Blessings in Christ and Happy Solemity of the Body and Blood of Christ!

I’m currently in the Dominican Republic, but I spent the last two weeks in Jenkins, Kentucky. During the first week, my team and I practiced leading missions and every night, we were graced with faith talks by our CMT founder, Steve Nasche – a man who is truly after God’s own heart. We had the opportunity to fellowship with the four Missionaries of Charity stationed in Jenkins (Sister Celine Rose, Sister Donald, Sister Savita, and Sister Jesula), all of whom met Mother Teresa herself. Lastly, my missionary sisters and I were able to increase our construction skills while visiting the three different work sites we would be focusing on rebuilding.

Last week, we had youth from Iowa and Illinois come join us in Jenkins, Kentucky and it was both a blessed and fruitful mission. Attached below is a picture of my small group, Team Gemma Galgani (From left to right: Mason, Luke, Stewart, Nick, Armando, Matthew, Brett, Kamryn, me, Tom who is going back to seminary next month <3, and Sharon). They worked hard at the construction site and were very open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Last year, Jenkins was hit by very severe flooding. The worst fatality from the flooding was when a mom and a dad were trying to hold on to their three young children. The flood waters were so strong, however, that the three young children were swept away from their arms. A couple days later, when the waters receded, the mom and the dad found their children’s bodies. After the children’s funerals, the parents took their own lives – being overcome with grief. Please pray for the repose of their souls and the souls who are still suffering from the natural disaster!

Even though the flood occurred last year, there are still families who are without electricity and running water. Team Gemma was able to rebuild the front and back porch of a house owned by a woman named Brenda. She has five adult children, but lost her second to youngest son a couple years ago. Two of her older sons still live with her: Matthew and Leonard. I was able to spend a significant amount of time talking to Leonard’s wife, Hannah.

Hannah lost her dad a couple years before losing her first husband, Darren. Darren was a 23-year-old nurse who passed away after contracting COVID. After her husband’s passing, Hannah lost her house, her truck, and then her job. For a long time, Leonard and Hannah were homeless until coming to find a refuge with Brenda.

Even though Hannah grew up with a lot of religions, she has recently been very drawn to the Catholic Church. Hannah asked me questions on how to pray the Rosary, how to say the Hail Mary, and what the Sacrament of Confession is while we were doing construction work on her mother-in-law’s house. Talking to Hannah was a blessing as she reminded us all that is absolutely necessary to maintain hope!! She kept telling us that “If God puts us in it, He’ll get us through it!” So please keep Hannah and her family in your prayers as well!

Overall, there have been many God moments for me personally during this Jenkins, Kentucky mission, but my main God moment was being able to give my faith talk and personal testimony to the 40 youth who joined us on mission. It was my first time telling my story and being vulnerable to such a large group of people and it was amazing to see the effect the story God wrote for my life had on those who listening in the audience. My faith talk was titled “Restorstion of Freedom” and I was able to share how God was the Light who helped me overcome my darkness. The opportunity to speak was very healing to me and I am excited to comtinue allowing the Holy Spirit to give me courage to lead the summer CMT missions in powerful and courageous ways.

Please know that you are all in my prayers – I bring your names with me to the Blessed Sacrament everyday during Holy Hour. Thank you all again for your spiritual and material generosity – I would not have been able to be on mission right now to share and experience God’s love without your support! May He continue to bless you all!