Now What? This seems to be the burning question when returning from a mission or any short/long-term volunteer experience. My heart and soul were touched beyond words and as I take the time to sit with this experience and remember the people I walked with these past two weeks—I can see and hear laughter, smiles, cries, and playfulness; tiredness, helpfulness, steadfast energy, and worry—the full spectrum of frustration to joy! As these thoughts abound in my head, I’m lead to the scripture passage of Easter Monday from John 20:15, “Jesus said to her, “Women why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”

When serving and fully immersed in a mission, I can feel the Holy Spirit present and working in and through the people, we are with—volunteers and those whom we serve. I have come to feel the closest to God when with people in most need. Serving during this time of Holy Week, felt holier than being inside a church—this was church! Washing the feet of guests and having my feet washed by guests and other volunteers, was extremely humbling and holy. Serving meals, mopping floors, cleaning cots, washing bedding, dispensing basic hygiene needs and medicine, preparing bags for travel, playing ball, holding babies, communicating through language barriers……were all very holy moments.

Now, as I sit at home after this profound experience, asking God, “Now What?” What do I do with this longing to do more? In a world and country that is so divided and so quick to judge others for their faults, opinions, beliefs, lifestyles, looks, choices, the color of their skin, and on and on—my deepest desire is simply to walk this life with many people who are different than me yet find our commonality; to go where God leads me and treat all with dignity and respect; to serve alongside others and show love, compassion, and joy!

Back to Jesus’ question, as related to me: 

“Ellen, why are you weeping? I am weeping because I have loved.

“Ellen, whom are you looking for?” I am looking for Christ in every encounter!