Lay Missioner Journal: A Lifelong Dream Come True

Publication Date: 
February 13, 2013

Ever since she was a child, 24-year-old Grace Loeffler felt a calling to serve the impoverished children of Africa. At last, the young nurse from Pennsylvania is living her dream as a Salesian Lay Missioner in Maridi, South Sudan, where she is volunteering at a new hospital.

Before the hospital opened, Grace was assigned as a school teacher at the Don Bosco Primary School. “How could I possibly teach? I have no idea what I’m doing!” she thought to herself. Yet, it only took her a few hours to get acclimated and to bond with her new students. She reported on her blog, “Only three classes in, and honestly, I already love them. A lot.”

Despite the extreme poverty in which the children lived, Grace was inspired by their smiling faces and by their determination to attend school (a majority of the students work after classes and on weekends to help supplement their households).

Grace quickly became a beloved teacher, and soon after, was appointed to be the school nurse as well. Her immediate response was, “I don’t think I could be happier! It’s perfect.”

After celebrating her 24th birthday and Christmas with the children from the school, Grace was called upon to fulfill her original assignment as a nurse at the new Don Bosco Health Centre of Manguo-Maridi, which opened January 14th.

Her skills - and confidence - were put to the test in her second week when she was the only nurse on duty. “Some serious cases walked through the door: two cases of severe malaria in young babies, a young woman who could hardly stand from the effects of advanced typhoid fever, and an elderly man with pneumonia,” she reported.

“Instead of feeling frazzled and unprepared for the tasks that arose, the outcome was an unexpected emotion: confidence,” she continued. “Despite the unfamiliar equipment, the list of medications here that we aren’t using in the States, the rusty skills I haven’t been practicing after all these months, yet I was able to tackle all the obstacles that arose. Every small success left me with a little flower of fulfillment and gratitude for the Lord’s faithfulness.”

The Salesian Lay Missioner program is just another example of your generosity at work. By making it possible for a willing young person to serve at one of our missions, you are having a positive ripple effect on many more needy children and families. Thank you for whatever you can give today to support these and other meaningful Salesian programs.

Find out more about the Salesian Lay Missioner Program.

Read Grace Loeffler's blog.