she willingly offered up all the discomfort for her family and for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.

An intense schedule kept Mrs. Arquieta busy from the crack of dawn into the long hours of the night. She was in charge of a group of 30 teenage girls, including her daughter. They needed supervision as they visited the townspeople in the morning, and organized activities for children in the afternoon.

Once the day’s missionary activities ended for the girls, Laura’s only began as she met with the girls to answer any questions and to come up with better ways to reach the people. She quite literally fell into bed near mid-night, to begin again early the next morning another missionary day.

The highpoint of Holy Week is always the Easter Vigil Mass. The missionary priest asked that the church be decorated elaborately, befitting such a solemn feast. This too fell to our missionary mother to organize.

The only problem was that out here there was no Walmart to supply all their needs. Laura had to spend her entire Saturday bustling around the village in search of the necessary decorations. She had to make do with the village candles, wild flowers and balloons.

Exhausted by the week of hardships and long days, and finally by the church decorations, she stood outside the church in the cold, blustery rain. The Easter Vigil Mass was to start in ten minutes, and no one else was there, beyond two other missionaries. This was supposed to be the climax of the missions, and no one wanted to brave the cold!

Laura was finally learning that age-old Christian truth: only through the cross do we reach the Resurrection. Only by giving ourselves unconditionally and selflessly to others do we find true happiness.

And so, as she offered up this new set back, Laura simply shrugged her weary shoulders, sighed and said, “Lord, I spent this week trying to bring this village closer to you. Please don’t let it be in vain!”

Little by little the locals trickled in, and in ten minutes they could no longer fit in the church yard.

As she celebrated our Lord’s Resurrection surrounded by hundreds of her brothers and sisters, Laura Arquieta realized that, although she had never felt more exhausted after vacation, neither had she ever felt more fulfilled.

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