My experiences with the poor, specifically those in El Ocotillo, have “wrecked my life” and “broken my heart.” They have turned my world upside down. And this was done in the most unpredictable, yet beautiful and incredible way. I can say that International Samaritan has wrecked my life – it has forced me to ask the deeper questions, to see a different part of the world, to accompany some of the world’s most marginalized. And above all else, I.S. allowed me to fall in love by serving the poor. I cannot express my gratitude enough. I feel a desire to do more, to carry my cross and to follow Christ to the end of the world doing everything I can to build His kingdom here on earth.

I think this might be the most important mission in the world. “Have the courage to lose control. Have the courage to feel useless. Have the courage to listen. Have the courage to receive. Have the courage to let your heart be broken…. Have the courage to fall in love…. Have the courage to get ruined for life. Have the courage to make a friend” (Dean Brackley, SJ). I struggle with the best way to provide service and to help those in poverty, to alleviate their conditions. The projects in El Ocotillo help tremendously, like the medical center that provides a service that was never present. The nursery is now a place where kids can be kids. Of course these don’t completely alleviate poverty, but they are a step in the right direction.

I wish more jobs were present for the unemployed in El Ocotillo. I wish the schools in Honduras allow children to receive better and more education. I hope that the kids in El Ocotillo dream at night, that they can imagine living a life of which they feel proud. Much more money, work, and projects are needed to accomplish this, and I don’t know how to do that. However, I do know one thing for sure, that bringing people from the States to I.S. programs in the developing world to witness the poverty, to accompany people who are not very different than us, and to learn to love all in the way that Christ did is the best possible ministry. I can’t imagine returning and living my life the same way as I did before I came. Serving the poor allows you to see the need, witness the hope and desires, and experience the love. The only thing you can do is to make the world a better place.
Matt Ippel, January 2012
U of D Jesuit ’09, Georgetown University ‘13