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OCMC News - Thank You for Supporting the Trek for Missions!

by Fr. Martin Ritsi (Posted 9/18/2019)

OCMC News - Thank You for Supporting the Trek for Missions!
Father Martin's and Father Stephanos' beautiful view on the Trek for Missions.

Dear OCMC Supporters,

Thank you for praying for us during the Trek for Missions. I am happy to report that the mission was accomplished! It was an amazing experience to travel in the wilderness for 2 weeks, surrounded by God’s glory in creation and supported by the prayers of so many who had joined us in the venture to raise funds for OCMC's missionary efforts. At times, God’s presence was so prevalent it was almost as if He was shouting out to us. Reading the daily reflections and prayers was also an uplifting experience – especially from our morning campsite before we began the day’s hiking, perched on a mountainside looking out over a vast horizon; or upon the shore of an alpine lake looking at the crystal clear reflection of the surrounding mountains on the deep blue water. If you didn’t get these daily prayers and reflections, please let us know and we will be happy to send them to you.

Of course there were also challenging moments - like sitting down on the ground after 10 hours of hiking to cook dinner and being swarmed by mosquitoes, or waking up tired and staring up at a 3,000-foot wall of rock and cliffs, or looking far in the distance to snow-covered mountain peaks, knowing that before the day was over we would have to climb up and over everything we could see.

One of the most beautiful moments, though, was on the last morning as we celebrated a sunrise liturgy at 14,500 feet above sea level. We slept alone on the mountain peak overnight, so we would be ready in the morning. While it was amazingly serene and the stars were so, so bright, it was not a very sound sleep. I woke up often, gasping for breath in the thin air.

Then, in the morning, the temperature was only in the low 30’s, and there was a breeze blowing. But we had selected a beautiful site on the edge of a cliff overlooking the mountains we had been climbing through for the past two weeks, with a view stretching far onto the horizon. Amazingly, someone had propped up a stainless steel Orthodox cross right next to the boulder we chose for the liturgy. We didn’t notice it when we chose the site, but when we went for the liturgy, there it was.

A moment comes in the liturgy when the chalice is held high and a blessing given: “May the Lord our God remember all of you in His Kingdom….” From 14,500 feet, the horizon curved and it felt like we were looking over the entire planet, blessing the world from this highest point in the USA.

That tied in so perfectly with the reason we had undertaken this challenge. The goal was to raise $150,000 to send missionaries who will be a blessing throughout God’s creation: missionaries who will take up their crosses and follow Him.

As we gave this blessing, looking out over the four corners of the earth, we rejoiced knowing that, with all those who had joined this effort, we were helping to recruit and send missionaries that would go to faraway places throughout the world to share God’s amazing love and the glory that we had been so intimately in tune with throughout our Trek.

Thank you for being one of those who prayed with us during this effort. We pray that you too have been inspired by participating in the Trek for Missions.

May the glory, love, and joy of the Lord be in you as we together send out missionaries who take up their crosses and follow Him to the ends of the earth!

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Martin Ritsi

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Prayer for Missions

God of truth and love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Hear our prayer for those who do not know You. That they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth, and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world. Sustain, inspire, and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel. Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile. Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church, and raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world. Make us witnesses to Your goodness full of love, full of strength, and full of faith for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world. Through the prayers of all the missionary saints, Have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
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