I wish to give thanks to all that have made this dream of mine come true. To the committee that serves on the Fr.Smith Fellowship board I send my sincere thanks. This program has changed my life completely.
I also want to thank Fr. Robb and Sister Rose Mary for all of their assistance that went into the planning and fine details of this trip. Without their knowledge and time, none of this would have been possible. A special thank you to the Bells, the Dominican Sisters, and Bp. Chris for taking me in and caring for me these past few weeks. I truly found a home and family in all. Speaking of family, thank you to my amazing family and friends for your constant love and support. And lastly, Kerry, thank you for being the best travel buddy I could have asked for! Together, we had the experience of a lifetime.
Words cannot express just how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to travel to Australia and the Solomon Islands. Every person I have met, all of my experiences have inspired me in so many ways. And the amazing part is, these people wouldn’t even know how much of an impact that they have had upon me. It was the simple smiles from all my friends in the Solomons and all the life lessons I gained from my observations in Sydney. Throughout my journey I have been welcomed and cared for by so many people. Complete strangers looked after me just like a family member would do. They truly taught me what it means to love one another like brothers and sisters. Along this journey, especially in the Solomons, I learned to value simplicity. What matters most is right in front of me. I know now what it means to be present. All of the life stories I have had the chance to hear, simply getting to know all these individuals has made me want to be like them. These people have gotten it right. They truly know what it means to embrace the qualities of Faith. Hope. And Love.
From this experience, I too, have gained a great deal of insight regarding these very virtues. Since being on this journey, my Faith has never been stronger. I know there is a God. I have neither doubt nor fear. These people have shown me what it means to have strong Faith. When I was feeling most insecure I prayed to God to help me through. And whenever I was scared of the unknown or unsure of things, again, it was God that I prayed to for assistance and guidance. I believe God was with me this entire time, keeping me safe, healthy, and so happy. And being surrounded by people that are so devote and dedicated to their faith has inspired me even more. They have shown me the way.
Hope. Each and every person that I have met has given me Hope that I too can be more like them. Hope that I can share these many lessons with my family and school. I Hope to not only be better, but to also make things better. I now know that I must dedicate my life to serving others. No matter what it takes, this mission must be served. I also Hope some day to return to the Solomon Islands, so that I might be of more assistance to these remarkable people. In the meantime, I Hope to support them from afar, doing as much as I personally can and also to encourage others to do the same.
Lastly, Love. I now know what it means to have Love. Love is shown by all. I will and do Love all my brothers and sisters. I have been shown how to share this Love with others and how to embrace this. Words can’t explain how. Sometimes you just know.
This experience has been completely life changing for me. I have gained such a deep appreciation for all that I have been blessed with. I feel so grateful to simply have a roof over my head and family and friends that love and support me so much. Moving forward, I know that I will be so much more appreciative of the people around me. I have learned that it truly does not take much to make me happy. I will honestly travel any distance, sleep on anything, eat anything and talk to anyone. All of which I would be grateful for. This experience has truly taught me to be grateful for what I do have.
I have also learned to be present much more myself. This means understanding how to make and take time to listen and be there for others.
One of the biggest changes for me however, is the mindset that I have learned to embrace. There is nothing I would not do. I don’t mean this in a dare devil, thrill seeking way. I mean this as in: there is no person I would not speak to. No person I would not hug or show kindness to, kind of way. This may sound bold but it’s true. I have seen people do this constantly throughout this fellowship. I too have become much more open. I have no fear, nor boundaries. Being in the Solomons has especially shown me this. While there, I embraced every aspect of their culture. There wasn’t a hand I did not shake, or a hello turned down. I never once put up my guard. Through the hospital I visited patients, all through the schools I taught classes, in mass I held hands and sang along, I joined community members for meals, I trusted and extended my friendship to all. And I felt the best I ever have. Like I said, living this way… I found my Happy.
Across the world I have traveled 9,000 miles.
I have been greeted by so many hugs and smiles.
I have learned what matters the most,
And often those with the least are the best host.
The Lord has guided me,
And I truly have found my Happy.
For me this is not the end,
To entourage others to do the same I intend.
Thank You So Much! Tangio Tumas! Cheers!