The last two weeks in Mexico City have been some of the most humbling days in my life. I use the word “humbling” because prior to this trip, I honestly felt I had life figured out, and all I had to do was follow the path I laid out for myself.
Turns out on May 15, 2016, God had other plans for me and brought me to Mexico City. I never thought I would have received such gifts on this mission trip, but God works in mysterious ways.
Following the first full day on the trip, after Jeff and I were exhausted from a full day of work, I began to realize how extremely weak I am in some very important areas. It was in this moment I became embarrassed for even thinking I was actually close to becoming the man I wish to be. Do not be mistaken, this is not a knock on my upbringing or my path thus far. But I have never been put so far out of my comfort zone. My weaknesses began to show. Some were quite alarming. I was quick to realize I am weak in faith, love for others, and remaining in the present moment. Thankfully, this trip provided some much needed work in those areas. Now I feel stronger in those areas, but I know I still have a lot more work to do. I am forever grateful that Ave Maria University to witness what faith in action looks like. Without this mission trip, I would have continued to lead a life of selfish isolation. Now, I realize there is much more to life than outward appearance, financial success, and material items.
I used to be under the impression that words can get you what you want, and can heal almost anything. This belief came to an abrupt stop when a language barrier became quite prominent between me and the local residents. I lost the one essential skill that was my way of getting close with another person, or so I thought. Then it became clear to me: it is through action that people come together, and that action bonds humans more than words ever could. Not just any action, but acts of love. Consistent acts of love will bring any two people close, regardless of the language spoken. I may not have known what these boys were saying, but at the end of the trip, I had love for each of them. Love to me is simply willing the good for others. I found myself doing this more and more with ease as my acts of kindness increased. I realized how action is much stronger than words while we were doing our missionary work on the streets in the needy places of Mexico City. Our van would arrive filled with sandwiches and drinks. People the MC brothers have never seen before came for food and we gave it to them. We did not know exactly what they were saying and they couldn’t understand us, however love was felt in our action.
I know I grew as a man in these last two weeks and I am very fortunate for this. It is an opportunity that is unique to Ave Maria University. To understand the magnitude of the opportunity, it took multiple messages from my friends during my trip. They kept asking, “Why and how are you in Mexico City doing service work?” I explained to them that it is through the “Mother Teresa Project” offered by my university. They were perplexed because they did not have the same opportunity at their big prestigious universities.
To my fellow students at AMU: understand the blessing we have been given by the Faculty, Board, President Towey, Tom Monahan, Grace Cheffers and Yensy Flores in the Mother Teresa Project, and most importantly through Mother Teresa. The opportunity to go across the world and work with MC brothers and sisters is remarkable. The vision of the Mother Teresa Project is something special and should be completed by all of our students at Ave Maria. Coming from a public high school and also being an athlete, I know I never would have done something like this if I went to a different university. At AMU, trips like this are possible and are an unbelievable resource for personal growth. I highly recommend this trip to the MC brothers’ house in Mexico City. It was an unbelievable journey full of love, charity, and faith. It has changed me for the better and I am forever grateful.
By Andrew Nussbaum, Class of 2018