Monthly Archives: September 2011

Seems like just yesterday………………………………..

September 19, 2011 – 11:00pm – Near Gate D @ LaGuardia Airport – New York City

Seems like just yesterday I got to St. Lucia to begin my journey as a full-time lay Catholic foreign missionary. And now today I head home after having arrived in St. Lucia exactly 8 months ago. I know it sounds cliche, but it really did go by quite fast. Then this week, and especially today, it didn’t really seem like I was about to leave and things didn’t really seem different. On the surface things were indeed different. Monday of last week I visited the St. Lucy Home and the Adelaide Home for the last time. Tell my friends there good-bye. Tuesday, we went to the beach by Tapion Hospital. Friday our pastor took us to the beach and treated us to lunch. Sunday, we went to Mass and then three different houses that we were invited to for visiting and to eat. We cleaned up the house and gave away all the stuff we couldn’t take with us. Then earlier today I made my last visit to The Marian Home. Not the way things would go in a “typical” week as a missionary.

But between all of these “good-bye” activities, life was normal. We ate, slept, went to Mass, ran errands, prayed, etc….. Sometimes it was slow with not much to do. Sometimes I watched TV or listened to football games on the radio. It just didn’t “feel” like things were coming to an end for Team St. Lucia. It hadn’t “hit” me yet that I was about to leave and might never come back. That was another thing I reflected on as I lay in bed last night. Why hasn’t it hit me? Why am I not feeling something? Why am I not having either a mountain top or bottom of the valley experience? Where is my rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts? Then I realized that I was focusing too much on that “aha” moment in order to make my experience more authentic and alive. Not that the “aha” moment is bad, but it’s only a sign or indicator. Even if it’s not there, the reality of the situation still is. In addition to that, I’m just one of those people that goes through spiritual dryness from time to time. Another way to put it is that when I try to do God’s work, I don’t always feel it. I usually have to remind myself that I’m operating through faith and trust.

Now I’m sitting here by Gate D at the American Airlines terminal. Both of my flights earlier today (St. Lucia to San Juan, and then to here) were safe, smooth, and uneventful. I’m almost surprised at how relatively trouble free and easy everything has been. No trouble with security or customs. Got my bag within 10 minutes of deboarding the plane (a miracle in an airport the size of JFK). Found an airport shuttle to LaGuardia right next to the baggage claim, and after a 10 minute wait, I was on my way here. Didn’t realize how late it was by the time I arrived here. Only place open is some little deli type of place with ridiculously overpriced pastries, salads, and sandwiches. Good thing I had two OJ’s on the plane before I got here. Waiting until tomorrow morning to try and get anything to eat, hopefully more is open.

My other hope for tomorrow is that I get bumped from one or both of my flights. Because of the $250 voucher I got from American Airlines during my trip back to St. Lucia on August 25th, I paid less than $175 for my ticket back home to Louisiana. So if I can get bumped from one or both flights, it means cheaper plane tickets next time around. 🙂 Once I get back home tomorrow, I plan on going to the store to grab a few small things and grabbing some stuff out of my parents attic. For that matter, I plan on getting rid of some stuff too and putting it up in the attic. Compared to your average American, I don’t have much “stuff”. But as a missionary, I have more than I should. Cutting down will make it easier to travel around. Then Wednesday morning, me and Dad are gonna hit up Le Table Francaise at Dwyer’s downtown before heading out to Big Woods to drop me off. Very excited about helping out with Intake, and I can’t wait to see what God’s gonna do. 🙂

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St. Lucia – The Final Countdown

Saturday – September 3, 2011 – 11:00am – Benedictine Convent @ Mount of Prayer, Coubaril, Castries, St. Lucia

So, it looks like we’ve come to the end of the road here in St. Lucia. (cue the sappy Boyz 2 Men music) When I came back here on August 25th, it was with the intention to follow my original plan. I would remain here until the end of November and then return to Big Woods for Year End Review. However, right before I came back, Mark informed me that  on their family retreat, they discerned it was time for them to leave St. Lucia. They were in need of some time to rest, recuperate, and re-energize themselves. So they will be in Oregon with their family until they return to Big Woods at the end of November for Year End Review. Even when I first heard this, my initial reaction was to stick to my original plan of remaining here until it was time for Year End Review. After all, I do have a problem of sticking to my commitments. A worthy reason to remain, by anyone’s standard, in my opinion.

But as I got back a week ago and really started to think and pray about it, my mind started to change. For one thing, I realized that if I stayed here by myself, I would not have the benefit of the missionary community life. And this is something I REALLY need. As contemplative and solitary as I can be at times, I know that I need to live in community in order to be as spiritually strong as possible. It also seemed like all of the various little signs we were receiving pointed to  us leaving St. Lucia and moving on to a different mission post. Now keep in mind that I believe we were meant to be here. God called us here and allowed us to be here. We were able to accomplish many things and make many friends. But, now it is time for us to move on. It is time to go, because we believe God is calling us out of this place.  (Speaking of plans, I heard one time that if you want to make God laugh then make plans.)

So once I decided it was prudent for me to leave St. Lucia at the same time as the Eckstines, my plan (haha) was to go straight to General Cepeda and spend some time there as a missionary while waiting for Intake 2011 to arrive for their mission immersion experience in November. Well, that kinda fell through (lack of sufficient funds in my missionary account). Now it’s confirmed that I will be returning to Big Woods on Wednesday September 21st to help out with Intake and to do whatever else Frank and Genie need me to do. Then, when Intake goes to Mexico in November I’ll accompany them. So, I’ll still get to go but not for as long as I’d thought and with a large group instead of just a few full-time missionaries.

There’s still alot of blessings for me this way though. For one thing, I get to exercise the virtue of obedience by respecting Mr. Frank’s insight and wishes by returning to Big Woods from here. I also get a wonderful opportunity to get to know the new missionaries and maybe start getting a feel for who my new mission partners might be next year. Being close to home ain’t too bad either. Always good to be able to see loved ones, family, friends, etc…. I really think too that the community life at Big Woods during Intake will do much to refresh me and renew me even further. Recapture some of the zeal and passion of being a missionary. This has also been a good experience of seeing how God can change our plans and work contrary to our reasoning and logic in order to get us to a certain point where we can experience certain blessings.

Logic would have told me to stay in Lafayette so that I would not “waste” money on two plane tickets and already be at Big Woods for Intake. But then, I wouldn’t be able to say good-bye to everyone here. I wouldn’t be able to tie up loose ends. I wouldn’t be able to finish up my time at my mission post with my mission partners. Logic would also have told me that I should go straight to Mexico from here. Experience “normal” missionary life in General with other full-time missionaries and without a big group . See what day to day life is really like there as a missionary.  But as I said earlier, this would mean that I lose out on all the opportunities I have at Big Woods. Come to think of it, the theme of my whole first year in missions has been life not as I expect it, with plans changing many times. But I can tell you that because of this, and because of the many other blessings and challenges associated with this, my first year as a full-time foreign lay missionary has been a time of enormous spiritual growth and insight.

Praise God for such an awesome first year, & here’s to an even better 2nd year. God bless!

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