Posts Tagged With: Big Woods

January 2013 Missionary Newsletter

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” –Romans 5:3-5–

Dearest Benefactors,

I just wanted to say how happy I am to be able to write y’all again. Everytime I write, it means that there is more to report on the ways God is working in my life as a missionary. That is ALWAYS an exciting and good thing! 🙂 As y’all already know, last year my full-time mission post was FMC’s Casa de Misiones in General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico. I was there for a total of 8 months with the other 4 months of the year split between visits to friends and family, 2 short term trips to St. Lucia (my mission post from 2011), and some time spent at our Big Woods Mission Base in Abbeville, LA. After my 5th or 6th month in Mexico, I started to feel like it was time for me to come back stateside. I didn’t know exactly what that meant, as my living situation and possible ministry opportunities had not yet been established. But when you know it’s time to move on, you step out in faith knowing that the good Lord will provide.

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fourth name from bottom. I’m official y’all! 🙂

Thanks be to God that in my last month in Mexico, November 2012, things started to clear up, and by the time the Christmas holiday was over, my course was set. Part of what I discerned last year was that I wanted to do stateside mission work.So, I am now living at our Big Woods Mission Base as my full-time mission post. One of my new “jobs” is working as a liaison for our retreat house, Our Lady of the Bayous, and for our retreat ministry. If a group wants to book our facility, I’m the guy they talk to. If a group needs missionaries to put on a retreat, I’m the guy they talk to. And if a group wants to do a service project at our retreat house or mission base, I’m the guy they talk to. I’m also involved in the day to day operations of our retreat house. It can be a very busy but very rewarding ministry at the same time.

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me and my dad wearing the shirts I bought while at language school in Cuernavaca

 

My other main duty is serving as Evangelization/Outreach coordinator at one of the nearby parishes, St. Mary Magdalen. In this role I do alot of follow-up home visits in conjunction with our door-to-door evangelization team, in order to pray, visit, read scripture, and help these people to enter more fully into the sacramental life of the Church. Part of this job also entails doing a weekly Bible study at the Christian Service Center, which is a part of the church parish. Aside from this, I also lend a helping hand with any manual labor that needs to be done at the service center, such as stocking the pantry shelves and unloading food shipments.

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me and Donnie, one of the home visits. Please say a prayer for him, he’s been a bit sick lately

 

As you can see, God is keeping me busy with lots of ministry opportunities. I’m so blessed that y’all continue to journey with me in my missionary vocation. Your support makes it all possible, and without your prayers I would not have the strength I need to do what I do. Thank you so very much. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and are having a Happy New Year.

God Bless!

Sid Savoie

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 7

Day 7 – Sunday – 9/30/12

Last night even after I ate supper and wasn’t hungry anymore, I didn’t have that full feeling. And because I was so accustomed to it before the fast, I was thinking of ways to eat more food. Ultimately I decided against it, feeling like it would defeat one of the purposes of the fast, which is to grow in discipline and self-control.

In regards to my mission post discernment, the only places I can see right now are Spain and The Phillipines. But discernment means being open to other possibilities too. What if there’s another location I haven’t thought of? What if I’m called to return to Big Woods? What if God calls me out of missions? It’s hard to imagine those possibilities but I feel like I have to be open to them too. I also wonder if I should be discerning mission partners or not. Of course I have some ideas, but I guess I’ll focus on the “where” and the “who” will make itself clear.

Another thing I noticed this morning opened my eyes. One of my mission partners, Albert, likes to drink alot of coffee. I noticed this not only because I see him drink gargantuan amounts of the stuff at all times of the day, but also because the bag of Community Coffee that we had been sharing is disappearing quickly. (keyword: HAD) No way it goes that quickly if it’s only me drinking it. So, I brewed another pot this morning and poured myself a cup and Albert one last cup. Once the rest of the coffee cools, I’m gonna pour it into a container labeled “Sid’s Coffee! Do Not Drink!”. That way the coffee will last me as long as possible in October before the group arrives on November 6th-ish.

I’m doing this because my Community Coffee is a piece of home (it’s made in South Louisiana) & I LOVE it! (emphasis on the word LOVE) While I LIKE other types of coffee, I LOVE Community Coffee. When I agreed to share my coffee with Albert, I didn’t realize how much of it he drinks throughout the day. Ergo, no more sharing this precious gift from my mom. I feel like I’m justified in doing this small thing, because we share in other ways. But part of me feels like it might be a tiny bit selfish. That’s the good thing about this fast. It’ll give me a chance to think and pray more about it than I normally would, so that I can learn from it (update: I ended up gifting Albert with a bag of Mexican coffee to get him started. Felt like that kinda helped to balance things out)

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When one door closes, another opens

Saturday May 5th, 2012 – 1:45pm – In the guys’ trailer @ Big Woods Mission Base – Esther, LA

“The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure, silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” –Psalm 12:6–

It’s funny how our human concept of love often leaves out pain. Pain? Really? Love is supposed to be, well, happy! But in reality, love is a decision, not always easy, and sometimes painful. But Love is still Love. It will always be worth the sacrifices we have to make. In fact, if Love was so easy to arrive at, if it didn’t require any real sacrifice, if we didn’t have to put our hearts on the line without any guarantee of success, would it really be Love? I don’t think so.

Right before I started writing this journal entry, I was re-reading over my last one. At the end, I was talking about my trip up to Michigan to see my then-girlfriend Nina. Talked alot about being honest and open. That was something I could have done better at. Not that I was dishonest. It’s just that I wasn’t open enough about how I really felt and what was really important to me. I was actually having concerns before I even left Mexico for the St. Lucia trip, but aside from not being open about it, I figured that maybe our visit would clear things up. I needed to give it a chance. And I truly believe that. I knew that in spite of my concerns, that I needed to go through with the visit to Michigan. It’s because visiting in person and getting to know someone up close and personal is way different than doing things long distance. Whether it was a make it or break it visit, there was value to be had in us being together. Needless to say, we figured out that a relationship wasn’t in the cards. Now I could take this time to go over all the potential reasons why things didn’t work out. But I won’t because that’s between me, Nina, and God. I could also look back and lament the things that went wrong, or I could wonder what the purpose of the relationship was if it ended up not working out. What I’m gonna do is hold onto the fact that in spite of the relationship ending, God let this happen for a reason. It taught me more about myself, and helped me to grow closer to God. I pray that Nina derived the same benefit as well. When I look at how plans have changed as a result of this, I can again rejoice. I now have the chance to be with my missionary community at our home base here in Louisiana. I can visit with friends and family before I head back to Mexico.

Speaking of Mexico, I’m still not sure what will happen there either. The theme of my missionary life so far has been A.) Expect the unexpected, and B.) Plans will change. After talking to Joe a couple weeks ago, we came to the conclusion that because there were no major obstacles to me returning to Mexico, that I should do that. Once I arrive in Mexico, the idea is that I’ll stay until Intake 2012 arrives in November to wrap up their training. We recognized that one of my needs is to stay and commit to this mission post for the rest of the year and really put myself into it. Really give myself to these people. I agree with that. There’s nothing illogical about that conclusion. But for some reason, I’m not totally at peace with it. Maybe it’s just the normal hesitancy one experiences when facing the unknown or something new. There are other reasons though. Part of me wonders if that not being at peace is because the mission post is not a good fit for me. Another part of me wonders if I maybe just need to live in community at Big Woods for a few months and help out with Intake. Then there’s the opportunity for travel to Asia. I REALLY want to go to Asia, and FMC has a month long trip to the Phillipines planned for June, and a 3 week trip to India in December. If I stay in Mexico until November, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make either of those trips.

Another thing that’s been on my mind is learning to play the guitar and learning to speak Spanish. At this point I’m having to try and teach myself. Spanish has come to a dead stop. I’m not even trying to study in any way. Guitar is almost at a standstill but I am trying to resurrect it. Practiced last night for the first time in weeks. It’s just that I have such a hard time teaching myself. Having a teacher who pushes me makes it alot easier. Don’t see that happening anytime soon though. Both speaking Spanish and playing guitar will come in handy for missions and other ministries as well. Guitar will be easier for me to stick with. I feel like it’s more useful and I have more of a desire. And even if Spanish is as useful as playing the guitar, it’s just hard for me to stick with it. My heart and my passion is with the french language. The fact that I have to neglect the language that is such a part of me and my culture, in order to learn another, is hard. Maybe one day God will bless me with mission trips to french speaking areas.

Here’s to having faith in God and trusting in his guidance during my missionary journey………………….

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Old friendships renewed

Saturday – 4/15/12 – 2:00pm – At Vigie Beach in Castries, St. Lucia

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all thy works.” –Psalm 73:28–

I chose this verse to begin my journal entry because I felt like it perfectly reflects the nature of my work as a missionary. It’s a good reflection of what I also try to do during my Desert Day prayer time. Alot has happened since my last entry. Me & Luis had our first full month alone as a mission team. Overall it was a good experience. Since there were difficulties, alot of which was due to the fact that we are both kinda solitary in our personalities and in our spiritual journeys too. We were also at the beginning stages of growing accustomed to each other, and developing team chemistry. Like I said, we weren’t perfect but we grew alot during that month.

Then we got a huge blessing with the addition of the Alvarez family to our mission team. I was glad to have them because it was too quiet around the house with just the two of us. Having the family there will help to pull us out of our shells too. After the Alvarezes arrived on Monday of Holy Week, we only had two days to get them settled before I headed here to St. Lucia. Got here a whole day later than expected (Holy Saturday) because of bad weather in Dallas earlier in the week. Monsignor Boni’s driver Tate picked me up from the airport and I bought some supplies before arriving at the Marian Home. Went to the Vigil Mass at Sacred Heart in Marchand, and spent Easter Day visiting with Ms. Renee Cenac and her family. 

She’s a friend of ours from when me and the Eckstines lived here last year. The group arrived on Monday and then the fun began. This trip has been really great. We’re plugging into ministries that we developed last year and on our short term trip this past January. Visiting the sick and elderly. Doing a 3 night rally @ Ti Rocher. Feeding the poor with our good friend Auntie Sabi. Getting to reconnect with our friends here has also been really great. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed being with the families that have been on this trip. They’re all from Our Lady of Prompt Succor parish in Alexandria, LA. Some of them have been on previous trips with FMC. They even brought 2 priests with them, Fr. Adam Travis & Fr. Harold Imamshah. Funny thing is that me and Fr. Harold have been facebook friends for at least a year or two before actually meeting. We have alot of mutual connections through youth ministry. 

This whole week the group has been willing to jump in head first and not hesitate to work hard or come out of their comfort zones. I think this willingness is the result of these families being part of a strong, vibrant, loving faith community. After wrap up tonight, we pack up and head out of the Vieux Fort airport tomorrow. James and Theresa head back to Big Woods, the families and priests head home, and I head to Michigan to visit my girlfriend Nina.

I’m simultaneously excited and scared. Excited because she’s awesome and she’s my girlfriend and I haven’t seen her since January 28th. It’ll be really nice to spend an extended period of time visiting with her. But I’m also scared because of the sometimes mysterious and unpredictable nature of relationships and discernment of them. I feel like the best way to discern this relationship is to be honest and open with God, myself, and Nina too. By asking ourselves about the various aspects of the relationship, by being honest about how we feel and what we want, by continually offering up the relationship through prayer, I think these things will ultimately help us to discern whether or not we are called to deepen our relationship.

It’s hard being patient and being open and honest like this. But it’s also the most freeing feeling. It takes any undue pressure off of us and helps us to have the freedom and space we need. Whatever the future holds, I know that God will bless us both and that through this relationship experience we’ll grow closer to Christ.

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On the nature of Love & bein’ a country boy

Monday October 24, 2011 – 7:35am – Office @ Big Woods Mission – Esther, LA

“Learn where there is wisdom, where there is strength, where there is understanding, that you may at the same time discern where there is length of days, and life, where there is light for the eyes, and peace.”
–Baruch 3:14–

Last week I started getting the urge to do another journal entry. After all, it’s been over a month. (Where does the time go?) Thought that I’d get a chance Saturday during Desert Day, but I had a good distraction. A friend of FMC who attended our Life In The Spirit Seminar at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Lafayette stopped by. I had been corresponding with him to try and get a copy of Sarah Granger’s talk to him. Tried to get back to journaling later in the day on Saturday, but things kept coming up, and I didn’t wanna force it. Sunday I was gone all day. Caught a ride to 10am Mass in Richard with Kylie so I could hear Sammy and Lindsey give a talk for World Mission Sunday. Stopped at Candyland Cottage in Rayne after Mass, and then Uncle Donald’s after that.

Ok captain, time to land the plane and get to the point. So, two weeks ago, someone close to me told me she was doing a discernment retreat to try and get a handle on what God is saying to her about her next steps on her journey. Being the good influence she is, I was motivated to do one as well. I was discerning both missions and marriage. For missions, I was discerning my next steps for both long-term and short-term mission opportunities. For marriage, I was discerning the who/what/how/when factors. As far as my discernment of missions went, my desire to go to Asia at some point was confirmed. Seeing as how it looks like me and Luis might end up in Costa Rica, my time in Asia is looking like it will be with a short term mission group. I also discerned that if God puts me with a family again next year, that it would be with the Romeros. For short term missions a whole plethora of opportunities popped up. The Phillipines, St. Lucia, Ecuador, and Peru all came up. Already confirmed that I’ll be helping to lead a trip to St. Lucia in January. We’ll see what God does with the other three locations.

As far as the marriage thing goes, you didn’t honestly think I’d give you all the answers to that, did you? 🙂 It’s a private revelation from God sort of thing, where only the people concerned find out. However, I can say that I also did alot of reflecting on friendship and love, and the end of this entry I’ll include some of the nuggets of wisdom God gave to me. The realizations and revelations were a blessing to me and were proof of the Holy Spirit working through prayer.

Living out in the country has been really good for me. Yes, a big part of my season of growth right now has been due to community life. When you are surrounded by good people and a life of prayer, you WILL grow in holiness. But that’s not the only factor. Being surrounded by nature is good for my soul. Living in the peace and quiet instead of the noisy and fast-paced city is good for my soul. Seeing things like rice fields, swampland, horses, cows, pastures, fog, dogs, barbed-wire fences, & birds is good for my soul. Swimming in a muddy pond that is home to the occasional 3-4 foot gator is exhilarating…………….and good for my soul. Burning logs and branches is messy, and good for my soul. Killing wasp nests is good for my soul. Pounding on a pile of rock hard dirt, shoveling it into the back of a truck, dumping it into a hole, filling a wheelbarrow full of horse manure to fill said hole with “fertilizer” so grass can grow and thereby hold the dirt in place, is good for my soul. Riding my bike down a country road and seeing a beautiful oak tree draped with spanish moss is good for my soul. Working and sweating and getting blisters and sore muscles is also good for my soul. I love where God has me at right now. I love that I get to wake up and do this (and other missionary stuff) every day. I think perhaps the singular greatest blessing I’ve received since being back at Big Woods is being able to work with my hands and do manual labor. It has taught me so many things, including obedience AND knowing the satisfaction of a hard day’s work.

Lord Jesus, thank you for all of these blessings. Please continue to shower them down upon me. Help me to continue being open to your guidance. Bless us in all our missionary endeavors here at FMC, especially as Mrs. Genie prepares to go to China, and Intake prepares to go to Mexico.

Nuggets of Wisdom from The Holy Spirit about Love:

* be free to love * love unconditionally * draw close to me so that you can draw close to her * take a leap of faith * Friendship is not just a consolation prize, it is love through companionship. And marriage is the fulfillment of friendship * Instead of choosing good over evil because of an ideal, I can now choose good over evil because of someone. When I think in terms of people instead of ideals, love as a choice becomes real, and is easier to make * It should be a give and take, where you can savor the mystery * I need someone who brings out the best in me * I need someone who can bring me out of my shell * If you know the Lord has brought someone into your life, if you know you are drawn to someone because of a mutual love  for the Lord, then do not hesitate to grow close to that person! Do not be afraid that you are “deifying” them or “idolizing” them. Let yourself enjoy them and their company. Let yourself enjoy the love you give and receive. Draw closer to them by drawing closer to the Lord. That person is an instrument of God’s love in your life. To put them off due to a false sense of caution, humility, or discernment is a tragedy. By not putting your heart on the line and loving the person unconditionally, you risk losing out on the greatest treasure in life, LOVE.

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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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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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“Hello Bible, it’s nice to see you again”

12-22-10 – 1:05pm – @ Awardmaster (my parents’ trophy shop) – Lafayette, LA

Today for me has been like one of those mystery stews where you toss in all the random leftovers. Just kinda seems that way. When Mom left the house and I was still in my PJ’s, she told me that today would be the Christmas lunch for all the employees and that I was invited. Obviously stoked because it meant lunch wraps from Zea’s which are VERY good. I was thinkin’ I’d take my time, watch some TV, take a shower, head to the chapel at St. Ed’s to do some reading, and then mosey on over to the shop to eat what was left. But, then my mom called and said that one of the girls was gonna leave the shop early cuz she wasn’t feeling good and wanted to know if I’d come. She almost seemed kinda timid and uber polite when asking me if I had other plans, and if not could I come in to cover for the girl that was leaving early. Now, yeah, it’s good that my mom’s polite. But I can’t help but thinking something was wrong with this picture. It doesn’t matter that I’m almost 30 either. My mother is my mother. I owe respect and obedience to her whenever possible. She shouldn’t have to ask if I was willing to come. She should be able to know that she can tell me she needs me to come help out at the shop since I’m home on break, and not have to worry about my reaction. I guess it’s one of those things we continue to grow at.

I also feel really bad because when she called to ask if I’d come to the shop, she was asking me about something that I was taking care of already (unrelated to work). Well I was. It was mine to take care of. After all, I’m almost 30. I’m a grown man. I need to learn how to take care of my ownself without my mom getting all in a tizzy. Asking about something that doesn’t affect you at all and that you have no control over, is no bueno. The only thing that this effort to satisfy curiosity will do is increase stress levels and possibly give rise to gossip under the guise of “concern for the situation.” So, when I reacted to her asking about the situation after I’d asked her to forget about it and let me take care of it, I felt justified. But, it was HOW I reacted that made me feel bad. I went a step beyond speaking firmly, lost the politeness, and was almost speaking too sternly and speaking down at her like she was a child. This, of course, made me feel like crap. And when I got to thinking about it, I learned more about how I should relate to God. What do I mean? Well, lemme respond with another question: Why did I feel like crap after I reacted to my mom? I didn’t feel like crap because I was fearful of some fiery angry raging response she’d have to my reaction. I felt like crap because I love her. She has been nothing but good to me all my life, and has loved me and provided for me. Therefore, why would I want to or let myself mistreat her? I think that type of fear is what should be our motivation to be holy. We shouldn’t be fearing God’s vengeful wrath so much as we should fear offending the unending love he shows us. If we feel like crap after doing something wrong, it shouldn’t be because of punitive consequences. It should be because we offended against love.

Another interesting tidbit of the day is that I finally read my Bible again for the first time in five days. Whenever I’m at Big Woods, I don’t find that it’s a problem. Out there, we have morning prayer 6 days a week.There’s a chapel with a tabernacle on the property. It’s out in the middle of nowhere and very quiet. Everybody else that lives or works there does so because they are involved in missions. You can see how it’s much easier to maintain a routine of prayer and spiritual reading and Scripture reading while there. The community lends itself to that. At home, it’s a different story. My parents themselves are good people. Besides going to church every Sunday, they both do things during the week that are concrete examples of living out their faith. So they themselves are not the cause of my laxity while at home. It’s that I don’t have a routine & I don’t have a larger community of faith surrounding me. There’s strength in numbers, and my parents can only do so much. The routine helps me to control my urges and focus my time and efforts. It helps me to overcome my laziness. The good thing about being home though is that I have to focus more on making personal effort to do what I need to do, since my normal routines and coping mechanisms aren’t there. Gaining more self-control in this way will definitely be a good thing.

My last bit of news is quite exciting. J In my last entry on the 30th, I went out on a limb and said that we were going to St. Lucia. Well, we finally heard back again from Archbishop Rivas and he said he wants us to come for sure! Yahoo! We will be living on the first floor of a convent, with some nuns living on the second floor above us. There’s a nursing home on the property where we’ll be doing some ministry. The archbishop also asked if I’d be willing to teach at an all-boys school. I’m sure too that there’s poor people that need ministry as well as many other ministry opportunities. Yesterday Sarah-Kate confirmed with me that our plane tickets had been purchased. We leave on the 17th, so we have just under a month before we’re in missions! Until that point, I’ll be spending time with family, packing up, getting rid of stuff, and tying up loose ends. I leave you with a bible verse that I got in my Scripture reading earlier this afternoon:

“I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”
–Jeremiah 24:7–

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