By Heather Pilkington, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register
The summer after high school graduation is one that most people remember. For recent Sacred Heart Catholic School graduate Rebekah Hesse, this summer was the “experience of a lifetime.”
For some, it is hard to believe that spending the summer under a mesquito net, using a bucket for a shower and being homesick for a month could equate to having the “experience of a lifetime.” But for Hesse, this held true during her mission trip to the African Congo with her great aunt, Sister Roberta.
The two started their trip with a two-week visit to Sisters of St. Mary of Namur convent in Belgium before heading off to the African Congo.
According to Hesse, she visited a number of hospitals, schools and orphanages while in the Congo.
The most memorable part of the trip were the two weeks she spent in Djuma, she said. There she visited an orphanage with 149 orphan children. The orphanage had just one nun watching over all of those children.
While there, Hesse helped out the orphanage by cleaning and sorting through piles of clothes for the children.
Hesse says she took from this experience far more than she could explain.
While in the Congo she kept journals.
“Coming to the Congo this summer has been beneficial to me in more ways than one,” Hesse wrote in her journal. “Patience. Trust. Acceptance. Prayer. Hope. Joy. Love. These are some of the things that I have come to understand better through my experience this summer. I did a lot of waiting and half the time I didn’t know what I was waiting for. Waiting for water, waiting for electricity, waiting for our next meal, waiting for the jeep to arrive, waiting for the ferry to work. All that waiting requires a whole lot of patience. It also requires hope that what I’m waiting for will actually come... and if it doesn’t it requires trust that God will take care of me no matter what. Even if I don’t understand right away, I just have to accept. What is happening now and pray for the grace from God to handle it. And what does this waiting require most of all? Love because when their is genuine love in my heart, that is when it has meaning, even if it involves suffering that is when I experience true joy.”
Her journal entry went on to say not to be anxious about the days ahead and to remain prepared for the things to come, but don’t allow yourself to get “huffy” when life doesn’t always follow your plan.
The people there are “really thankful and cheerful for everything despite their difficulties,” Hesse said.
Despite everything she learned and the experience being that of a lifetime, Hesse says she is not sure that she will ever go back in the same manner she did.
“Maybe after I get my degree in physical therapy, I might go back with a team of doctors,” she said. “A team that can really help, but I don’t know.”
Hesse will be attending Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls to work toward a degree in physical therapy this fall.