Monthly Archives: January 2011

Still feelin’ like a tourist, but this tropical paradise does have it’s quirks………..

To see pics, follow this link (you might have to copy and paste if clicking on it doesn’t work):

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=263701&id=605007873&l=01d8a8adbc

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 – 5:20pm – In my room at the Corpus Christi Carmelite Convent in Castries, St. Lucia

Ok, I gotta say that I’m not one for alliteration, but check out my location. That’s a buncha C’s. Anyhoo, today was a great day. One of the things we were taught to do as a missionary is to get to know the culture, people, and places associated with your mission post. The idea is that you want to inculturate yourself so that you’re not a stranger and so you can work among the people. As part of that, we took a tour of the island today. One of Sister Annie’s volunteers (Tim) hooked us up with a friend of his that has a taxi/van that can be rented out for tours. When we first walked up to the van, I already thought “boy, this’ll be interesting fitting everybody in there” because it looks like the size of a sardine can. Then, when I saw that there were two additional women and a baby already in there (and the driver of course) I really did a double-take. It just didn’t seem like everybody was gonna fit. But, we ended up like a circus-act clown car, and everyone managed to get in. Not that we had a ton of extra space inside, but we were all reasonably comfortable. By my count, we ended up fitting 18 people into that van. Craziness, I know. This van was like most Catholic churches I’ve seen. They seem much bigger once you get on the inside. Maybe the Lord just shrinked our bodies or multiplied space. Je ne sais pas.

So, we basically headed south from Castries, stopping at various scenic viewpoints along the way. We stopped at the top of a hill in Castries that overlooks the bay where the cruise ships dock. We also stopped at Marigot Bay and a few other nice areas and got some really good photos. Even saw some cats at one of the places. 🙂 (Nerdy, I know. But i’m a cat lover). The thing was though, that we didn’t stop at half the places with nice views because there were so many of them. When we got to Vieux Fort (on the Atlantic side) we stopped and had lunch and played on the beach for awhile. At first it was rainy and cloudy but eventually cleared up and we really enjoyed it. Except for right on shore where the waves churn up some sand, the water was a gorgeous blue. Got to see the Maria Islands just off-shore too. As the kids were playin’ in the sand and water, I found what looked like some natural sponges that washed up from the sea. I found a few that were decent sized and soft and brought them back. One is serving as a pencil/pen holder in my closet, and another will be used as a loofah. Well, I’ll attempt to anyways. After the beach we made our way back north, passing through Dennery and a few other towns along the way. Once we got back, I was happy. Though taking the tour and inculturating ourselves was nice, it was good to get back home.

There’s lots of other little blessings too here in St. Lucia. For one thing, the temperature is between 70 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit and breezy…………………………YEAR ROUND! And it rains here almost everyday, never for more than a few minutes at most. Helps keep things at a nice moderate temperature. Also helps out when you wanna take a nap. 🙂 The view from my room is amazing. I see alot of the homes on the surrounding hillsides, and we’re a mile or two at most from the harbor where all the cruise ships dock. Within a 10-15 minute walk from our living quarters are the Cathedral, Walcott square, and a bazillion different little shops and restaurants. Tim was teaching me a few Creole phrases last night, and one of the local priests is supposed to be teaching us some Creole too. The other day when me, Mark, and Lora were grocery shopping, I got to talk to one of the locals in French. I could go on and on. But the flipside to all these little blessings is that it makes me feel like a tourist. I kinda feel guilty and a little uncomfy. After all, I came here to be a missionary, not a tourist. We’ve been here almost a week and have done a whole lot yet, as far as missionary activity is concerned.

However, Mr. Frank reminded me that when beginning a new mission post, patience is essential. Things don’t happen all at once. They take awhile to get up and running. Until then, he said we gotta take time to get settled in, acclimate to our surroundings, find out where everything is at. Eventually he says that things will get to a point where you’ll be so busy that you have to turn down some opportunities. I look forward to that day. But until, then I’ll be content with where God has me at. I think another lesson God is trying to teach me is that I need to let him bless me as much as he wants. If he didn’t want these blessings to happen, then he would have found a way for me not to be here. Also, he doesn’t bless me because i’ve earned it, he blesses me because he wants to and because he loves me. Help me Lord to simply accept your blessings.

Another facet of all this, is that before the obvious opportunities for missionary activity present themselves, we are trying as a mission team to be open to all the small opportunities to be Christ-like. One instance of this is when Lora & Mark & some of the kids have visited the nursing home next to the convent. The other day when grocery shopping, I had the opportunity to buy lunch for some guy that I met (the same guy I spoke french with). We’ve had several opportunities to pray with people.

Mortification, in many small ways, is another facet of our mission post so far. When God puts you in paradise, expect to love it and to be blessed. But part of our mandate as lay Catholic missionaries is to have compassion. (“Compassion” literally means “to suffer with”.) There has to be some way that we have pain, or struggle, or suffering so that we can grow stronger, and have something to offer up as a prayer for others (just as Christ did). For as it says in Colossians 1:24:

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church…”

One of the ways that I’ve done this is with cold showers. The hot water here is heated by solar power (to save electricity). However, this means that in the mornings, when I like to take my showers, there is NO hot water. 🙂 See where I’m headed? Another thing is that a regular old coffee pot that we use back in the states to brew costs over $100U.S. (almost $300E.C. – eastern carribean dollars). So unless a generous donor wants to ship one to us from the U.S., we are drinking instant coffee. For our everyday activities, we have to walk everywhere, no car of our own. My closet door can’t close all the way because of the way it is positioned in my room. We have no dishwasher, our oven is small. I could give you lots of other examples of the many small ways that we have opportunities to “self-mortify”. All in all, I’m glad that we have them, for reasons mentioned earlier. It gives a sense of accomplishment and legitimacy to our mission.

I’d just like to finish up by saying that our first week here has been tremendously blessed so far. Things are falling into place for our ministries and we are making fruitful contact with all the various people we’ll be working with. People are being immensely generous for us, and helping to provide us with all the things we need (including food and groceries to get us started, as well as a local cellphone!) We have a place to stay free of rent, and just have to pay utilities and grocery bills. There are so many good things happening that I can’t even write about them all because it would make this the longest journal entry ever, AND IT’S ONLY THE FIRST WEEK! Everything that is happening is confirming the fact that we are right where God wants us. Mr. Frank even said that never before has a mission post started off with so many things falling into place so easily and quickly. That being said, I am VERY excited about what God has in store for us in the coming weeks and months.

God Bless!

p.s.- Thought the seasponges I found at Vieux Fort (Atlantic side) would make good loofahs. NOT so. Just a bit too rough. They’ll probably make better sink and toilet and shower scrubbers. 🙂

p.s.s. – I should also mention that we have daily access to Mass and Confession (if necessary). 😀 Praise the Lord!

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St. Lucia – The Mission Begins!

(sidenote: follow these two links to see pictures that I’ve taken so far. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=262702&id=605007873&l=37f3154156 

Thursday January 20, 2010 – 2:15am – first floor dining room at the convent of the Corpus Christi Carmelites – Castries, St. Lucia

So, here I am, adjusting to a new place, and I’m having trouble falling asleep. Part of it could be the time difference (back home it’s only 12:15am), and part of it also could be all that’s been going on. As I type this entry though, I could not be more at peace. It’s 75 (24 Celsius) with a breeze blowing and a light rain falling.

This past weekend I had a great time visiting with family and friends for one last weekend. Spent some time with my parents and some other close friends. I was particularly blessed by being able to spend some time with my dad, and having some guy time. Got back to Big Woods on Monday morning and spent most of the day packing and getting a few more things. Tuesday we ran some last minute errands before having one last lunch together with all of Intake 2010 (minus Madi Dold, and plus a few other missionaries that were on base), and then we hit the road. Later that evening we arrived at Kevin and Sarah Granger’s apt, where we were graciously hosted. The next morning we woke up at 3:30am and left for the NOLA airport at 4. I felt like God was helping things to go smoothly because we got all 14 of us checked in with no problems or delays at all. 🙂 And I think it was while we were waiting for our flight to Miami (which left at 6am) that it started to hit me, that we were leaving the USA and were going to live in St. Lucia for the year as missionaries. We arrived in Miami after a 1.5 hour flight, and had approx. 3.5 hours before our flight to St. Lucia. Most of that time was spent sitting at the gate talking and playing games, or walking around the terminal, looking at all the shops and places to eat. As we were getting ready to eat lunch, we started chatting with a lady who was also waiting for a flight to St. Lucia. Ends up that she’s some kind of businesswoman and senator in St. Lucia. We got her contact information, had some good fellowship with her. She was an extremely nice lady and even shared some of her snacks with the kids. Then we grabbed a quick bite to eat before getting on our plane.

Our flight into Hewanorra airport was as smooth as could be. I was a little worried because about 45 minutes until landing, the captain said we would begin our descent soon and to buckle up because there were some rainstorms and we might experience some turbulence. Now, I’ve flown alot, and have experienced some crazy turbulence. So, I know that when a pilot says “a little bit of turbulence” that usually pilot-speak for “things might get crazy”. So, one the one hand I was a bit nervous, but it was all for nothing. With the exception of some turbulence that was the same as any other fairweather flight I’ve taken, it was as smooth as could be. Perhaps my favorite part of the flight was the VIEW! As we were flying south of Puerto Rico, we passed over some random little islands that looked like they came straight out of some deserted island movie scene. Then, our descent into St. Lucia was beautiful. Since we were flying into the south airport, we got to fly over the entire island. (Doesn’t take long since the island is only 24 miles north to south.) And as we got to the southern tip and started circling around to land, we got an amazing view of the water, shoreline, foliage, and of course The Pitons. The Pitons are the two most famous landmarks, mountains, on the southern coast. Le Gros Piton is approx. 800m tall, and Le Petit Piton is approx. 750m tall. After we landed, our trip through customs was quick and easy, and our bus driver was waiting for us as soon as we were done. We took about a half hour drive to the north part of the island, where the city of Castries (pop. 60,000) and the convent are located. We quickly unloaded our bags, and then went to the archbishop’s house for dinner. About 2 hours later, we came back home and got settled in for the night. Briefly spoke to some relatives on internet video chat before trying to go to bed.

Needless to say, I’ve enjoyed myself thoroughly the past day and a half. The time we spent with The Grangers was amazing because of the fellowship AND because I think that’s where I could sense that something was different and life was about to drastically change. It’s in those moments of realization and heightened awareness that the simplest of occassions can become quite memorable. All of our travel time yesterday was enjoyable too. As I said earlier in this entry, it started to hit me that our call to be long-term lay Catholic foreign missionaries was about to be made very real. Seeing the kids giddy and full of wonder was probably the best part though. What little knowledge and experience I had, I was able to share 🙂 . Perhaps our dinner at the bishop’s house was the most enjoyable part of the day. Besides getting to eat some delicious food (both regional and American), we got to fellowship with the Bishop. Getting to know our leader and seeing how generous he is and how happy he is to have us is such a blessing.

Please enjoy the pictures and video posted below!

Thank you Jesus for blessing us in our journey as missionaries, and for opening doors and preparing the way for us. Help us to serve you by serving the people you have sent us to. God Bless!

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Slight change of direction and other miscellaneity

Friday January 7th, 2011 – Approx. 7:45am – Kitchen Table @ Big House @ Big Woods (Facing Pasture)

Ok, so I don’t even know if “miscellaneity” is a word. I was basically trying to say “other miscellaneous things”. Anyhoo, as the title suggests, things have changed slightly for me. If you refer back to my entry from (date omitted), you become acquainted with my missionary friend (name omitted). Wonderful person and wonderful missionary. You also heard about how we were not honoring our singles commitment and were called out on it. Well, since then, we’ve been striving to follow that commitment, but at least on my behalf, have not totally succeeded. According to the letter of the law, we were doin pretty good. But I noticed that even though I acknowledged that we were not a couple, I was not orienting my thoughts and prayers and will in that direction. It’s like I was living it on the outside and not on the inside. Furthermore, just the sheer speed at which everything happened and the sheer speed at which conclusions were reached and certain feelings expressed SCARED ME! (And it’s not just cuz I’m a guy and afraid of commitment. :p )

I felt like the outcome was already a foregone conclusion and that at least on my part, there was no wiggle room or opportunity to change my mind. Not only that, but I also felt like I was too prepared for the future as opposed to simply embracing my call to missions, rejoicing in where God has me, and putting that as my priority & being faithful to that. I feel like I definitely took things out of God’s hands and put them into mine. Yes, there is a point, and here it is. I’ve decided to take a step back.  And while I do fear that I’ve possibly damaged our friendship in some way, I still feel very much at peace and that I’ve made the right decision.  As excited as I already was to go into missions, I’m now even MORE excited!  I feel like my heart, my intentions, and my prayers are now where they’re supposed to be. And if I’ve gotten to know (name omitted) well enough during our friendship, I think she’ll be OK with it too. It’s just a great feeling to know that I now can be totally open to whatever God brings to me in missions, and to do so with an undivided heart. It’s also exciting to know that anything else God might wanna do in my life is now possible. And in the spirit of fairness, I feel like I should also mention that it was not any kind of one-sided thing. I assume as much responsibility for the situation becoming what it was.

OK. Enough about that. Now onto the “miscellaneity”. We actually leave for St. Lucia on the 19th instead of the 17th. Can’t remember what the change was for, or if maybe I just misunderstood the date. What I can say is that 2 days is like a blink of an eye compared to how long I’ve been waiting to get to St. Lucia. J So I think I can handle it. All in God’s time. I’ve been blessed in a lot of little ways too as I prepare to leave. I was able to shave down the amount of stuff I have quite significantly. The amount of clothes I have now is much more manageable and pretty darn close to what I think I can fit in my bags. Speaking of bags, I sent out an appeal online for anyone that could spare a large duffel bag. I figured that if I had a large duffel bag, I could roll my clothes and pack them really tightly THUS freeing up more space in my other big suitcase for things like books, toiletries, etc….. A good friend of mine from back in da’ day, Catherine Lemoine, pulled through and dropped one off for me to my mom at the trophy shop. Merci Cat pour ton generosite!

I also got a nice little bit of spending money cash given to me earlier in the week. Brother Henry Gaither, of The Brothers of the Sacred Heart, came to visit Big Woods. I met him a few months ago at St. Pius X parish in Lafayette one Sunday at Mass. He was giving a talk about and handing out literature for CNVS (Catholic Network of Volunteer Services). CNVS is a directory/network of volunteer and missions opportunities both stateside and abroad.  We’ve kept in touch since then, and when he was in New Iberia for a lunch meeting we worked it out for him to pass by Big Woods to visit. It was good catching up with him, and me, him, and Mr. Frank chatted for awhile before he had to leave. As he was leaving, he handed me a wad of cash, & I’m sure he emptied his wallet to do so, since religious brothers aren’t exactly rich. Merci a toi aussi pour ton generosite!

I was also blessed to get a few Christmas presents that were much appreciated and needed. My parents gave me two nice bottles of cologne (Cool Water and Dolce & Gabbana). These will come especially in handy if my missionary duties keep me too busy to bathe! 🙂 I also got an MP3 player which has allowed me to take the multitude of CD’s that I have and condense them onto a little tiny device that’s the size of a cellphone. Space comes at a premium in missions, and this will help me save lots of it. I also received a digital camera. Up until recently, I had a film camera that I would use to take and develop pictures and then convert them to digital format so I could share them online. Well, I fell out of love with yesteryear and it’s devices, and was happy to embrace the ease and convenience of a digital camera. It’s a lot easier to use, much less expensive in the long run, and is much more useful to me while in missions. I’ll be able to take pics and video and keep people updated more quickly and easily. And if there are any of the pics that I really want to get developed, I can go to Walgreens or Walmart and some point and get it done.

Oh yeah, one more thing, we have our plane tickets bought, a place to stay, and ministries already lined up in St. Lucia! 🙂 Last but not least, I went to the UL men’s basketball game last night. Me and Beau (Frank and Genie’s son) used my parents tickets since they’re outta town. It was very enjoyable actually. I knew I’d enjoy the game and I also enjoyed hanging out with Beau, and chatting and just having a guys night, you know?

Well I hope all is well with y’all. If you have any prayer requests I can add to my missionary prayer list, please let me know. God Bless!

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January 2011 Missionary Newsletter!

Dearest Benefactors and Prayer Supporters,

 

It is with great joy that I write this latest newsletter to y’all. There is much to rejoice about and much news to share. First of all, let me share the big news that I now have a mission post! Praise God! When I sent out the last newsletter, there were three possible mission posts and we were searching and hoping and praying and emailing and doing everything we could to try and figure out where God wanted our mission team to go. To make a long story short, we finally heard back from Archbishop Rivas and he welcomes us with open arms in St. Lucia! (For those who don’t know, St. Lucia is a tiny island nation in the southern part of the eastern Carribean. The island is a mere 14 miles x 24 miles, with a population of approximately 160,000. English is the primary language, while many of the people also speak Creole. The people are friendly and the culture is welcoming. However, family life is not strong and purity and chastity are often overlooked.) Archbishop Rivas informed us that we will be staying at a convent with the Corpus Christi Carmelites. They live on the second floor, and there are several rooms on the first floor where myself and the Eckstine family will stay.

 

As far as ministry is concerned, we know for sure that there is a nursing home on the same premises where we will be ministering. The Archbishop also asked me to teach at one of the all-boys school. Aside from that, there are lots of other possibilities. We are hoping to have lots of opportunities to evangelize as well as work with the poor. As mentioned above, we also hope that our witness as a family and a committed single will open doors for ministering to and strengthening family life as well as the values of chastity and purity in the culture. And as funny as it may sound, we hope to be able to minister to tourists as well. Whether it be standing at the dock when the cruise ships come in holding a sign with information on Mass times and ministry opportunities, or whether it be our simple witness through our missionary way of life, we hope to inspire visitors to witness to the Gospel EVEN when they are on vacation. I guess you could say that patience and waiting has paid off. As it says in Isaiah 40:31 “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength”. We fly out of New Orleans on January 19th to head to St. Lucia, with a  quick layover in Miami. However, as much as it brings me joy to report on all of this good news, please offer up prayers for the other mission teams. They are still trying to figure out lots of details and logistics, and when you’re a missionary who’s ready to go out into the mission field, waiting can be very difficult.

 

The Lord has also blessed me tremendously in my preparations to leave for St. Lucia. I’ve been able to whittle down my clothing and possessions to what I can fit in my luggage. A friend of mine donated to me a large duffel bag which will help tremendously in packing my clothes and other items. One of the gifts my parents gave me for Christmas is a digital camera, which will help me to document all of our missionary activities and keep everyone posted via blogs, facebook, and email. I could go on and on about all the kindness shown to me and the help given to me as I prepare to leave for missions. Alas, I only have two pages for my newsletter, so I’ll save some of the stories for my online blog! I do have some prayer requests that I’d like you to offer up. 1.) For ABUNDANT prayer support for all of FMC and its missionaries. We cannot do what we do if we are not supported daily in prayer. 2.) Focus and dedication for all of the missionaries. It’s very easy to get distracted and lose sight of what God has called us to do. 3.)Please also pray that God would raise up generous donors for our efforts. Trust me, I hate to talk about money, but I have to. It’s a necessity. As a mission company and as individual missionaries, we simply cannot do what we do without the help of others.

 

In closing, I would like to thank y’all for the tremendous amount of support you have given me, and thank you for your continued support. Please send me any prayer intentions you have so that I can add them to my missionary prayer list. If you wish to stay in touch with me in between newsletters, you can email me at sidsavoie@catholic.org. You can also visit my blog, https://cajunmissionary.wordpress.com, or you can look me up on facebook. And though I am no longer able to offer my services for speaking engagements, meetings, etc.., I’m more than happy to write articles or talks if needed. Once again, Thank You and God Bless You for your support. Please enjoy some pictures of life here at Big Woods Mission. (I couldn’t decide yet which pics to use, so just go look on my facebook profile! 🙂 )

 

In Christ,

Sid Savoie

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Missionary Appeal!

Missionary appeal! Does anybody have a large duffel bag that I can use for my trip to St. Lucia? (I’m sure you’ll get it back someday 🙂 ). OR, do you know where I can buy a large duffel bag fairly cheaply?

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