Posts Tagged With: Church

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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Drunk in church & reflecting on my fast

Sunday – 9:00am – In the back seat of the old gray missionary van on the way to communion services in the ranchos – middle of nowhere, Coahuila, Mexico

Trying to write a journal entry in this van is like trying to build a house of cards during an earthquake. Very difficult to do. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but it is kinda difficult. 🙂 But as you can see from the title of today’s entry, I got some pretty interesting stuff to talk about and didn’t want it to slip my mind. It also felt really strange yesterday not writing in my journal after having written everyday for the past 40 days. I can kinda see now how writing is therapeutic and can help you make sense of things a little better.

Now just to clear things up, I was not drunk in church, at least not on alcohol. But there was a drunk guy that wandered into Mass. I’m assuming he was a by-product of the concert last night at the Presidencia. Thankfully he was a very quiet and respectful drunk. You could definitely tell he was drunk though. His breathing was loud and labored. His walk and stance were a little bit wobbly. He weaved in and out of the pews a couple of times and had a couple of different seats before he finally settled on the same one for the rest of Mass. He also stomped his foot on the kneeler a few times. Oh, and at the end of Mass he walked up to the front pew and did a little dance too. To the credit of everyone there, they didn’t seem bothered or overly curious, with the exception of some stares by a few kids. What I felt kinda bad about was my initial reaction. I was worried that he’d be a distraction and that he shouldn’t be in Church. Wasn’t it Jesus that said he came to save the lost? Isn’t that one stray sheep just as important as the other 99? So for the rest of Mass I tried to pray for him instead of keeping an eye on him. Figured he could use my prayers more than my judgment.

Now that I’m a couple days removed from my fast I can also do a little bit of looking back on the experience. At this point I’m thinkin’ mainly of two things: guarding my growth and following my heart. When I think about the fast and all the graces I got during the fast, I’m amazed. The graces of chastity, patience, and perseverance are just a few that come to mind. I’m also thinking how awesome it was to have that sacrifice (hunger) to offer up. Now I’m realizing that I have to guard those graces. I have to continue to look to develop them. I’ve got to continue to look for sacrifices to offer up so that I have ammo against my weaknesses and temptations. Maintain the momentum. Yeah, that’s a good way to sum it up.

I’m also thinkin’ about the whole clarity thing, in regards to my mission post. When I started my fast, I was under the assumption that “clarity” meant figuring out which country I wanted to go to. Never did I think  when I started my fast that it might actually mean figuring out whether or not I would even go back into the mission field. What does seem clearer is that I don’t think I’m at peace with going back out into the foreign mission field, at least not at this point in my life. Maybe later in life, once I’m married? Who knows…. My heart is ready to pursue friendship and see what develops. That’s alot easier to do if I’m stateside. Plain and simple, it’s what I want for my life. I believe it’s my calling and so not only do I want to pursue it, I HAVE to pursue it. I also don’t think it would be fair to mission partners and people that we’d be serving if I had a heart divided between missions and marriage. It seems wise to pursue the vocation of marriage with a single, undivided heart, and then whatever else is next will fall into place.

That being said, I pray for those of you who are also discerning your vocation in life, that you would be patient, persevere, and receive clarity and peace. Please pray for me too as I pursue friendship and ultimately marriage. Till next time, take care and God Bless!

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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 32

Day 32 – Thursday – 10/25/12

Accidentally overslept this morning. First of all, I forgot to reset my alarm after my nap yesterday. Also, I put it inside my nightstand instead of on top, so I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to hear it anyways. Oh well, it’s still a good morning. I think because I got a little extra sleep and am well-rested, and because God is good, and because we have beautiful clear blue skies, the sun is rising, and because there’s a nice cool refreshing breeze, I’m just happy. As I was watering the houseplants I remembered that I finished a book yesterday and get to start a new one today, and I ended up singin’ a little song and doin’ a little jig! 🙂 Dorky, I know. The book I’m about to start is published by The Pontifical Council For The Family and is entitled “The Truth And Meaning Of Human Sexuality: Guidelines For Education Within The Family.” Looks to be very interesting and hopefully will give me guidelines and tips for when I have my own kids one day. I found it on the bookshelf here at our mission house. The next one is actually a small booklet on what the Church teaches about stem-cells, and then after that it’s a book called Mexican Martyrdom.

My only small sacrifice of the morning came when I realized I had no creamer for my freshly brewed coffee. Small thing, I know. But when coffee is a vital part of your morning routine, creamer is quite important! No worries though, cuz my coffee was fresh, hot, and had a little sugar in it too. Got to do a communion service at the nursing home and at one of our home visits. After that we made our rounds to the other missionaries’ houses to let them know that Desert Day prayer time is tomorrow at 3. It’ll be our last chance to do one as a group before the other missionaries arrive in November. Gonna do lunch at Rita and Gallo’s house, and then go with Raul and Marta to one of their rancho visits. Not sure if we’ll get back in time for Mass, but no biggie if not, because I got to receive the Eucharist when we did our second home visit. 🙂

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 25

Day 25 – Thursday – 10/18/12

Today is the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. Yes, that Luke, the one who wrote one of the four Gospels. And when I was praying morning prayer from The Liturgy of The Hours, the reading was from 1 Corinthians 15. The beginning of the reading is what really stood out to me: “Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and in which you stand firm. You are being saved by it at this very moment.” The fact that the Gospel has the power to be saving us at this very moment is awesome. Like I said, once I read that, I couldn’t shake it, couldn’t get it out of my head. Also, I finished reading Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth) this morning. At the very end, Blessed Pope John Paul II quotes St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:17: we have been sent “to preach the Gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the Cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” This brings me particular comfort, as someone who has never been a very learned person, nor have I been eloquent with my words. But it reminded me of how Christ is the source of the power that flows when we preach the Gospel, not our own skills.

Later this morning, I’m gonna go do some home visits by myself. Luis left early this morning to bring a lady to the hospital in Saltillo, the nearest big city (500,000) about an hour away. As with all hospital visits, it might take quite awhile, so that’s why i’m flying solo this morning. Gonna try and visit the three home visits that weren’t home this week, and there’s one more we haven’t been to yet, can’t forget them either. Hopefully he gets back early enough that we can do our scheduled rancho chapel visits. This is our last week as a mission team to visit the ranchos, so we want to visit one last time, and say our “goodbyes” before the group gets here. That way, if we lead the groups to visit other ranchos instead of these, they won’t think we forgot to say bye.

Well, Luis ended up getting back alot earlier than I expected. He even got back before our normal scheduled time that we leave for home visits, so it worked out well. Our two rancho visits were also good. At our first rancho, Ojo de Agua, we had all the regulars and then some. And by the time we started, they had even brought food and some drinks! I was amazed. Some people might not think it’s a big deal, but these people are not exactly rich. And for them to even do something as simple as bring a 3-liter bottle of coke, or make some gorditos is a big, big deal. So what I decided to do before I started my talk was to put all of the food and drink on the altar. Then I explained to them about how it was not just something to eat and drink, but a gift and an offering to God. I also explained that it was an image of the early Church, when for the offerings of bread and wine, the people would bring the bread and wine themselves for the priest to consecrate into Jesus’ Body and Blood, The Eucharist. It was pretty amazing. Reminds me of one of our rancho visits yesterday too. Afterwards, an old lady, not much more than 4 and a half feet tall, no less than 80 years old, walks up to my mission partner afterwards and sticks a couple small coins in his hand. And I knew, I just knew instantly that I was witnessing the Bible story from Mark 12, where the widow put her two small coins in the collection, and it was a more generous gift than the many many coins that the rich people gave.

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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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Sid’s August Missionary Fundraiser/Update Newsletter

“The angel of Yahweh encamps around those who fear him, and rescues them.”
–Psalm 34:7—

To all of my friends, family, and loved ones,

It’s good to “visit” with you again. It may not be in person, but I really
do enjoy these letters, which to me are chances to “visit” with y’all and
give updates on my life as a missionary. The bible verse above is one that
I received in prayer recently, during our weekly Desert Day prayer time.
It brought me great comfort, and I hope it brings you great comfort as
well.

Since we last visited, lots has happened! As my last letter arrived, we
had just concluded a successful one week mission trip with a group of
families, mostly from Southern Louisiana. To experience their energy and
enthusiasm was something that was truly inspiring to me. It brought new
life to our mission post here in Mexico. It renewed me as a missionary.
And most importantly it brought the light of Christ to the people here in
Mexico.

After the group left at the beginning of June, I had one week to help
clean up and regroup before heading off to language school. This was
something that I was very much looking forward to. After roughly 3 months
in Mexico, I had picked up about as much Spanish as I could on my own, and
I really REALLY needed some formal study of the language. I spent a month
in Cuernavaca at ENCUENTROS Spanish immersion school. It’s roughly about 2
hours southwest of Mexico City. My host family was gracious and
accommodating. They even integrated me into the life of their local church
parish, which led to opportunities to help the priest as well as speak
(yikes!) at the parish’s charismatic prayer group.

I also had several other small opportunities during my time in Cuernavaca
to minister to the poor and others in need. I learned a lot of Spanish,
and experienced great friendships and fellowship as well. And because of
the cheap cost of travelling by bus in Mexico, I got to go on several
excursions. My two favorites were Teotihuacan (2nd largest pyramid in the
world), and The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Many thanks to my
fellow missionaries Eric and Sarah Baquet for donating some of their
surplus funds to enable me to attend language school!
As I write this letter, I’ve been back at my mission post in General
Cepeda for 2 weeks. The name of the game now is me and my mission partner
getting back into the groove. We’ll be visiting as many as 8 ejidos
(desert communities) each week, bringing them the Word of God and
conducting communion services. Every week we have 6 different home visits
scheduled. And last but not least we have our door ministry, where we pray
with and help all those who come to our door. That’s not to mention all
the other occasional and random opportunities that God sends our way!

I would also like to remind you of 2 upcoming mission trips that God has
opened the doors for me to participate in. One is this coming winter (Dec.
or Jan.) in India. During our time there we’ll be doing a combination of
evangelization and corporal works of mercy. The last time FMC visited
India, we worked with The Missionaries of Charity (Mother Theresa’s nuns),
brought food and evangelized in the slums, and spoke to various student
and church groups. I also have the opportunity to attend a post-Christmas
week mission in the barrios of Buenos Aires. Some fellow pilgrims from
World Youth Day last summer have invited me to participate in this mission
sponsored by a local Catholic prayer group. As you can imagine, I will
need lots of help to make it to both of these trips. God has opened the
doors for me to go to India and Argentina? Will YOU help me to walk
through those doors?

Last but not least, I would like to thank all of you for your generosity
which enables me to live the blessed life of a foreign missionary. Without
you, I would not be able to do what I do. Please also remember that every
little bit helps. (see Mark 12:41-44) Please pray for me, the missionaries
I work with, and the people we serve. And please continue to be generous
in helping me to live life as a foreign missionary. The needs are great &
and I can only continue to meet those needs with your help.

In Jesus’ Love,
Sidney E. Savoie, II

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Mother Mary and The Pyramids

Sunday – July 8, 2012 – 10:24pm – Casa de Misiones – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Well, it’s “only” been three weeks since my last journal, so I guess I’m gettin’ a little better with being more frequent. 🙂 As you can see from my trademark time/date/place stamp, I’m back at the mission house. And boy did my time in language school go by fast. There are way too many small things that happened and that were good, and I can’t get to all of them. Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed language school. Enduring the difficulty of being in a place where almost nobody speaks your language, and having to learn a new one is not easy. There were times during language school when I was humbled by how much I was struggling, in spite of being self-proclaimed “good at languages”. But on my journey home from language school and here at the mission house I’m already starting to notice the difference. I’ve still got alot practicing to do, but at least now I’m somewhat functional in the language.

Even more than the places I saw and things I did, it was the people I met during my time in language school that really made the experience as wonderful as it was. Jeannie, the founder/director of ENCUENTROS language school, was the main reason I think I decided on that school. As an American ex-pat she was very easy to communicate with, prompt in her responses, and easy to work with too. All of my teachers/guides were super nice and helpful, and made learning a new language a pleasant experience. My host family, Mario and Marusa, displayed amazing amount of hospitality and patience. So many other friends that I made during my time there, especially my fellow students, made it something I’ll never forget.

Mike, Me, & his wife Ashley

Me and some of the students and maestras

The second most memorable event of the past three weeks was my visit to the pyramids at Teotihuacan. I tried to go visit them this past Wednesday, but ended up losing my wallet and didn’t have enough money to get in. I was sad not only for losing my wallet, but also because I had some so close yet so far. I could see the pyramid, I just wasn’t able to climb it. Only had enough money to get back home, and so I left with a sad, dejected feeling and thinking a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity had just passed me by. Well, once I got back home and got all my cards blocked and got some money wired to me, I started scheming. I told myself that Saturday on my way back, I was going to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Cathedral downtown. But then I got word from another student that Saturday there was gonna be a big protest of the results from the presidential elections from the previous week. Where? At the Zocalo (plaza) in downtown Mexico City right next to where the Cathedral is. Even if it was a peaceful protest, I didn’t wanna get anywhere NEAR that place. Then the next thought that came to my mind was “I’m not gonna let a lost wallet and failed attempt be the end of the story. I’m gonna go see those pyramids!

After I had calculated that I’d have enough time to do that and still be able to visit the Basilica before my bus left on Saturday night, it was settled. Just the sheer satisfaction of arriving at Teotihuacan Saturday morning, knowing that I had enough money to get in and see the pyramids was worth it. I really felt like I had conquered a setback and not let it get the best of me. And lemme tell you, my satisfaction and enjoyment level was much higher than it would have been on Wednesday. Another blessing of seeing the pyramids Saturday was that I made what Brad Pitt’s character in Fight Club would call a “single-serving friend”. You know, those really interesting people you meet on a flight or a bus ride. Have a great conversation and then you never see them again. This particular single-serving friend was Adam. Slightly taller, and lanky like me. Long hair and scruffy beard. That alone gave away his identity as a gringo, But as soon as I saw him reading a guidebook in English, I zeroed in. I needed to speak some English so I could unwind a little. Enjoyed our conversation and ended up hangin out and exploring the pyramids and the ruins together. Came quite in handy too when needing to take pics.

Just taking in the beauty of the place was amazing. Seeing those two massive pyramids. Exploring the many other ruins surrounding them. The beautiful weather. Loads of people. Dirt cheap and really cools souvenirs (en Espanol, “recuerdos”). It was good stuff. I count myself as truly blessed for having experienced it. Here’s a few pics for ya.

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La Piramide del Sol (The Pyramid of the Sun). It’s the 2nd largest pyramid in the world, only the pyramids in Egypt are bigger.

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La Piramide de la Luna (The Pyramid of the Moon)

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me and Adam, standing on the Piramide de la Luna, with Piramide del Sol in the background

The other amazing part of my day was spent at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. To me, this was equally if not more important than the pyramids. I’ve two amazing experiences at Lourdes and so I knew this was kinda like the Mexican version. The complex on which the basilica is situated is not quite as big as the overall size of the complex at Lourdes. It’s much more compact, considering that it sits in the middle of a city of 20 million people instead of in the quaint french countryside. It seemed like there were less vendors there than at Lourdes, but for some reason there was more noise, action, tourists, and just hustle & bustle generally speaking. Didn’t have quite the same feel as Lourdes. And maybe it’s not supposed to. It’s its own different place. Nevertheless, I still felt quite blessed to be there and knew it was a unique opportunity. Walked around the complex scoping things out. Saw the inside of the old Basilica and it was gorgeous. Typical old-school classic church design.The only problem is that because Mexico City was built on a lake, old buildings such as the original Basilica are in danger of sinking. In this pic it’s quite pronounced, as you can see, on the front left side.

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The new basilica is amazing too. It’s GINORMOUS! I think the seating capacity is in the tens of thousands. And even though it’s done in what I call the “post Vatican II” style of architecture, I still really like it. (usually tend to favor the more traditional old-school style churches). Flags of many different countries are hanging from flagpoles to the left of the altar. Massive organ to the right side of the altar. San Juan Diego’s cloak is smack dab in the middle, right behind the altar. It’s framed in a beautiful gold setting and is purty big. The story is that when the Virgin Mary appeared to him, her image was emblazoned onto his cloak as you see it today in the Basilica. Purty cool, huh? Got to go to Mass too, and it just so happened that it was a wedding Mass. Seems like weddings are pretty popular there. Got to see Juan Diego’s tilma up close from an observation below/behind the main altar. At the end of Mass I had some articles blessed for family members that I’m gonna give them to. Got to spend some time praying a rosary in the adoration chapel. All in all, it was a super blessed mini-pilgrimage and a great way to wind down my time at language school and a great way to pump me up for going back to the mission house. Here’s a few more pics for you to enjoy. Have a blessed and wonderful week! God Bless!

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I’m back, and then I’m gone again

Saturday – June 16, 2012 – 6:37pm – Cafe Calibri on Rufino Tamayo St. – Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico

How the heck do I manage to go a whole month without journaling? I always lament that fact each time I journal and silently promise myself that I’ll do it more often. But do I? Well, lemme put it this way. If journaling equaled oxygen I’d be gasping for air. Anyhoo……..

So I’m really diggin’ this little cafe. Reminds me alot of CC’s back home. And if you know me, you know that CC’s is my 2nd home. So I’m glad I discovered this little place. Good place to come and journal, read, or hang out. Maybe when some more students arrive next week we can come hang out here. The drink I ordered is kinda like a Mochasipi @ CC’s, except bigger, and it’s got a scoop of ice cream with sprinkles on top. AND, it’s only $34 pesos. Divide by 14 and that’s one really good coffee drink for really cheap. The best part is that it’s only a few blocks away from the house I’m staying at. But enough about my environs, let’s get to the really good stuff.

You know another thing I (to use Mrs. Genie’s phrase) “do not prefer” about infrequent journaling? It’s trying to figure out how to talk about all that’s happened since your last entry without writing 27,000 pages. Lots has happened since my last entry in Lafayette. For one thing I returned to Mexico. I had been away for almost 2 months. When I left, I had a girlfriend at the time and was convinced I wouldn’t return to Mexico. I’d even been away for so long that I was beginning to wonder if I even wanted to come back. Sure, I no longer had a girlfriend (we decided to go our separate ways), so that wasn’t a factor. But I just wasn’t “feeling” it. Didn’t see myself getting enough money to go to language school. So why would I want to come back to a place where I couldn’t communicate with the people I’m supposed to serve?

I was also able to think of at least 20 other mission posts I’d rather go to. But then something happened. First, some fellow missionaries that had surplus donations gave me money to attend language school. Then, I had a good talk with one of our other missionaries. He helped me to realize that in the long run, not going back to General Cepeda would not help me all that much. It actually would deprive me of the chance of practicing faithfulness to a commitment, which is something I knew I needed to work on. So even though I had my doubts, I decided to come back. I’m glad I did. It was a little weird at first being back. But there’s nothing like a group of 50 visiting short term missionaries to lift your spirits and help you get settled back into your home. 🙂 Having that group was amazing. All the happiness, energy, action, and liveliness was priceless. They were really good sports about everything and jumped head first into everything that we did. Being back also gave me the chance to reconnect with our Mexican missionaries and other friends in town. Surprisingly, for someone who didn’t want to come back, I was really glad to see them. The fact that I was happy to reconnect with them was yet another sign that I was in the right place.

A week after the group left, Odilio and Stacie and the kids prayed me off on my way here to language school. Took an overnight bus from Saltillo to Mexico City and then to Cuernavaca. Ended up arriving early in Mexico City which allowed me to get on a 7am bus instead of my originally scheduled noontime bus. My house parents, Mario and Marusa Quinones picked me up from the station and brought me to the house. Got settled in, took a shower and then we headed to 1pm Mass at San Miguel. It’s a small but beautiful church, with an active and tight-knit community. The priest, Fr. Alvaro, is a good dude. He’s young, and holy, and orthodox, yet friendly and approachable too. Good combo.

The week was a busy week. Besides getting oriented at ENCUENTROS, I had double the amount of classes than I normally would, as I was the only student this week. Jeannie, the director, figured that since I was slightly above the “beginner” level, and because I’d have plenty of time in the following month to do extra-curricular stuff, that I could forego some of the normal activities. Partially out of necessity, because it wouldn’t really work with just one student. That gave me the chance  to do 2 class periods each day, for a total of 4 hours of class. It was intense. Lots of info crammed into my head. A few times in class it was exhausting. But I learned alot. And it also advanced me enough that I’ll be able to have another student with me next week. (If no other student is at your level, they give you your own teacher. Good for your learning. Bad for your sanity. 🙂 ) Some of the highlights at school this week included playing with Max the Rottweiler (house pet), movie night, and getting to tour the Cathedral and downtown area.

God has also given me a few ministry type of opportunities. Those have been a huge blessing. It’s hard in a city this big (900,000) to feel the same missionary “atmosphere”. Sure, people who aren’t poor need Jesus too. But General Cepeda and our Casa de Misiones are so special that it’s hard to readjust. As I said though, God has provided. A couple of street ministry opportunities with the homeless. Conversations with some of Mario and Marusa’s house guests. Speaking briefly in front of the congregation at San Miguel’s at the end of a weekday Mass. Assisting Fr. Alvaro at a funeral Mass. Next week I’ll have the opportunity to speak at a prayer meeting at San Miguel. Please pray for that. For the people to  be able to understand my simple Spanish and for them to be blessed by whatever the Lord says through me. In the few conversations I’ve had with Father Alvaro, it also sounds like he wants to make use of me while I’m here. Please pray for that to be fruitful as well.

On a random sidenote, the barista that took my order and brought me my drink is gorgeous. Not an unapproachable type of gorgeous, but more of a cute type of gorgeous. She actually looks like the actress Eva Mendez, which is a GOOD thing. 🙂 I won’t get my hopes up though. I can barely speak and understand enough to order a coffee drink. Don’t think my fluency is to the point where I can sweep her off her feet. So for now, it appears that there won’t be any little half-Mexican Sidneys in my future! Well, my butt hurts from sitting for so long, and my drink is melted, so I better go. Until next time…………

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my classroom at language school

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Max

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da Cathedral

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Este semana en fotografias

A picture tour of some of this past week’s activities

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Me and Benito, the sacristan at our local church parish, St. Francis of Assisi

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scenery on the way to rancho La Rosa

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courtyard and chapel at rancho La Rosa

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inside the chapel

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the reason I do what I do

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ashes to ashes, dust to dust

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apple empanada deliciousness

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fresh homemade flour tortillas, cooked by a mexican lady named Marta. yep, they’re legit

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St. Francis of Assisi church steeple

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General Cepeda’s local graveyard, the Panteon Santa Ana

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the graves here are either very colorful, very big, or both

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