By Jourdan Reynolds
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19.
This month I attended a session of the June Institute in Davenport. The focus this year was on parish renewal and evangelization. The speakers opened the session with the words of Jesus to his disciples, asking them to continue his work on earth through evangelization and outreach.
The words “go” “make” and “nations” have always resonated with me, creating within my heart a burning desire to share the Good News with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. To be excited and thrilled about this universal call is one thing, but to actually figure out your role and put it into practice is another. I hope to share with you how I see myself in this “new evangelization” and what roles God might be calling me to serve.
In elementary school, one of my most difficult and least favorite subjects was English Language Arts. I detested learning about grammar rules and pronunciation. If my attitude wasn’t proof enough, my grades were; the lowest grade on my report card was usually in English class. In high school, my dislike for the study of English switched to another language — Spanish.
I was overjoyed to finally be free of my English chains of burden, but sadly that joy was short-lived when my eyes stopped at the words “Spanish 1” on my fall semester schedule. While English was my first language, Spanish seemed like an annoying little cousin who teased me about my linguistic skills. If my love for the English language was dead, my love for Spanish was non-existent.
I got through my first year of Spanish without many troubles because much of it involved review from middle school. However, entering my second year of Spanish (a requirement to graduate) was an entirely different story. I struggled and barely survived each quiz and test. I ended up asking the “fluent speakers” for help, but eventually fell into cheating in order to pass my class.
I copied the work of other students and copied and pasted all of my translations from the Internet. My sense of guilt won over; midway through the year I confessed to my teacher that my new and improved grades were not valid. After our conversation, I vowed to never cheat in my Spanish class or any other class for that matter. I buckled down, put my nose in the books and eventually finished with a “B” in my Spanish 2 class.
Fast-forward some years and you would find me tutoring college students in English and Spanish. For whatever reason, or because of God’s sense of humor, English and Spanish became my academic loves. Not only did my skills improve, but my interest in the languages escalated. I began using them to propagate the Catholic faith through writing, speaking, essays and social media.
Today, my love for languages and the many peoples of the world is overwhelming, practically spilling over in my daily thoughts and ideas. I continue to communicate in English and Spanish, but I’ve added a few other languages to the list. I have a basic working knowledge of Italian and French, thanks to a few courses, and just recently taught myself a basic understanding of Portuguese. I don’t know why God has given me these desires or how I will use all of these languages, but I trust in him that my time and effort in learning these tongues is not in vain. I believe he has big plans for me in the sharing of his love with others.
(Jourdan Reynolds is the secretary and bookkeeper at St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Ottumwa.)