Breaking Through the Clouds

How did Destiny Welsh end up in a small chapel inside a home in the country of Iceland with six nuns and a priest? (Well, hello … her name is Destiny after all!) She gives us a front row seat into her latest adventure. Read on!

Destiny Welsh is a special education teacher in the Des Moines Public Schools. She grew up the youngest of 14 children in the small northeastern town of Lansing, Iowa. Hiking the beautiful bluffs along the Mississippi River as a child created a sense of adventure that continued into adulthood. She has always felt God was calling her to learn about cultures other than her own, and now spends much of her free time working with immigrants and refugees in the Des Moines area. Destiny continues to rely on God to lead her to her next adventure, wherever that might be.

I left my hostel at 7:15 AM even though I was told it was only a ten minute walk to my destination. I needed to be there by 8:00, but I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to find the correct building. It was only my second day in Reykjavik, Iceland, so I was still figuring out the city.

Just as predicted, it took me about ten minutes to arrive. I knew I was at the right home by the Jesus statue in the window and Mary just down a window from Him. Not wanting to be too early I explored the area for a bit, wishing I was better prepared for the 47-degree weather.

About twenty minutes later I returned to the home of Missionaries of Charity. I wondered how I would let them know I was there, whether it would be a knock or a doorbell. I was relieved to see the door ajar a crack, and as I walked across the street the door slowly opened as if welcoming me with open arms. Wonderful, someone was waiting for me! I stepped inside, but not a soul was in sight. Just a coat rack lined with coats to my right and a white staircase ahead that wrapped around leading to the upstairs. Just as I was about to say hello to announce my arrival, I heard the voices of women at the top of the stairs praying. When the prayer ended, singing began. When the last word was sung I heard, “Destiny! You made it!” Sister had seen me waiting down below.

When I arrived in Iceland the morning before, I found my hostel then signed up for a bus tour. As I worked my way around an unfamiliar city trying to find the pick-up location for the tour, I grew frustrated. When I looked up from my map, I took notice of the familiar wardrobe Saint Mother Teresa once wore. It was my first time seeing Sisters of Charity other than in pictures and the television screen. I had to say hello! They must have noticed my excitement because after a little chat, they invited me to their home for mass the following morning. 

Now here I was walking up the stairs to the chapel. I slipped my shoes off and made my way to the carpeted room for mass. The Sisters sat on the carpet as there were no chairs or pews; I sat on a bench in the back not quite knowing whether I was supposed to join them or not. I questioned much of what was expected of me, but when the mass began I felt right at home joining in on the prayers and responses, grateful for the Catholic traditions.

How did I end up in a small chapel inside a home in the country of Iceland with six nuns and a priest? Surely this is a question that can only by answered by the Holy Spirit.

Following mass, Sister Mary lead me downstairs to help myself to a breakfast of toast, cereal, coffee, and tea. She explained they would serve a meal at 9:30, but until then they’d be upstairs praying. She told me I should make myself at home and was welcomed to stay to help with the meal if I’d like. Of course I wanted to! I wouldn’t pass up on an opportunity like this. I had checked out of my hostel early and refrained from booking another tour for this very reason. I had a feeling I would be staying longer than mass and didn’t want to have to hurry out for any reason.

As my plane descended into Iceland I snapped a photo of the sun shining brightly as we dipped into the gray clouds. It reminded me of life when we’re in those moments of “in-between” — when we’re not sure if we should stay near the sun where it’s warm, beautiful, and comfortable or break through the clouds heading towards the unknown. These moments are scary! It’s a great time to ask God for guidance.

When I debated purchasing a ticket to visit friends in Germany, I prayed. When I found a flight that would take me through Iceland and for the same price I could extend my layover two days giving me time to explore a new country, I asked myself, “What would Dad tell me?” I knew he’d say, “Do it while you can.” Even though Dad passed away in April, his words were clearly heard in my head. I booked the flight at that moment and prayed, as I always do when I decide to travel, for God to use the experience to reveal Himself more fully to me. 

I sliced tomatoes, filled milk pitchers, and prepared butter dishes for each table. Soon community members trickled in for a meal. Saint Mother Teresa’s vision playing out in front of my eyes. She heard Jesus speak, and she listened. Two hours later when we were cleaning the dining room and kitchen, Sister Mary explained how they had been returning from mass at the church when our paths had crossed. She went on to explain they never take that route but needed to that time because one of them had a letter to mail. I looked at her with surprised eyes and told her about trying to find a certain bus stop but becoming turned around amongst the streets. It turned out that I wasn’t even in the right area. Neither of us were where we expected to be … yet in exactly the right place.

Sometimes God asks us to break through the clouds. We can’t see what’s on the other side, but we put our trust in Him. Staying near the sun seems so much safer and easier, but in the end there’s beauty we can’t even imagine on the other side. Sometimes something as beautiful as mass in the Home of Sisters of Charity in a foreign country.