Living for God Through Service and Trust

By Karin Forsthoefel and Victoria Schoen

My Totus Tuus experience was more than I could have hoped for. I came into the summer with ideas and hopes for what it would mean to me, and I came out of the summer with so much more. One thing that took me by surprise was that I was asked to be team leader. Initially I was nervous to take on this role, but it took me out of my comfort zone and pushed me to grow. Not only did I form countless relationships with parish coordinators, priests, volunteers, and parents, but I was challenged to lead my teammates to be fully present on our mission, as well as taking care of our daily schedule and making sure the program ran smoothly. All of the small details of leadership fell into place quickly, leaving the biggest challenge to be the spiritual and relational leadership that I was called to offer. The only way I was able to do all of this was through total reliance on God. This summer, I was closer to God than I have ever been. It is hard to describe the feeling of being on my knees asking God for guidance, or speaking to God so personally, thanking God for every moment, and trusting God for every move and decision. As a leader, I learned to trust God on a new level. There were many situations in which I had to make quick decisions for my team or for the children, and I had to totally rely on God in every moment. My life became a prayer through service and total trust.

-Karin Forsthoefel

This summer as a Totus Tuus missionary was full of extreme growth and change that I witnessed in myself, my teammates, as well as the children and teens we served. I would say the biggest thing that I learned this summer was realizing who I belong to. I was talking with a priest during our mid-summer retreat about some personal, spiritual battles I was facing and the question he asked me will stay with me forever: he said, “Tori, whose are you?”. Through my experiences, encounters, relationships, joys, and struggles from this summer, I was able to start living for God and God alone. This program was inspired by Pope John Paul II’s papal motto “Totus Tuus, Maria” which means “Totally Yours, Mary”. As I lived completely as a missionary this summer, I was able to live for Jesus through Mary. My teammates taught me how to do this by inspiring me and loving me unconditionally in a way that pushed me closer to the perfect love of Christ. The kids/teens taught me how to do this as well when I heard their difficult stories and needed to trust that God was giving me the right words to say and the assurance that He would continue the work that we were doing. When we live knowing that we belong to God, our lives become a testament to His perfect freedom and love that we are called to spread to others.

-Victoria Schoen

These reflections only begin to describe all that we learned during our summer with Totus Tuus in Springfield, IL. We would like to continue to share the mission of Totus Tuus with all of you so that you may walk our journey with us and hear from other Totus Tuus teachers as well. Keep checking our blog for more posts about our God-filled summer adventures!

Edited by Barb Miller and Ben Swick

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