A Life Changing Mission

03-Aug-2016

By: The Pipeline

When Project Engineer Gavin Leblanc and his daughter Brianna began their mission trip, they were not aware of how truly life changing it would be. Here is their story from Gavin's perspective... 

I began the trip with a simple “Yes” in mind, body, heart and soul. Whatever the Lord asked of me, the answer was clear. I was willing to say prayers at least seven times a day with the brothers of the Missionaries of the Poor. I was willing to scrub floors, shave beards and heads, clip fingernails and toenails, bathe and shower, feed, clothe, talk to, and play with the poor residents of the various centers. I was willing to go without the comforts of home (AC, TV, ice, washing machines, and dryers) and completely unplug. I was even willing to eat the food so generously provided by the brothers. I was also willing and able to receive the peace that came with selflessly completing each of these tasks. I can honestly say I was all in.

We all piled up in the back of the chicken truck at the airport and drove through Kingston to the M.O.P. headquarters in Jamaica.

My daughter Brianna admitted to everyone at the end of the second night that she had not prepared herself for the trip. She had been there before and thought she would just be ready. She cried that night in front of us all and stated that she would change her heart and mind and get herself right. The next morning Father Vic led the 47 missionaries there in singing “Happy Birthday” to Brianna—she cried again but for a different reason. 

Father Vic sings “Happy Birthday” to Brianna during breakfast.

That day she went to one of the centers where one of her friends told the brothers there that it was her birthday, so they all, residents included, sang her “Happy Birthday” a number of times throughout the day. That evening after prayers and the Rosary we ate dinner and they brought in two cakes and a big tub of ice cream (coconut) and we sang “Happy Birthday” to her again—she cried again. They told her that not only were we getting cake and ice cream but all the brothers and residents in all the centers were getting ice cream in honor of Brianna’s birthday. It was the biggest Birthday Party she ever had! 


Brianna gets her cake.

The next day she went to a different center and when she said she was Brianna, they got excited, told her happy birthday, and said thanks for the ice cream. Needless to say Brianna’s trip was on a glide path after her 18th birthday. She told my wife and I that they are planning on extending the trip to two weeks next year for the young adults and she wants to go again.

It was an honor and privilege to share this experience with my daughter and the other missionaries and to serve the residents of the centers with the religious brothers. About 200 brothers and sisters serve the residents every day of every week at the seven centers, which house anywhere from 90-140 residents each. Some of the residents are just poor and unwanted, but many are crippled either mentally and/or physically. It’s amazing to see how they look after one another and share their joy and love with those who are supposed to be helping them.

Brianna spent a while talking to a bed-ridden child at Bethlehem.

George and Alan with Gavin after a couple of good shaves and some good conversation. George is blind and talks like a preacher. Alan is a few years old than me and one accident removed from being just as healthy; he has half a foot on one leg, a slice half the length of his right arm and only three fingers remaining on his left hand. 


Gavin and Reynaldo, the friend I made at Bethlehem. I helped bathe him, feed him, clipped his nails, and played with him for a while. He was not the only one I did this for but he was the one that I seemed to make the connection with the most. 

The brothers take a vow of poverty so they can only have 2 pants, 2 shirts, 2 cassocks, and 1 pair of shoes or sandals (And they only get to go home to see their families once every ten years). One brother explained that when we give it all goes to the residents, so the poor can become rich. So many stories are coming to mind and I’m only 1 of 25 missionaries from my church to attend this time.

On the last full day there, Sunday afternoon, the group traveled to Mount Tabor and hiked to the waterfall.

I was walking to go get some water after mopping the breezeway and some rooms with one of the brothers at the Lord’s Place when a hand reached out from a wheelchair. I grabbed it and said, “Hello, can I do anything for you?” The old lady there looked up at me and said, “Please read about me in the bible when you go home and pray for me.” “Read about you in the bible? What’s your name?” She said, “My name is Sarah.” I said, “Oh, I know you. You’re Abraham’s wife.” She lit up and said that’s right. I said and you’re Isaac’s mother, right? She was laughing and giddy and said yes, but I’m the younger Sarah and I have had my own share of trials and tribulations too. I told her that I would read about her when I got home and that I would pray for her and tell others about her. She thanked me and said good-bye and I went get my water. What she didn’t know was that on the plane ride over I was doing a crossword puzzle—the clue was Isaac’s mother—the answer was 5 letters long and I didn’t know it. After filling in a few other words I realized that Isaac’s mother was Sarah. The week was full of moments like that.

Gavin and Brianna at Mount Tabor – “Where heaven and earth meet.”

I only hope to find a way to live up to the high standards I lived up to while I was there while I am still here. As Brother Morris from Kenya stated, "It is our destiny to go to heaven and everything we do here should be to get us there." 

Trips like this can remind us all of this.

The Pipeline

Keeping employees connected.


Comments


Shantel LeBlanc || 03-Sep-2016 01:19 PM
Awe...what a beautiful story and heaven my experience!!!! Y'all are truly blessed to share y'all love with them.So many people out there that less fortunate, I'll, homeless and feel alone; I know they have grown there faith in our lord having been touched by y'all mission. I pray y'all are able to make a third trip!!! God Bless all
Gary Terranova || 08-Aug-2016 07:48 AM
Giving back at any level is a heartwarming, wonderful experience. It always makes my heart happy to see a beautiful story of giving back at this level. God bless all of the helpless that you took care of while there and GOD bless ALLof the volunteers that gave of themselves to be there.
Jeremy Blanchard || 05-Aug-2016 02:05 PM
It is very exciting to know that I have a brother and a niece with this much passion for helping people. I am sure that these people's lives have been changed forever knowing that there are people out there that believe in them and care. I am very proud of you both. Love ya'll!
Angela Chaisson || 05-Aug-2016 01:58 PM
I am honored to have traveled with you and Brianna. Your service above self and true passion for The Lord our Savior and all his people is a testament to your love and devotion.
James Ford || 05-Aug-2016 09:10 AM
Very well said Gavin! Brought back memories.
Thanks for sharing.
Father Vic+ || 05-Aug-2016 07:51 AM
A Christian is one who witness to the gospel, most of the time without words! Thanks to you and Brianna for witnessing to the Gospel of Jesus Christ so loudly and so boldly.
Jack Roszelle || 04-Aug-2016 12:35 PM
Thank you for sharing a snapshot of your missionary trip with everyone. I find it very refreshing to hear and read "Good News" in today's unsettling times.

The memories that you and Brianna shared and created during your trip will stay with y'all for the rest of your lives!
Lacey Fontana || 04-Aug-2016 12:20 PM
Gavin and Brianna thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, this was very inspirational! Happy Birthday Brianna!! -God Bless
Osmundo Garza || 04-Aug-2016 12:02 PM
Gavin/Brianna Just wanted to say that God's love and grace is really flowing through you both. Please continue your wonderful missionary work. I will pray for you both and for those in the care of those homes. Happy belated Birthday Brianna! Just a quick note. I am a Danos employee that works in the west Texas area. Have a great day and God bless you both.
Celeste Folse || 04-Aug-2016 11:36 AM
Amazing Work Gavin & Brianna! God Bless.
Melanie Toups || 04-Aug-2016 11:23 AM
Wow. Such an inspirational story. Thank you so much for sharing with us.


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