My Joy of Encounter

Written by: Ann Rhomberg, Executive Director

Thanks to you, our Solidarity Bridge community, we’ve had another bumper crop of mission trips to Bolivia this year. Six trips so far and a seventh launches tomorrow. As Executive Director, I’m of course grateful for the generosity of our donors and the enormous effort put forth by our staff, board, office volunteers, missioners and our many Bolivian partners that make these trips possible. It’s wonderful to see activities of teaching, equipping and healing summarized in each of our mission trip reports! 


Should you read these reports, you’ll see that we are doing a lot on mission. Pope Francis invites us to also participate in another form of healing that centers on being rather than doing. He encourages a culture of encounter as the goal for our human society and teaches us that:

  • To see the world through the lens of encounter is to realize the presence of God all around us and that we are connected to each other through ties both visible and invisible. 
  • To see the other as an unrepeatable individual whose mystery is limitless, an other who points toward the Divine Other in a way specific to that individual.
  • The spirituality of encounter is a realization of God’s immanent presence and an acknowledgement that we experience the love of God in relationship with other people. 
  • To encounter others is to realize their inherent human dignity and the manner in which they may direct us to the unique way in which God loves them. 
  • The Culture of Encounter places value on mystery. God is mysteriously present in each person, and that unique person manifests God’s love in a way in which only he or she is able to live out.[1]

The photo below was taken last month during our Multi-specialty Mission Trip. At the end of a long work day at Punata Hospital, I repeatedly walked past this woman, Elia, as I was trying to locate a partner surgeon. Each time I passed Elia, I noted her friendly smile and eventually stopped for brief conversation. Her warm expression of support along with her calm and rooted demeanor, immediately melted my stress away. For it was in this moment that I boldly experienced God’s immanent presence – the joy of encounter!

Punata, Bolivia (October 2016)


[1] Eggelston, Thomas J; July 1, 2015; What Pope Francis Means by a Culture of Encounter;