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A Missionary Vacation

While on a very brief break between Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy my thoughts reached back to another type of vacation I took in 2014 and again in 2017. Fond memories for me, and perhaps something for some of you to consider once we emerge from the pandemic. I wrote this story for publication by the Orange County Catholic in December of 2017.


I will return to writing 'Cancer 201' posts after experiencing my first immunotherapy session on 3/11. Until then, I pray that God bless us all.

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Be honest. Would you rather spend your next vacation on a beach in Jamaica sipping Caribbean drinks, reading a good book, and enjoying sumptuous meals at a resort hotel, or staying in the slums of Kingston with no air conditioning or hot water? While there, you’ll be bathing, feeding, and caring for the poorest of the poor who have been rejected among their own radical poverty, most of whom are physically deformed, blind, deaf, or mute and living in substandard conditions.


No question, the former. That is, until you learn what you can experience and receive from the latter. Peace. Incredible peace. Joy. Indescribable joy. Love. Amazing love. Christ. The very face of Christ.


When you arrive in Kingston, the transformation begins immediately. Hearts are opened wide as you witness and experience the love of God through the Brothers of the Missionaries of the Poor (MOP) and the hundreds of men, women and children they care for. Their residents are not the homeless and marginalized of Jamaica, but the poorest of the poor. Many are physically deformed and mentally challenged. They are what Jesus refers to in Matthew 25 as the “least of my brothers.”


The founder of the Missionaries of the Poor, Father Ho Lung emphasizes: “You activate the love of Christ in your heart by doing. Serving the poor lights up the Christ in your heart.” His words ring true. The experience is indescribable. I recently returned from my second MOP vacation, more at peace and relaxed than had I spent a month at a 5-star resort on Maui.

Opening your mind with the love of Christ in your heart to those in need allows you to ignore the heat, humidity, and appearances. Instead of disgust, you see and feel a sense of deep personal appreciation, a direct spiritual connection with your brothers and sisters in Christ who, by your presence, return more love than you can ever imagine.


When working with the Missionaries of the Poor, whether it is in one of the five Jamaican centers or a center in the Philippines, Uganda, India, Indonesia or Haiti, visitors leave their daily worries, anxieties, and stress behind. Daily strife is replaced with works of love, fellowship, and prayer–an average of 3 ½ hours of prayer throughout the day. The result is intense peace, profound joy, and restful sleep.


The principal differences between Father Ho Lung’s Missionaries and Mother Teresa’s Missionaries lay in community and evangelization. Father Ho Lung’s vision is for the residents at the centers to form a community, a family, of which the Brothers are a seamless part. In his communities, we witness interaction of young and old, the physically fit and the physically disabled; in such a way that each learns to love and help his neighbors. Further, while Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity shied away from open evangelization of the poor whom they serve, largely due to the fact that it might be seen as insensitive or even provocative, the Missionaries of the Poor are unabashed in the evangelical dimension of their apostolate.


The Missionaries of the Poor was founded in 1981 had has received both papal and episcopal approval for their work and constitutions. Today, the order has over 550 brothers serving in nine missions around the world.




Judge David Belz, Superior Court of Orange County, on an MOP missionary trip in Jamaica


My sister Jeanne, daughter, Elizabeth, and daughter-in-law, Jenna with me at MOP's HQ

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Christina Amri
Christina Amri
Mar 24, 2021

My dear Friend,

Lovely human, precious child of God, dearest collaborateur and profound teacher, I am praying for you to have ease and a big encore performance! You are and always have been a big inspiration! Your heart and light always shines for everyone around you, warms us, and we want you near us, touchable for as long as possible...! Let me know if there is a lovely poem or quotation that I can make for you that would give you comfort or inspiration on this journey. with SO much gratitude for you-- Always, Christina

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Kathleen Chodzko
Kathleen Chodzko
Mar 14, 2021

Dear Hank,

God has truly given you the gift of writing. I experience God's grace through the words you share. And, I so agree with you... WE feel the presence of Jesus when we reach out to others.


I am so glad our paths have crossed through our children. I thank God everyday for the gift of your Lizzie; we love her very much. You and Lori have raised a very beautiful spirit in your daughter. She constantly shows Mark and me the light of our Lord by the way she conducts her life.

Continue the fight, Hank, because you are one of God's precious gifts!

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ted.news
Mar 12, 2021

Thank you my brother for your living testimony and inspiration you transcend unpon others. God bless you my friend, Ted

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eversjeanne
Mar 11, 2021

Hank, I can’t begin to thank you enough for inviting me to join you, Jenna, Elizabeth, and your friends on that amazing trip! Truly, words fail. I must admit that at first it was rather intimidating/frightening to think that I could be part of such a team after seeing the video from your first trip. But, oh my goodness, it was so wonderful!! An amazingly wondrous experience!! There’s absolutely no choice: beaches or blessings? Blessings win hands down!!! 🙌🏼🌷💚. (I hope this doesn’t show up twice. I thought I had already posted one awhile ago, but it mustn’t have gone through! 🙁)

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vicki.delaney
Mar 11, 2021

You continue to amaze, inspire and lead me closer to Christ. T"hank" you my friend!

Know you and your families intentions are in my heart and continuous prayers.

God Bless you Hank!

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