Posts Tagged With: cross

Testimony of my 2nd year in missions

I’m at the point where I feel like I just have to do. I can’t sit around and wait for a big voice from the sky to tell me out loud what I must do. I feel this way because I think God wants me to know how to step out in faith. This is one of the main things that I think the Lord has wanted to teach me in my 2nd year of missions. I’m tired of sitting around and waiting for the God-given desires of my heart to fall into my lap and be fulfilled. I want to go out and get them. I want to seek and find. I want to play an active role in my journey of faith, fulfillment, and salvation. I need to know that I’m exercising my free-will to the best of my abilities, that it’s not withering up.

My second year of missions has also been a time of intense growth and learning. At times it has been painful. It has ALWAYS been fruitful. Spiritual inertia is something that’s very hard to conquer. Disobedience relentlessly persecutes the human soul. Impatience robs us of the present moment. I’ve had to deal with all three of those things this year. Having to immerse myself in a new culture and language took a toll on me. Living with someone very different than me who is many years my junior was tough. Having little or no funds, and for much of the time being in the negative, was extremely difficult and humiliating. Realizing that I’m not the easiest person to live with was a blow to my ego. Knowing that I was judgmental towards the poor was a punch to the proverbial gut. Add to that a failed relationship and the very real after-effects, and things didn’t get any easier.

Now if you take everything I’ve said so far at face-value, it could possibly paint a very depressing picture. But with God, it’s not just about the superficial. In all of the growth and learning, the suffering has not been for naught. It has been through the cross, and that’s how I know it has value. That’s how I know it’s been of great benefit to me and hopefully for the people in my life. And I’ve known for months now that something big is about to happen. Someway somehow I’m about to turn a big corner in my life. It’s an exciting feeling and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me.

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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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My 40-day fast – Day 2

Sid’s 40 Day Fast

Day 2 – Tuesday, 9/25/12

Felt a little bit of the hunger pangs this morning, in spite of how much I ate last night. Kinda glad, because like I said yesterday I don’t want this to be easy. I wanna be challenged. During my morning walk it also occurred to me that yes, I can always pray. But during a fast, the hunger encountered is an extra gift or offering to God that goes along with your prayer. It ties into the whole idea of redemptive suffering, which was perfectly demonstrated by Jesus. This fast and the hunger I will experience will be a way for me to be like Jesus, by offering up my suffering through The Cross for others.

As I sat at Mass waiting for the Eucharist, I felt another hunger pang. It’s happened before and it’s one of my favorite things about fasting. Because even when you fast for an hour before receiving, you’re still full and you don’t feel hungry. But to feel actual hunger as you are receiving Jesus’ Body and Blood in The Eucharist is amazing. It brings the experience of The Eucharist to a whole new level.

Forgot to mention that I went to Mass @ The Cathedral in Saltillo. Had to come to Saltillo to meet Albert at the bus station. After his bus arrives at 7:30pm we’re gonna head back to the Casa De Misiones to begin our month and a half journey as a team of three. This team of three is living proof of God answering prayers (me and Luis had been praying for another mission partner). It’s also proof of God’s proclivity for making life VERY interesting. How so? Well, you’ve got Luis, a Venezuelan, whose first language is spanish. Then you’ve got me, a Cajun, whose first language is english. Then to complete the trifecta you’ve got Albert, a Polish guy, whose first language is polish. Luis’ 2nd language is my first. My 3rd language is Luis’ 1st and Albert’s 4th. And neither me nor Luis speaks Polish, Albert’s 1st language. AND the three of us from three different countries are living together as missionaries in a fourth country. Anyhoo, at the end of our month and a half together Intake 2012 will come down and join us. Then for the last week of November we’ll have a group of families and other short-term missionaries who will join us for the annual Thanksgiving mission trip.

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June Missionary Newsletter

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

My Dearest Benefactors,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God Be With You!
Sid Savoie

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

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“Desert” Day at the Beach

 

Thursday, February 17, 2011 – 12:13pm – Rodney Bay Beach, St. Lucia

This is definitely one of those moments where I feel like God is giving us a bonus for being in missions. It’s a beautiful, sunny day with a nice breezing blowing in from the Carribean. As I sit here, writing in my journal, the waves are lapping at my feet. I can hear the radio at one of the nearby cabanas. Sand is going in between my toes. Absolutely gorgeous. In a way, I feel guilty though, like I don’t deserve it. To be honest, I don’t deserve it. I’m not that great of a missionary (yet). I’m lazy, still focus on myself alot, and I don’t put myself out there to really try and minister to people’s needs. I’m not even as deserving as many of the tourists here. At least they worked hard and saved money to be able to come here.

But then I remind myself that God doesn’t bless me because I’ve earned it or “deserve” it. He blesses me because he loves me. Plain and simple. When we think about following God’s call, we always tend to think in terms of what we’ll have to give up. In missions, I don’t get to see my friends or family. I’ve got to put my dream of finding the perfect girl on hold. I no longer have my cats or my dog. I think you get my point. But today as I reflect on all of this, I wonder “Why don’t we ever think of what we’ll GAIN by following God’s call?” I’m able to visit, minister to, and pray daily with the elderly and infirm. I get to share food, water, prayer, and companionship with the poor. I get to experience the Church as universal. I’m blessed to live with a family of 10 kids and learn about the family life that I so desire.

On my “desert” day of prayer and reflection, I get to come to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and swim and play and walk around. I get to make my mission cross from a coconut shell. Maybe if we think in terms of what we’ll gain instead of what we’ll lose, our lives would truly be changed for the better. I leave you with a Scripture and ask for your continual prayers. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein; for he has founded it upon the [Carribean 🙂 ] seas, and established it upon the rivers.” –Psalm 24:1-2–

P.S. – I just met a nice couple from Arkansas as I was walking down the beach getting some scenic shots. ‘Bout to read the last chapter of the philosophy book I’ve been working on for awhile. Also realized that I was wearing my mission cross to the beach, a cross that I made from the shell of a St. Lucia coconut. Only would this all happen……….on the same day……….on the beach………..in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia………….on missions! Boy oh boy, the interesting stories I’ll get to tell my future children and grandchildren about my time in missions.

 

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I had a vision…

9/29/10 – On the swing facing the pasture, back porch of the big house @ Big Woods

So I’m sitting here, and the scenery and weather are absolutely beautiful. It’s a mild day, and the sun is shining. I can hear the bugs chirping and the birds singing. There’s a slight breeze blowing. If there ever was a perfect time to do a journal entry, it’s right now.

Earlier this morning, during my prayer time, I came across Psalm 62:1 which says “In God alone is my soul at rest”, and it really stuck with me. As the morning progressed, I realized there would be alot of free time. Immediately I thought about my pastoral session w/Mr. Frank yesterday, and how the need to devote time to personal prayer is a must. Couldn’t do it after morning prayer (that’s when I did my daily Scripture reading), so I did it after our teaching workshop ended. When I got into the chapel, I put on my earphones and was listening  to some instrumental Lakota (Native American) music to help me focus and meditate. As I was listening and beginning to pray, I asked to focus and really enter into prayer. I asked him to help me enter into true communion with him during my time of prayer. As I prayed and listened to the music, I received a vision.

I was lying on the ground in the forest. My body was bruised, and battered, and bloody. I don’t know exactly how I got there, or what I did. But I knew that it was because of sin and its effects on me and my life. It was slightly overcast and a slight breeze was blowing. There was thunder briefly and then a few drops of rain started to fall.  As the rain hit my face, I was a bit startled and awoke. After a little while, I got up and started walking through the forest, and as I walked the raindrops gently started to wash away the blood and the dirt and cleanse my wounds. At that time, there was no apparent destination, but I knew I had to go.

After some time I came to a meadow and started walking through it. As I journeyed through the meadow, I got a sense that others had made and were making the same journey. This motivated me and urged me on. Eventually I arrived at some hills, and this was where the weather started to clear. As the weather cleared, I noticed one large hill in particular, and I began to climb it. The climb up the hill was a long one but it was not a hard one. When I reached the top, I saw it. A huge cross. And then I saw Jesus standing beside the Cross. He told me “See, I too was battered and bruised but it wasn’t the end.” Then he opened his arms and we embraced.

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This can’t POSSIBLY happen in Mexico

Sunday 3/7/10 – Chapel @ Casa de Misiones in General Cepeda, Mexico

Praise God for another wonderful day on missions! I get the privilege and blessing of sitting here in the presence of the Lord. Looking back on the day, it was such a full day. However, there’s one thing that stuck out the most.

A group of us went hiking up a nearby mountain after lunch. As we were walking back to the mission house, we saw a man lying on the sidewalk and he had flies buzzing around him. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes, and for a split second thought he was dead. It really shook me. I thought to myself “This kind of thing happens in India, but surely not here.” I was relieved, but only slightly, when one of the guys in our group confirmed that he was breathing. We continued on our way, but the image of that man lying there would not leave me. After our prayer time, we had some extra time before dinner started, so a small group of guys decided to go check on him. We brought him some bottled water and some snacks. When we got back to where he was, we sat and talked and prayed with him, and it really felt like that little bit that we did really brightened up his day.

It was so tempting for me to be superficial and think that our little act didn’t mean much. Yet, Jesus’ words came to mind, and I remembered that whatever we did to this least of his brothers, we did to Jesus. I knew that this battered and broken down man was the same man who was nailed to the cross. And somehow knowing that felt like a tremendous blessing to me. I dunno what will happen to that man, but I pray God heal him and watch after him, and I thank God for another divine appointment. Alleluia! (I’ve included some pics from our mountain climb below.)

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