This blog post was written by Field Hockey junior Sophia O'Connor about her spring trip to Italy on a mission trip.
In May 2018, I had the privilege of going on my first mission trip to Italy. I grew up listening to stories of trips from my grandparents, who would visit Italy frequently on mission trips. To be able to join them on this trip was an opportunity I could not pass up, even if it meant missing 10 days of my sophomore year in college.
As I prepared, I anticipated the many blessings I hoped to receive, and I was not disappointed. When we arrived in Cala Gonone, on the island of Sardinia after 22 hours of travel, we were greeted by the amazing views and beautiful followers of Christ, and the distance faded away.
I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ which is headquartered in Monongahela, Pennsylvania with branches and missions all over the world. Our goal on this trip was to attend a regional conference where members of our church from various small missions around Italy would gather to strengthen our relationships, learn more about God's word and make plans for the future. During the trip, I was able to see the growth that is taking place in our church friends there. I was able to witness a baptism and the ordinations of two new ministers. We baptize in open waters and it was such a beautiful sight, as we stood on the shore of the Tyrrhenian Sea to witness the event.
I have heard all my life that the love of the members is the same from branch to branch on the American Continent, but I tell you that it also crosses the sea. Many of them were extremely interested in getting to know me. There is a lack of young people there because of many moves from the islands where the missions are located to bigger cities or other European countries. They all love the Lord with all their heart and work to show others the light. They showed me and the people we traveled with the compassion and love they have. I felt at home when I was with them. Their families have been in Cala Gonone since the small town's beginnings. When you travel so far, you sometimes feel uneasy, but I never felt that way when I was there.
Following the conference, I had the opportunity to visit Rome and Florence and learn more about the history of Christianity in that area, as well as witness the beauty and culture of these areas.
God blessed me in so many ways during this trip! It was an experience that I will never forget. My grandpa is one of the small group of men who routinely go to Italy to help the members there. This past trip was his 50th trip to Italy! He has dedicated over half his life to going to Italy to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While he has been there many times, and this was only my first trip, the blessings we experienced were the same. No matter how many times you work for the Lord, you will be blessed!