Posts Tagged With: charity

Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 40

Day 40 – Friday – 11/2/12

What’s that you say? It’s day 40 of my 40 day fast? THAT MEANS MY 40 DAY FAST IS OVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! aoiejhanvclknasl;kfjgv;oairejhjgf;ncv’kjao;riehfanv;lknasfdoitaonc v;lakjhgoiag;ona;lxknv;oaijgf;ja;jkgfa!!!!!!!!a;isjv;lakngfajd;fljk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, I think I’ve got a hold of myself now. 🙂 It’s crazy to think that this is the end of my 40 day fast. I didn’t think it would go by so quickly. Neither did I think that it would be as amazing of an experience as it was. But I guess your first time doing something like this will always be memorable. Today was a pretty good day. Had a couple of cups of coffee this morning before heading out to pick up one of our home visits to go to the local cemetery to decorate family members’ graves for All Souls Day. We also went so that we could attend Mass in the cemetery. Lemme tell you somethin’, you ain’t seen nothin’ until you see All Souls Day (Dia De Los Muertos) in Mexico. I’ve never seen more flowers (real or artificial) in my life! And the cool thing is, it’s not some sad or mopey occasion. Here, it’s a celebration. People decorate the graves. They hire mariachi bands to serenade them and their dearly departed family members at the gravesite. They bring food, usually some of the favorite food of the deceased, and have lunch at the gravesite.

After Mass ended I came back home and tackled the table covering project. One of my benefactors sent me the money to buy new material to cover our tables with. Today was the first chance I had to actually get it done. Probably took me at least 3 or 4 hours. Now, I’m sure that I was slightly overboard on some of the things I did to make sure they were measured, cut, positioned, and then secured as best as possible. I was also just moving slow. There was no rush, not much going on tonight, so why hurry? Once it was done I was uber happy. The dining rooms and kitchen look alot better. To break things up a bit and to give myself a rest, I made a few trips to the grocery store. Since I can start eating 3 meals again tomorrow, I had to make sure I had some breakfast ready. One of my mission partners also gave me some pesos as his contribution towards the table coverings, even though it was all donated. So I ended up buying some absolute essentials for the house: coffee, creamer, and sugar! 🙂 After I was done with all that, I headed across the plaza to the church parish for a little bit of adoration. Did night prayer and was in the process of reading a book when they told me they were about to lock up, so I came on back, and here I be.

So at the end of my 40 day fast, I have no choice but to retrospect. First thing I think about is all the “commitments” I had for the 40 day fast. Most of them having nothing to do with fasting, but all of them having something to do with self-control or making myself better. Less computer time. More guitar practice.
Diversify prayer time. I think I just got too caught up in trying to add on all these extra commitments, thinking that they could just ride on the coattails of my main commitment, and I’d be able to get them all done. But it was kinda distracting too. Next time I do something like this, i’m just gonna have my fast and that’s it. Otherwise I’ll lose focus on the most important thing, the fast itself.

In regards to my main commitment, the fast itself, I think I did ok. Didn’t do bad, but could have done better. I learned alot about self-control and honesty. Many times I found myself trying to get around the rules by either having snacks, spreading out my meal to lessen the sacrifice of feeling hunger, or eating a ton of food for my one meal so that I was fuller (less hungry) for longer. Another thing I was blessed with is a better perspective on how hungry and poor people feel. Now that I know the anxiety of hunger on a whole new level, I think I’m gonna be more in tune to the poor and ways that I can help them. My prayer intentions for the fast were: 1.)For an increase in humility, 2.)For an increase in charity, 3.)For clarity in discerning what next year will look like for me, 4.)For our Intake missionaries, 5.)For my sister and nieces, and 6.)For our presidential election. I think time will tell how much I succeeded in numbers 1 & 2. But I do think that I was blessed in those areas. As far as #3 is concerned, I definitely think I have more clarity now. Numbers 4-6, well, only God knows how those were affected. But I know that prayer works, and that God is a mighty God. And maybe I’ll never know in my earthly life what the effects of my prayers were, but when I get to heaven, then it will all make sense.

All in all, it was a great experience. A perfect way to prepare for all of the visiting missionaries this month. And a perfect way to end the year.

p.s.- Decided at 10:45pm that at midnight, when my fast ended, i’d celebrate by eating a bowl of cereal. Had to be the longest 75 minutes of my life.

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 16

Day 16 – Tuesday – 10/9/12

Well, the split-meal thing worked out ok, but I think I need to give it some more time to see if it makes a difference. I didn’t really notice much of a difference yesterday as far as feeling hungry is concerned. In fact, I think it actually lessened the hunger because even though I ate the same amount of daily food. I was eating more often. The only difference so far was that this morning I did feel slightly hungrier. Be interested to see if that lasts. Last night I regretted not having my daily mealtime at supper. Why? Tono’s family. ‘Nuff said. 🙂 His family is from the town where we live, and they have been missionaries with FMC going back many years ago. They recently moved to another part of Mexico to be missionaries and are in town a few days to visit. We went over to their house after night prayer to visit because we didn’t know if we’d see them again before we went back to the states. Stupid gringo that I am. Shoulda known there’d be amazing Mexican food cooked by his wife Mari. 3rd stupidest thing to do in Mexico, is to visit Tono’s family while fasting. I did allow myself one flour tortilla and a few pieces of really good cheese some other lady made/brought. It really was good to see them though. I’m glad we got the chance to go, since we don’t know if we’ll see them again before we leave at the end of November.

On a more serious note, I realized two things this morning during my morning walk: 1.) I need to stop praying for humility and charity so that God stops testing me in those areas. Because we all know that when you pray for something like humility, charity, patience or whatever else, that he doesn’t automatically grant them to you. He tests you in those areas to help you develop in those areas. That takes work and time, and isn’t easy/painless. 2.) I’ve got a LONG way to go in developing love and concern for the poor. Obviously I don’t mean #1 literally, but it’s just hard to be tested like that. Number 2 is the truth for sure. This morning on my morning walk around the plaza in front of our house, I saw a lady I recognized coming in my direction. It pretty much looked like she was headed straight towards me. When I moved, she seemed to move in the same direction, almost as if she was actually trying to run into me. You know what I was thinking? “Lady, please get outta my way, stop trying to get in front of me. I don’t have anything (not true), PLEASE don’t ask me for anything.” Really cruddy stuff to be thinkin’. Especially considering that I’m a missionary, and I’m supposed to be an example of holiness and charity, and a servant of the poor. That lady was Jesus in disguise, and I walked the other way. :/

It’s like I still have that attitude of self-centeredness, that somehow I can’t be bothered. If it’s on my terms, I’m fine. But if it’s not, it gets me all twisted. That’s just it though, life and it’s needs and ministry opportunities are not “according to Sid”. They’re not on my time-frame, not on my terms. It’s GOD’s time-frame and terms that should be the guiding force. However, the paper-thin lining of this large gray cloud of self-centeredness that’s really obscuring the SONshine, is that God has blessed me to recognize that I struggle in this way. Now that I’m more aware, I can go to God and ask for his help.

I’ve also noticed one of the negative parts of being a poor missionary, at least as far as it pertains to me personally. It’s the whole notion of self-preservation or non-sharing. As a poor missionary whose funds seem to be perpetually VERY low, I find it easy to self-preserve and hard to share. After all, I don’t wanna give away everything and not be able to provide for myself, right? Well, that’s true but only to a certain extent. While I have to be able to provide for my legitimate needs, I also have to be willing to go out of my comfort zone to share with others and give out of my need (and not just my excess). This is the essence of true generosity. But I have not done this well, not at all. I have allowed myself to somewhat devolve into a justified existence of not really giving as much as I could/should, as well as becoming prideful and judgmental of those who ask for help, making it way too hard for them. All under the seemingly laudable guise of “prudence”. I’d like to think that the downturn in people who come to our door is because they know we aren’t just walking-talking wallets who give out cash willy-nilly. While that may be partially true, I suspect it’s more likely that they don’t want to have to deal with me. Even if you’re really in need, is it worth being humiliated or disrespected?

But as I alluded to earlier in this journal entry, at least I know this now and can begin to work on it. I also half-jokingly/half-seriously commented to one of my mission partners that I’m learning what NOT to do in order to fruitfully and effectively serve the poor. That’s why I wanna do a third year of missions. Now that I’ve finally arrived at the point where I know what to do and what not to do, I wanna be able to take that knowledge and put it into practice. The other thought that crossed my mind after all of this, is that The Bible says God’s power is perfected in our weaknesses, therefore we should boast of our weaknesses so that God’s power may rest upon us. If that’s the case, then my self-perceived self-proclaimed weaknesses make me one of the strongest people in the world! :p

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 10

Day 10 – Wednesday – 10/3/12

This morning I realized that even though I’m a “morning” person I can still be a little somber or grump-ish sometimes. It’s something I was reminded of this morning when we had to be at a 6am rosary at church. Another thing that’s been on my mind lately is how God changes us. It’s less of an instantaneous thing and more of a developmental process. Kinda like an athlete. An athlete doesn’t become good overnight with nothing but happy feelings. The excellence and satisfaction come after much hard work. I believe it’s  the same in our spiritual life. When we pray for patience, he tests our patience in order to develop it. Right now I’m praying (as part of my fast) for an increase in humility and charity. I have not magically all of a sudden been filled with humility and charity while being able to practice them perfectly. Instead of giving me humility, he has first humbled me, in many ways. Instead of increasing charity in my life, he has first shown me where I fall short and do not practice charity. I think these are necessary stages to go through in order to truly receive those gifts and put them at the service of others.

Gold is purified and refined in fire. A metalsmith heats up metal from it’s cold, hard state until it is malleable. Then he hammers it into shape to create the beautiful final product. Another thing the good Lord reminded me of is realizing what we actually want when we pray for something. What we really want when we pray for patience is an easy day where we are not tested. What we really want when we pray for humility is not to be humbled. What we really want when we pray for charity is to feel good about having gifts to share without actually having to part with those gifts. And by the way, my self-control was tested this morning after the rosary. I had to sit and watch everyone else eat the delicious tamales Marta prepared yesterday. However I was able to take 3 of them home and eat them for lunch. 🙂

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We are our own best friend & our own worst enemy

Friday, August 24, 2012 – 4:00pm – under a bridge at the edge of town – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Strange spot for a desert day prayer time, I know. But, it was the quietest and shadiest spot I could find. Even though it happens to be under one of the main roads in town. When you live in a small town like this, the “main roads” are not all that busy. We were also short on gas so we had to pick a close spot, and this was the best we could manage.

The bible verse I got today is Acts 16:9-10: “One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and kept urging him in these words, ‘Come across to Macedonia and help us.’ Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the good news.” Now my point here is not to talk about visions, as great as they may be. And my point here is not to determine whether it’s better to have this foreigner or that foreigner appearing in your dreams. My point is simply this: God can work in your life much easier when you are relaxed and open. How much more relaxed and open can you be, than by being unconscious in a state of sleep? I think that’s why God so often has used and continues to use visions and dreams. But before you rush to the neighborhood pharmacy to buy some Melatonin, realize that you don’t have to be unconscious for God to speak to you. You just have have to be humble, willing, and ready to hear him.

A few other tidbits that came to me:

1.) We are our own best friend & our own worst enemy. – Sure, there are lots of things that are not within our control. There are also alot of things that ARE within our control. One thing that is always in our control is how we react to life happening. All too often we hide behind the lie of being helpless as a way to excuse how we react to certain things. All too often we see defects and problems that are noone else’s doing but our own, and we despair. How do you fix yourself if you yourself are the root of the problem? We are our own worst enemy because of this. But (there’s always a “but” in the vocabulary of the ever optimistic Christian), this should also give us great hope. If we are our own worst enemy because of the power we wield against ourselves, then it should follow that for this very same reason we are our own best friend. Who controls whether or not we react with charity or anger? We do. Who controls whether or not we go to Sunday Mass or stay in bed? We do. Who ultimately makes our choice for good or for evil? WE do.

2.) Giving out of our need – as a pretty frequent 10% tither in the past, I was comfortable. It was a little more than I wanted to give, but not so much that I felt uncomfortable. I knew I was doing good, and that was enough for me. Now, as a foreign missionary, I have become acquainted with giving out of my need, instead of giving out of my excess. 10% net tithing of an American sized weekly income, even when small, still leaves alot left. Giving ANYTHING when you live in excess of $6000 below the poverty line, is a little tougher. It’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s where our words that we preach and profess are tried and tested, to see if we’re ready to live it. Never before did I ever think I’d be stingy about a single apple, or a few slices of bread. Never before have I felt the remorse I feel when I think I’ve not given enough to someone who is truly poor. And never before have I felt the immense joy of truly giving out of my need. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it. For their livelihood, and for your holiness.

3.) Giving lovingly and not begrudgingly – It’s SOOOO easy to give begrudgingly. Resenting that poor person because you think they’re too lazy to work for it, or because they’re bothering you at an inconvenient time. How dare they do such a thing! And to tell you the truth, I have a long way to go in this area before I get to where I wanna be. But I’m glad it’s not easy. I’m glad it’s a challenge. Because I know that when I do get to a point in my life as a Christian, that I can give to those in need, and do it with LOVE, then I will indeed be blessed.

4.) Voluntary poverty – Now why on God’s green earth would someone choose poverty? That’s just straight up dumb! If that’s the hand life deals you, then ok. But to choose it? You mean to tell me that you WANT to be poor? You want to give up the securities of a financially comfortable life? WHY?!?!? I’ll tell you why. It’s for the same reason that our omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God decided to incarnate himself to save us. To truly serve with compassion those to whom God has sent us to serve, we can’t look down on them. We can’t be prideful. We have to live among them. We have to be friends with them. We have to suffer with them. We have to feel their pain. It is only then that we can truly minister to them with a sense of urgency, passion, and care.

5.) Maybe it’s God’s plan to allow us to struggle – This one ties in pretty closely with #4. Looking back on my first year of missions, I spent WAY too much of it trying to retain a level of comfort and security which would remind me of life back home in the States. I resented the fact that my mission partners, while cooking a sufficient quantity of food for us to live off of, cooked food that at times was humble and far from fancy. And not gonna lie, at times I could have eaten alot more that what we had. Mission life is hard enough already, why skimp on food? This year, I still struggle with not wanting myself to struggle. Since we’ve been here, and especially in my time since language school, it seems like me and my mission partner’s meager monthly stipends have been burning holes in our pockets. We have just barely enough to survive, but not enough to survive without having to worry. Part of me hates this. Why should I have to worry about whether or not we can put gas in our van? Why should I have to worry about whether or not I will have to live off of hotdogs for the next 2 weeks? But as these worries flood my mind, I start to realize some of what those who are truly poor have to go through all the time. And then I hang my head in shame. While I simultaneously thank God for all he has given me. God you’ve made your point. Well played, my Lord. Well played.

That’s all I got this week y’all. Hope you have a blessed week. Ciao!

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MISSIONARY JOURNAL – HAD A GOOD JESUS VIBE GOIN ON

12-5-09 final installment

It’s a CD that has mission-themed songs and recordings and promotes missions. The vibe there was exactly like the vibe at Big Woods on Wednesday night. Seems like everybody knew everybody, and even if there was someone you didn’t know they were still really nice and willing to hang out and talk. I really believe that the missionary spirit is the reason why the vibe was so good on both nights, When I was talking with one of the missionaries, I found out that Saturday night they are having “Lord’s Day” at FMC. “Lord’s Day” is basically a meal within a prayer, and has a family atmosphere to it. It something done to welcome in the Sabbath Day. It’s such a blessing to attend (I did one a few weeks ago) and is the perfect mix of shared meal in community, prayer, and fellowship. Glad I found out about it cuz now I have something to do tomorrow night.

On a side note, I figured out that I want another foot tatoo since I can’t afford the big St. Benedict tatoo that I wanna get on my back. I want to get “Romans 10:15” tatooed on my left foot, b/c it speaks about how beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news. I feel the need for another tat. 🙂 Also, I felt like the verse at the bottom of this page is a good one for me to hear at this point on my missionary journey. (Joshua 1:9) It’s nice to be reassured that God will take care of it all. Well, I better get goin. My hour is over and I’ve got to take up early in the morning. Dear Lord I pray that the missionary zeal you gave me would overflow into all areas of my life, that I would persevere in prayer and charity, get up when I fall down, conquer my sins, and have people be able to recognize the love of Christ in the way that I live my life. Amen!

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