Have you ever felt such a void in your chest that it doesn’t even allow you to breathe?
That’s how I felt, lost.
I lived my life routinely, stressed, unhappy and in an automatic mode, not stopping to look back or excited about the future. To be honest, many years ago, I had left God behind. I had stopped looking for Him and talking to Him, but His love is so great that He does not let us get lost. He is always waiting to meet us.
In November 2019 I received news from my university that they were looking for three students to do their professional internship in Magdala and, to my great surprise, I had been one of the chosen ones. When I Heard this, the first thing I thought was “I can’t accept it.”
As expected, I created negative scenarios around the idea of leaving the country…How would it be possible? Why me? Where would I get the necessary money? Although I was excited, I was also terrified by the idea; it would be the first time I would leave Mexico and I would be alone. I could have said no, but despite all the obstacles, I soon realized that there was a reason why I had to go to Israel, God was calling me and would not let me say no.
On February 4, 2020 I packed my suitcase with everything I thought necessary for my five-month stay and jumped on the plane. When I arrived in Magdala, I felt confused and frustrated; I thought that when I arrived in Israel, I would feel an immediate change, I would feel the presence of God by my side, but it was not so. I spent almost a month trying to find God in a vague human feeling, I did not realize the great mystery of God’s love and that I had a long way to go in my faith.
Remember I mentioned that I was feeling lost? Well, Jesus came to my rescue.
It was on one of the first walks that everything changed. I remember it was a day when I felt particularly sad but still my heart was open and sensitive. We went to Jericho and in the late afternoon we decided to meet to watch the sunset in the desert. I remember that there was a moment when everyone started to pray and I, not knowing what to do, just closed my eyes and asked for forgiveness for not knowing how to pray. It was at that very moment when I saw Jesus sitting next to me. I was perplexed, I tried to open my eyes, believing that everything was in my imagination, but I could not, so I decided to submit myself and open my heart to Jesus. I remember that at that moment I began to cry and felt a great weight in my chest, but at the same time I felt all that pressure fading away.
It was not necessary for Jesus to say anything, his very presence transmitted deep love and made me realize that he had always been with me, telling me that everything would be all right. When I could finally open my eyes, one of the volunteers began to pray aloud saying something like “Lord, allow those souls who are looking for your love to find you”. From that day on I decided that I would open my heart and I started to seek and recognize God in each of the people and moments that I lived in Magdala.
Magdala is a place of encounter and healing. Today, I feel proud to call Magdala my home, since it was there that I took my first steps on the path of faith and grew in the love of Christ. In Magdala I found myself and I could learn to see myself with the same love that God sees me, I could forgive and heal the wounds of my past and I can say that I am in peace and happy.
Magdala is truly an instrument of God’s love. When I would help in the visitor’s center, what gave me the most joy was welcoming the pilgrims and seeing their faces as they left, with a different look: happy, moved, and in peace and full of God.
It has been a blessing for me to have had the opportunity to come to the Holy Land, to tour the places hand in hand with Jesus, where he showed me how much he loves me and where I was able to create a close relationship with him. Many times, we live afflicted thinking that God does not listen to us and, by way of advice, I can say that it is better to stop worrying and leave everything in God’s hands since He always listens to our prayers. Open your heart, be humble and let yourselves be found by His love!