Posts Tagged With: Cajun

New Year reflections on love and life from a Cajun Catholic missionary

Sunday, January 13, 2013 – Noon thirty pm – Mom and Dad’s house – Lafayette, LA
It’s been awhile since I’ve done a journal entry, and I was startin to feel the itch. My impetus for this particular entry is my friendship with Anne. One of the things I really enjoy about our friendship is that I’m learning so much due to all the talking and discussion that happens between us. While Anne is the only one privy to all of the background stories and discussions, I still want to share these “gems” with y’all.
-“I want the whole truth & nothing but the truth, along with an undivided heart.” Perhaps just as bad as lying is failing to tell the whole truth. Yes, in telling partial truths you can literally say you are not intentionally lying to somebody. You may not even be desiring to lead them astray. But if you don’t give them the whole picture then you bear responsibility for when things go wrong. Related to this would be loving others with an undivided heart. Nothing’s worse than trying to have a discussion with someone who is distracted. If someone does not pay attention to me when I’m trying to have meaningful discussion or interaction with them, if their actions don’t prove to me that I’m important and that they’re focused on me, then I feel gypped. Same thing applies to loving others. If you only seek to fulfill the “minimum requirements of love” (as if such a thing even exists) then you are not going to be able to show that the relationship and the person are important to you. My advice is to do what you have to do, and then do more. The extra effort will be worth it.
-“What’s not a big deal to you may be a big deal to someone else.” We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences in life. Inevitably your outlook on certain issues will be different than that of those whom you love. That’s why you have to be considerate and take into account what your loved one has gone through, in order for you to be sensitive to how things affect them. A simple joke or a seemingly small issue for you could be something that touches upon a very sensitive area for your loved one. And because you love them, you have to be prepared to pay attention to these small things and act accordingly or avoid them if at all possible.
-“A small deal can become a big deal, in both good ways and bad.” As I stated in the last paragraph, small things that are not heeded can create problems. But it also works for good. A simple note, a quick hello, a little hug, or a meaningful compliment can make the day of the one you love.
-“Daily personal prayer time is a must, no matter how many other spiritual things you do.” Imagine trying to run a car on fumes. Or sustaining a friendship when virtually no meaningful communication exists. That’s essentially what you’re do to your relationship with God when you don’t pray. Aside from that relationship suffering, you also won’t be able to get what you need to live your life lovingly for others. The same can be applied to your relationship with your loved one. Without communication, your relationship will wither and die. And if you don’t relate to God daily in prayer, then you won’t be able to relate to your loved one in the way that you need to.
-“The ugly truth is better than a pretty lie.” Sometimes we are scared to reveal unpleasant truths about ourselves or our pasts for fear that the other person will stop loving us. If they do stop loving you, then it was not the right kind of relationship. However, chances are that they’ll love you anyways, because they can see through the imperfections. But if you hide truths from them, or if you lie about something (even if it’s in a seemingly innocent or protective sort of way) in order to make yourself look better, then your relationship’s foundation is weakened. A pretty lie is still a lie. But an unpleasant truth honestly and freely revealed, is still the truth. Doing that will help you to build trust with the one you love and it will help you to be vulnerable in a way that is good.
-“Loneliness and stress can be cruel masters or great motivators.” Loneliness and stress are two of the leadings causing of people doing dumb stuff. It’s because they focus so much on the problems of loneliness and stress as well as the by-products of these two things, that they lose sight of the solution. Sure it’s easy to wallow in misery and self-pity when stress and loneliness are knockin’ at your door. But just imagine how much better things could be if you allowed these two things to motivate you instead of torment you. Instead of seeking wordly things that will never fill the hole in your heart, allow loneliness and stress to motivate you to do charitable works, or to pray more, or to seek the company of others. If you do this not only will you grow, but your relationship with your loved one will grow as well.
-“Love is a choice that is worth your time and effort.” Sometimes love feels great, both literally and figuratively. But our modern culture lies to us when we are tricked into believing that love always feels good. Love is sometimes hard. Love is sometimes painful. Love is sometimes confusing. It doesn’t just happen. You have to choose it. Yet it’s always worth it. And what is love? Love is doing right and growing closer to God. If you want to show your loved one that you truly care for them, then do right and help them grow closer to God.
-“Trustworthiness and vulnerability go hand in hand.” You cannot trust someone if they cannot open up and be vulnerable with you. On the other hand, you cannot be vulnerable with someone if you cannot trust them. It’s kinda like the chicken and the egg question. I’m not sure which has to come first. I just know you gotta have both.
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Giraffe Necks and Weak Coffee

Thursday – 11/8/12 – 7:00am – Casa de Misiones – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Earlier this morning I had an experience which hasn’t happened since my sophomore year of college, roughly 11 years go. As I was turning on my computer the screen goes all white and then dark again for a few moments before booting up. While the screen was dark and I was looking at it, I saw my reflection. And I didn’t like what I saw. My head looked humongous & my neck was like a giraffe. In college, the same thing happened as I was passing by one of the big ground-level window panes on one of the classroom buildings. I saw my reflection and didn’t like what I saw. Both then and now, I woke up from that initial displeasure with an “aha!” moment. The realization was that the mirror I was looking into was not an accurate one. They were both modern day versions of the circus-mirror effect. The difference is that with the circus mirror I never took it seriously enough to be displeased with my reflection, because I knew it was false. So naturally from these instances it caused me to reflect on the accuracy of the mirrors in our lives, whether they be a physical mirror that shows us what we look like or some person/situation that reflects some aspect of our lives. With both I realized that you have to have a good mirror or else none of your assumptions or opinions will be accurate. Another vital part of the equation is to be able to interpret the results in a good way. If the results are good, you have to build off of that in a way that does not also inflate your ego. If the results are not so good, then you have to be able to build off of that and not let it deflate your will and sense of self-worth.

My other little incident this morning involved coffee. Come to think of it, when does anything in my morning routine NOT involve coffee? Yesterday morning one of our missionaries in training (who is a morning person like me) was up before I was and made the coffee. He appeared to have put about half a millimeter of coffee grounds into the filter to make the coffee. Stuff tasted like flavorless hot brown water. But I didnt’ wanna waste the whole pot, and I also knew that the “brown water” had caffeine in it. So I swallowed my pride, figuratively and literally, and drank the coffee. My morning depended on it. I was determined this morning to educate him on how to make stronger coffee. To me, one of my pet peeves is weak coffee. Seems kinda pointless. I think if I end up in purgatory instead of going straight to heaven, one of my thousand-year penances will be drinking weak coffee day in and day out. Anyhoo, back to my story. I didn’t get up in time to beat him to the coffee maker. But to his credit he remembered what I said yesterday about weak coffee and put more coffee grounds than he did yesterday. Still not quite enough though. Also to his credit is the fact that the only brand of Mexican coffee available here is really weak stuff when compared to my beloved Community Coffee. Ergo I enjoyed my first cup more than yesterday’s first cup but I was still determined that at least my second cup would be stronger. So I took the plastic filter thingy hostage. By “plastic filter thingy” I’m referring to the thing where you put the paper coffee filter and then fill it up with coffee grounds. Once I was sure that the first pot was close enough to being done, I dumped out the rest of it. Put water in the machine. And then I filled that thing up with a Southern-Louisiana-Cajun-appropriate level of coffee grounds, which according to Sid, means at least 1/2 to 2/3 full. Gosh dernit, I want this stuff to curl my nose hair it’s so strong. I want it to be so strong that it puts hair on my chest (a feat usually reserved for a good beer or shot of whiskey). You get the idea. I’m pleased that the 2nd pot was definitely stronger. I’m even pleased-er that I think the bag of Mexican coffee we’re on right now is our second to last, and 6 bags of Community Coffee are waiting in line to take its place.

You know, as I look back on the title of this entry I think someone could easily misinterpret that this entry is written by some innovative Cajun who found a new type of bait to put in his crab trap. I also remember that yesterday we had a class on tips for missionary photography and blogging. But I didn’t think that a picture of a blank computer screen, my neck, a coffee pot, or a cup of coffee would cause my journal entry to be any more interesting than it already is. So please, just use your imagination. 😉

Have a good one. God Bless

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My 40-day fast – Day 2

Sid’s 40 Day Fast

Day 2 – Tuesday, 9/25/12

Felt a little bit of the hunger pangs this morning, in spite of how much I ate last night. Kinda glad, because like I said yesterday I don’t want this to be easy. I wanna be challenged. During my morning walk it also occurred to me that yes, I can always pray. But during a fast, the hunger encountered is an extra gift or offering to God that goes along with your prayer. It ties into the whole idea of redemptive suffering, which was perfectly demonstrated by Jesus. This fast and the hunger I will experience will be a way for me to be like Jesus, by offering up my suffering through The Cross for others.

As I sat at Mass waiting for the Eucharist, I felt another hunger pang. It’s happened before and it’s one of my favorite things about fasting. Because even when you fast for an hour before receiving, you’re still full and you don’t feel hungry. But to feel actual hunger as you are receiving Jesus’ Body and Blood in The Eucharist is amazing. It brings the experience of The Eucharist to a whole new level.

Forgot to mention that I went to Mass @ The Cathedral in Saltillo. Had to come to Saltillo to meet Albert at the bus station. After his bus arrives at 7:30pm we’re gonna head back to the Casa De Misiones to begin our month and a half journey as a team of three. This team of three is living proof of God answering prayers (me and Luis had been praying for another mission partner). It’s also proof of God’s proclivity for making life VERY interesting. How so? Well, you’ve got Luis, a Venezuelan, whose first language is spanish. Then you’ve got me, a Cajun, whose first language is english. Then to complete the trifecta you’ve got Albert, a Polish guy, whose first language is polish. Luis’ 2nd language is my first. My 3rd language is Luis’ 1st and Albert’s 4th. And neither me nor Luis speaks Polish, Albert’s 1st language. AND the three of us from three different countries are living together as missionaries in a fourth country. Anyhoo, at the end of our month and a half together Intake 2012 will come down and join us. Then for the last week of November we’ll have a group of families and other short-term missionaries who will join us for the annual Thanksgiving mission trip.

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Desert Day in the Graveyard

Friday – August 10, 2012 – 10:30am – Panteon Santa Ana – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Desert Day in the Graveyard

So, my mission partner is about 5 hours away in another part of Mexico with one of our local missionaries riding along. They’re doing the bi-annual (twice a year?) renewing of the Mexican permit we need to have our American van here with us. No van = weekly Desert Day prayer time at a location that I can walk to. So I chose the tried and true local graveyard. Lest you think I’m some kinda morbid sort of person, let me explain myself. The idea of Desert Day is to follow Jesus’ example of escaping the busyness of ministry by retreating to a quiet locale, free of distractions/disturbances, for some much needed time with the Lord. Obviously, the graveyard is very VERY quiet. The people who “live” there don’t make any noise at all. (Ok, ok, corny/bad joke, I know). Also, there are a few really good shaded spots to escape the sun. Last but not least, if you’ve never been to a Mexican graveyard, then you’d never know how colorful and decorated they can be. The graveyard here in General Cepeda (Panteon Santa Ana) has nary a totally plain gray or white tomb. Many are painted various bright and varied colors. And for those tombs that are white or gray, they are usually adorned with a colorful Jesus or Our Lady of Guadalupe statue.

My reflections today centered around two bible passages I received during my Desert Day prayer time as well as a excerpt from the current chapter I’m reading in the book “Catholicism for Dummies: 2nd Edition”.

First passage – John 10:27-28 “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from my hand.”

When I came across this verse, it really struck me. I caught myself thinking that sometimes in life I succeed in listening to his voice, ergo, being his sheep. But how many times do I NOT listen to his voice? Everytime this happens, I am not his sheep. Not out of his decision. He ALWAYS wants me to be his sheep. But he also respects my freewill, and that is how we as human beings are the most unique species of “sheep”. Unlike our animal counterparts, we have more than just animal instinct that guides our decision to follow or not follow him. We have, as previously stated, freewill. So, back to my point, because I have not always heeded his voice, there have been many times that I have not been his sheep. Many times that I have not followed him and he has not known me. Again, always because of my decision and never EVER because of any decision on his part. He always gives me what I need, including every possible chance to turn from my ways and towards his. Sometimes out of my nature of being a “tete-dur”, I choose my way. (“Tete-dur” is a cajun-french phrase my dad taught me when I was a little boy. It means “hard head” 🙂 ) But, the consolation of my reflection on this passage lies in the last verse. If I do choose to be his sheep, I will have life…………….ETERNALLY. I will NEVER be lost or stolen from his hand.

Second passage – John 11:41-42 “So they took the stone away. Then Jesus lifted up his eyes and said: Father, I thank you for hearing my prayer. I myself knew that you hear me always, but I speak for the sake of all these who are standing around me, so that they may believe it was you who sent me.”

This passage was with Jesus, Martha, et all at her brother Lazarus’ tomb, days after he died, moments before Jesus raised him. To me it shows two things, which I just so happen to desperately need, day in and day out, as a missionary. (All Christians need this too). It says to me that I need to be confident that God hears my prayers. And, it tells me that I need to pray not for selfish reasons, but in service to others.

This last passage is from the book I mentioned. “Darkening of the intellect: This wound is the reason many times we can’t see clearly the right path to take even though it’s right under our nose, so to speak. Sometimes, our wounded human nature cloud’s our intellect’s ability to see with precision the proper course to take. Often, we need good advice, counsel, and perhaps even fraternal correction to compensate when our minds are unable to digest the situation or we find it difficult to figure out the proper solution to our problem”

It’s a passage that really struck a chord with me. Currently I’m living out my commitment to be in Mexico until the end of November. What will happen after November, I honestly have no earthly clue. (Maybe a heavenly one?) And it’s frustrating. But, when I read this I felt like it helped me to understand the nature of why it’s hard to udnerstand God’s will and path in our lives. And the compensation it mentions (good advice, counsel, and fraternal correction) is right on the money. I have and still continue to benefit from all three.

And that’s all I got for today. I felt really good about my Desert Day prayer time today. Like God really spoke to me. It’s a great feeling.

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Pics from my first week in Mexico

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Pic of the Mexican license plate on the back of our friend Raul’s suburban. We donated the suburban to him and helped to import it and pay the fees to transfer ownership to him.

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These two pics are of my new Mexican sandals, made from leather and old tires

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Praise and Worship in espanol!

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Sharing Scripture at a prayer meeting in someone’s house

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beautiful Mexican desert sunset

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now you know what you’ll find at the end of the rainbow. A Cajun, not a leprechaun! 🙂

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oh, did I mention it was a double rainbow?

My alter-ego, Tinito El Guapo, the luchador

the handsomest and strongest lavadora and secadora of dishes in todo el mundo!

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Desert Day – November 19, 2011

Desert Day – mountainside on the outskirts of General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico – November 19, 2011

These first four paragraphs (marked with an asterisk) are some transcribed audio recordings I made during my prayer time so that I could capture my reflections and thoughts. I was trying to type as fast as I could while transcribing them, so please pardon any errors 🙂

*Out at desert day in General Cepeda, Saturday Nov 19, 2011. Driving to our vehicles to get out to our desert day location on a farm, got bogged down in some mud. Reminded me of how we get bogged down in sin and worldly things when we’re on our journey to God.

Parked, had a prayer, walked down a long dry path to get to the foot of the mountain. Then followed another missionary up the mountain, reminded me of how we follow those who go before us in the faith. Climbing the mountain to my desert day spot, high up the mountain, reminding me of God. being on teh mountain top and getting to observe God’s creation reminds me of the beauty of creation, and how climbing the mountain to be closer to God gives us a better perspective and view on life. beautiful mountain scenery, sunny day, a nice breeze blowing. This reminds me of the holy spirit. As I sit on the mountain top and look down, I see one of the farmers herding his sheep, obviously this reminds me of Jesus the good shepherd, herding us to where we need to go.

*As I sit here on desert day, meditating, feeling the breeze, listening to the music, I had a vision of an eagle, the most majestic eagle ever, flying across the sky, and landing on the mountain right next to me. I think the reason I got that vision was because in the Native American culture, when they portray the Trinity in artwork, they portray the holy spirit as an eagle instead of a dove. So I feel like that was God’s way of telling me that the holy spirit was with me.

*As I was sitting here meditating and praying, I felt the Lord telling me to turn in my bible to 2 Kings. As I was flipping through the first few chapters, I thought I heard him say Chapter 3, but didn’t really see anything that stuck out to me. When I got to chapter 4, I came across verse 30 which says “then the mother of the child said “as the lord himself lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you”. And I just felt like that was the Lord telling me that Mary is always with us, that as long as the Lord lives, she will always be with us and won’t leave us. She’s gonna pray for us, she’s gonna guide us, she’s gonna do everything she possibly can, so that we can be close to God and get to heaven.

*As I sit here on the mountain top continuing my prayer time, I’ve been listening to an album called Lakota Piano. Lakota is a native american tribe. It’s by the name of a guy who goes by the name of Brule, which is the french word for burnt. And as I listen to this native american instrumental music to try and enter more into prayer and help me to focus more on God’s presence, and less on the noise of the world, I also am reading a book called Mi’kmak Hieroglyphic Prayers: Readings in North America’s First Indigenous Script. It’s a book of prayers that are in indian hieroglyphics, and is also transcribed into the literal pronunciation of each character, and that’s also translated into english. And these are actually a book of Catholic prayers, and these prayers were used years and years ago in Acadie, the area of Canada where all the Acadians are at, where all of our Cajun ancestors came from. The priests and religious orders that evangelized this area and brought these native american people into the Catholic faith, used these hieroglyphics and this language to teach them their prayers and teach them their faith.

I just felt like it was quite an appropriate thing to be reading this book on Native american hieroglyphics prayers of the Mi’kmak Indians, prayers of the Catholic faith, while I sit on a mountain observing God’s beautiful creation, and listening to some instrumental music by a Lakota Indian. I also was reflecting on bible verses specific to mountains & the good news, and the two that I always fall back on are Romans 10:15, and Isaiah 52:7. I felt like these verses were quite appropriate too, considering that i’m sitting on a mountain side overlooking this beautiful scenery of God’s creation, and I am a missionary, and i hope to bring the good news to everybody I meet, and everybody that I have the chance to evangelize and share with.

(I’m gonna post a “part 2” so that this one doesn’t go on too long. In the next one I’ll be posting some pics and video)

 

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