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Fall 2023 newsletter


Gabe Hurrish, South Sudan

Toposa mud huts

Toposa mud huts

The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me (Psalm 116:6).

Peace is being content with what you have and not missing it when it is gone. This is a good sign of joy in life.

One reason I cherish living in isolated villages is the simplicity of life. Everything comes down to basics and needs. Superfluous luxuries are not available. I often visit the villages around here, and I am struck by how few possessions the people have. Children make their own toys out of sticks, stones and broken pieces of plastic. The few clothes people have are worn week in and week out.

After 30 years of living in various countries, I have found that although I may want an endless list of useless stuff, what I actually need is very little. I realize I am content with being able to pack my entire belongings into a couple suitcases.

When I worked for nongovernmental organizations years ago, I found that a great deal of energy was expended on proving to the donors that the NGO was in control at all times. We were spending money on all sorts of things that really were not needed. Now that I have left that environment, there is a peace in knowing that God’s will is being done regardless of our efforts. My faith deepens when I don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

A mother with her children

I visited two young women who were trying to start a business serving porridge in the morning to merchants who come to the market to sell their goats and chickens every day. These were not rich ladies by any means. They had a small room without power or water, which they shared. Cooking utensils and food were neatly stacked in a corner on the floor. All the clothes they owned were stored in one suitcase each, also on the floor. They had three large plastic jerry cans to hold water.

I was impressed with the simplicity of their lifestyle. They had to borrow a plastic chair from their neighbor because they didn’t want the foreigner to sit on a bed which was the only furniture they had. They were determined to make a go of it and were discussing ways to improve their business. Women have an indomitable spirit.

Someone once asked me what was on my bucket list. I chuckled to myself because I don’t even have a bucket. I threw that away a long time ago. Nowadays I spend my energy looking for ways to help others. I find this infinitely more satisfying than trying to fulfill some sort of dream list that never ends.

Over the years I have found that I no longer yearn for the “good life.” I have the good life here and now. I find so much contentment and peace and joy in helping others have a good life.

Living a simple life has brought me closer to God because I don’t have the distractions and worries that possessions foment. The natural gifts the Lord has provided for me are enough. Joy can be found in the simple things such as a full moon at night or a night sky filled with stars. A quiet morning spent praying or listening to the birds sing. I find these things quiet and comfort my soul and allow me to focus on the things that really matter.

Primary school children washing dishes at school.

I have also learned to be very grateful for the things I do have. I remember a woman offering me a soda on a scorching hot afternoon, and this was one great joy in my day! Her generosity taught me to be compassionate and generous to others as well.

People are so kind, and they often offer to buy me this or that. I usually acquiesce, not because I want the thing but because I can honor and respect the giver by accepting the gift. They just want to do something nice for me.

If you would like to be part of my mission and donate, I can attest that Maryknoll Lay Missioners is also a great organization that is very financially responsible. Finances are tight these days, and MKLM is trying to be creative and resourceful in maintaining us missioners in the field while reducing costs overall.

May God grant peace and joy to all who seek a simple life with a simple heart!

Please consider supporting my mission work at St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Riwoto, South Sudan, with a donation via the button below.

If you are able, I invite you to walk with me as a “COMPANION IN MISSION.” Companions in Mission are friends and generous donors who give financial gifts on a regular (usually monthly) basis. For more information, visit Become a Companion in MissionThank you so much for your generosity! 

Gabe Hurrish
Gabe Hurrish works in parish ministry at St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Riwoto in the South Sudanese state of Eastern Equatoria. He has served as a Maryknoll lay missioner in South Sudan since 2018.