Posts Tagged With: commitment

Desert Day in the Graveyard

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

Desert Day in the Graveyard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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St. Lucia – The Final Countdown

Saturday – September 3, 2011 – 11:00am – Benedictine Convent @ Mount of Prayer, Coubaril, Castries, St. Lucia

So, it looks like we’ve come to the end of the road here in St. Lucia. (cue the sappy Boyz 2 Men music) When I came back here on August 25th, it was with the intention to follow my original plan. I would remain here until the end of November and then return to Big Woods for Year End Review. However, right before I came back, Mark informed me that  on their family retreat, they discerned it was time for them to leave St. Lucia. They were in need of some time to rest, recuperate, and re-energize themselves. So they will be in Oregon with their family until they return to Big Woods at the end of November for Year End Review. Even when I first heard this, my initial reaction was to stick to my original plan of remaining here until it was time for Year End Review. After all, I do have a problem of sticking to my commitments. A worthy reason to remain, by anyone’s standard, in my opinion.

But as I got back a week ago and really started to think and pray about it, my mind started to change. For one thing, I realized that if I stayed here by myself, I would not have the benefit of the missionary community life. And this is something I REALLY need. As contemplative and solitary as I can be at times, I know that I need to live in community in order to be as spiritually strong as possible. It also seemed like all of the various little signs we were receiving pointed to  us leaving St. Lucia and moving on to a different mission post. Now keep in mind that I believe we were meant to be here. God called us here and allowed us to be here. We were able to accomplish many things and make many friends. But, now it is time for us to move on. It is time to go, because we believe God is calling us out of this place.  (Speaking of plans, I heard one time that if you want to make God laugh then make plans.)

So once I decided it was prudent for me to leave St. Lucia at the same time as the Eckstines, my plan (haha) was to go straight to General Cepeda and spend some time there as a missionary while waiting for Intake 2011 to arrive for their mission immersion experience in November. Well, that kinda fell through (lack of sufficient funds in my missionary account). Now it’s confirmed that I will be returning to Big Woods on Wednesday September 21st to help out with Intake and to do whatever else Frank and Genie need me to do. Then, when Intake goes to Mexico in November I’ll accompany them. So, I’ll still get to go but not for as long as I’d thought and with a large group instead of just a few full-time missionaries.

There’s still alot of blessings for me this way though. For one thing, I get to exercise the virtue of obedience by respecting Mr. Frank’s insight and wishes by returning to Big Woods from here. I also get a wonderful opportunity to get to know the new missionaries and maybe start getting a feel for who my new mission partners might be next year. Being close to home ain’t too bad either. Always good to be able to see loved ones, family, friends, etc…. I really think too that the community life at Big Woods during Intake will do much to refresh me and renew me even further. Recapture some of the zeal and passion of being a missionary. This has also been a good experience of seeing how God can change our plans and work contrary to our reasoning and logic in order to get us to a certain point where we can experience certain blessings.

Logic would have told me to stay in Lafayette so that I would not “waste” money on two plane tickets and already be at Big Woods for Intake. But then, I wouldn’t be able to say good-bye to everyone here. I wouldn’t be able to tie up loose ends. I wouldn’t be able to finish up my time at my mission post with my mission partners. Logic would also have told me that I should go straight to Mexico from here. Experience “normal” missionary life in General with other full-time missionaries and without a big group . See what day to day life is really like there as a missionary.  But as I said earlier, this would mean that I lose out on all the opportunities I have at Big Woods. Come to think of it, the theme of my whole first year in missions has been life not as I expect it, with plans changing many times. But I can tell you that because of this, and because of the many other blessings and challenges associated with this, my first year as a full-time foreign lay missionary has been a time of enormous spiritual growth and insight.

Praise God for such an awesome first year, & here’s to an even better 2nd year. God bless!

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Slight change of direction and other miscellaneity

Friday January 7th, 2011 – Approx. 7:45am – Kitchen Table @ Big House @ Big Woods (Facing Pasture)

Ok, so I don’t even know if “miscellaneity” is a word. I was basically trying to say “other miscellaneous things”. Anyhoo, as the title suggests, things have changed slightly for me. If you refer back to my entry from (date omitted), you become acquainted with my missionary friend (name omitted). Wonderful person and wonderful missionary. You also heard about how we were not honoring our singles commitment and were called out on it. Well, since then, we’ve been striving to follow that commitment, but at least on my behalf, have not totally succeeded. According to the letter of the law, we were doin pretty good. But I noticed that even though I acknowledged that we were not a couple, I was not orienting my thoughts and prayers and will in that direction. It’s like I was living it on the outside and not on the inside. Furthermore, just the sheer speed at which everything happened and the sheer speed at which conclusions were reached and certain feelings expressed SCARED ME! (And it’s not just cuz I’m a guy and afraid of commitment. :p )

I felt like the outcome was already a foregone conclusion and that at least on my part, there was no wiggle room or opportunity to change my mind. Not only that, but I also felt like I was too prepared for the future as opposed to simply embracing my call to missions, rejoicing in where God has me, and putting that as my priority & being faithful to that. I feel like I definitely took things out of God’s hands and put them into mine. Yes, there is a point, and here it is. I’ve decided to take a step back.  And while I do fear that I’ve possibly damaged our friendship in some way, I still feel very much at peace and that I’ve made the right decision.  As excited as I already was to go into missions, I’m now even MORE excited!  I feel like my heart, my intentions, and my prayers are now where they’re supposed to be. And if I’ve gotten to know (name omitted) well enough during our friendship, I think she’ll be OK with it too. It’s just a great feeling to know that I now can be totally open to whatever God brings to me in missions, and to do so with an undivided heart. It’s also exciting to know that anything else God might wanna do in my life is now possible. And in the spirit of fairness, I feel like I should also mention that it was not any kind of one-sided thing. I assume as much responsibility for the situation becoming what it was.

OK. Enough about that. Now onto the “miscellaneity”. We actually leave for St. Lucia on the 19th instead of the 17th. Can’t remember what the change was for, or if maybe I just misunderstood the date. What I can say is that 2 days is like a blink of an eye compared to how long I’ve been waiting to get to St. Lucia. J So I think I can handle it. All in God’s time. I’ve been blessed in a lot of little ways too as I prepare to leave. I was able to shave down the amount of stuff I have quite significantly. The amount of clothes I have now is much more manageable and pretty darn close to what I think I can fit in my bags. Speaking of bags, I sent out an appeal online for anyone that could spare a large duffel bag. I figured that if I had a large duffel bag, I could roll my clothes and pack them really tightly THUS freeing up more space in my other big suitcase for things like books, toiletries, etc….. A good friend of mine from back in da’ day, Catherine Lemoine, pulled through and dropped one off for me to my mom at the trophy shop. Merci Cat pour ton generosite!

I also got a nice little bit of spending money cash given to me earlier in the week. Brother Henry Gaither, of The Brothers of the Sacred Heart, came to visit Big Woods. I met him a few months ago at St. Pius X parish in Lafayette one Sunday at Mass. He was giving a talk about and handing out literature for CNVS (Catholic Network of Volunteer Services). CNVS is a directory/network of volunteer and missions opportunities both stateside and abroad.  We’ve kept in touch since then, and when he was in New Iberia for a lunch meeting we worked it out for him to pass by Big Woods to visit. It was good catching up with him, and me, him, and Mr. Frank chatted for awhile before he had to leave. As he was leaving, he handed me a wad of cash, & I’m sure he emptied his wallet to do so, since religious brothers aren’t exactly rich. Merci a toi aussi pour ton generosite!

I was also blessed to get a few Christmas presents that were much appreciated and needed. My parents gave me two nice bottles of cologne (Cool Water and Dolce & Gabbana). These will come especially in handy if my missionary duties keep me too busy to bathe! 🙂 I also got an MP3 player which has allowed me to take the multitude of CD’s that I have and condense them onto a little tiny device that’s the size of a cellphone. Space comes at a premium in missions, and this will help me save lots of it. I also received a digital camera. Up until recently, I had a film camera that I would use to take and develop pictures and then convert them to digital format so I could share them online. Well, I fell out of love with yesteryear and it’s devices, and was happy to embrace the ease and convenience of a digital camera. It’s a lot easier to use, much less expensive in the long run, and is much more useful to me while in missions. I’ll be able to take pics and video and keep people updated more quickly and easily. And if there are any of the pics that I really want to get developed, I can go to Walgreens or Walmart and some point and get it done.

Oh yeah, one more thing, we have our plane tickets bought, a place to stay, and ministries already lined up in St. Lucia! 🙂 Last but not least, I went to the UL men’s basketball game last night. Me and Beau (Frank and Genie’s son) used my parents tickets since they’re outta town. It was very enjoyable actually. I knew I’d enjoy the game and I also enjoyed hanging out with Beau, and chatting and just having a guys night, you know?

Well I hope all is well with y’all. If you have any prayer requests I can add to my missionary prayer list, please let me know. God Bless!

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Blows my mind to think that I’ve found grace in someone else…………

11-30-10 Tuesday – 9:57pm – In my bedroom in the trailer @ Big Woods (Abbeville, LA)

It’s almost ironic how prophetic our own words can be sometimes. I was sitting here, reading through a journal entry from earlier during Intake, and in it I was thanking God for all the struggles that would come. I did that because I knew struggles help me to learn, and grow closer to God. The Holy Spirit refines our souls as fire refines a precious metal.

My struggle lately has been in honoring my first-year singles commitment. Since me and (name omitted) have been visiting and praying together, we have naturally grown closer. And as you grow closer to someone you desire to spend more time with them. From a Christian perspective, the reason you want to spend more time with them is because God has allowed them to be a channel of his grace in your life. All of these things are true and good. However, I voluntarily made a singles commitment for one year upon joining FMC. After some community members drew our attention to the fact that we were not honoring our singles commitment like we should be, we realized that we’d have to take a step back. In order to be obedient and faithful, we now know that we have to limit our communication. As hard as this is, I know that it will be a source of grace for us during our first year of missions, so that we can focus on our mission work. Ultimately, I believe it will also serve to strengthen our friendship.

I’m also a little bummed out because (name omitted) decided to leave voluntarily for a few days. This past week she had a recurrence of a medical condition which was causing alot of stress for her. She felt like instead of dealing with it here and having it affect us too, that it would be best to go stay with her aunt. I recognize and appreciate her selflessness, BUT, it’s a little hard on me. When you grow close to a friend and suddenly they’re gone, it’s kinda sad. It reminds me of a bible verse from my entry on 9/17. 1 Corinthians 12 says “…if one member suffers, all suffer together…” I want so much and pray for her to be healed so she can follow God’s call to the mission field. The good thing is that later on in that chapter it says “…if one member is honored all rejoice together…” As I said earlier though, I think it’s a good struggle. Developing the virtues of patience and obedience will serve me quite well I think. It’s also good now to get used to not having  her around, because once we leave for our mission posts we won’t see each other for at least a few months and will probably at most only communicate once a week.

I have some other good news too. We (me and The Eckstines) finally got a response from Archbishop Revis in St. Lucia! He sent an email response to Mrs. Genie and asked her to send more info on me and The Eckstines. So we wrote about our formation experience, past ministry experience, and what skills and talents we have, as well as potential ministry we envision ourselves doing once we arrive in St. Lucia. What was also very encouraging was that the Archbishop seemed to be very eager to receive us. So, I’m going to step out on a limb here, without fear of “jinxing” myself, and say that me and The Eckstines are going to St. Lucia! 🙂 It’s such a relief to finally know where we’re going. I’ve also been blessed by my benefactors’ generosity. They have been very generous in both “treasure” and prayer. Since donations have started coming in, I’ve been graced to be able to do some thank you notes, because I sincerely want them to know that they are a blessing to me and that I am thankful. I also want to be able to in turn, support them by offering up their prayer intentions during my daily prayer time.

Oh wait…….What is that?…….I hear something. It’s my bed calling. 🙂 So I bid you good night and adieu.

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Encountering Jesus in Tejocote……..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Coreteam Retreat Journal Reflections……….

Coreteam Retreat – Butte Larose, LA – Saturday September 4th, 2010

Earlier this morning, I was sitting on the porch doing some spiritual reading when i decided to come inside to the prayer room for morning prayer at 8:30. My internal time clock must have been off, because it seemed like I was by myself for quite awhile. My first self-righteous instinct was to find some reason whine about it. But, I then realized that maybe it was a prompting of the Spirit, and by God’s grace my obedience allowed me to have some one-on-one time w/Jesus in front of the Blessed Sacrament. As I sat in there reading, praying, and reflecting, I was able to faintly hear people in the other parts of the house waking up, talking and visiting with one another. I think I even heard a little bit of music somewhere in background. I feel like God’s grace changed the way I interpreted that situation. Instead of getting annoyed and seeing it as a distraction from prayer I rejoiced at the fellowship and joy that was filling the house.  Then I realized that so far this weekend God has been blessing us with a lot of fellowship, happiness, and joy.  What more could you ask for?!?

Reflection Questions:

1 – What is your personal desire for yourself as a result of being in this Coreteam/community?

My personal desire for myself as a result of being in this community is to have a community I can connect with and be a part of. I want to learn about what it is to be in relationship with one another. I also desire to grow in faith and trust. There’s also an intense desire to learn how to be a faithful minister of God’s love, and really be able to reach people through the work I do.

2 – What specific gifts can you share with this community?

The most prominent gift I can share is my gift of presence. Just being there with someone and knowing that simply being present as someone who carries the Spirit of Christ, and that it can  help to heal someone, is amazing. My ability to be a sheepdawg and follow orders is another gift. Let someone else be the brain, and I can be the muscle. I also have the ability to be early/on-time.

3 – What areas do you  need help with, when it comes to working in a community?

My primary downfalls are my impatience, selfishness, & timidity. I am a  naturally impatient person which hinders my ability to relax and enjoy the moment. It also hinders my ability to be patient with others and put them first. My selfishness causes me to worship time as my own. It’s really hard for me to be comfortable in the present moment. I’m in a perpetual state of unsatisfaction, always waiting for the current moment to pass so that I can get to my future moment where there is a perceived “something” that I have a greater desire for, and where I (keyword: I) can be happier. My timidity is perhaps my greatest shortfall. I lack courage, backbone, and commitment. Simply put, I’m afraid to step out for the Lord and I lack conviction. And when things get tough, I tend to back down and weasel myself into a comfortable little hole where all is OK and confrontation is far away and unnecessary.

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I’M FULLY ALIVE!

3/10/10 Wednesday – Chapel @ Casa de Misiones in General Cepeda, Mexico

So I’m sitting here, urgently trying to remember what it is that I wanted to write in my journal today. “Lord help me to remember, Lord help me to remember.” And all of a sudden it dawns on me “I’m fully alive!”. Being on mission again this week has caused me to notice a few things about myself. There’s a certain happiness, joy, and energy. Things that would normally bother me, don’t. Things that I wouldn’t normally do, I do. Certain behaviors and character traits I’ve noticed before in bits and pieces, I’m noticing alot more of.

Does this mean I’m a poser, being someone that’s not really me? Am I being a fake? My answer is no! I don’t think that’s it at all. I think what is happening is that I’m more fully myself. This is who I really am, and I like it. I’m more patient, more charitable, and an all-around better person. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone, and I’m thrilled. I’m having heartfelt conversations with my fellow missionaries this week, and it energizes me. Everything that has happened this week has given me joy. It almost feels like I’m running out of words and ways to say it. I’M MORE FULLY ALIVE! My prayer now is that God takes this newfound vibrancy and help me to continue doing his will.

Lord Jesus, I ask and pray that this new beginning lead to a greater level of commitment and faithfulness. I pray Lord that it lead me to the knowledge that you love me with an undying love, and that you only want the best for me. Lord, I pray for the grace to trust in you. Thank you Jesus for loving me and helping me to love others. As you have blessed me, help me to bless others. Praise God! Amen!

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