Faces of mission – Rafael Harrington

| October 6, 2010 | 0 Comments

Rafael Harrington served as a missionary in Trujillo on the Northern Caribbean coast of Honduras from October 2004 to December 2006. He worked in Finca Del Niño (Farm of the Child) orphanage, which is operated by the Franciscan sisters. He was encouraged to consider missionary work by his family, school and parish while attending St. Matthew and St. Stanislaus, both in St. Paul. He now attends Holy Name in Minneapolis and works in the financial counseling office at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

How did you become interested in missionary work?

Rafael Harrington

As a child until age 10, I, too, lived in an orphanage in Venezuela. I was adopted and brought to the United States by a North American couple who were missionaries at the last orphanage I lived in. From that moment, a seed was planted within me to share with others who were less privileged than me. As time went on, I was able to solidify the type of missionary work I wanted to do. As I reflect on my childhood, I can vividly remember the times when other missionaries spent time with me, made me laugh and took time to love me. It left a very big impression on me. From that moment, I realized that I was privileged enough to be able to replicate these same actions and touch someone else’s life like others once did for me,

How was your service connected to your faith? What did it teach you about faith?

Thanks to the Franciscans sisters who ran the mission where I was stationed, the mission service had everything to do with faith. I was in charge of a teenage boys group home. With spiritual directions from the sisters, we read the Gospel every morning, said prayer before every meal, went to church on Sundays, had community night on Mondays and went to Holy Hour on Thursdays. I was not used to praying so much, that at first it seemed excessive. Over time, the spiritual life of the orphanage grew on me. The teenagers had so much to teach me about faith. They lacked education, but their spiritual life was very mature. From my experience, it is always interesting how some people have so little but have so much faith and so much love to give. While in Honduras, I learned the importance of incorporating God in my life through prayer. If I could boil down all that I learned, it is that God is love.

Talk about one memorable story from your life as a missionary.

One story that made a big impression on me while I was in the teenage group home is something one of the teenagers did on a frequent basis. Honduras has a dry season and a rainy season that some like to call winter. During the rainy season it can get into the 60s (Fahrenheit). At night, it can get a little cold, especially for someone who is used to hot weather. One cold night, I went into the boys’ room and saw one of the teenagers curled up into a ball, sleeping. When I went to go give him a sheet to keep him warm, he woke up and said, “No thanks.” The next day, I asked him why he doesn’t sleep with a sheet and his response to me still continues to shock me. He said that there are thousands of people suffering and attempting to sleep in the cold and this is one way that he, too, can feel what they feel and not take his sheets for granted.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your experience?

The most important lesson I learned throughout my experience in Honduras is to simply be present to people. So many times in our lives we want to make a difference in profound ways, black and white ways that have a beginning and an end. We have learned to expect immediate gratification and have a hard time with not seeing immediate results.

Do you have any future missionary trips planned? If so, where and when?

My wife and I are very excited and currently exploring our options of places where we can go as missionaries in the near future. We have a deep passion for the Latin culture and hope to go to South America.

What would you like others to know about being a missionary?

Being a missionary is a privilege. The majority of the world does not get this privilege because of trying to meet the basic needs of life. Being a missionary is an opportunity and a gift given to me.


Category: World Mission Sunday