Posts Tagged With: cathedral

Encountering Jesus in Tejocote……..

Desert Day – 11/12/10 – Intake 2010 Mexico Mission – 2:45pm – Tejocote (Outside of General Cepeda) Coahuila, Mexico

It’s amazing what a difference one year makes. One year ago, I sat in this exact same spot in this same little valley for Desert Day on my first trip to General Cepeda. If you look at my pictures from last year, you’ll also see that this is the spot where a local rancher was herding his cows. So far today no cows, but we still have an hour left so we’ll see. What makes this Desert Day almost surreal is that I’m part of Intake this year, and not just a visitor. After this trip is over, I don’t just go back home to the “same ole same ole”. When this trip is over in a week, I go back home to BIG WOODS, and I finish up my missionary training. I get to live there until it’s time for me to go on missions in January with the Eckstine family. This is for real y’all. 🙂 My life has been irreversibly changed. YAHOO! YAHOO! YAHOO! PRAISE YOU JESUS! PRAISE YOU JESUS! PRAISE YOU JESUS! GLORY! GLORY! GLORY! ALLELUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUIA! Sorry about that. It’s just that I had another moment of realizing what God has called me to, and I got very excited.

The past week that we’ve been here has been amazing. Our trip here was delayed a full day b/c one of the vehicles broke down an hour outside of Lafayette. We had to sleep at a gas station overnight too. But it was all in God’s plan. It was an opportunity for lots of random fun and visiting. We even had the chance to pray with people and talk to them about missions. Once we arrived in General Cepeda on Friday, we had the chance to go to Mass before bedtime. It was my first time going to Mass at that church since it’s been renovated and it’s absolutely beautiful. Kinda weird to think that a church in a small rural town in a third world country is prettier than many churches I’ve been to in the U.S. All I know is that these people must be proud of their church. Saturday and Sunday were basically “chill” days for us. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were a bit more active. We had our life in the Spirit seminars in the morning. After lunch and a siesta, we went to some local area chapels at night to evangelize. As we normally do, we sang praise and worship songs, shared testimony, gave a teaching, and then prayed with them. And as usual, I was a little hesitant and fearful at first, but when things got going and I saw the fruits of the evening, I felt very blessed. Yesterday was our Saltillo day. I didn’t go into the market because A.) had no more spending money, B.) didn’t want anything, and C.)I’d been there twice before and saw all there is to see. I stayed outside and talked w/some locals (as best as I could in my broken Spanish) and then with the other missionaries as they trickled out of the market. We ate at the same restaurant that we normally do, the only difference being that it is now on the 6th floor of the hotel and has a MUCH better view. Needless to say though, that my highlight was Mass at the Cathedral and getting to see Hugo. (For those who don’t know Hugo, check out my blog/journal from November of last year. Be aware though, that last year, we thought his name was Omar instead of Hugo). The only downside is that I’m not getting many pictures. The film camera that I’d had for eons is finally out of the picture (pun intended). Methinks that I might ask for a digital camera for Christmas, which will make it much easier to take and upload pictures and video. Speaking of Christmas wishes, I might also ask for an Ipod so that I can load all of my CD’s onto it. This will allow me to get rid of all of my CD’s and save ALOT of space. (Space is a precious commodity for missionaries and it mustn’t be wasted)

I also got to do some home visits today for the first time ever. It was quite enjoyable actually. You basically go sit and talk with the homebound and then you pray with them, read scripture,and leave a dispensa with some basic food supplies in it. Not exactly sure what the rest of our time here will be like but I know it will be blessed. I know that we have at least one work project day. I would also imagine that we’ll be doing more evangelizing in the ranchos as well as working with some of the local prayer groups, some door ministry at the mission house, and some more home visits too. Then it’s back to Big Woods to wrap up Intake and then prepare for the annual Donors’ Dinner. The rest of December and some of January will be used to do final preparations before going out into the mission field. As far as me and The Eckstines are concerned, we’re leaning most towards St. Lucia/The Diocese of Castries, where Archbishop Revis is stationed. He’s a good friend of FMC and Mr. Frank and Mrs. Genie. He used to be the bishop of the diocese that the island of St. Vincent is in and that was when FMC missionaries were stationed there. We’re in prayer right now b/c Mrs. Genie is trying to make arrangements with him. It would be a great place to do ministry b/c of the desperate situation of families and marriage. In that area, almost 70% of the people are born out of wedlock and the culture there struggles with chastity and purity. The witness of a wife and husband with 10 kids, as well as the witness of a young single man who is committed to being single for a year, would be revolutionary. However, if that doesn’t work out then we’re almost certain we’ll go to Ecuador. All I know is that missions will be amazing no matter where we’ll go.

Another exciting thing to pray about during this first year of missions is friendship. What do I mean? I’m glad you asked. 🙂 A few months before as well as during the course of Intake, I’ve been blessed to befriend (name omitted). She’s another one of the singles in Intake. Originally from (place omitted), her family now lives in (place omitted). She’s good friends with (name omitted). When time permits, we’ve been blessed to spend time together visiting with each other. We’ve also been blessed to be able to pray together. It feels like a truly Christ-centered friendship and we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. It’s also nice to be able to have someone to share your faith life with, whether it’s Mass, prayer, ministry, or whatever else. We’ve talked to Mr. Frank and Mrs. Genie about our friendship as well as Mark and Lora Eckstine (my mission partners) and Odilio and Stacy Alvarez. We recognized that we needed accountability partners to keep us on track with our singles commitment this first year. We also recognized the need for them to pray for us as well. We want this to be a friendship that develops into what God wants it to be, and we feel like the only way to do that is through prayer. During this first year of missions, as we live our our singles commitment, and as we are stationed halfway across the world from each other, I really look forward to getting to know her better and seeing where God leads us. It also seems to be a GREAT chance to develop our communication skills. After all, when you’re living on opposite sides of the globe, you kinda have to do that! 🙂

Anyhoo, it’s almost time to head back to the car, so I gotta wrap this up. I just wanna say Thank You Jesus for all the wonderful blessings you’re showering upon me and all the ways that you are helping me to be a better missionary…..

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So the other day I was in the confessional…………

So, yesterday I was in need of the Sacrament of Confession (what’s new, huh?). I started the day with plans to try and escape during my lunch break and hit up confession @ Cathedral. However, my dad called me and said “Hey, I got some missionary work I need you to help me with”. As a domestic missionary and future foreign missionary, I couldn’t say no, and I think it’s cuz he used the word “missionary”. Yeah, had he not used that word, I might not have been as inclined to help. But I think he knew what he was doing when he used that word. The great part about it was that besides helping do some maintenance and yard work for a family member, I realized my dad was associating what he does here in the U.S. as missionary work (praise God!). I also realized that he was starting to associate the word “missionary” with the word “Sid”. 🙂

So I pull some strings with my other boss (mom), and leave the shop right after lunch. I go to help him do the work and without hesitation, but I still have in the back of my mind that I can be done early enough to maybe hit up afternoon confession @ Cathedral. As we work into the afternoon and I see how much we had to accomplish, I knew that Cathedral wasn’t going to be an option. This was mildly difficult for me, b/c when I need to receive God’s mercy in The Sacrament of Confession, I don’t play around. I go as soon as I can. But, I didn’t worry too much b/c I knew my delay in going to Confession was due to a worthy cause. I think it was also good because my eagerness to receive that Sacrament can sometimes cause me to get impatient when I can’t go right away. So,  I know the good Lord was teaching me patience. God was also putting it on my heart that the poor I will be serving on missions hardly ever have access to a priest or the Sacraments. It was God’s way of helping me to have compassion for them.

After we finished working, and ate supper at my parents’ house with my nieces, I get a hunch to drive to the Community of Jesus Crucified to see if one of the priests can hear my confession. Sure enough, Fr. Frey was more than happy to do it. After the confession, we chatted a little bit, and I asked him if they were still having night prayer at 9. He told me yes, and that he was gonna be saying a Mass immediately afterwards. Considering daily Mass time is at 6:15am, this was a pleasant surprise! In this small, humble little chapel, it was Fr. Frey, 3 other people & me. It was one of the most chilled, peaceful, relaxing, prayerful, and intimate Masses I’ve ever been to. Of course, Fr. Frey is so holy and dedicated and he’s a great homilist too, that any Mass he does is good. It was just kinda neat to see how I went from not thinking I’d get to go to Confession or Mass, to having both. Yet another instance of God loving me unconditionally and showering blessing upon me even when I don’t deserve it. In the interest of privacy, I simply ask you to say a prayer for this family member, for healing in all areas of life, and for a closer walk with God. Please say a prayer too that I would learn the guitar well (I’m teaching myself) so that I can use it as an evangelization tool in missions. Thank You & Praise God!

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My heart is content………..

Tuesday 6/22/10 – 8:30pm @ the chapel in the main house at Big Woods

What a time of blessing the past two days have been for me. Living out here @ FMC, living the daily routine of work, prayer, and recreation has been so uplifting for me. Before I even got here, I was blessed because I got to pick up two other come and see participants from the airport. Showed them around town (including the Cathedral), stopped for some seafood @ a local restaurant, and talked missions and faith life on our way out to Big Woods.

The first blessing was not having to go home at the end of the night. I got to feel what it’s like to live here. 🙂 I like it! Of course I also am getting to experience the daily routine of meals, prayer, fellowship, study, etc….. I’m starting to feel like I’m a part of FMC, and that I belong here. It’s gonna be hard goin back home on Thursday, but I know now what I get to look forward to for Intake in September. A huge blessing for me has been the witness of the Eckstine family, a family of 10 kids and Mark & Laura, the parents. Their prayer, unity, & working together, especially when considering how many of them there are, is mind-boggling. Also mind-boggling is how generous they are with their time and resources. They are not wealthy by any means, but you will find it very hard to out-do them in generosity. In particular, their children have been a blessing to me. It’s been so much fun talking and playing with the kids. They’re like the brothers and sisters I never had. The joy of children is awesome!  If you wanna feel special and loved, then devote your time and love to a child and you will definitely be blessed 🙂

Another thing that has been on my mind is how much I want my  family (especially certain family members) to receive the joy and blessings that I feel I have received. The reason this came to mind was because of a bible verse I stumbled upon yesterday, 1 Corinthians 7:14. It says “For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through the brother.” What I feel like God is telling me was that as I strive to follow the call to missions, he will bless my family with graces to draw closer to him. I now know that in my absence, God will heal and bless my family, and draw them into a closer relationship with him. So that means my family is in good hands. 🙂 Well, the night is here, and my eyelids are beginning to feel heavy, so I bid adieu. Amen! Alleluia! Glory!

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Gonna be thankful…………..

Thursday 6-3-10 – 10:30pm @ Adoration Chapel @ The Cathedral (Lafayette)

There’s nothing like literally being face-to-face with Love Incarnate to get you to realize your imperfections. I sit here, face-to-face with my Lord and Savior, and while I’m so happy to be here, it also makes me sad. I’m sad because Jesus’ love pierces my heart & soul and helps me to realize my selfishness and how long I have to go. But, I also feel like God wants me to be thankful right now instead of sorrowful. I feel like he’s telling me to combat the sadness, frustration, and hurt w/gratitude.

To begin, I give gratitude for my job and co-workers. Without them, I would not be able to make a living, and I wouldn’t be able to work on being a better person. I give thanks for my family. They are my rock. I give thanks for my friends. They are what I look forward to when the work week is over. I give MUCH thanks for my church parish (The Cathedral) especially Ms. Laura Lahaye and my fellow Lifeteen Coreteam members. I treasure the time I spend with them because it brings me great joy and helps me to grow in holiness. I thank God for letting me make mistakes and being able to learn from them. I thank God for the patience and forgiveness shown to me through others. I thank God for all priests, and especially for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I thank God for my health and well-being. I thank God for my call to go into foreign missions. I could go on and on about all the things I have to be thankful for, but there’s not enough paper in this book. 🙂

Praise You Lord Jesus for your kindness, patience, and mercy that you give to me. Without it, I would be nothing. Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, pray for us!

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DIVINE APPOINTMENT NAMED MARTIN…………..

Sunday 3/28/10 – 6:10pm @ Ms. Laura Lahaye’s house by Cathedral

I just commented to Ms. Laura how God gives you opportunities to grow when he knows you need to work on something. I was just at CC’s 15 minutes ago, and one of the things I journalled about was being docile to the promptings of the Spirit. Within that area of growth is the need to recognize and fulfill divine appointments, as well as having the courage to pray with others. So, as I’m leaving CC’s, a guy named Martin catches my attention. He very politely asked if I had some money or could buy him some food. I said “Brother, I don’t have any cash, but if you follow me over to Quizno’s I’ll treat you to some dinner. He happily obliged and followed me over. I knew as soon as we started talking that I was staring Jesus in the face, and that this was a divine appointment. How could I possibly say no? I couldn’t, so I didn’t. 🙂 We met up @ Quizno’s, ordered him some food, and chatted things up while waiting for his food. No big details of life were revealed, it was mostly small talk. But I was blessed by his presence and friendliness, and also blessed to have this opportunity. It dawned on me while we were still inside, “Hey! I said I didn’t have any cash, but I’ve got a bowl full of change in my car!” That “bowl” was the cardboard change bowl that CRS (Catholic Relief Services) distributes during Lent to collect money for the poor. So I told Martin, “I got some spare change for you in my car, if you wanna follow me out once you have your food.” He was real nice and thankful at the idea, and followed me out to my car. I handed him my CRS bowl of change, and told him “Just do me a favor man, and say a prayer for me, I need it like everybody else.”

Again, he was nice and agreed and we chatted a bit, and he told me “God Bless You”. But, then I did something that’s hard for me to do and that I rarely do; I asked him if he’d like to pray, and he graciously accomodated me and accepted. I prayed a quick prayer, partially b/c I was nervous, partially because I was embarrassed, and partially because I didn’t want him to think I was trying to beat the Bible into him in 30 seconds or less. While I could have done a better job at the prayer, it was such a blessing anyways. After we prayed, I bid him farewell, and let him know that if he ever saw me again and needed anything, to let me know. He more graciously responded “Maybe next time I see you I can treat YOU to dinner.” My heart just about melted with joy and love when he said that. Why do I mention all this? Because I have to. I can’t witness God’s works and not be a witness. I had just journalled about docility to the Spirit, divine appointments, and praying with others. And then BOOM!, as soon as I walk out of CC’s, he blesses me with that encounter. I guess I don’t want to boast about what I did. I just wanted to witness to the fact that God knows our needs, and he hears and answers our prayers. He knew that I needed an opportunity to do those things, he know that I was struggling with loneliness and lack of trust in his ability to bring me fulfilling relationships, so he blessed me with my encounter with Martin. Praise you Lord for blessing me through my brother Martin. I pray that I sufficiently did your will and that Martin is now able to help bless others that you bring into his life. Amen! Glory!

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IT’S GONNA BE A ROUGH LANDING

3-14-10 (continued)

How can i go back to normal everyday life when I’ve seen how much of a blessing life as a missionary can be. On the other hand, I know exactly why I have to go back to Lafayette. I have to grow in patience and obedience until the time is right. So these next few months will be filled with fulfilling my obligations in the “real” world as well as preparing myself to enter foreign missions. Now I know that nothing is impossible with God, and that I can get through these next few months. I’m really looking forward to beginning to learn that I’m a missionary for Christ no matter where I’m at. I’m looking forward to continuing with Lifeteen Ministry @ Cathedral.

I know that I will grow in love for my family and friends. And of course, I am definitely looking forward to being as involved with FMC as possible. Hopefully I can keep in touch with my fellow missionaries, both short and long term. Joe and Brooke’s wedding is coming up this friday, there’s mission formation every week, and then of course there’s the Come & See weekend in June out @ Big Woods. All in all, the next few months will be challenging, frustrating, long, exhiliarating, rewarding, and most of all BLESSED. Gotta go now, this time for good. Think I’m gonna pray a chaplet of Divine Mercy during the flight. Lord Jesus, help me to grow in love and charity. Help me to always be ready and willing to give of myself for the sake of your kingdom. St. Francis Xavier, patron of missions, pray for us. Missionary family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us. Amen!

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DESERT DAY – PART 2

I know at least one other person saw it cuz I heard somebody gasp slightly as he did it. Immediately I thought of the story in the Bible of the poor lady who put her two last coins as a tithe, and I knew right then and there that Omar had just made the Scriptures come to life for me. This man has NOTHING! And he still gave of himself and his blessings. Praise God for his witness! The last thing I remember about Omar was after Mass, we all gathered for a picture with him right outside the Cathedral After the picture, I brought some of his stuff down the stairs to the corner where he was sitting & waited for them to wheel him down the ramp on the opposite corner. As they were wheeling him down the sidewalk towards the corner where I was sitting at, I had another huge blessing. I got to see his beautiful smile, he beautiful face, and his wonderful laugh. It’s as if his whole face & laugh & expression was full of love & joy. Most definitely I felt like I was seeing Jesus face to face. So after another visit with him, joking around with him & he with us, we prayed with him & went on our way. Lest I forget, we also were able to get some medicine for him and some alms as well.

The next two things I’d like to mention is God’s timing & the power of prayer (especially in the Presence of Jesus’ Body in the Eucharist). Yesterday evening, after we got back from Saltillo, we had a few hours of free time. Towards the end of that free time, I was lying down in the courtyard looking up at the stars. After about 30 minutes, I decided to get up and walk around to see what others were doing.

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DESERT DAY – PART 1

Friday 3/12/10 – In the desert/rural area just outside of General Cepeda, Mexico (next to Rancho La Puerta)

I knew I couldn’t get by another day w/o journalling, and Desert Day is the perfect time to do it. First thing I gotta mention is Omar, my friend. If you recall, I first journalled about him after my trip to Saltillo the week of Thanksgiving. We met him outside of the Cathedral & were utterly blessed by his presence. Well, seeing him was what I was most looking forward to yesterday when we went to Saltillo. As soon as we parked the vehicles, we headed to the Cathedral for noon Mass. Sure enough, there he was, sitting at the corner entrance, in his wheelchair, under his lil’ umbrella.

I don’t know if words can properly convey how glad I was to see him. After a few of us visited with him for a couple minutes, we gathered all his stuff and wheeled him into the Cathedral to go to Mass with us. When the time came to go receive Jesus’ Body in the Eucharist, John-Paul Papuzynski asked me to wheel him up to receive. Of course I said yes, and was VERY happy to have that privilege. It almost felt like being able to do that made receiving Jesus’ Body so much more meaningful. John-Paul said afterwards that Omar had the biggest smile on his face when he was going up to receive Jesus’ Body. That comment in and of itself brought a smile to my face. 🙂 Another thing I noticed that really touched me, was after the collection plate was passed around and the usher was walking back to her seat, Omar reached out suddenly and handed her a coin to put in the collection basket. (to be continued)

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MISSIONARY JOURNAL – FINAL DISCERNMENT

12-14-09 continued

It was really good to go and see people I hadn’t seen in awhile (can’t remember the last time I went to Mass there). I was a little sad though cuz the last time I was at Wisdom to venerate the relics of St. Mary Magdalene, I knew the 2009 Intake was there, and it made me sad since they had gone back home to visit family before going into the mission field. I echo Sarah Kate’s sentiment that it’s too quiet w/o all the missionaries being around. But missing them is one of those little signs that tells me I like missions and being around missionaries. 🙂

After I had dinner with some Wisdom peeps after Mass, I went to Zea’s where some coreteam peeps had dinner after 6pm Mass at Cathedral. Sarah Kate was there so I got another opportunity to talk missions with her. Nothing new really, but like I said earlier, getting to talk about missions with anybody, especially another person who is into missions, is good stuff. Talked a little bit about her goin to Spain, about mutual friends of ours who are in mission or who might be going into missions. Fast forward to this morning, I had an epiphany while I was taking a shower that I think Lent will be my final period of discernment, and that unless God makes it abundantly clear that he doesn’t want me to enter Intake 2010, then by Easter I will have made my final decision. Seems right that I have that final deadline. I think it will help me to make a decision and stick with it. It’ll also help me to give my family and friends a final decision instead of me continuing to be in a state of “maybe I will, maybe I won’t”. Lord, give me the grace to face this day, to fall more deeply in love with you, and to be Christ to those I meet. God Bless!

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MISSIONARY JOURNAL – NOV 09 MEXICO TRIP – PULLED OVER BY THE POLICIA

11-29-09 (continued)

When I look back at all the mission trips I’ve already been on, and how the Lord got me involved with FMC over the past few months, it amazes me. When I think about how much I was blessed on this mission trip, how much I felt at home, and how much joy I feel, it all makes perfect sense. I think it is God trying to open me up to missions. As I said earlier during the week, “God, I give you my Yes, I pray that you help me take care of the rest.” I could go on and on and fill up at least a few more pages in my journal, but I’ll stop here. 🙂

After we finished up our prayer and sharing time, we loaded up and left. Our drive back was another one of my favorite parts of the trip. We saw some amazing desert and mountain scenery and just marvelled at the beauty of God’s creation. We actually got stopped by the Mexican police in the town of Monclova, but luckily all they did was check our documents and allow us on our way. I’ve heard some interesting stories about missionaries having run-ins with Mexican police as well as border patrol on both sides. Thank goodness the Holy Spirit guided us through it without incident.

Of course it was quite a long drive, especially with all the bathroom breaks and other stops. We left at approximately 10am Saturday morning and didn’t get back to Big Woods until 6am this morning. But again, the car ride is half the fun. I really enjoyed the car ride back because of the missionaries I got to ride with; Johnathan Weiss, Bree (intake 09), and Kristin Istre. We talked, we sang, we laughed, we played games, and really enjoyed ourselves. I especially enjoyed having a captive audience of full-time missionaries whose brains I could pick at to learn more about missions.

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