Posts Tagged With: Desert Day

Old friendships renewed

Saturday – 4/15/12 – 2:00pm – At Vigie Beach in Castries, St. Lucia

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all thy works.” –Psalm 73:28–

I chose this verse to begin my journal entry because I felt like it perfectly reflects the nature of my work as a missionary. It’s a good reflection of what I also try to do during my Desert Day prayer time. Alot has happened since my last entry. Me & Luis had our first full month alone as a mission team. Overall it was a good experience. Since there were difficulties, alot of which was due to the fact that we are both kinda solitary in our personalities and in our spiritual journeys too. We were also at the beginning stages of growing accustomed to each other, and developing team chemistry. Like I said, we weren’t perfect but we grew alot during that month.

Then we got a huge blessing with the addition of the Alvarez family to our mission team. I was glad to have them because it was too quiet around the house with just the two of us. Having the family there will help to pull us out of our shells too. After the Alvarezes arrived on Monday of Holy Week, we only had two days to get them settled before I headed here to St. Lucia. Got here a whole day later than expected (Holy Saturday) because of bad weather in Dallas earlier in the week. Monsignor Boni’s driver Tate picked me up from the airport and I bought some supplies before arriving at the Marian Home. Went to the Vigil Mass at Sacred Heart in Marchand, and spent Easter Day visiting with Ms. Renee Cenac and her family. 

She’s a friend of ours from when me and the Eckstines lived here last year. The group arrived on Monday and then the fun began. This trip has been really great. We’re plugging into ministries that we developed last year and on our short term trip this past January. Visiting the sick and elderly. Doing a 3 night rally @ Ti Rocher. Feeding the poor with our good friend Auntie Sabi. Getting to reconnect with our friends here has also been really great. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed being with the families that have been on this trip. They’re all from Our Lady of Prompt Succor parish in Alexandria, LA. Some of them have been on previous trips with FMC. They even brought 2 priests with them, Fr. Adam Travis & Fr. Harold Imamshah. Funny thing is that me and Fr. Harold have been facebook friends for at least a year or two before actually meeting. We have alot of mutual connections through youth ministry. 

This whole week the group has been willing to jump in head first and not hesitate to work hard or come out of their comfort zones. I think this willingness is the result of these families being part of a strong, vibrant, loving faith community. After wrap up tonight, we pack up and head out of the Vieux Fort airport tomorrow. James and Theresa head back to Big Woods, the families and priests head home, and I head to Michigan to visit my girlfriend Nina.

I’m simultaneously excited and scared. Excited because she’s awesome and she’s my girlfriend and I haven’t seen her since January 28th. It’ll be really nice to spend an extended period of time visiting with her. But I’m also scared because of the sometimes mysterious and unpredictable nature of relationships and discernment of them. I feel like the best way to discern this relationship is to be honest and open with God, myself, and Nina too. By asking ourselves about the various aspects of the relationship, by being honest about how we feel and what we want, by continually offering up the relationship through prayer, I think these things will ultimately help us to discern whether or not we are called to deepen our relationship.

It’s hard being patient and being open and honest like this. But it’s also the most freeing feeling. It takes any undue pressure off of us and helps us to have the freedom and space we need. Whatever the future holds, I know that God will bless us both and that through this relationship experience we’ll grow closer to Christ.

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Desert Day – November 19, 2011

Desert Day – mountainside on the outskirts of General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico – November 19, 2011

These first four paragraphs (marked with an asterisk) are some transcribed audio recordings I made during my prayer time so that I could capture my reflections and thoughts. I was trying to type as fast as I could while transcribing them, so please pardon any errors 🙂

*Out at desert day in General Cepeda, Saturday Nov 19, 2011. Driving to our vehicles to get out to our desert day location on a farm, got bogged down in some mud. Reminded me of how we get bogged down in sin and worldly things when we’re on our journey to God.

Parked, had a prayer, walked down a long dry path to get to the foot of the mountain. Then followed another missionary up the mountain, reminded me of how we follow those who go before us in the faith. Climbing the mountain to my desert day spot, high up the mountain, reminding me of God. being on teh mountain top and getting to observe God’s creation reminds me of the beauty of creation, and how climbing the mountain to be closer to God gives us a better perspective and view on life. beautiful mountain scenery, sunny day, a nice breeze blowing. This reminds me of the holy spirit. As I sit on the mountain top and look down, I see one of the farmers herding his sheep, obviously this reminds me of Jesus the good shepherd, herding us to where we need to go.

*As I sit here on desert day, meditating, feeling the breeze, listening to the music, I had a vision of an eagle, the most majestic eagle ever, flying across the sky, and landing on the mountain right next to me. I think the reason I got that vision was because in the Native American culture, when they portray the Trinity in artwork, they portray the holy spirit as an eagle instead of a dove. So I feel like that was God’s way of telling me that the holy spirit was with me.

*As I was sitting here meditating and praying, I felt the Lord telling me to turn in my bible to 2 Kings. As I was flipping through the first few chapters, I thought I heard him say Chapter 3, but didn’t really see anything that stuck out to me. When I got to chapter 4, I came across verse 30 which says “then the mother of the child said “as the lord himself lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you”. And I just felt like that was the Lord telling me that Mary is always with us, that as long as the Lord lives, she will always be with us and won’t leave us. She’s gonna pray for us, she’s gonna guide us, she’s gonna do everything she possibly can, so that we can be close to God and get to heaven.

*As I sit here on the mountain top continuing my prayer time, I’ve been listening to an album called Lakota Piano. Lakota is a native american tribe. It’s by the name of a guy who goes by the name of Brule, which is the french word for burnt. And as I listen to this native american instrumental music to try and enter more into prayer and help me to focus more on God’s presence, and less on the noise of the world, I also am reading a book called Mi’kmak Hieroglyphic Prayers: Readings in North America’s First Indigenous Script. It’s a book of prayers that are in indian hieroglyphics, and is also transcribed into the literal pronunciation of each character, and that’s also translated into english. And these are actually a book of Catholic prayers, and these prayers were used years and years ago in Acadie, the area of Canada where all the Acadians are at, where all of our Cajun ancestors came from. The priests and religious orders that evangelized this area and brought these native american people into the Catholic faith, used these hieroglyphics and this language to teach them their prayers and teach them their faith.

I just felt like it was quite an appropriate thing to be reading this book on Native american hieroglyphics prayers of the Mi’kmak Indians, prayers of the Catholic faith, while I sit on a mountain observing God’s beautiful creation, and listening to some instrumental music by a Lakota Indian. I also was reflecting on bible verses specific to mountains & the good news, and the two that I always fall back on are Romans 10:15, and Isaiah 52:7. I felt like these verses were quite appropriate too, considering that i’m sitting on a mountain side overlooking this beautiful scenery of God’s creation, and I am a missionary, and i hope to bring the good news to everybody I meet, and everybody that I have the chance to evangelize and share with.

(I’m gonna post a “part 2” so that this one doesn’t go on too long. In part 3, I’ll be posting some pics and video)

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Desert Day – November 19, 2011

Desert Day – mountainside on the outskirts of General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico – November 19, 2011

These first four paragraphs (marked with an asterisk) are some transcribed audio recordings I made during my prayer time so that I could capture my reflections and thoughts. I was trying to type as fast as I could while transcribing them, so please pardon any errors 🙂

*Out at desert day in General Cepeda, Saturday Nov 19, 2011. Driving to our vehicles to get out to our desert day location on a farm, got bogged down in some mud. Reminded me of how we get bogged down in sin and worldly things when we’re on our journey to God.

Parked, had a prayer, walked down a long dry path to get to the foot of the mountain. Then followed another missionary up the mountain, reminded me of how we follow those who go before us in the faith. Climbing the mountain to my desert day spot, high up the mountain, reminding me of God. being on teh mountain top and getting to observe God’s creation reminds me of the beauty of creation, and how climbing the mountain to be closer to God gives us a better perspective and view on life. beautiful mountain scenery, sunny day, a nice breeze blowing. This reminds me of the holy spirit. As I sit on the mountain top and look down, I see one of the farmers herding his sheep, obviously this reminds me of Jesus the good shepherd, herding us to where we need to go.

*As I sit here on desert day, meditating, feeling the breeze, listening to the music, I had a vision of an eagle, the most majestic eagle ever, flying across the sky, and landing on the mountain right next to me. I think the reason I got that vision was because in the Native American culture, when they portray the Trinity in artwork, they portray the holy spirit as an eagle instead of a dove. So I feel like that was God’s way of telling me that the holy spirit was with me.

*As I was sitting here meditating and praying, I felt the Lord telling me to turn in my bible to 2 Kings. As I was flipping through the first few chapters, I thought I heard him say Chapter 3, but didn’t really see anything that stuck out to me. When I got to chapter 4, I came across verse 30 which says “then the mother of the child said “as the lord himself lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you”. And I just felt like that was the Lord telling me that Mary is always with us, that as long as the Lord lives, she will always be with us and won’t leave us. She’s gonna pray for us, she’s gonna guide us, she’s gonna do everything she possibly can, so that we can be close to God and get to heaven.

*As I sit here on the mountain top continuing my prayer time, I’ve been listening to an album called Lakota Piano. Lakota is a native american tribe. It’s by the name of a guy who goes by the name of Brule, which is the french word for burnt. And as I listen to this native american instrumental music to try and enter more into prayer and help me to focus more on God’s presence, and less on the noise of the world, I also am reading a book called Mi’kmak Hieroglyphic Prayers: Readings in North America’s First Indigenous Script. It’s a book of prayers that are in indian hieroglyphics, and is also transcribed into the literal pronunciation of each character, and that’s also translated into english. And these are actually a book of Catholic prayers, and these prayers were used years and years ago in Acadie, the area of Canada where all the Acadians are at, where all of our Cajun ancestors came from. The priests and religious orders that evangelized this area and brought these native american people into the Catholic faith, used these hieroglyphics and this language to teach them their prayers and teach them their faith.

I just felt like it was quite an appropriate thing to be reading this book on Native american hieroglyphics prayers of the Mi’kmak Indians, prayers of the Catholic faith, while I sit on a mountain observing God’s beautiful creation, and listening to some instrumental music by a Lakota Indian. I also was reflecting on bible verses specific to mountains & the good news, and the two that I always fall back on are Romans 10:15, and Isaiah 52:7. I felt like these verses were quite appropriate too, considering that i’m sitting on a mountain side overlooking this beautiful scenery of God’s creation, and I am a missionary, and i hope to bring the good news to everybody I meet, and everybody that I have the chance to evangelize and share with.

(I’m gonna post a “part 2” so that this one doesn’t go on too long. In the next one I’ll be posting some pics and video)

 

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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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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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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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