Monthly Archives: October 2010

Epiphany in the shower………

10-22-10 – On the swing facing the pasture, back porch of the big house @ Big Woods Mission Base

When I was cleaning up after my morning jog, I was doing some reflecting on things I’ve been going through and thinking about lately. It felt like such an amazing epiphany that I praise God that I remembered it until now. Seems like so many times I’ve had great ideas and things to share but I always forget them and forget to write them down. I hope that I can maybe share this with everybody at High Praise tonight.

By now I’m sure you’re thinking “Get to the point!” so here goes. As I stared going to Mission Formation last year, the Intake missionaries told me that no matter who you are, Intake will change your life. They were not lying, I can assure you. I have to admit that I was not even close to being saintly before Intake started and I still am not. However, I thought I was doin ok. Mostly small issues are what I felt I was dealing with. Boy oh boy, how big the small things turn out to be. Since Intake is an intense journey further towards the Lord, you learn alot about yourself. It’s like being under a microscope and REALLY getting to know yourself and your faults.

At this point, I’ve discerned that my 3 primary struggles are 1.) Laziness, 2.) Impatience, or in other words, failing to live in the present moment and receive it’s blessings without being too focused on the future, & 3.) Letting go of relationships and the desire for them. I already knew that laziness and impatience would give me problems, but I really felt like with out one year singles commitment that #3 would not be a struggle. I was wrong. It continues to be a great struggle for me. Besides the whole weakness of “being in love with Being in Love”, the wonderful missionaries I’m surrounded by make it really difficult too. What I mean is that I’m surrounded by amazing married, engaged, and dating couples. I see how the Lord blesses them through that and it makes me really want that. And then I see the amazing females that God called to FMC and it makes me want it even more. I mean, How can you NOT be enamored with a woman whose inner beauty far exceeds her outer beauty? (though to be fair, I should qualify that statement and say that the outer beauty is still TOTALLY righteous) :]

What makes me really ashamed is when my petty insecurity and jealousy raises its ugly head. When I see people that I admire sharing their genuine love and Christ-like affection with others, I don’t know how to handle it, except by maybe keeping silent and bringing it to prayer. It’s as if they owe their affection to me and me alone. I also seem to have a greater desire for human companionship than I do for companionship with Jesus. How could I do this? Why would I want to be this way? In light of the grace that God offers us, I have no answers to these questions and my selfishness is non-sense. Only thing I can say is that somehow/someway God’s grace will get me through this.

Recently, I was reading a book that Mrs. Genie passed on to me. It’s titled “Prison to Praise”, and it’s a pastor’s testimony of God’s saving grace in his life. But beyond that, what really struck me was what he viewed as the solution to our problems. Let me begin with a key bible verse he used to make his point: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the spirit…” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

As I’m sure many others have been, I was really confused by this. Sure, praise God for the good, but for the BAD too? That’s ridiculous. That’s insane. That’s being a glutton for punishment. But the more and more I read & thought about it, the more and more it made perfect sense. If I don’t praise God in all things, then I lose my faith and confidence in Him, and start to give power to my circumstances. As soon as I do that, I do exactly what The Bible verse told me not to do. I begin to quench the Spirit. However, if I praise God for everything, it gives him glory, it helps me to realize that he has the power to overcome anything, and thus I begin to unlock his healing power in my life. This is such an amazing revelation to me and I praise God for it.

Another reason I feel blessed to realize this is it will help me to continue to strengthen myself and especially others. If I can’t allow myself to trust God in these “smaller” matters that I’m dealing with, then how can I trust him in bigger things? If HE can’t trust ME  to be faithful to him in these smaller matters, then how will HE be able to trust ME with bigger tasks? What really strikes me is that if I can’t trust God and praise him so that he can get me through this, then how can I possibly go to Mexico next month and minister to God’s children there, whose problems are much worse than mine? I feel like doing that would make me a liar and would diminish the power of my witness.

It would be so much easier to not trust God and not praise him for even the bad circumstances. At least that way things would make a little more sense and I’d at least have a little power I could call my own. But, I know that’s not what I’m called to do. I pray that by God’s grace I can praise him in all things, so that his healing power can flow freely in my soul. I pray that I can humbly receive the grace to “Let Go and Let God”. Lord, walking the straight and narrow path to holiness and salvation isn’t easy, but I know it’s worth it. Praise You Lord Jesus. Amen.

p.s. – It just occurred to me after all this talk of praising and thanking God, that the word “Eucharist” means “Thanksgiving”. Thank God I’m Catholic! 🙂

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I am finally the GREAT DALMUTI !!!!!!!!!!

So, there’s this card game that the missionaries play and it’s called The Great Dalmuti. It’s a pretty easy to learn card game where you basically get dealt the same amount of cards and have to get rid of all of your cards as fast as you can. First one to get rid of all of their cards is The Great Dalmuti. The second is The Lesser Dalmuti. The last is the Greater Peon. The second to last is The Lesser Peon. Everyone else in between are merchants.

To give you an idea of my luck with this game, let’s just say I’m kinda like The New Orleans Saints in the world of The Great Dalmuti card game. (The Saints happen to be my favorite team too). I always play and I ALWAYS lose! It was getting to the point where A.)I was accustomed to losing and knew it just wouldn’t feel right if I actually did win, and B.) wondered why i kept playing if I kept losing so much.

So anyhoo, I finally won, and it feels great. 🙂 As soon as I won I ran outside (at 11 o’clock at night) and yelled at the top of my lungs “I’M FINALLY THE GREAT DALMUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTI! WOOOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!” And the funny hat that The Great Dalmuti gets to wear is something I plan on wearing to breakfast tomorrow, and maybe even the rest of the day too.

Well mi amigos, g’nite and God Bless. I must get to bed because it’s another full day tomorrow.

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Random fun moments during missionary training

10-7-10 – In the kitchen in the trailer behind the office @ Big Woods (Esther, LA)

Today’s entry marks a bit of a change of pace. We’re gonna talk all about the fun randomness of missionary training. 🙂 So, this past Saturday we had our Lord’s Day Supper as usual. Afterwards, several people were going to watch a college football game on TV and I was planning on listening to the UL game on the internet radio feed. But, once supper was over and I was headed to Mrs. Genie’s office to listen to the game, I heard a bunch of the kids screamin’ and hootin’ and hollerin’ (nothing unusual about that) so I decided the game could wait and that I was gonna go investigate. As soon as I approach the living room, the kids launch into a screaming ROAR and started to chant my name. Little did I realize that they were having a headstand contest and I had just become the latest contestant. Well, with my mile-long legs and small torso my success was nominal at best. But, I did achieve a headstand and yet another raucous roar of approval.

After observing the insanity for a few more minutes, I go back to the game. Once halftime rolled around I wondered “What the heck am I gonna do for twenty minutes?” THIS time I heard more hootin’ and hollerin’ and some music too. Of course I went back to the living room for round two. Lo and behold it was a dance party with the 4 single missionaries and all 16 missionary kids! All kinds of Disney songs and other songs were played and we danced like a bunch of crazy fools. 🙂 At one point when dancing with 4 year-old Bridget, I received proper instruction on how to do the “twirl and dip” (when the guy wraps the girl in his arms and dips her backwards). I may have even partaken in some free-form ballet as well as some random spaz dancing. Honestly it was the most enjoyable worry-free fun that I’ve had in a long time.

My next adventure involves horses. Apparently, the horses in our pasture here at FMC are very smart, because they found a hole in the fence on Monday at lunchtime. So Mrs. Genie comes honkin’ like crazy in the Suburban saying “the horses are loose! Let’s go round ’em up!” Me and Sarah Carroll hop in the Suburban and drive down Horseshoe Rd (no pun intended) past the horses and get out the vehicle. We (along with Mrs. Genie) spread our arms wide to make ourselves look big and form a human chain to prevent them from going past us. Once we had the other road to Hwy 82 blocked off and Mr. Frank got to where we were, we herded them up the road to FMC and back into the pasture. Should have known that NOT fixing the fence meant they’d get out again. Duh.

So at lunchtime I see Mr. Frank in the truck on the gravel path going back to Joe and Brooke’s house. When I go to investigate (I wanted to use the truck) he tells me “the dang horses got out again.” Luckily where they were was a dead end path. I stood in the path with my arms spread wide and lookin’ big and hoping they didn’t head my way. Mr. Frank drove the truck down the path and herded them back into the pasture through the hole they escaped from. Once again, no patch in the fence = another escape. Sheesh…

So, shortly after our men’s bible study started after supper, I hear another series of loud honks. Good heavens, I hope Mrs. Genie just needs help bringin’ groceries in. Nope. It was escape #3 for the day! Me and Odilio Alvarez open the gate to the pasture and park the Suburban to the side of the entrance with his lights on. We were hopin’ to get them in the direction of the corral so we could keep them there until the fence was mended. (While we were waiting, the other guys blocked off the roaded and herded them down Horseshoe Dr. back into our pasture). Needless to say, the pasture is huge and Me and Odilio could not block them. So, we proceed Wild-West style to chase/herd them back towards the corral. Mark informed us afterwards that it probably wasn’t the best approach, since they could have been spooked and possibly been very hard to get into the corral.

We also almost goofed up because they ended up goin around the lake, which means they could have potentially escaped/wandered off into the swamp. In the end though we succeeded. The other guys (after askin’ us to not herd them with the Suburban anymore) met them on the opposite side of the lake with some grain and led them into the corral. It sure was fun though. The Suburban  had the step-side thing and I initially hopped on the step and held onto Odilio’s seat as we started the chase. After seeing that combining my position with speed and momentum during the chase would equal disaster, I decided to hop in the front seat. Our other technique was simply herding/chasing them in the direction of the corral, all the while slapping the side of the Suburban, yelling “Heah heah!” as well as several varieties of “Yeehaw”, “Giddyup”, and “Get ’em doggy!” 🙂

The last memorable thing to document is that I learned how to mend a barb-wire fence. It basically involved using existing trees and posts and inserting new posts into the ground. On some sections we simply reattached the existing barb-wire and in other sections we’d unroll a portion from the spool and attach it. We had a total of five sections to patch, and so far the horses have  not escaped again, so I think we fixed all of the escape routes. And I do have to admit that even though my role during the fence mending (with Mr. Frank, Mark Eckstine, and Odilio Alvarez) was mainly “helper/observer”, it still made me feel like more of a man. In conclusion, I just wanted to post this to let everyone know that missionary training is NOT all work and no play. God has been bringin’ me lots of happy moments. 🙂  Praise the Lord! Amen, Alleluia, Glory!

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I had a vision…

9/29/10 – On the swing facing the pasture, back porch of the big house @ Big Woods

So I’m sitting here, and the scenery and weather are absolutely beautiful. It’s a mild day, and the sun is shining. I can hear the bugs chirping and the birds singing. There’s a slight breeze blowing. If there ever was a perfect time to do a journal entry, it’s right now.

Earlier this morning, during my prayer time, I came across Psalm 62:1 which says “In God alone is my soul at rest”, and it really stuck with me. As the morning progressed, I realized there would be alot of free time. Immediately I thought about my pastoral session w/Mr. Frank yesterday, and how the need to devote time to personal prayer is a must. Couldn’t do it after morning prayer (that’s when I did my daily Scripture reading), so I did it after our teaching workshop ended. When I got into the chapel, I put on my earphones and was listening  to some instrumental Lakota (Native American) music to help me focus and meditate. As I was listening and beginning to pray, I asked to focus and really enter into prayer. I asked him to help me enter into true communion with him during my time of prayer. As I prayed and listened to the music, I received a vision.

I was lying on the ground in the forest. My body was bruised, and battered, and bloody. I don’t know exactly how I got there, or what I did. But I knew that it was because of sin and its effects on me and my life. It was slightly overcast and a slight breeze was blowing. There was thunder briefly and then a few drops of rain started to fall.  As the rain hit my face, I was a bit startled and awoke. After a little while, I got up and started walking through the forest, and as I walked the raindrops gently started to wash away the blood and the dirt and cleanse my wounds. At that time, there was no apparent destination, but I knew I had to go.

After some time I came to a meadow and started walking through it. As I journeyed through the meadow, I got a sense that others had made and were making the same journey. This motivated me and urged me on. Eventually I arrived at some hills, and this was where the weather started to clear. As the weather cleared, I noticed one large hill in particular, and I began to climb it. The climb up the hill was a long one but it was not a hard one. When I reached the top, I saw it. A huge cross. And then I saw Jesus standing beside the Cross. He told me “See, I too was battered and bruised but it wasn’t the end.” Then he opened his arms and we embraced.

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