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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Gratitude is the central virtue of a missionary

Shortly after moving out of La Carpio in December 2011, a friend suggested that I read a book called ¡Gracias!, by Henri Nouwen. The book is a collection of his journal entries from 1981-1982, during a six-month period when he attended language school in Bolivia and then moved into a “young town” on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. It includes a lot of commentary on missionary work, the state of the Latin American Church at that time, cross-cultural service, and liberation theology.

The book was helpful for me because it crystalized some of the lessons I carried with me when I left La Carpio. The principle lesson being the inspiration for the title: ¡Gracias! – Thanks! On page 16 he states it most directly –

“Gratitude… becomes the central virtue of a missionary.”

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Spiritual Inspirations

My personal spiritual development was part of what compelled me to move into La Carpio to learn. Where I was at spiritually greatly influenced my decisions and the sense of peace I had in deciding to move to live in La Carpio for several months. There was certainly a spiritual process that led me to the point where I realized this move was going to happen, and should happen. Much of this occurred before I ever went, and peaked intensively in the few weeks before and after the move. Many of the rituals of everyday life took on a deeper spiritual significance, such as eating with others, washing in the morning, and sitting in silence as a downpour roared on the tin roof above. Continue reading