Mission Trip to Calcutta

Nomaashkaar! Hello! 
  My name is Leah Johanni and I am a student at Ave Maria University.  I am fundraising to go on a mission trip to Kolkatta [Calcutta] India to work with the Sisters of Charity in helping the "poorest of the poor" as Mother Teresa would say.  There is a group of students from Ave Maria that will be going together and we will be led by the President of our University, Jim Towey, who worked with Mother Teresa as her personal lawyer for 12 years. 
  We need to raise the necessary money to be able to travel to India and stay there for 10 days before traveling back to the states. Such a trip will require $2000.  
Thus I am seeking  help in coming up with this amount so that I will be able to participate in this mission trip and to truly offer myself as a humble tool in the hands of the Lord, working with those who just need a little love in their life. I have had a long admiration for Mother Teresa and her work. She has been such an inspiration to me and I am extremely excited about such an opportunity to visit her Sisters of Charity in India. 
I am taking a prayer journal along with me so, if in the process of your kindness in helping me in this cause you have some prayer intentions that you would like me to pray for and to offer up while I am in India please email me and let me know so that I can add them to the book. 

If you desire to read the Application letter I wrote for this trip I have pasted it below....I know it is quite long  ;)

            It is quite difficult to fully address these four questions in a one page essay but I will try to shortly express my undying love to serve others as Christ, the perfect example, portrayed for us and as Mother Teresa has further exemplified in her life-long commitment to the poor.  Before I even came to Ave Maria I had strongly contemplated visiting the Sisters of Charity in order to discern a vocation with them.  When I was little, I had a strong fear of those people who were unlike me, who were disfigured, sick, or mentally disabled.  For me, I felt that  in order to purge myself of this unholy fear I needed to delve directly into the midst of the poorest of the poor and devote myself to working with them.  It was not that I was void of love for them, but that my love was restricted by my fear of the physical aspects.  As I became more familiar with Mother's faith life I grew in my own and mostly fell in love with her mission and her immense love for all, especially the poorest of the poor.  Thus, there has been a great longing in me to experience this work of Mother Teresa, to be able to care for those who need it the most, where recognition is not the desire but full self-giving.  One of her sayings that has stuck with me the most and has truly helped me numerous times to deal with disappointment or to humble myself is: "I can do no great things, I can do only small things with great love."  She has taught me to work with persistence and not to give up hope regardless of the outcome. My devotion to Mother Teresa came at a crucial time in my life and has persisted with me still.  Although I never did end up going to Kolkata [my discernment led me to Ave Maria instead :) ]  the presence of Mother Teresa in my life has brought me to a greater degree of love and devotion to God and to all people.  I could not believe the providence of God when I was placed in Mother Teresa Hall as a new student here.  Her protection has been over me and has strengthened me through the many struggles that I have learned to deal with and grow through here.  Her many little sayings, her example, her beautiful smile amidst her many wrinkles have provided me with inspiration, love, and a true desire to commit myself fully to living my life solely for God, by shedding His love upon others. Most especially, her dealings with the "dark night of the soul" has brought me much strength and consolation.  I too feel very often so far from my Lord.  I follow through the actions because I know it's right and I believe the Truth because I know I must, but very often I have doubts and I find myself fighting to understand, to see, to feel even a moment of consolation in the Lord.  I cried reading her book "Come be My Light" realizing that her darkness was so deep and lasted for so long.  Her commitment never shed any light upon her internal darkness.  Her actions revealed only the love and depth of compassion she had for those who were so less fortunate and who were helpless outcasts from society.  To me this example is what draws me to Kolkata.  I want to be able to follow in her footsteps, even if just for a week. To experience for a moment her work, her love, her passion.  It has been a great dream of mine to one day travel there and be able to participate in this great ministry she has begun.  To respond in turn to the "ripple" of her actions, which has affected me so deeply.  For she said, "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."  Her ripples have reached far and wide. Her life is a true inspiration to me, one which I try to follow every day of my life.  To live simply, desiring only to love as completely as I can.  I was very privileged to be able to participate in a Mission Trip to Cuana in Mexico last Spring Semester 2012.  During which time the spark within me to do mission work was ignited and has been burning furiously in my heart ever since.  The things I learned there really changed my perspective on life and made me realize what is important in life.  That true love for one another and full devotion to God are the only things necessary.  I have desired to return to Mexico but when I heard about this trip to Kolkata I knew that it would be a wonderful blessing if I would be able to participate in such an experience.  I have also been quite intrigued by the Indian culture with their  deep and beautiful traditions and devotions.  I have even started learning the Hindi language.   Just to travel to India is something I have truly desired, but to be able to do that while ministering to the poor in the very same place that Mother Teresa began her work is truly dear to my heart.  I do not know what to expect to come from such a trip.  I truly believe I can never prepare myself enough, for God alone knows what is necessary for me to receive in such an experience.  I am fully open to anything that may come from my time working in Kolkata,  if I am blessed to go.  God is truly the gardener, pruning his flowers in this garden of life so that we in turn can rise strong, basking in His light, inspired to live life to the fullest in selfless offering to one another, providing the scent of sweet love to all people.  As Therese the Little Flower inspired Mother Teresa so too am I inspired to live my life for others.  These words of Mother Teresa are so simply put but are truly the crux of life,  "A life not lived for others, is not a life." I would like to have the opportunity to give of myself for a short time to the people of Kolkata, if this is truly the will of God.   Thank you for your consideration of my application and regardless of your choice I know that the hand of God is present in your decision making and my prayers will be with those who do participate in this Mission Trip to Kolkata. God be with you!

Needless to say...By the grace of God I was accepted as one of the students to participate in this Mission Trip and now I am branching out to seek support in this mission and to carrry wtih me the prayers and needs of those who can support me with monetary means and/or spiritual means through prayer for me as I embark on this journey. 

Thank you and God Bless! God love you!

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Leah Johanni 
Immokalee, FL
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