Monthly Archives: February 2011

“Desert” Day at the Beach

 

Thursday, February 17, 2011 – 12:13pm – Rodney Bay Beach, St. Lucia

This is definitely one of those moments where I feel like God is giving us a bonus for being in missions. It’s a beautiful, sunny day with a nice breezing blowing in from the Carribean. As I sit here, writing in my journal, the waves are lapping at my feet. I can hear the radio at one of the nearby cabanas. Sand is going in between my toes. Absolutely gorgeous. In a way, I feel guilty though, like I don’t deserve it. To be honest, I don’t deserve it. I’m not that great of a missionary (yet). I’m lazy, still focus on myself alot, and I don’t put myself out there to really try and minister to people’s needs. I’m not even as deserving as many of the tourists here. At least they worked hard and saved money to be able to come here.

But then I remind myself that God doesn’t bless me because I’ve earned it or “deserve” it. He blesses me because he loves me. Plain and simple. When we think about following God’s call, we always tend to think in terms of what we’ll have to give up. In missions, I don’t get to see my friends or family. I’ve got to put my dream of finding the perfect girl on hold. I no longer have my cats or my dog. I think you get my point. But today as I reflect on all of this, I wonder “Why don’t we ever think of what we’ll GAIN by following God’s call?” I’m able to visit, minister to, and pray daily with the elderly and infirm. I get to share food, water, prayer, and companionship with the poor. I get to experience the Church as universal. I’m blessed to live with a family of 10 kids and learn about the family life that I so desire.

On my “desert” day of prayer and reflection, I get to come to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and swim and play and walk around. I get to make my mission cross from a coconut shell. Maybe if we think in terms of what we’ll gain instead of what we’ll lose, our lives would truly be changed for the better. I leave you with a Scripture and ask for your continual prayers. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein; for he has founded it upon the [Carribean 🙂 ] seas, and established it upon the rivers.” –Psalm 24:1-2–

P.S. – I just met a nice couple from Arkansas as I was walking down the beach getting some scenic shots. ‘Bout to read the last chapter of the philosophy book I’ve been working on for awhile. Also realized that I was wearing my mission cross to the beach, a cross that I made from the shell of a St. Lucia coconut. Only would this all happen……….on the same day……….on the beach………..in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia………….on missions! Boy oh boy, the interesting stories I’ll get to tell my future children and grandchildren about my time in missions.

 

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The missionary life is not glamorous but it is glorious!

Here’s my latest newsletter. Should be in the mail by the beginning of next week. Should be stateside about 2 weeks after that.

 

God is opening before the Church the horizons of a humanity more fully prepared for the sowing of the Gospel

Pope John Paul II in Mission of the Redeemer

 

Dearest Benefactors,

I’m sure some of you have noticed a slightly different format & layout to my newsletter, and there’s a good reason why. Me and one of my mission partners Mark did some research on how much it would cost for things like postage, envelopes, and paper. We figured out that it was just as cheap, if not cheaper, to send our letters from St. Lucia than to send them from the states. What a blessing! This gives us a chance to put our own sweat and labor into the printing and sending of our newsletters, and gives us a greater sense of ownership of our mission work. We also figured that benefactors would enjoy and be blessed by receiving mail directly from the mission field. Please remember though that payment for donations should still be remitted to FMC’s address in Louisiana, which is already printed on the return envelope included with this letter.

As mentioned in my last letter, our mission post is the country of St. Lucia. Me and my mission partners, The Eckstine Family, are in the capital city of Castries. The Corpus Christi Carmelites were gracious enough to let us inhabit the first floor of their convent which was already earmarked for missionaries and volunteers. We have plenty of space for all 13 of us, and I could not have imagined or asked for a better place to stay. Another blessing is that we pay no rent, and only pay our share of the utilities and pay for our own food as well. Included in our living quarters are a spacious kitchen, a washroom, dining room, living room, school room, and bathrooms in each individual room. Within the same compound, there’s a nursing home and a nursery school. They also have a chapel which affords us the TREMENDOUS blessing of daily access to Mass and The Holy Eucharist and Confession! Because we are within walking distance of the downtown area, anytime we need to make a trip to the city market, post office or some other destination, we have easy access. With the space and privacy that we have we’re also blessed to have a good daily rhythm and are able to accomplish all the things we need to do, including schoolwork, individual study time for the adults, and personal prayer time as well. Perhaps the best thing about our living quarters is that the compound is completely walled in and gated off, and is locked at night. As you can see we are very safe and secure & extremely blessed with what the Lord has provided for our living quarters.

The country of St. Lucia is quite an interesting place to live as well. The island itself is only 14 miles (east to west) by 27 miles (north to south). The population is approximately 170,000 which is less than the population of the Greater Lafayette area.  A country that is smaller than my hometown. What a culture shock! J The weather year-round ranges from 70 to 90 degrees with a rainy season in the latter part of the year. Weather is also moderated by breeze from the Atlantic Ocean and Carribean Sea. Location-wise, St. Lucia is south of Martinique, west of Barbados, and northeast of St. Vincent and The Grenadines. English is the official language, but most people here speak Creole and for many of them it is their first language. 70% of the population is Catholic and the rest are for the most part affiliated with other Christian denominations. So as you can see the field of harvest to which the Lord has sent us has some quite favorable conditions! However, not all is perfect in paradise. One of the primary challenges in St. Lucia is the deplorable condition of family life, a fact that is even acknowledged by the media and government. Some 70% of children are born out of wedlock or have divorced parents. There is also a large portion of the youth that seem to struggle with chastity and purity. Lack of direction and focus among the youth are quite a problem too. Gang violence and violence in general are also problems here. We are advised to not go out after dark, and if necessary, only if we have someone give us a ride. Due to the size and nature of the island, there is very little industry here besides tourism. Therefore unemployment is very high. Any native industries that do exist (such as banana production) are only seasonal work and are still suffering setbacks from Hurricane Tomas in October 2010. The cost of living is also very high. Even with an exchange rate of 2.7 Eastern Carribean Dollars per every 1 U.S. Dollar, most everyday items in the grocery store are double the normal cost since almost everything has to be imported. Combined with the lack of employment this makes poverty an enormous problem in St. Lucia. I could give y’all quite a sizeable list of the problems that face the people here, but I think you get the idea. To put it succinctly, there are many challenges here that make life difficult.

There are lots of ministry opportunities as well. As previously mentioned, there is a nursing home here on the compound where we minister daily. We visit with the residents and pray with them. The Eckstine children like to assist the teachers at the nursery school as well. Trips into town usually prove themselves to be fruitful opportunities for evangelism as well. Just about every time we go in town for something, we inevitably run into someone who needs help. Each time, we give them some food and water (in ready-made baggies which we bring with us) and we visit and pray with them. We’ve also been blessed to share meals and fellowship with some people from the neighborhood here at our mission house. The opportunity to witness to them with our missionary lives as well as sharing our food is a great blessing and brings us great joy. These things have proved so fruitful that friendships are beginning to form and hopefully hearts are being changed too. Twice a month on Sundays, I go down to the cruise ship terminals with a large sign that informs vacationers about Mass times at the Cathedral downtown. Fellowship with other missionaries has also been abundant. For the past few weeks, there have been rotating groups of short-term missionaries that are with The Good News Project, based out of Wisconsin. They were working with the elderly here at the nursing home as well as providing medical care. We’ve also had the opportunity to meet with some other lay missionaries from The Diocese of Venice, FL. They were in Castries doing some preliminary groundwork for a Christian-themed sports camp that will be held in August. It looks like we might even be able to assist them! In our first week here, we met with Archbishop Robert Rivas and he informed us of the other ministries we would be involved with. Mark and Lora Eckstine (the husband/wife combo of the missionary family I’m paired with) are serving in Family and Life ministry both at the diocesan level and at our new home church parish, Sacred Heart in the Marchand neighborhood. The bishop has asked me to work with both the Youth Ministry & Vocations offices at the Archdiocesan level, assisting with planning & execution of various events. Mark and I also appreciate the fact that we have manual labor that we can assist with on a weekly basis. So far we have been doing a lot of clean up here on the compound of trees and branches that were felled during Hurricane Tomas in October 2010. It is evident that there are many other “projects” and ministries we can assist with. We just have to wait for God to let these opportunities unfold on his timeframe, not ours!

With opportunity comes challenge. One of our biggest challenges is a lack of enthusiasm. People already working in ministry here are wearied by the challenging social conditions of the people they serve. In general, there is a laissez-faire attitude, a sort of subtle indifference by some laypeople and clergy to the problems facing the Church and society as well as what it will take to address these problems. When thinking about all the challenges, from poverty to violence to unemployment and many others, it is easy to see this mission as an uphill battle. As mentioned earlier living expenses are a challenge as well. St. Lucia is a third-world country with a first-world cost of living. Another significant challenge is the slow and sometimes laborious process of getting to know the people and forming relationships. This is crucial for forming a bond of trust with both those we minister to and those we minister with.

However, in spite of the challenges I am still very optimistic.  For as it says in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter 5 verse 20, “….but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”. That’s PROOF in Scripture that not all is lost, that there IS hope. I guarantee you that no matter how much hopelessness and indifference weigh down the lives of the people in St. Lucia, God’s grace can overcome it all. I’ve already begun to see people warm up to us and form relationships. I’ve seen the warm hospitality of the people here, which I believe is truly a gift from God. I’ve seen the Cathedral during a Thursday night praise and worship session, FULL of people praising the Lord and praying for conversions and miracles. Every smile we give is returned, every hello is echoed. Our co-workers in the vineyard here are also proof of God’s goodness. Their love and generosity has been a key ingredient to the success of our budding life of mission work here. Through benefactors both here and back home, God has provided for each and every one of our needs. We try our best to trust in God and have never been found wanting of the things that are necessary for our daily living. There is no hill that we cannot climb, no obstacle that cannot be overcome, and no soul that is outside of the reach of God’s graces. We are doing the Lord’s work, and “if God is for us then who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

I’d like to end by asking for your prayers and support. Without prayer, we cannot succeed as missionaries. Pray that we are faithful in prayer and that our ministries are fruitful. Please also let me know if you have any prayer intentions that you’d like me to add to my prayer list. And as always, please consider donating financially to my mission work. Your assistance here is also crucial to it’s success. As you can see, I have provided a “Specific Costs” box noting various expenses. Please prayerfully consider sponsoring one of them. Please also remember to email me if you need anything: sidsavoie@catholic.org. Another great way to keep up-to-date on the mission work here is by visiting my missionary blog: https://cajunmissionary.wordpress.com. I can also write articles and talks that you can use in prayer groups, church parish bulletins, etc. Once again, thank you thank you THANK YOU for your generosity. Without you I would not be able to fulfill my call to the foreign missions.

In Christ’s Love,

Sid Savoie

SPECIFIC COSTS YOU CAN SPONSOR:

*Pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid – $2000

*My bi-monthly missionary newsletters – $100 per 100 sent

*Plane ticket home during summer to visit family – $500

*Monthly bills (food, water, electricity, propane, toiletries, personal items, etc….) – $350

*Contributions to FMC general fund for salaries, maintenance, retreat ministry, youth ministry, almsgiving, etc.

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A Joyful Meeting, A Joyful Apostolate………

So, I’m sittin’ in the Chancery waiting for the Vocations Commission meeting to start, when I spy this little magazine titled “The Voice of the Legion of Mary”. In it was an article, “The Joy of Being Catholic”. The whole article was fantastic. However, I was particularly fascinated by the two sections whose titles form the title of this post. I present them to you below.

A Joyful Meeting

The meeting should be the breeding place of Christian joy, and what Frank Duff calls “Legion Humour”.  It is at our meeting that we share the joy of the apostolate we undertake. Because of the harsh realities of some conditions met on Legion work, this makes it all the more important to develop his idea of a joyful attitude, in our fellow legionaries. He entitles a chapter of his book Woman of Genesis (published 1976), “Legion Humour”. In it he gives an explanation of the importance of humour in the Legion.It is in order to encourage at our meetings joy, happiness and openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit where a joke/humour is concerned. A “heavy” meeting, in the eyes of a new recruit, could be transformed into being “not so bad” or even “good” by the delicate touch of Legion humour. The President of each praesidium is encouraged to rise about the tiredness of a busy day or sleepless night and be the leaven that raises the mood of each meeting. This is true of all the members and not just the officers.

A Joyful Apostolate

Our Apostolate should know no bounds. According to Frank Duff, one should be willing to walk the ends of the earth in pursuit of a single soul, but are we willing to smile? In his first publication, he emphasizes how much a joyful disposition can contribute to an effective apostolate. For him a “smiling face” and “cheerful words” will help those you visit to really look forward to your return. In his Encyclical entitled Christian Joy, Pope Paul VI speaks of the Joy we receive from having faith and he calls us to be Apostles of this joy, He says: All those who believe in Christ are called to share this joy. Jesus wishes them to have in themselves His joy in its fullness.

I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them. –John 17:26–

Our apostolate must be approached in the way of building relationships and no better way than with humour.

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This guy is jonesin’ on SOMETHIN’, so what’s the right thing to do?…………….

Tuesday, Februsary 1, 2011 – 5:33pm – In the front room @ the Marian Home mission house in Castries, St. Lucia

As you can see from the location I listed, we’ve officially named the first floor of the convent “The Marian Home Mission House”, named after the nursing home right next door. It just seemed appropriate because the Marian Home itself is going to be one of our constant ministries throughout our time here. It’s also good because if a local friend/contact wants to visit us, the name “Marian Home” is very well known. It’s also good for when people send us stuff in the mail, they can use an official name. But I digress.

So earlier today, one of our local co-workers in the vineyard, Peter Fevrier, arranged for a bus to pick us all up and bring us to the Chancery. The Chancery, for those who do not know, is the central office for the Archdiocese of Castries, where the Archbishop and other diocesan officials have their offices. Peter works with the Family & Life secretariat and as per the Archbishop’s request, was assigned to work with us and get us involved in his ministry. At the Chancery, we met everyone in the various offices and made some good contacts. Of particular interest for me was meeting Sister Velona. She is in charge of youth ministry for the Archdiocese. We discussed World Youth Day and a few other particular things of interest. Mainly though, we (me, Mark, and Lora) discussed with her what we do as FMC missionaries (evangelism is our focus) and how we wanted to work into whatever ministries were already existing in the diocese. She seemed very pleased with this. According to her, even though St. Lucia is a mission territory, the difference is that ministries are very organized. Also St. Lucia is very small (14 miles x 26 miles).

All these things are reasons why working into what’s already going on is a good thing. We don’t wanna step on anybody’s toes. We don’t wanna re-invent the wheel. We don’t wanna come in, and give the impression that we American missionaries are the wisest in all the earth and we have come to save you. Yes, we are here to bring people into a close relationship with Jesus, but we have just as much to learn from them, if not more so to learn from them, than they from us. We also want to work ourselves out of a job, by empowering the local laypeople and Catholic community to take charge and be more active. We also don’t want to start anything that is heavily dependent on us, because as soon as that happens, and as soon as we finish our time here (whenever that may be), whatever is dependent on us will flop. At the end of our time visiting with the various people in the Chancery, we attended 12:30 Mass before going back home. It was quite a simple Mass, held in a simple office building type of room, but for some reason was quite moving. I think it had alot to do with the quiet and meditative atmosphere. It also had alot to do with the amazing homily. The priest made lots of good points, but he spoke simply and straightforward.

So when we got back, and after we ate lunch, me and Mark decided to walk into town. Earlier at the Chancery, I expressed interest in the post cards they had because I wanted to send one to my mom for a little birthday present (about all I could really afford). I’m also considering sending post cards from St. Lucia for my thank you notes. Mark graciously (and unbeknownst to me until Mass time) bought three of them for me. I addressed them (sent one to Mom, one to my nieces, and one to my parents’ trophy shop to all my former co-workers), wrote on them, and then proceeded to the post office. It was closed, so we’ll have to go back tomorrow. As we were out and about going to other stores looking for a few small things, a homeless guy I had met the previous week came up to me. I’m glad he remembered me and that I bought him a little snack, mainly because it meant that someone remembered me for something good I did. He was a little “skittish”, which was not abnormal for a street person, especially since he, like many other street people around here, struggle with drug addiction.

So, as we begin to talk, he seems very impatient for me to help him. Tries to get money several times, and I told him no, but that I’d buy the food for him. Then, I told him that we’d have to wait for Mark, who was inside one of the office supply stores. This is what started to set him off, and make him real fidgety and louder. He tried to get me to go buy a big ole thing of Chinese food, which i didn’t, because it’s alot more expensive than a snack from the store. And as a missionary, I have to budget my alms money or else I’ll not only run out of that, but I’ll run out of money for food and bills. anyhoo, so on the way to the grocery store, which was only a 30 second walk from where we were, he tried again to get money instead of food, and expensive food instead of a little snack. Every denial added to his fidgety-ness and caused him to ramble on in Creole (good thing I don’t understand it, who knows what he was sayin’).

Once we got to the supermarket, he kept trying to up the ante on what i would buy, and again each denial got him more key-ed up than before. To top it all off, the locals inside and outside of the store were laughin’ and talkin’ about the whole idea. So, i finally walk into the store, with a sigh of flustration on my face (flustration = flustered + frustration), and the cashier kinda chuckles. I pick up a little bag of chips and i thought homeboy was gonna start kickin and wailin like a little baby. Right or wrong as this may be, I was dumbfounded by this. I mean, if you’re desperate, and need some food or drink, how can you possibly be picky. The cashier said he wouldn’t eat it, and when I asked why, said something about his teeth being bad (maybe from drug use). Ouch, that hurt. Minus one for me. So, i ask her for the cheapest bread, which was a $2.00EC (divide that by 2.5 for the U.S. dollar amount), and she got me a fruity carbonated beverage for an extra $1.50EC.

All in all, i didn’t spend much money at all. But, one thing Mark inspired me to do was instead of just giving somebody something, ask them to pray with me first. If they really need the help, then they’ll pray with me. So, I prayed with the guy, gave him the snack, and we all parted ways. I noticed the reaction of the locals to the whole situation, which included one guy at an electronics store we were at squirting some hand sanitizer in my hand after I shook hands with the homeless guy, maybe because he thought the guy had AIDS or whatever. The other locals laughed and chattered. I myself, as a new “local” got frustrated and a little concerned too. I was frustrated with his skittish-ness and his pushy-ness. And as imperfect as everybody’s reaction to this guy was, they were somewhat justified. Maybe they were legitimately concerned that he was a druggie and that helping him was enabling him. Maybe they were concerned that he would get violent.

There could be a million other reasons why me and the various people reacted the way we did or thought what we thought. But, the reason I helped the guy is because I’ve been helped many times before, even when I didn’t “deserve” it. I helped him because druggie or not, food and water are necessities for everyone. I also helped him because I wanted to put my faith into practice by helping someone in a very real and material way, and by praying for them and with them. After all, our focus as missionaries is to evangelize and bring people closer to Jesus. I also wanted to try and be a concrete example to those who witnessed the whole episode, as to what I felt was the right thing to do. I still feel guilty though about where my heart is. My legitimate concerns and caution still go way off into self-righteousness, selfishness, and false concern. My heart is hardened by the uncomfort level and difficulty of that type of situation. No matter who the person is, how “bad” they are, or how much they “don’t deserve it”, they are all children of God just as much as we are, and God loves them just as much as us. I could go on and on.

My solution will be a simple one though. Continue to buy a small bit of sustenance to help these types of people, and make sure I pray with them.Maybe limit myself to doing this two or three times MAX per trip into town.  For, if I give them material goods, but don’t bring them closer to Jesus, then all is for nought. Or, I also considered buying a big pack of bottled water, and some small soft bread type of snacks, and making little bags to carry with me everytime I go in town. That way is someone asks me for help, I can pray with them and give them some food and water. Once I run out of bags for that particular journey into town, I can honestly say that I’m not able to help, aside from prayer. It just feels like these are the best ways to help, and at the same time make sure that I’m a good steward with the support my benefactors give to me. Any thoughts or comments you have would be appreciated.

Lord, help me to help those who need help, and to discern with wisdom the best way to do so.

Much love and God Bless!

Well, the right thing to do is to keep the supreme Law of scripture: you will love your neighbour as yourself; but as soon as you make class distinctions, you are committing sin and under condemnation for breaking the Law.”
–James 2:8-9–

How does it help, my brothers, when someone who has never done a single good act claims to have faith? Will that faith bring salvation? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,’ without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? In the same way faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead. But someone may say: So you have faith and I have good deeds? Show me this faith of yours without deeds, then! It is by my deeds that I will show you my faith.”

–James 2:14-18–

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Helpful things for the mission


I “borrowed” this post from my mission partner’s blog.
After a comment about the price of coffee pot some have asked if possibly send us something. We found out that the best way to send something is Priority Mail directly to the Marion Home Post Office Box. Letters can be sent AirMail.

Our Address is:
Marian Home
PO Box 209
Castries, St. Lucia
West Indies,  00124

We have been blessed with so much here. There is so much that has been provided for, we even found an unused Kitchen Aid Mixer in the storage room the other day. Sister Annie said we could use it, what a blessing!
This list is a result of peoples expressed desire to help our mission work in some way practical and is mostly composed of things that would be nice but not necessary.



NOT REALLY NEEDS, BUT THEY WOULD BE VERY HELPFUL


FOR THE MARIAN HOME COMPOUND:
(which consists of a chapel, an old building which was a Secondary School, a large outdoor basketball court, a Daycare center, and Preschool, and our dwelling which is the bottom floor of the Carmelite Sister’s convent. As you can see a lot happens here)




TOOLS (they are non-existent, warn out or very primitive and they can be 110 volts, transformers are everywhere here. If you choose to send a tool it can be used) 

  • Wheel Barrow, wow is it warn out even with the repairs
  • A vibrator sander (a Dewalt is around $550 EC – approx. $220 US)
  • Wheels for the Dolly (some call them carts)
  • I will add to this list as I see things

RESOURCES FOR THE MISSION POST:

  • Catholic Books to leave here as a library
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • Catholic Bibles
  • Old Catholic Magazines



FOR US SPECIFICALLY:

  • The most pressing need is a printer, we would love a used one. We are going to try to print up our thank you notes, the children’s home school lessons, songs, possibly our newsletter, and many other things. If you want to send this, send us an email please so we can see how easy ink cartridges are to get) No longer need this. We bought a laser printer from here since it was a good deal.
  • A used AT&T or T-Mobile phone (must have SIM card capability so we can buy a local SIM card), if you would be willing get it unlocked. They will not work with the local pay as you go sim cards and we will then have a local number. I had hoped to leave the world of cell phones for a while, but so many of our ministry contacts have them, even Sister Annie.We have since obtained local cellphones, one from a local benefactor here in St. Lucia, and one we bought.
  • size 4 disposable diapers (for Isaac)
  • School supplies
  • AA batteries
  • holy cards, rosaries, & pictures of saints
  • If you think something you think we might be able to use, contact me via email: sidsavoie@catholic.org

WANTS:

  • A coffee maker, coffee grinder (These are definitely wants) We obtained a coffee maker from a generous donor who shipped it to us from the states. THANK YOU! 🙂 But, it was wrapped in brown paper, was the only thing in the package, and there was no return address. So, stop being humble and let us know who you are so we can send a thank you card! 🙂
  • Computer Speakers
DONATING FUNDS FOR A SPECIFIC NEED?  Write on your donations slip or check or if you donate through PayPal type it into the special instructions line.
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