My name is Maria Luisa Garcia (family and friends call me Marie). I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas where I was a parishioner of St. Matthew Catholic Church. My parents immigrated from Mexico thus making me a first generation American. This meant that I grew up knowing and loving two countries, two cultures, and two languages. Ever since I can recall, I’ve enjoyed meeting people from different cultures, different religions, and/or who speak a different language, and always was curious to learn more about them and their culture.
I have felt a call to go on mission overseas ever since I was a child. I recall looking through missionary magazines and seeing the missionaries working with the local people in various countries; and reading their stories. These pictures and stories always inspired me, and I would hope that one day I too could be a missionary overseas.
Finally, after many, many years of feeling this call to mission work, I realized that I was not getting any younger and that now was the time to make my dream a reality. I asked Jesus Christ to guide me to where I could best serve Him as a missionary. After about two years of searching and praying about this, I learned about Lay Mission-Helpers during my participation at the Religious Education Congress in L.A. back in March, 2018. I talked to the women (who now I know was our director, Janice England) at the booth. I expressed my lifelong desire to do missionary work overseas but felt that “I had missed the train” because I was too old. (I believed they only wanted young people.) I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that LMH accepts men and women up to 62 years of age! So, I took all the brochures and information home, read these carefully, prayed, and felt this was the time to take the leap of faith and apply to do mission work.
After having gone through the application process and interviews, I was invited to participate in a 4-month formation/discernment program at the Mission House in Los Angeles and participate in the faith life of the neighboring parish of St. John the Evangelist where folks have welcomed us “missionaries-in-training” with open arms and hearts!
Now as we near the end of our formation time, my call and resolve to serve God as a missionary overseas has deepened. With excitement and great anticipation, I look forward to serving in the Diocese of Kimbe, West New Britain in the country of Papua New Guinea. (Papua New Guinea is an island nation just north of Australia.) My assignment will be to teach English at Caritas, a Catholic High School for girls, run by sisters from Korea.
Please keep me in your prayers as I wait for my work visa to arrive so that I can hop on a plane and fly out to Kimbe. I am very excited and thank God for this wonderful opportunity to serve Him and the people of Papua New Guinea! Be assured of my prayers for you as well.