Christendom Senior Margaret Ginski wanted to do something exciting with her life. She wanted to get out of the country, visit new lands, and experience new cultures. Basically, she wanted to do something which would add a little thrill to her daily grind college life.
What she did, though, was more than a thrill; it was an opportunity of a lifetime.
After her junior year, Ginski decided to spend a semester in Jamaica, teaching high school to the locals. She had always had an interest in teaching, but she never really thought seriously about it, so she thought that this semester in Jamaica would settle her mind on the whole subject of teaching and give her a little time to figure out her life.
“The thought of entering a third-world country without knowing a single person and teaching high school science was very daunting, but I felt that this was a great opportunity to discover things about myself. Looking back on it, I can now see that God was giving me a segment of time to get to know myself better, and in doing so, to get to know Him better too.”
A short while after she arrived in Jamaica, Ginski was confronted with Hurricane Ivan, as it pounded Jamaica, washing away homes, tearing roofs off houses and trees from the ground. This event gave Ginski a chance to re-examine her life. She was able to think about what really matters and to focus on living each day for God.
“I loved the simplicity of the lives of the local people,” says Ginski, “and, though it might sound a little weird to say, I was doubly blessed when Hurricane Ivan came. Ivan destroyed so much of the island, wrecking crops and lively-hoods all in one sweep. But I got to reap the benefits from the hurricane. I saw the Jamaican people come together and, out of genuine concern, help their neighbors. Though the little that they had was destroyed, the more fortunate people in the community did not hesitate to help others. It was amazing seeing these poor help the poor!”
Due to her experiences, Ginski believes that she is now a changed person.
“I guess what I learned most about myself was that I loved the simplicity of the island. I loved how uncomplicated life became when I was there, and how uncomplicated it remained even after the hurricane. I learned that I did not need half the things I had previously considered ‘essential’ to my life. I will never forget the hungry children climbing the fruit trees searching for some breakfast, and I definitely think twice now before I throw away food because it doesn’t taste good. We have so much here, and I never realized before how blessed this country is. We should not take everything we have for granted. Some of the smallest luxuries we have are unimaginable to many people in the world.”
Ginski was working with the Mission Society of Mandeville, a society of Catholic priests and brothers dedicated to spreading God’s Word in Jamaica. They run a high school and orphanage, and it is through these institutions that they cooperate with God to spread the Truth.
“Words cannot accurately depict what these missionaries do,” explains Ginski. “How can you describe the beautiful smile of an orphan, or the brightness that lights up a student’s face? How can you explain what it is like to feed a starving child, or pray with a troubled widow? God’s Word is active, and these religious witness to His Love by administering to the poorest of the poor. I feel honored that I was able to watch them, to observe these instruments of God who have surrendered themselves completely to actively living the Gospel of Christ.”
Looking back on the whole adventure, Ginski admits that her Christendom College education helped her greatly in this experience, as in all of her life experiences.
“One theme that Christendom College is constantly spreading is the universal call to holiness and the obligation we have to be missionaries. We all know that as Catholics, we possess the fullness of Truth, and, thus, we have a responsibility to enlighten others. Christendom helps us with this obligation by giving us the tools needed for evangelization. What I found most helpful in Jamaica was my knowledge gained from our Apologetics class here. Most of the island is nominally protestant Christian, but in reality, there is a lot of voodoo and superstition.”
According to Fr. Joe Berk, a member of the Mission Society of Mandeville, “This Island needs a miracle.” Please pray for the conversion of Jamaica, that these souls may come to know the true peace of Christ.