Posts Tagged With: Community

Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 37

Day 37 – Tuesday – 10/30/12

It’s one of those days where I just wasn’t feeling the inspiration or motivation to write in my journal this morning when I was awake and refreshed. Funny thing is that I actually was awake and refreshed when I woke up. Maybe being slightly tired when I wake up gets the reflective/creative juices flowing? I also just had the desire to sit in our chapel, in front of Jesus and do nothing. Just do nothing. Just sit there in front of Jesus and let myself think, meditate, air out my thoughts, whatever you wanna call it. It’s something that I wish I did more, which is ironic since I consider myself a pensive and contemplative person. So I figured I’d strike while the iron was hot. It ended up being a “just right” kinda day. Not too busy, not too slow. Instead of our normal home visit, which we’ll do tomorrow, we went to some of the local schools to check out the altars they put up for Dia De Los Muertos, which is this coming Friday. You might know it by the name of All Souls Day. The altar consists of various foods and personal objects reminiscent of the dearly deceased, as a way of remembering them. Really colorful and creative stuff. I personally would rather keep the money and food for myself or someone else instead of leaving it for my dearly deceased. 🙂 But, that’s probably one of many reasons that God made me an American and not a Mexican!

Came back home, washed some more blankets and bed sheets in preparation for the groups that are coming next month, ate some lunch, did some more laundry stuff, and took a nap. It was a GOOD nap. I mean, REALLY good. It was one of those kind of naps where you are basically dead to the world. Felt great, can’t lie. After I woke up, took me a shower, and then we had our weekly missionary community meeting here at the house with our Mexican missionaries. Went to Daily Mass at 6 and then came back here. Typin up my journal, and what do you know, freakin’ Albert walks in the door! 🙂 It’s good when a missionary brother that’s been gone for awhile comes back. Probably gonna visit with him tonight and maybe talk to some other friends later tonight.

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 26

Day 26 – Friday – 10/19/12

Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own.” Came across this verse in morning prayer. It seems to be a theme that God is trying to teach me during my fast. No explanation needed, because the verse is pretty straight-forward. Just powerful though, and on point.

And look, I realize haters gon’ hate. But I am not afraid to admit that I was listening to Rascal Flatts and Taylor Hicks as I was walking to my Desert Day spot here at the local cemetery. Why? Well, it would have been a long, boring walk without it. I also just wanted to feel mo’ happy, and that kinda music makes me happy. 🙂 Kinda ironic though that I’d wanna play happy music on the way to a cemetery where i’m supposed to quiet myself and be all meditative and listen to the Lord. I’m such a STRANGE creature. Lord, you really did break the mold when you made me. Desert Day was supposed to be in the mountains @ Tejocote today. But late last night Luis was asked to bring some people to Saltillo today in order to take care of some property papers or whatever at the courthouse. So I’m doin’ Desert Day solo. I really hope he gets back early enough so that we can do our rancho chapel visits to Tejocote and Dos de Abril. We’re nearing the end of our “good-bye” week as a team of singles.

Stayed up a little late last night talking to a friend on Skype, but it was worth it. I really enjoyed our conversation. So, naturally this morning I was a little tired, but managed to get up at my normal time for my morning walk and routine. Had that vital daily cup of coffee with me as I started my morning prayer. (I thank the Lord everyday that he invented coffee). I enjoy morning prayer in community, but when I know it’s just me for morning prayer, I enjoy that too. I don’t have a schedule to worry about, and I can take things at a more leisurely pace. Looking forward to some good prayer time here before we hit up the ranchos this afternoon. Pretty cool thing happened on the way here, twice. I passed up two guys and for a split-second, when I looked at them, I saw Jesus. Not literally, because the guys looked the same as I’m sure they always do. But I just had a strong sense, a realization, that I was looking at Jesus. Maybe because these guys looked a little destitute, and Jesus has a heart for the poor. It was an awesome experience. One of my prayer intentions the past couple of months has been to see Jesus when I see the poor. I’m thinking that prayer is being answered because I have this fast and voluntary suffering to offer up. Maybe the fast is what I need to be able to starting opening the eyes of my heart, so that they can control the eyes in my head, so that I can see Jesus reflected in everyone I see, especially the poor and those to whom I’m sent to serve.

Nighttime update: Luis ended up getting back early afternoon, sometime before 1. I had just arrived back at the house from my Desert Day prayer time when I realized he was already home. Second day in a row that I was pleasantly surprised that a Saltillo trip went much quicker than expected. We left for our two rancho chapel visits (Tejocote and 2 de Abril) around 3:30ish. At Tejocote we had a good crowd. As usual no men showed up, but we had at least 15-20 women, and a few kids too. We knew that they might bring a little something for all of us to snack on, but I was surprised at how much they brought. As with everyone else we minister to here, they aren’t rich, and could justifiably save the money spent on the food they brought for a myriad of other legitimate needs. And though the crowd at 2 de Abril was much smaller (5 women), proportionately, they brought just as much. These poor people are putting on a clinic on how to be generous! It’s humbling too, that they’d do it for us. I know God has me here, but I don’t think what we do is all that special. But as insignificant as my work seems to me at times, these people appreciate it. And if these humble and generous people appreciate it, and if God loves these poor people as much as I’m taught that he does, then it follows that whatever we’re doing here as missionaries must be something good

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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 11

Day 11 – Thursday – 10/4/12

So, I think one of the fruits of my fast that I’m already beginning to see is an increased level of appreciation. Just in general. I seem to be appreciating stuff more. It also seems like my general/overall “happiness” level is up too. At noon today is the first of two St. Francis feast day Masses at our church parish, San Francisco de Asis. And the retired Bishop Emeritus, Francisco Villalobos (who sounds like the voice of God when he talks and reads) will be celebrating Mass. Kinda neat that Francisco is celebrating Francisco’s feast at the parish of Francisco. Feel like that’s Catholicism’s way of ensuring a gaping ripped hole in the space-time continuum that will create a massive black hole that will swallow us all and send us to a much earlier than anticipated meeting with our maker. (edit: as you can tell, the whole “rip in the space-time continuum black hole” thing didn’t happen. But what did happen is that I got to briefly chat with the “voice of God”, aka Bishop Villalobos briefly after Mass. Super holy, super nice dude)

He’s a really good friend of our missionary company’s founders, Frank and Genie, from way back in the day when they first came here and he was the bishop. Speaking of fasting and eating, maybe if I play the “I’m Frank and Genie’s missionary” card, he’ll invite me to eat a delicious lunch with him. I mean, bishop’s gotta eat, right? So why not eat with him? 🙂 We’ll see…… (edit #2: didn’t get to play that card, so I’ll never know. Ended up eating 7 missionary hot dogs for lunch. A missionary hot dog is a hot dog that uses a slice of wheat bread for the bun instead of a regular hot dog bun. Ends up be a little healthier and ALOT cheaper)

I think aside from clarity being a product of my fasting, I’m also starting to notice that I seem to have more spiritual insight. Lest I be mistaken as prideful, I can assure you that any and all insight is a gift from God and has nothing to do with me. For example, when we comment on the scripture reading during our community prayer, I feel like the scripture is more alive and that I have more to say and share. And of course I also seem to have more spiritual insight in regards to my own personal journey with the Lord. Well, I’m off to enjoy the singing, dancing, and other fesitivities that lead up to the main event later tonight, the fireworks! 🙂 As a near and dear missionary brother of mine says, Hasta La Pasta!

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Missionary Reflections and Tidbits

3-2-12 – Friday – 3:54pm – Desert Day – same location as last time, except just a bit downstream

Utterly peaceful. Gentle breeze. Babbling brook. Nice spot in the shade. Praise the Lord for this time of prayer and recollection. Alot has been going on the past few weeks. We finished up La Entrada (Intake) 2012 for the missionary families. Had a few hiccups along the way, including people getting sick and our shirts not being ready on time.

Allende mission trip was a huge success. Our Life In The Spirit Seminar and other ministries went very well. People received us with open arms. Living in community was a challenge and was starting to wear me down. Still have a ways to go before I can say I do a good job at living in community. But God didn’t give me more than I could handle. La Entrada ended at just the right time.

Me and Luis have our own place now. Bonding as a mission team and integrating ourselves into our weekly ministry schedule. Been able to go to Mass and receive the Eucharist alot. Helped some people during Door Ministry hours by buying/supplying meds, food, and praying with them. One home visit and one rancho visit so far. Lenten sacrifices of exercise and fasting going well. Start my spanish lessons with Profe this coming Tuesday. Been blessed to be able to keep in touch with my girlfriend and parents. The Lord is really blessing us here……………

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On the nature of Love & bein’ a country boy

Monday October 24, 2011 – 7:35am – Office @ Big Woods Mission – Esther, LA

“Learn where there is wisdom, where there is strength, where there is understanding, that you may at the same time discern where there is length of days, and life, where there is light for the eyes, and peace.”
–Baruch 3:14–

Last week I started getting the urge to do another journal entry. After all, it’s been over a month. (Where does the time go?) Thought that I’d get a chance Saturday during Desert Day, but I had a good distraction. A friend of FMC who attended our Life In The Spirit Seminar at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Lafayette stopped by. I had been corresponding with him to try and get a copy of Sarah Granger’s talk to him. Tried to get back to journaling later in the day on Saturday, but things kept coming up, and I didn’t wanna force it. Sunday I was gone all day. Caught a ride to 10am Mass in Richard with Kylie so I could hear Sammy and Lindsey give a talk for World Mission Sunday. Stopped at Candyland Cottage in Rayne after Mass, and then Uncle Donald’s after that.

Ok captain, time to land the plane and get to the point. So, two weeks ago, someone close to me told me she was doing a discernment retreat to try and get a handle on what God is saying to her about her next steps on her journey. Being the good influence she is, I was motivated to do one as well. I was discerning both missions and marriage. For missions, I was discerning my next steps for both long-term and short-term mission opportunities. For marriage, I was discerning the who/what/how/when factors. As far as my discernment of missions went, my desire to go to Asia at some point was confirmed. Seeing as how it looks like me and Luis might end up in Costa Rica, my time in Asia is looking like it will be with a short term mission group. I also discerned that if God puts me with a family again next year, that it would be with the Romeros. For short term missions a whole plethora of opportunities popped up. The Phillipines, St. Lucia, Ecuador, and Peru all came up. Already confirmed that I’ll be helping to lead a trip to St. Lucia in January. We’ll see what God does with the other three locations.

As far as the marriage thing goes, you didn’t honestly think I’d give you all the answers to that, did you? 🙂 It’s a private revelation from God sort of thing, where only the people concerned find out. However, I can say that I also did alot of reflecting on friendship and love, and the end of this entry I’ll include some of the nuggets of wisdom God gave to me. The realizations and revelations were a blessing to me and were proof of the Holy Spirit working through prayer.

Living out in the country has been really good for me. Yes, a big part of my season of growth right now has been due to community life. When you are surrounded by good people and a life of prayer, you WILL grow in holiness. But that’s not the only factor. Being surrounded by nature is good for my soul. Living in the peace and quiet instead of the noisy and fast-paced city is good for my soul. Seeing things like rice fields, swampland, horses, cows, pastures, fog, dogs, barbed-wire fences, & birds is good for my soul. Swimming in a muddy pond that is home to the occasional 3-4 foot gator is exhilarating…………….and good for my soul. Burning logs and branches is messy, and good for my soul. Killing wasp nests is good for my soul. Pounding on a pile of rock hard dirt, shoveling it into the back of a truck, dumping it into a hole, filling a wheelbarrow full of horse manure to fill said hole with “fertilizer” so grass can grow and thereby hold the dirt in place, is good for my soul. Riding my bike down a country road and seeing a beautiful oak tree draped with spanish moss is good for my soul. Working and sweating and getting blisters and sore muscles is also good for my soul. I love where God has me at right now. I love that I get to wake up and do this (and other missionary stuff) every day. I think perhaps the singular greatest blessing I’ve received since being back at Big Woods is being able to work with my hands and do manual labor. It has taught me so many things, including obedience AND knowing the satisfaction of a hard day’s work.

Lord Jesus, thank you for all of these blessings. Please continue to shower them down upon me. Help me to continue being open to your guidance. Bless us in all our missionary endeavors here at FMC, especially as Mrs. Genie prepares to go to China, and Intake prepares to go to Mexico.

Nuggets of Wisdom from The Holy Spirit about Love:

* be free to love * love unconditionally * draw close to me so that you can draw close to her * take a leap of faith * Friendship is not just a consolation prize, it is love through companionship. And marriage is the fulfillment of friendship * Instead of choosing good over evil because of an ideal, I can now choose good over evil because of someone. When I think in terms of people instead of ideals, love as a choice becomes real, and is easier to make * It should be a give and take, where you can savor the mystery * I need someone who brings out the best in me * I need someone who can bring me out of my shell * If you know the Lord has brought someone into your life, if you know you are drawn to someone because of a mutual love  for the Lord, then do not hesitate to grow close to that person! Do not be afraid that you are “deifying” them or “idolizing” them. Let yourself enjoy them and their company. Let yourself enjoy the love you give and receive. Draw closer to them by drawing closer to the Lord. That person is an instrument of God’s love in your life. To put them off due to a false sense of caution, humility, or discernment is a tragedy. By not putting your heart on the line and loving the person unconditionally, you risk losing out on the greatest treasure in life, LOVE.

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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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“Hello Bible, it’s nice to see you again”

12-22-10 – 1:05pm – @ Awardmaster (my parents’ trophy shop) – Lafayette, LA

Today for me has been like one of those mystery stews where you toss in all the random leftovers. Just kinda seems that way. When Mom left the house and I was still in my PJ’s, she told me that today would be the Christmas lunch for all the employees and that I was invited. Obviously stoked because it meant lunch wraps from Zea’s which are VERY good. I was thinkin’ I’d take my time, watch some TV, take a shower, head to the chapel at St. Ed’s to do some reading, and then mosey on over to the shop to eat what was left. But, then my mom called and said that one of the girls was gonna leave the shop early cuz she wasn’t feeling good and wanted to know if I’d come. She almost seemed kinda timid and uber polite when asking me if I had other plans, and if not could I come in to cover for the girl that was leaving early. Now, yeah, it’s good that my mom’s polite. But I can’t help but thinking something was wrong with this picture. It doesn’t matter that I’m almost 30 either. My mother is my mother. I owe respect and obedience to her whenever possible. She shouldn’t have to ask if I was willing to come. She should be able to know that she can tell me she needs me to come help out at the shop since I’m home on break, and not have to worry about my reaction. I guess it’s one of those things we continue to grow at.

I also feel really bad because when she called to ask if I’d come to the shop, she was asking me about something that I was taking care of already (unrelated to work). Well I was. It was mine to take care of. After all, I’m almost 30. I’m a grown man. I need to learn how to take care of my ownself without my mom getting all in a tizzy. Asking about something that doesn’t affect you at all and that you have no control over, is no bueno. The only thing that this effort to satisfy curiosity will do is increase stress levels and possibly give rise to gossip under the guise of “concern for the situation.” So, when I reacted to her asking about the situation after I’d asked her to forget about it and let me take care of it, I felt justified. But, it was HOW I reacted that made me feel bad. I went a step beyond speaking firmly, lost the politeness, and was almost speaking too sternly and speaking down at her like she was a child. This, of course, made me feel like crap. And when I got to thinking about it, I learned more about how I should relate to God. What do I mean? Well, lemme respond with another question: Why did I feel like crap after I reacted to my mom? I didn’t feel like crap because I was fearful of some fiery angry raging response she’d have to my reaction. I felt like crap because I love her. She has been nothing but good to me all my life, and has loved me and provided for me. Therefore, why would I want to or let myself mistreat her? I think that type of fear is what should be our motivation to be holy. We shouldn’t be fearing God’s vengeful wrath so much as we should fear offending the unending love he shows us. If we feel like crap after doing something wrong, it shouldn’t be because of punitive consequences. It should be because we offended against love.

Another interesting tidbit of the day is that I finally read my Bible again for the first time in five days. Whenever I’m at Big Woods, I don’t find that it’s a problem. Out there, we have morning prayer 6 days a week.There’s a chapel with a tabernacle on the property. It’s out in the middle of nowhere and very quiet. Everybody else that lives or works there does so because they are involved in missions. You can see how it’s much easier to maintain a routine of prayer and spiritual reading and Scripture reading while there. The community lends itself to that. At home, it’s a different story. My parents themselves are good people. Besides going to church every Sunday, they both do things during the week that are concrete examples of living out their faith. So they themselves are not the cause of my laxity while at home. It’s that I don’t have a routine & I don’t have a larger community of faith surrounding me. There’s strength in numbers, and my parents can only do so much. The routine helps me to control my urges and focus my time and efforts. It helps me to overcome my laziness. The good thing about being home though is that I have to focus more on making personal effort to do what I need to do, since my normal routines and coping mechanisms aren’t there. Gaining more self-control in this way will definitely be a good thing.

My last bit of news is quite exciting. J In my last entry on the 30th, I went out on a limb and said that we were going to St. Lucia. Well, we finally heard back again from Archbishop Rivas and he said he wants us to come for sure! Yahoo! We will be living on the first floor of a convent, with some nuns living on the second floor above us. There’s a nursing home on the property where we’ll be doing some ministry. The archbishop also asked if I’d be willing to teach at an all-boys school. I’m sure too that there’s poor people that need ministry as well as many other ministry opportunities. Yesterday Sarah-Kate confirmed with me that our plane tickets had been purchased. We leave on the 17th, so we have just under a month before we’re in missions! Until that point, I’ll be spending time with family, packing up, getting rid of stuff, and tying up loose ends. I leave you with a bible verse that I got in my Scripture reading earlier this afternoon:

“I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”
–Jeremiah 24:7–

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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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Life @ Big Woods: Best Reality Show EVER!

Friday, 9/17/10, Edge of the Pond @ Big Woods (suburb of Mouton Cove, LA, which is a suburb of Perry, which is a suburb of Abbeville 🙂 )

It’s almost surreal, being out here. It’s probably because this is my first Desert Day as an official FMC missionary. Maybe because I’m official now is why it feels “more real”. Being in this community is such a blessing and is really starting to have an effect on me. This leads into a phrase I heard here earlier this week: “If your goal is heaven, then community is helpful.”

Being out here, I can’t help but feel different. So I ask myself, what is it that’s different about this place? Seems like alot in here is the same type of faith life that The Church teaches “out there”. We pray, they pray. We read the Bible, they read the Bible. We go to Mass, they go to Mass. We sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament, they sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament. So again, I ask what’s the difference? The difference is that in here, I can deeply and lovingly connect with a community of faith. We are all so single-mindedly focused on God as individuals and as a community.

I look forward to the difficult times that are sure to come, and I’m thankful for those that already have. Our souls, like precious metals, are refined with fire, the Fire of The Holy Spirit. I am thankful for my extended family here at Big Woods, especially the Eckstine and Alvarez kids. They’re like the little brothers and sisters I never had. Getting to laugh and play and see the world and God through their eyes brings me such joy.

Fellowship with the other singles is something that also brings me great joy. Susanna, Sarah, Madi, and James are at the same stage I’m at, but have a slightly different perspective, which really helps me to better learn and grow in my faith. I know that I can look at everyone here at Big Woods and find some way that they uniquely help me to draw closer to Christ.

So now I leave you with the words of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:24-27 “But God has so adjusted the body […] that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the Body of Christ and individually members of it.”

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