Posts Tagged With: Christian

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 27

Day 27 – Saturday – 10/20/12

You know that Bible verse somewheres in the NT, the one that says basically “I do what I don’t wanna do and don’t do what I wanna do”? Well, most of us know that it’s normally interpreted as “I do the bad stuff that ain’t good for me to do, even though I know it’s bad and don’t really wanna do it, and I don’t behave like I know I should and like I want to and know that I need to”. I actually experienced it in reverse last night: “I do the good stuff that’s hard for me to do, and I don’t do the bad stuff that I kinda want to”. I suspect that alot of you experience that as well. You know, wanting to do what you’re not supposed to, but you sacrifice your personal desires for the sake of doing what’s right. That not so easy or pleasant but oh-so-necessary part of being a Christian.

Last night, the devil was comin’ at me hard. He was tempting me, trying to get me to fall. However, by God’s grace and my cooperation with it, I stood firm. Though I could definitely stand to improve in how efficiently and quickly I cooperate with his grace. And so, while the experience itself obviously was not pleasant, in hindsight I’m very happy that I was victorious in that situation. I truly think it’s yet another sign that I’m turning the proverbial corner in my spiritual life. When I think about how hard the Devil tempted Jesus when he was fasting in the desert, and how Jesus held firm, the parallel is a very striking one. Hunger, the very thing that is exposing my weakness, is also what’s making me strong.

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 20

Day 20 – Saturday – 10/13/12

Just a little tidbit from morning prayer I’d like to share. The second psalm had an introductory verse, Luke 21:15, which says “I will inspire you with wisdom which your adversaries will be unable to resist.” When I read it, it really hit me. So I started to think more about why that verse struck me as much as it did, and this is what I came up with. When we talk to others about our faith there are 3 factors that we rely upon. First is the personal, or subjective aspect of our experience. This includes stuff like our individual journey with the Lord and our conversion experience. It could also include specific ministry we support or are involved in, the church parish we attend, or our favorite Christian authors. Also, how we use all of this to talk about God, based on our own personal experience is part of it.

The second factor is the objective. This would include sources/influences such as The Magisterium, The Bible, Sacred Tradition, Church Documents, etc… Basically things that come from outside of ourselves, that will exist after we’re gone, which act as a constant and objective source of God’s truth. The third factor is the Luke 21:15 factor. In my experience the subjective aspect is helpful in some instances when trying to bring others into closer relationship with God, But it is not fail-safe. Inevitably you will run into someone who will not be able to connect with your subjective experience. This highlights the importance of factor two, the objective factor. But even though it’s a more reliable and steady source, neither is it fail-safe. The reason I say that is because also in my personal experience, I’ve seen that you can share all the teachings of the Faith as illustrated in the Bible, Church Documents, classes, books, etc… But if that person is closed-off mentally, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, or some other way, all the teachings in the world will not matter.

But, if your relationship with God is a Luke 21:15 type of relationship, where you have wisdom that noone can resist, then you truly have the most important piece. Because even if someone can initially discard your experience & the Church’s wisdom, someone who is truly in love with the Lord and full of God’s wisdom is irresistible.

Thinking back to last night’s missionary community dinner, it was another learning moment. I exhibited great control and restraint not to eat all day in order to observe my fast. But behind all that piousness was a not so pious motivation: I wanted to be REALLY hungry when we had all of that good food so I could eat alot. And eat alot I did. I was partially innocent, because when you’re that hungry it’s hard to pace yourself. For the most part though, mea culpa for sure! I wasn’t painfully full but I definitely felt very full. And because of the amount I ate (which included some sweets) coupled with the soft drinks I consumed then and for a snack later at night, I didn’t get tired until really late. Like 3am late. My sleep was a little restless as well, and I only ended up being able to sleep till about 8:15.

On the flipside, by staying up late I go to enjoy hanging out and chatting with Albert. My saving grace is that today is our weekly free day. So I will be able to take naps if needed. 🙂 Overall though the experience was good, because it gave me a deeper, more personal understanding of hunger, sharing, and self-control. One of the blessings yesterday was that my fast directly impacted my decision to help share food with a lady. I was tempted to say no because I didn’t have alot and was saving what I was preparing for supper. Yet, when she asked me, I could tell that she really wanted it and needed it. My next immediate thoughts were of my own hunger and how unpleasant it was, followed by the thought that there was no way in good conscience that I can send her away empty-handed. So not only did I manage to give her a small amount of my own food but one of my mission partners was able to give quite a bit to her.

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 12

Day 12 – Friday – 10/5/12

!On the twelfth day of fasting, my stomach said to me, FEEEEEEEEEEEEED MEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

anyhoo, here’s my real journal entry:

I’ll have a little bit more of the hunger factor for at least part of the day. This week I’ve been eating lunch but because of Desert Day today I have to wait until supper to eat. No biggie. God will give me the grace to offer it up. For Desert Day, I’m reading St. Paul’s 1st letter to the Thessalonians. And I guess as a missionary I’m starting to read this from a new perspective (bout time! considering that I’m already into my third year of missionary service). I almost feel like I could replace the names in 1 Thessalonians with my name and the names of my fellow missionaries and the people who are part of the local churches we serve.

I’m reading how people talked about the impact of St. Paul and his fellow missionaries’ visits. It also talks about how the people turned from serving idols to serving God, the Living and True God. It gives me alot of hope and encouragement for my missionary vocation. And thank goodness I was reading in 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5, because now I know what our vocation as Christians is. But you gotta read verses 16-18 to find out. 🙂 Hasta La Pasta!

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Coffee, Contrition, and Clarity

Saturday, September 8, 2012 – 1:10pm – Cafe Central Coffee Haus – Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico

So I’ve been back in General Cepeda for about 2 months now. Earlier this week I realized that even amongst all the down time I’ve had from week to week, I’ve not left town a single time. So I decided to come to Saltillo for a few hours, just to get away. Hopped on the bus, and 35 pesos and 2 hours later I arrived. Having been here many times before, I had no desire to do anything touristy. I just wanted to walk around, explore a tiny bit, and relax.

I’d heard that just down the road from where the bus drops you off, there is a mall. Small, but nice. And the added bonus was stumbling upon this coffee shop. After I walked around the mall, I knew that this was where I’d have my chill time. Spending time at coffee houses is one of my favorite things to do back home. This habit first started during my high school days and cemented itself into my life during my college years. It’s a place and an environment where you can read, study, relax, visit, or people watch.

Did morning prayer from the breviary once I sat down with my frappucino. Also read alot from a book by Ralph Martin, a prominent figure within the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. People-watched. Enjoyed the calm, relaxing atmosphere. The soothing hum of the coffee machines, coolers, and various other appliances. Realizing through all of this that we should always have some scheduled down-time, just to relax, refresh, re-energize, and get away for a bit. Also realizing that a key element in living apart from your favorite places and people is to always carry them in your heart. Another key element is to seek out a little taste of home wherever you are. A peaceful coffee shop. A city park. A grocery store. A shopping mall to aimlessly walk around in. These special things and little reminders are a part of who you are and what makes you unique. Embrace them. Rest in the comfort of these little blessings God sends you. They are part of what has made you who you are and gotten you to where you are. I believe in doing this, you will be more genuinely yourself and thus be better able to live and serve where God has you.

Another thing I want to share about is contrition, aka – sorrow for sins. As a Christian the more self-aware I have become, the more I have reflected on this. I feel like I am truly making progress in my spiritual life and that the Lord is helping me to find the proper balance in this area. What follows is a question I posed to several priest friends of mine and their responses. Names have been changed so that you can focus on the answers. And though not worded in exactly the same way, all of the responses essentially and basically say the same thing.

God Bless!
(the following is the question I posed to my priest friends and their responses)

Is it possible to have a healthy fear of sin (a fear that, if healthy enough will get me to the confessional) without feeling sadness or desperation? Another way to phrase the question is, Is it possible to have a healthy fear of sin without being scared of sin?

“My thoughts…Yes. One of the compounding negative effects of sin, especially habitual sin, is despairing emotions/shame. The progress one makes in combating sin is not all lost by a later fall. One truly does get closer to God and grows in his love and grows in trust. A later fall grieves us but our increased trust in God’s mercy dominants our emotional reaction to the sin.” –Fr.K—

“Yes, A healthy fear of sin, is a fear of the distance from God it brings. Being scared of sin means feeling that it’s bigger than God’s Mercy and therefore unforgiveable. count your blessings that you ‘ve been able to move beyond the previous despair. Despair is a trick of the Evil one, to lead you to procrastinate about Confession, to believe less and less in the Mercy of God and more and more of your worthlessness; both are lies. Sin, does not cause you to become worthless in the eyes of God. There’s nothing wrong about you, even if you’ve done something wrong!” –Fr.H—

“I think you are experiencing consolations of seeing some of the progress you’ve made. That is wonderful! I would say: yes, enjoy the good healthy reactions you have but also make sure to guard against the sin of presumption and do not let up in your efforts at self-mastery… Enjoy the consolations AND keep fighting the good fight!” –Fr.S—

“I certainly think so.” –Fr.B—

“I can only give a guess at what’s going on. First, there is a distinction in types of grace. You may have fallen from a state of “sanctifying grace” due to the sin and thus your conscience rightly pricked you making you aware of the fall. Seemingly God has blessed you simultaneously with an “actual grace” of hopefulness and love despite your fallen state. I would guess it was God presenting himself to you through “actual grace” in an attractive manner so that you trust in his future goodness and continue to follow him. You could prayerfully reflect upon this as though you were one of Jesus’ disciples in scripture before his actual death and resurrection. The joy and inspiration they received from his presence would have been more along the lines of “actual grace” (blessings from God) rather than salvific, since he had not yet offered himself in forgiveness of sins. (Of course, Jesus did forgive certain people along the way, but forgiveness was not yet offered to all prior to his death.) [The other alternative interpretation is that the feeling of “being okay” was from another spirit other than God. A way to discern this is reflecting upon whether your impulse at the time was to avoid the things of God (perhaps a subtle sense of joyful passivity and ambivalence to the things of God) or were you being drawn toward God and a deeper awareness of the peace and love that he reveals?]” –Fr.J—

“ the short answer is yes. Feelings are not a necessary part of the spiritual life. The spiritual life resides in “the will,” not “the heart.” And so you ought to have an intellectual fear of the consequence of sin and have the strength of will to avoid sin. If your feelings support those, super good! If they don’t, well that’s not a big deal. It is not necessary to feel sad or even frustrated when you sin. All that is required is contrition – which is an intellectual understanding of the consequence of sin and a disposition of will to make amends. Of course, all that’s very clinical. Unless you’re a robot, your emotions will play a part. Just don’t give them too much power over you. You can be contrite, even when you’re not “feeling it.” And contrition is what you need, not sadness or despair.” –Fr.R—

“Interesting that you ask this because I was talking about it with someone the other day. I think it is possible to have a healthy fear of sin and yet not be given to great sadness or despair in committing sin. Especially with sins that have been habitual to some extent in the past and from which we are trying to purify ourselves, I think we can arrive at a point at which, though we may fall into sin we realize that God is still working with us and trust in His mercy. There’s a book called “Clean of Heart” that is a 50-day meditation on sexual purity. In the introduction it speaks of a similar thing, namely when one falls they ought not too fall into great despair and get overly-consumed with the actions of the past but simply recognize one’s brokenness, bring it before the Lord in confession and continue the battle again. Hopefully that makes some sense.” –Fr.B—

“In a simple answer, it is possible. The more we grow in trust in the Lord the more we also grow in developing a healthy fear of sin. The challenge if one falls though, regardless of the sin, is to never become complacent. In other words, to recognize the seriousness of sin and go to confession as soon as possible, but at the same time not to despair because one has fallen. This comes with developing a healthy fear of the Lord.” –Fr.G—

“First off, I want to congratulate you for cooperating with God’s grace to create ways to protect yourself from sins of impurity. This is the point of confession: not just to shed the guilt of past sins, but (just as importantly) give strength to change these sinful behaviors and to break free from old patterns.

I definitely feel that your new perspective on sin is another a sign of God’s grace affecting your heart and mind.

That “normal” past sense of despair after falling into sin is healthy and necessary in the early stages of spiritual development. As you mentioned, our conscience must be attuned to the evil ugliness of sin and should thrust us into a healthy sense of guilt and remorse as well as compel us to go to confession ASAP. But as we grow and mature in the spiritual life, we should develop a greater sense of confidence in Christ’s victory over our sins.

So… Yes it is possible – and is in fact the goal- “to have a healthy fear of sin (a fear that, if healthy enough will get me to the confessional) without feeling sadness or desperation.” That sense of despair that you used to feel was in some way a lack of confidence in Christ’s power over your sins. This transition in thinking that you’ve described is a transition from worry about what you have done (sin) and what you now have to do (discipline) toward a confidence in what Christ has done (died on the cross/forgiven your sins) and what you and HE together now have to do (cooperate).

So… “Is it possible to have a healthy fear of sin without being scared of sin?”… Yes. Because with Christ by your side there is no reason to fear sin. He has already conquered it. 2000 years ago. It’s done.

This is the transformative power of God’s forgiveness given through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Hope this helps.”

–Fr.M–

“When we realize that sin is not distasteful to God, but that we have messed up our relationship with Him we are usually moved to fix it as soon as possible. Humility tells us that we have more work to do. It is no longer a childish fear, but an adult understanding of what I have to do. We have hurt the One who loves us most and most perfectly. Sorrow is a condition that comes, but in itself does not necessarily give feelings. Instead, it is the movement to get things right.”

–Fr.B–

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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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June Missionary Newsletter

Easter is not just a day, it’s a way of life!

My Dearest Benefactors,

It brings me great joy to write you and let you know how the Lord has been moving in my life and in missions. The last time I wrote you, it was almost the end of Lent, which was a spiritually enriching experience for me. I hope it was for you too.

Holy Week and the Easter Triduum were a blessing as well. The opportunity to experience the life of the Church through another culture was a great blessing. I was chosen to be one of the 12 “Apostles” for the foot washing during Holy Thursday Mass & it was an experience I’ll never forget. I was also blessed by the St. Lucians’ celebration of Good Friday. The day began with Stations of the Cross at 4am with a group from our church parish. We prayed and had meditations for each station, then would sing and process down the street to our next station. At the halfway point, we joined up with another group from the Cathedral. After we joined this group and added to that all the other people who joined the procession, there were almost 2000 people! Later that morning I assisted with another Way of the Cross at a mission station on the mountain. We started at a parishioner’s house and had a 2-mile trek to the local school. As we were getting started, I saw that no one had yet volunteered to carry the wooden Cross, so I got to do that too!

As good as all these celebrations were, it was a real blessing to get back to “normal”. The difference now was getting to live out our missionary calling within the graces of the Easter season. For the first time in my life, I’ve seen Easter as not just a day or a ritual we go through. It’s a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection and his power in our lives, and I’m thankful that the Church celebrates it for 50 days! We’ve resumed our various ministries: nursing homes, prayer ministry, parish office hours, feeding the poor, evangelization, and work projects. We’re also making plans to start some new ministries. For the past two weeks, however, there’s been a slight change of pace. A visiting missionary group from Nebraska came to St.Lucia and is staying at our house in Castries. During this time we’ve been staying at a Franciscan convent in the south of the
island, having a team retreat, some prayer time, and doing some work projects. We were able to do some roof repairs at a blind lady’s house. We were also able to get her house primed to be painted. At the house of a young man confined to a wheelchair, we built a mold and poured the concrete for a ramp from his front door to the street.

We’ll be heading back to Castries tomorrow and then things will REALLY get hoppin! We’re welcoming 4 of our missionaries and a priest who are coming down to assist in FMC’s first ever Summer School of Missionary Evangelism.
It’s a month-long program where participants study Church documents and Scripture & take classes on mission work. During the last week they’ll be focusing entirely on going out into the community and putting what they learned into practice. I’m excited to reconnect with my missionary brothers and sisters & the participants as well. I think the fellowship during this coming month will fan the flame of the Holy Spirit in my heart. I look forward to a renewal of my call as a missionary!

At the end of the summer school (1st week of July) I will be flying back to the States for 6 weeks for a FULL summer. In July I’ll be assisting at Faith Camp. The focus is on providing an amazing experience of faith and fellowship for middle school kids that will deepen their relationship with Christ. The week after, I’ll be an adult volunteer at another Christian
summer camp that I attended as a camper and later as a counselor. The next week and a half will be spent visiting family and friends, & going to appointments and running errands. Then on August 8th I fly out to Europe for World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid! It’s an amazing event where millions of youth and young adults gather to celebrate Jesus and meet the Pope. We’ll be seeing various pilgrimage sites in Spain, France, and Italy before we go to Madrid to celebrate the overnight vigil and closing Mass with Pope Benedict XVI. My favorite part of the trip will be visiting The Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica! It’s the center of the Church and has been a lifelong dream of mine to be able to go there. A few months ago I
didn’t even know if I’d have the money to go, and then I got the message that an anonymous benefactor had donated the entire cost of my trip! Praise the Lord! Yet another humbling experience of God knowing my heart’s desires and providing for me in a way I never thought possible. God is good!

I would like to end my newsletter by thanking you for your constant support. Without your prayers my work would not be as fruitful as it has been. I also thank you for your financial support. It’s vital to my mission and I thank God in prayer that you have been providing for me so generously. Please continue to support me through your prayers and financial contributions. I’m still in need of a plane ticket back home to Louisiana for my summer visit and a round trip ticket from Louisiana to St. Lucia and back. I also need benefactors to continue to support me so that I can pay for my monthly expenses.

I encourage you to read my online blog, https://cajunmissionary.wordpress.com. Please feel free to email me (sidsavoie@catholic.org) or look me up on facebook. I love to share my experiences and pray for my benefactors. And for anyone who wishes, I also like to write talks, reflections, articles for bulletins & diocesan newspapers, etc….

May God Be With You!
Sid Savoie

“Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?”
–Job 4:6–

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Vieux Fort – week 2!

Team Retreat/Mission Trip – Sisters of St. Francis Convent – Vieux Fort, St. Lucia – May 22-June 7, 2011 (week 2)

Since I will be journaling several times a week, and only posting the collections of these entries once a week as a single missionary blog post, I forewarn you that this entry is VERY long. But I do hope you take the time to read it and enjoy the pictures.

link to pictures:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150199882382874.309058.605007873&l=e549cc195e

Day 7 – Sunday, May 29, 2011 – 11:14pm – Upstairs Living Room

Oh man, right now the journaling honeymoon is over and i’m realizing that’s it’s actually work sometimes. It’s like any other ministry I guess. Takes work but in the end the effort is worth it. Well, if I didn’t say anything about Mass, then I’d have to go to confession. So, yeah, we went to Mass. 🙂 Came back, and I uploaded my journal entry from the previous week and my pictures too. Spoke briefly to mom and dad on the phone to wish them a happy anniversary. It’s their 38th, which is amazing. I’m so grateful to the witness their marriage has been to me, and to the stability and foundation it has provided for me. Ate lunch, took a nap. Woke up around 3 and helped Mark, Sister Mary, and some of the kids deliver care packages for the St. Vincent DePaul society. All of the people we brought them to were her regular stops. Took about 2 hours. My whiney little mind was thinkin’ about how exhausting it was and how sweaty I was, but i knew I  needed to help out. Die to myself. And to see the kids and this older sister doing it, I had no other choice. Of course the need of the people we visited also helped to motivate me. Once we got back, I took a shower, and it was a pretty typical remainder of the evening.

“Only on the basis of friendship does a person arrive at the fullness of an interpersonal relationship.” –Cursillos in Christianity: Leader’s Manual–

Today’s gift of the spirit: Fortitude

Psalms 2:7-9

Do what’s right even when it’s hard

Day 8 – Monday, May 30, 2011 – 8:14pm – Upstairs Living Room

I wanted to begin today’s entry by giving thanks and praising God for my parents. Today is their 38th wedding anniversary. Their marriage has been such a witness to me, and has provided me with stability and a strong foundation in my life. Mom and Dad, I love you! Aside from that bit of good news, today was still a really good day. There was no morning Mass so I got to sleep in a little bit, 6am instead of 4am. ha! After morning prayer, me and Mark returned to Ms. Bibi’s house to finish up our work on her roof. We covered the rest of the screws on the metal roof with the tar-backed aluminum tape and also covered some long seams as well. Came back home and got some good reading time in. Went upstairs, watched some TV and then check email. After lunch, we went to the beach, this time on the Atlantic side. Lemme tell you that it was MUCH better! No horse poop, marijuana, or treacherous walking trails. In fact, the walk was really nice because most of the route there is along the highway and there’s a wide grassy shoulder that we walk on and it puts us far from the cars. The beach itself is much nicer too because there’s much more sandy area where you can lay down or sit. The water itself, also beautiful-er. 🙂 Really nice and clear. Gorgeous blue/green. And the waves were much bigger too. On the Atlantic side you get much more wind and current. After a quick dip on the water, I laid in the sun for a half hour. Was feeling very relaxed and enjoyin it. Then I decided to get my daily exercises done at the beach since I didn’t know if I’d get a chance once we got back home. The good thing too was that as soon as I finished my exercises I jumped in the water to rinse off. Walked up and down the beach for another half hour, and then we began our trek back home. Stopped first at the lumberyard to pick up some 2×4’s that we’re using to build a ramp for Moses, a paraplegic that we met last week. So, then, imagine two grown men, carrying some 2×4’s on their shoulder, with 7 kids in tow. Strange sight, I know. Then picture 1 of the men, sitting in the grass with all but 2 of the kids and the 2×4’s waiting for the other man and the other kids to grab some things from the grocery store. Yeah, I know. Definitely a sight to see and experience only in missions. Made our way home, showered, ate a snack, did some reading, and then we headed to 6:30 Mass, which turned out to be a communion service. I was particularly proud of Sister Mary because she went to get Ms. Bibi from her house and bring her to Mass. After Mass we came home, I changed my clothes and ate some supper, and then settled down to read those chapters from Job. I also began reading a new book: Love & Responsibility, by Karol Cardinal Wojtyla (Blessed Pope John Paul II). I’m not far into the book, but judging by what I’ve already read tonight and after looking at the table of contents, I think i’m gonna REALLY like this book. It’s all about love and sexuality and the responsibilities that come with it.

“Personal prayer is dealing in a friendly way alone with the One whom we know loves us; not a matter of thinking much, but of loving much.” –Cursillos in Christianity: Leader’s Manual–

Singing “Come Lord Jesus” to begin our retreat sharing time, I also happen to be glancing at my Star of David tatoo. Can’t help but think how in my personal life I often feel like the Jews did as they waited for the Messiah. I feel a bit like they did as they begged and prayed for his coming, and I continue to do so.

Just finished reading the latest book I’ve been reading, “Cursillos in Christianity: Leader’s Manual” & I thorougly enjoyed it. The thrust of the book is to seek those who are natural leaders in their environments and help them to become CHRISTIAN leaders in their natural environments. It’s a great thing for me to be studying during my missionary work.

Note to self: gotta think about 10 things that I’m thankful for here in missions.

At the recommendation of Mr. Frank, I’ve started reading the book of Job. His recommendation came after a recent conversation in which I was relating to him the various difficulties of being a first year missionary. I only got to the first two chapters tonight. Get this: at the beginning of his misfortunes his 500 oxen and 500 donkeys are stolen and the servants attending them are killed. It gets better. A firestorm from the sky kills his 7000 sheep and the servants attending them. Then his 3000 camels were stolen and the servants attending them were killed. Finally, all  10 of his kids were killed when strong winds destroyed the house they were in. You know what Job’s final response was to all of this? “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Mr. Frank, point well-taken. 🙂

Day 9 – Tuesday, May 31, 2011 – 8:17pm – Upstairs Living Room

Not much to say about today. We were supposed to go to Moses (paraplegic) and Annette’s house to build a wood ramp. When we got there and started talking about what we were gonna do, she asked us to wait and see if we could do a concrete ramp instead, since it would last alot longer. At first I didn’t know if it would work, or would we have the time or the money to do it. But, alot of times, things get done when people don’t accept no for an answer. This was one of those cases. Annette just wouldn’t let go of the idea, so me and Mark said we’d talk to Sister Mary and see what could be done. Long story short, we’ve secured all the ingredients we need for teh concrete and we already have the wood to frame the pour mold. Looks like we’ll be going back tomorrow to get it done. Supposedly a guy from town is gonna come and help get us started by showing us how to mix it and in what proportions.

“Man’s capacity for love depends on his willingness consciously to seek a good together with others, and to subordinate himself to that good for the sake of others, or to others for the sake of that good.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“Sexual morality comes into being not only because persons are aware of the purpose of sexual life, but also because they are aware that they are persons. The whole problem of ‘using’ as the antithesis of love is connected with this knowledge of theirs.” –Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?”
–Job 4:6–

So today’s reading from Job (ch. 3 & 4) are more familiar to me. Job laments his misfortunes to the point of cursing the day of his birth. Although I’ve never arrived at cursing the day of my birth, I have much too easily lamented my misfortunes instead of trusting in God. I think I like chapter 3 because it shows me that even really holy people are human like the rest of us. It also inspires me because it also proves that “all the rest of us” have the ability to be like “them”. Chapter 4 was also encouraging because his friend Eliphaz gave him words and witness to lift him up.

“Although the sexual urge is there for man to use, it must never be used in the absence of, or worse still, in a way which contradicts, love for the person.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

10 things I’m thankful for in St. Lucia
1.) beach days
2.) rainy weather
3.) the breeze
4.) constant access to Jesus’ Eucharistic presence
5. )the opportunity to more fully discern my vocation to marriage by living with and learning from a large  family
6.) visits with the elderly
7.) numerous opportunities each day for prayer and reading
8.) our friends from church and the surrounding neighborhood
9.) having manual labor to keep our hands occupied and as a way to bless others
10.) learning to appreciate all the small blessings of life

Today’s gift of the spirit: Knowledge
-Divine knowledge is revealed to us by God
-helps us to differentiate between what is and isn’t consistent with the faith
-only one truth
-prevents us from being mislead in the faith

“The established order of human existence, as of existence in general, is the work of the Creator, and not a work completed once and for all at some moment in the dim past of the universe, but a work continually in progress.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

Day 10 – Wednesday, June 1, 2011 – 8:48pm – Upstairs Living Room

Today got off to a pretty good start. As I was waiting here for Mark to walk Lora to the resale shop (run by Vieux Fort Children’s Society), one of Sister Mary’s friends called and said she was coming by. Homegirl dropped off a bag full of the little love apples. They’re small apples that are shaped like pears. Quite humbling to see how the people around here, who have only known us for a week treat us like we’ve lived here our whole lives. They’re very friendly and they’re generous too, even though they don’t have a whole lot extra. When Mark got back around 9:30ish, we walked over to Moses’ house and began working on the ramp. We didn’t actually pour the concrete today, but Mark built the wooden mold-form into which we’ll pour the concrete. A little bit before lunch time, Ms. Annette (Moses’ mom) said she would fix lunch for us. Knowing that they don’t have much money to spare because of Moses’ medical expenses, we were VERY hesitant to accept. But then we remember that part of being a missionary was to gratefully accept all the ways that our poor brothers and sisters want to bless us. We have to allow people the blessing of being able to bless us. They’re like the poor lady in the Bible who gave her last two coins. She didn’t give much, but because she was poor and because it was all she had, that is precisely why it was such a blessing. Lunch was actually quite good. She made some rice and cooked up some tuna and onions with some yellow tomato slices on the side.

About an hour after lunch we finished our work for the day. Yet another example of God not calling me to be super productive or successful. I didn’t really DO a whole lot. Yeah, I cut a few pieces of wood. But Mark did most of the work. My time was not for naught though. Just being out there, sacrificing my own desires to serve someone else was a blessing to me. Helped me to learn more how to try and put others before myself. The other thing I noticed today was that I continue to struggle with adjusting to life with all these kids. God-willing, I might even have this many one day. So yeah, this is a wonderful learning experience. But i’m still adjusting. It wasn’t that they did anything out of the ordinary. I think it was just that for some reason I really noticed the tension between the kids learning how to behave towards someone who is an outsider and learning how to respect that person and his space, while on the other hand that outsider (me) learning patience in dealing with and raising children as well as the need to compromise on things that are not of dire importance. It’s not easy for them to learn how to behave towards me and me towards them, but it’ll come. Only a matter of time. And in the end, we’ll all be better off because of it.

Seems like I’ve also been having alot of opportunities this week to share with friends and family back home about my mission work.  I never realized how much someone taking an interest in my work would be a blessing to me.

“The Creator’s will is not only the preservation of the species by way of sexual intercourse but also its preservation on the basis of a love worthy of human persons.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“There exists a joy which is consonant both with the nature of the sexual urge and with the dignity of humans persons, a joy which results from collaboration, from mutual understanding and the harmonious realization of jointly chosen aims, in the broad field of action which is love between man and woman. This joy […] may be bestowed either by the great variety of pleasures connected with differences of sex, or by the sexual enjoyment which conjugal relations can bring. The Creator designed this joy, and linked it with love between man and woman in so far as that love develops on the basis of the sexual urge in a normal manner, in other words in a manner worthy of human persons.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“Sexual morality and therefore conjugal morality consists of a stable and mature synthesis of nature’s purpose with the personalistic norm.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“If there is intimate cooperation between the man and the woman in a marriage, and if they are able to educate and compliment each other, their love matures to the point of which it is the proper basis for a family.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

Day 11 – Thursday, June 2, 2011 – 10:08pm – Upstairs Living Room

When you rely on an alarm clock, you should probably make sure it’s on before you go to sleep. It’s a lesson I re-learned today. Usually when I wake up early, i’m rested well enough but still feel a little bit tired. Oh, and it’s dark outside. Well today, I thought it odd when I woke up and before I opened my eyes I thought “I feel REALLY well rested. I wonder why?”. And then I open my eyes and see the light (literally), and then have that “oh crap” moment, and look over at my clock to see that it’s 5:48. I hear people outside my door, and I throw on some shorts, peek out the door, and tell them that I must have slept through my alarm. So, instead of going to 6am morning Mass, I took a shower, and had some personal prayer time in the chapel. Even when I go to bed really late I usually am able to wake up early anyways. But, I know that with some better time management and getting to bed a little earlier I can avoid mornings like this morning altogether. The only other notable thing was the laid back day I had today. Now, if you’ve been following my blog the past two weeks, then you know the whole time here has been laid back. More of a retreat atmosphere. But, we did a little more work project stuff this week compared to last week. And I fully expected today to be working on something. But Mark said that he was gonna have some of the kids help him paint Ms. Bibi’s house. I knew that there were only so many rollers and paintbrushes to go around. I also knew that Mark was looking for more ways to get the kids involved with our mission work. So, I jumped at the chance and decided to stay home and get some good reading and journaling time in. Checked my email, and then had some more reading time. Speaking of, it’s funny how when you’re reading a really good book it’s not hard at all to find time to read. Such is the case with me right now.

“To be attracted does not mean just thinking about some person as a good, it means a commitment to think of that person as a certain good, and such a commitment can in the last resort be effected only by the will.” –Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

(The above quote reminds me of the saying “Love is a choice not an emotion”)

Today’s gift of the Spirit: Piety
-makes us more sensitive to God’s guidance
-fills us with eagerness to do works of mercy
-Ruth 1:16-17
-a virtue that governs our behavior at all times

“Unrequited love is condemned first to stagnation in the person who feels it, then to gradual extinction. Sometimes, indeed, as it dies it causes the very capacity for love to die together with it.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“The structure of Love is that of an interpersonal communion.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

I’ve noticed that as an American, I’m used to having a full belly when I eat. Today at lunch, I knew what I ate was enough even though I didn’t feel full. But taking for granted the luxury and feeling of a full belly, I found myself trying to graze and stuff myself a little further. Eventually I got a hold of myself and realized that I’m a missionary and part of being a missionary is solidarity with the poor. And if that means not having the full belly and having to experience a little of what it’s like not to have an abundance of food, then so be it. Fasting is also a good way to be able to pray and offer up your discomfort for others. (sidenote: While I didn’t gorge myself or engage in the sin of gluttony at supper, I definitely stuffed myself a little fuller than at lunch time. Seems like this might be my next area of growth to focus on.)

Day 12 – Friday, June 3, 2011 – 8:27pm – Upstairs Living Room

The busier you are, the faster time goes by. That’s today’s theme. Left with Sister Mary at 8:30 to go to an elementary school in Micoud to assist her with Religious Knowledge testing. It’s an apostolate she’s developed and administered in her time here, and it gives the teachers, schools, and the archdiocese an idea of what kids know and what they need to learn in regards to the Catholic faith. Sister put me upstairs with 2nd grade (i think) and she had all the kids downstairs. After I finished collecting the written tests upstairs, I went downstairs to help her finish up. I sat down at a table and one-by-one a kid would come to me with his/her test, and I would ask them to make the sign of the cross and then say the hail mary. Even if they only got some of the answer correct, they still got half credit. Then we walked down to the bus stop and went back to the convent in Vieux Fort to catch a quick lunch. Hopped on the 12:30 bus to Castries for the Vocations Committee meeting. Got there with about 20 minutes to spare. At the meeting we had a post-mortem review of the Vocations Rally in May. Talked about what worked, what didn’t, what more we can do, and what we can change. Got a chance to talk to Sav (archbishop’s secretary) after our meeting and she said they’re still “processing” our visas. Told me to call her in 2-3 weeks to either have her tell me that they’re ready, or to get some kind of documentation from her saying that my visa application is being processed. If my visa isn’t ready, I need to have this documentation available in case the airport asks for it. That way I don’t have to pay any extra taxes or fees. Chances are, with the way I’ve noticed God working in my life as a missionary, the visa won’t be ready until RIGHT before I go back to the States in July. For whoever reads this, please please please say a quick prayer that our visas would get approved soon. So then we hopped on a bus back to Vieux Fort (about an hour, hour 15 to get back). Got home, took a quick shower, changed clothes, and then we went to First Friday Mass at 6:30. I really enjoyed the day. I know God allows me to have slow days for a reason, but I feel so much more productive and less lazy when the days are busy. Speakin’ of being busy, I think me and Mark are going back to Moses and Annette’s house to pour the concrete for his wheelchair ramp. Oh, and I just realized for the first time this week that I have no quotes or wise sayings to offer! 🙂

Day 13 – Saturday, June 4, 2011 – 9:54pm – Upstairs Living Room

Day started off pretty well. Slept in a bit because there’s no morning Mass on Saturdays here. Didn’t take a shower, cuz i knew that I’d be gettin all sweaty doin laundry and other possible work activities. After breakfast I decided to handwash my laundry again. Not that I’d wanna do it every week since we have a washer at our house in Castries, but I do kinda like it. It’s one of those voluntary sacrifices that I don’t mind. Gives me something to do. Helps me get back to the basics of life without technology. Helps me to get a feel for what it’s like for most people in this country when they do their laundry. About 2/3 of the way through doing my laundry, right when my hands were sopping wet, is when Mark decides to call. He said he’d call when he and the local guy he hired started pouring the concrete. So, after I finished my laundry, I went over to Moses and Annette’s to check it out and take a few pictures. It was another instance of me not needing to be there, in a utilitarian sense, but still wanting to be there. The very fact that I was there meant I was sacrificing a little bit of ease and convenience. It was also a good chance to take some pictures of the work Mark was doing and see the final product of his/our hard work during the week. While Mark and Ed were working on the ramp. These two really slick-dressed guys come in the house and briefly talk to Moses, and then leave. Nice guys, and very polite. But, as they’re about to walk in, Mark casually asks them what church they are with, and they reply “Seventh Day Adventists”. Not what we wanted to hear.

Now, I have to say first that at least they were Christian. And just the fact that they were out and about was a witness to us about the lengths we should go to evangelize. However (there’s always a however when Sidney tells a story about slickly dressed Seventh Day Adventists), I still wasn’t happy that they came. First of all, they didn’t go to any other house, and I know this because I saw them come straight to the house, and then saw them after they left. I felt like they purposefully went to the house of the guy who is paraplegic and cannot choose to not receive them. He can’t “get away” from them because he is basically bed-ridden. They knew they had a captive audience, whether he wanted to be or not. Another reason I wasn’t happy is because Seventh Day Adventists do NOT like Catholics. Among many other issues they have with us, they think having Sunday as the Sabbath is sinful. And regardless of what denomination you are, if you worship on a Sunday as your weekly Sabbath, it means they’re not very fond of you. But, when I was telling Sister Mary that story, I told her “if you look at what they did and then you look at what Mark as doing for him, I think he knew who really cared for him and was taking care of him.” Only other highlight of the day was finally getting a fan for my bedroom! 🙂 Sister Francis had basically set aside a fan to be thrown away because she thought it overheated when using it one time and that it was broken. Bottom line, worked fine and nothing was wrong with it. So, I had the first “sopping-wet-with-sweat-free” nap since I left Castries. Funny thing though, is that I’ve become so accustomed to the heat and sweat while sleeping in my bedroom here, that I think I can sleep without a fan on if I have to. Small milestone that helps me to feel more legit as a missionary.

“….sentimental love is very often a cause of disillusionment. Disillusionment where the woman is concerned may come with the discovery as time goes by that the man’s sentiment is only a sort of screen for concupiscence or for the will to use another. Man and woman alike may be disillusioned to find that the values ascribed to the beloved person are fictitious.”
–Love and Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“The process of integrating love (making love whole) relies on the primary elements of the human spirit–freedom and truth.”
–Love and Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“The experience of freedom goes hand in hand with the experience of truth.”
–Love and Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“Freedom exists for the sake of love.”
–Love and Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“….man longs for love more than for freedom — freedom is the means and love the end.”
–Love and Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

Day 14 – Sunday, June 5, 2011 – 11:21am – Upstairs Living Room

So I dunno if I’ll journal anymore after today, but I wanted to write down some great advice I received from a missionary priest that I met this morning after 9am Mass. 1.) Stay connected to your mission partners and the people you serve. You are not in a 9-5 job. Do not isolate yourself. 2.) Pray and you will be saved. Pray in order to stay connected and have a relationship with the Lord. 3.)Let go of the small things and don’t let them bother you or get on your nerves. 4.) Love the people. They are wounded and hurt. The way they will be lead to God is not by finger wagging or the finer points and minutiae of doctrine, but by a good LOVING life and example you set. Jesus loves you so you LOVE them. 5.) Be joyful. Smile. Come out of yourself. 6.) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

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My latest FMC newsletter article

Missions Is The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Loved…………..

There’s a common misconception in our world today that Love is synonymous with good feelings and easy times. And while good feelings and easy times can sometimes be indicators of a season of God’s grace in our lives, they are not the be all and end all of the Christian life. When we look in the Bible, from Adam to Moses to Jesus to the Early Church, we see lives of sacrifice. Whether God tests us as he did with Job, or whether we are persecuted for our beliefs as were Jesus and the early Christians, we know that the path to salvation is not an easy one. The first half of Isaiah 49:4 says “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity” I do not mention these things to discourage you. I mention them to encourage you. I don’t want you to lose heart as soon as things get tough. I don’t want you to think all is lost when tough times reappear.

As I sit here in our mission house in St. Lucia, reflecting on my first three and a half months as a foreign missionary, this is what comes to me. As a matter of fact, the title of this very article is a phrase that popped into my mind when reflecting on how to describe life as a missionary. What is so hard about being a missionary? The first thing that comes to mind is family and friends. As good as they are, and as much as they are a blessing in my life, God has called me to the sacrifice of being far, far away from them for the next 2-3 years of my life. Then there are all the small luxuries of life in America. I can’t go down the road to Meche’s donuts. There’s no boiled crawfish readily (or ever) available. Sometimes we don’t have hot water. It’s never cold, which on the flipside, means it’s always hot. On a more serious note, we face a nation that struggles mightily with promiscuity and a breakdown in the family unit. We face churches that are dwindling in numbers. Many of the youth are surrounded by poverty and affected by gang violence and other types of crime.

On a personal level, missions is hard because I actually have to look at myself for who I really am. In this sense, missions is kind of like a cross between a mirror and a microscope. God is stripping away the layers, helping me to get to know the true me, for better or for worse. In a nutshell, I’ve come to discover that I can be a grumpy recluse who is selfish and can’t be bothered.

However, lest you think missions is too hard, I must also mention the amazing things about life as a missionary. The first thing is that God provides. The second half of Isaiah 49:4 says “yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God.” I experienced this truth in bits and pieces over the years on the many mission trips and pilgrimages that I participated in. Never did I lack for funds or any other necessity. And now, as a full-time missionary I get to experience that all the time. Even if it’s at the 11th hour, God ALWAYS supplies me with the money I need to travel or buy supplies. Many times his providence is not only sufficient but also abundant! Whether it’s through my benefactors back home or the generous people of St. Lucia, I am never lacking anything I need. Never.

Another tremendous blessing of being in missions is seeing how God raises up servants to be our co-workers in the vineyard. With all the difficulties of getting adjusted to being a foreign missionary, living in a foreign country, and coming face to face with all the problems here, I was beginning to get discouraged. I just couldn’t see how there could possibly be anyone who would carry the torch whenever our time here is done. However, God has slowly revealed that there are amazing servants here who are willing and ready to work right along side with us. There’s the lady who feeds the poor and fosters orphans, Our pastor and his driver give us rides since we don’t have a car. Our friends in the community (who oftentimes are poor and in need) bring us food and cook for us. Young adults from the community have become regular visitors at our mission house and are beginning to help us plan bible studies and other ministries. Our Archbishop, Robert Rivas will often take time to serve guests their meals at various diocesan events. If I had more space, I could give you many more examples.

One thing I never realized about missions was that my relationships with my family would actually improve. Kinda seems silly when you think about it. Lemme move thousands of miles away, and not see my family for months and months at a time. Yeah, that’ll work. But it’s so true. In the absence felt both by me and  my family members, God is filling our hearts with a special grace. That grace is to be able to endure the sacrifices so that we can receive the blessings. Never before have I had such a good relationship with my parents.

The last thing I’d like to say is directed towards those out there unsure or discontent. Like some of you, I used to wake up every morning discontent. I would either think “Do I really have to go to class today? or I wish I didn’t have to go to work.” Even when school was good or work was not causing me stress, I always had that thought in the back of my mind that “there’s gotta be more than this”. Though you may think I’m crazy, I want to advise you to hold onto this, Pray about it, meditate upon it, and think about it. Take this discontent, and instead of letting it make you bitter or hopeless, let it motivate you to seek out what God wants for your life. Allow God to use the tragedies in your life, the moments where you are shaken to your very core to draw you closer to him. God’s has given me the grace to be able to do these things, and I do not regret it at all. Since my very first day of missionary training, and every day that I’m in the mission field, never have I woken up with dread or discontent in my heart. I know that I’m where God wants me to be, and that brings a joy and surety to my soul that is almost indescribable.

Brothers and sisters, please keep me in your prayers and be assured of mine.

“The Lord called me from the womb and he said to me ‘I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’ ” (take from Isaiah 49:1-6)

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Old Folks, dominoes, and visiting nature preserves……..

(follow this link for pics – http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=279206&id=605007873&l=fd7e8d37df)

Monday, March 14, 2011 – School Room @ Marian Home Mission House in Castries, St. Lucia

Normally I’m not big on frequent journaling. I’ve never been one of those people who can journal everyday.  Just can’t do it. The urge has to come to me. The moon has to strike me right. I just have to be in the right mood, u know? For me journaling is less about writing down the daily details and more about relating experiences and lessons learned. Sometimes I go weeks even a month or two between journal entries. Sometimes it’s as frequent as one or twice a week. Just checked, and my last entry was written five days ago. But as you can tell by the title of this entry, got to experience some pretty cool stuff since last Wednesday.

Old folks and dominoes is my first subject of journalistificationessnicityalityment. In case you were wondering, that was an overcomplification of a word to make myself sound smart and to give some variety to my entry. Sometimes the struggle when presenting factualities is that you feel like you repeat a lot of words and sound boring. As you know from previous entries, my visits to the old folks in the Marian Home is an almost daily occurrence. I feel like I have a responsibility towards them, and because it’s one of the only constants in my missionary life here, it’s high on my priority list. At first I didn’t need to think much about what to do when I’d visit. We just sit down and visit with each other and talk. And to tell you the truth, that’s all these people really need. They need someone to give them the time of day. They need someone to show them that they’re not forgotten and that somebody cares for them enough to sit down and talk. You’d be amazed at how grateful and easily pleased these folks are.

That being said, even if it’s only on my part, it does get a little difficult when visiting multiple times a week to hold up my interest level. That’s the struggle of missions: maintaining your charted course, the course you know is right and needed, even when the romance level of it all has gone down. So, taking a clue from my mission partner whom I saw playing dominoes with one of the residents a few days ago, I brought the domino set with me. I was still able to visit and talk and pray with some of them. But, I was also able to extend my time there with the dominoes. Simple games like that provide an icebreaker. It’s often easier for strangers to open up over a fun and simple game than it is talking face to face. The game also gives you something to do during moments of silence. When these old folks find out they can also school me, take me to town Charlie brown for a good ole’ domino beat-down, it perks them up even more!:) Maybe if I can get over my fear of losing, I’ll bring the checker-board one day.

The other really great thing was that we got to visit Lushan Nature Preserve today. The proprietor/owner, Arthur, is a parishioner at our church parish, Sacred Heart in Marchand. He has repeatedly invited us to visit and we were just waiting until the right time. Well, when he told us that he’s busy when cruise ships come in, we figured that today was a good day to visit since no ships were scheduled. He came and picked us up in the company van. Huge blessing because we didn’t have to secure a ride or pay for it. Brought us over there and gave us a wonderful tour. It consisted of walking around and seeing the different trees, fruits, flowers, other plants, and wildlife as well. The only true “wildlife” we saw were various species, but at the animal cages we also saw some guinea pigs, dogs, and rabbits. There were also various stops during the tour where we got to sample some of the food. At the “produce hut” we got to sample a few different things that grow here: Grapefruit, Starfruit (also called 5-finger fruit), sugar cane, & bananas. While sampling the homegrown goodies, he also talked a lot about uses and growing seasons, etc…. Later on we stopped at another hut where some employees talked about some of the creole foods they bake and what they’re made with. Of course, some sampling was needed, and lemme tell you, it was GOOD!

To finish off our tour, we passed by a miniature grotto he created with a statue of Our Lady Queen of Peace. We prayed together and then he brought us back home. I think though, that the truly amazing part of the tour was Arthur himself. Yes, the natural beauty was nice. The fruit was nice. The food was nice. Getting out of the city and relaxing and unwinding was great. But, Arthur’s witness to the Catholic faith and having a relationship with Jesus were the absolute highlight. Everything he talked about including stories of his blessed childhood and family life, as well as the trials he faced when trying to make a living in the years prior to opening a nature preserve on his family’s land, it all exuded his spirituality. This man’s connection to God was evident. He’s worked really hard at being a witness to Christian family life. He’s worked equally as hard at getting involved in ministries and bringing other closer to Jesus through the Catholic faith. He and his family make it a top priority to share the profits of the family business with many worth causes. Speakin’ of, it was very humbling too when he mentioned that he is going to make a donation to our missionary work. Also mentioned that he will bring us fruit and other local produce when it’s in season. Even invited us to have dinner with his family sometime. He’s also a very hard worker. All in all, he’s a great witness and sets a great example for the rest of us. Till next time, peace and God’s blessings!

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