Posts Tagged With: faith

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 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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When one door closes, another opens

Saturday May 5th, 2012 – 1:45pm – In the guys’ trailer @ Big Woods Mission Base – Esther, LA

“The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure, silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” –Psalm 12:6–

It’s funny how our human concept of love often leaves out pain. Pain? Really? Love is supposed to be, well, happy! But in reality, love is a decision, not always easy, and sometimes painful. But Love is still Love. It will always be worth the sacrifices we have to make. In fact, if Love was so easy to arrive at, if it didn’t require any real sacrifice, if we didn’t have to put our hearts on the line without any guarantee of success, would it really be Love? I don’t think so.

Right before I started writing this journal entry, I was re-reading over my last one. At the end, I was talking about my trip up to Michigan to see my then-girlfriend Nina. Talked alot about being honest and open. That was something I could have done better at. Not that I was dishonest. It’s just that I wasn’t open enough about how I really felt and what was really important to me. I was actually having concerns before I even left Mexico for the St. Lucia trip, but aside from not being open about it, I figured that maybe our visit would clear things up. I needed to give it a chance. And I truly believe that. I knew that in spite of my concerns, that I needed to go through with the visit to Michigan. It’s because visiting in person and getting to know someone up close and personal is way different than doing things long distance. Whether it was a make it or break it visit, there was value to be had in us being together. Needless to say, we figured out that a relationship wasn’t in the cards. Now I could take this time to go over all the potential reasons why things didn’t work out. But I won’t because that’s between me, Nina, and God. I could also look back and lament the things that went wrong, or I could wonder what the purpose of the relationship was if it ended up not working out. What I’m gonna do is hold onto the fact that in spite of the relationship ending, God let this happen for a reason. It taught me more about myself, and helped me to grow closer to God. I pray that Nina derived the same benefit as well. When I look at how plans have changed as a result of this, I can again rejoice. I now have the chance to be with my missionary community at our home base here in Louisiana. I can visit with friends and family before I head back to Mexico.

Speaking of Mexico, I’m still not sure what will happen there either. The theme of my missionary life so far has been A.) Expect the unexpected, and B.) Plans will change. After talking to Joe a couple weeks ago, we came to the conclusion that because there were no major obstacles to me returning to Mexico, that I should do that. Once I arrive in Mexico, the idea is that I’ll stay until Intake 2012 arrives in November to wrap up their training. We recognized that one of my needs is to stay and commit to this mission post for the rest of the year and really put myself into it. Really give myself to these people. I agree with that. There’s nothing illogical about that conclusion. But for some reason, I’m not totally at peace with it. Maybe it’s just the normal hesitancy one experiences when facing the unknown or something new. There are other reasons though. Part of me wonders if that not being at peace is because the mission post is not a good fit for me. Another part of me wonders if I maybe just need to live in community at Big Woods for a few months and help out with Intake. Then there’s the opportunity for travel to Asia. I REALLY want to go to Asia, and FMC has a month long trip to the Phillipines planned for June, and a 3 week trip to India in December. If I stay in Mexico until November, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make either of those trips.

Another thing that’s been on my mind is learning to play the guitar and learning to speak Spanish. At this point I’m having to try and teach myself. Spanish has come to a dead stop. I’m not even trying to study in any way. Guitar is almost at a standstill but I am trying to resurrect it. Practiced last night for the first time in weeks. It’s just that I have such a hard time teaching myself. Having a teacher who pushes me makes it alot easier. Don’t see that happening anytime soon though. Both speaking Spanish and playing guitar will come in handy for missions and other ministries as well. Guitar will be easier for me to stick with. I feel like it’s more useful and I have more of a desire. And even if Spanish is as useful as playing the guitar, it’s just hard for me to stick with it. My heart and my passion is with the french language. The fact that I have to neglect the language that is such a part of me and my culture, in order to learn another, is hard. Maybe one day God will bless me with mission trips to french speaking areas.

Here’s to having faith in God and trusting in his guidance during my missionary journey………………….

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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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Seems like just yesterday………………………………..

September 19, 2011 – 11:00pm – Near Gate D @ LaGuardia Airport – New York City

Seems like just yesterday I got to St. Lucia to begin my journey as a full-time lay Catholic foreign missionary. And now today I head home after having arrived in St. Lucia exactly 8 months ago. I know it sounds cliche, but it really did go by quite fast. Then this week, and especially today, it didn’t really seem like I was about to leave and things didn’t really seem different. On the surface things were indeed different. Monday of last week I visited the St. Lucy Home and the Adelaide Home for the last time. Tell my friends there good-bye. Tuesday, we went to the beach by Tapion Hospital. Friday our pastor took us to the beach and treated us to lunch. Sunday, we went to Mass and then three different houses that we were invited to for visiting and to eat. We cleaned up the house and gave away all the stuff we couldn’t take with us. Then earlier today I made my last visit to The Marian Home. Not the way things would go in a “typical” week as a missionary.

But between all of these “good-bye” activities, life was normal. We ate, slept, went to Mass, ran errands, prayed, etc….. Sometimes it was slow with not much to do. Sometimes I watched TV or listened to football games on the radio. It just didn’t “feel” like things were coming to an end for Team St. Lucia. It hadn’t “hit” me yet that I was about to leave and might never come back. That was another thing I reflected on as I lay in bed last night. Why hasn’t it hit me? Why am I not feeling something? Why am I not having either a mountain top or bottom of the valley experience? Where is my rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts? Then I realized that I was focusing too much on that “aha” moment in order to make my experience more authentic and alive. Not that the “aha” moment is bad, but it’s only a sign or indicator. Even if it’s not there, the reality of the situation still is. In addition to that, I’m just one of those people that goes through spiritual dryness from time to time. Another way to put it is that when I try to do God’s work, I don’t always feel it. I usually have to remind myself that I’m operating through faith and trust.

Now I’m sitting here by Gate D at the American Airlines terminal. Both of my flights earlier today (St. Lucia to San Juan, and then to here) were safe, smooth, and uneventful. I’m almost surprised at how relatively trouble free and easy everything has been. No trouble with security or customs. Got my bag within 10 minutes of deboarding the plane (a miracle in an airport the size of JFK). Found an airport shuttle to LaGuardia right next to the baggage claim, and after a 10 minute wait, I was on my way here. Didn’t realize how late it was by the time I arrived here. Only place open is some little deli type of place with ridiculously overpriced pastries, salads, and sandwiches. Good thing I had two OJ’s on the plane before I got here. Waiting until tomorrow morning to try and get anything to eat, hopefully more is open.

My other hope for tomorrow is that I get bumped from one or both of my flights. Because of the $250 voucher I got from American Airlines during my trip back to St. Lucia on August 25th, I paid less than $175 for my ticket back home to Louisiana. So if I can get bumped from one or both flights, it means cheaper plane tickets next time around. 🙂 Once I get back home tomorrow, I plan on going to the store to grab a few small things and grabbing some stuff out of my parents attic. For that matter, I plan on getting rid of some stuff too and putting it up in the attic. Compared to your average American, I don’t have much “stuff”. But as a missionary, I have more than I should. Cutting down will make it easier to travel around. Then Wednesday morning, me and Dad are gonna hit up Le Table Francaise at Dwyer’s downtown before heading out to Big Woods to drop me off. Very excited about helping out with Intake, and I can’t wait to see what God’s gonna do. 🙂

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Vieux Fort – week 2!

Team Retreat/Mission Trip – Sisters of St. Francis Convent – Vieux Fort, St. Lucia – May 22-June 7, 2011 (week 2)

Since I will be journaling several times a week, and only posting the collections of these entries once a week as a single missionary blog post, I forewarn you that this entry is VERY long. But I do hope you take the time to read it and enjoy the pictures.

link to pictures:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150199882382874.309058.605007873&l=e549cc195e

Day 7 – Sunday, May 29, 2011 – 11:14pm – Upstairs Living Room

Oh man, right now the journaling honeymoon is over and i’m realizing that’s it’s actually work sometimes. It’s like any other ministry I guess. Takes work but in the end the effort is worth it. Well, if I didn’t say anything about Mass, then I’d have to go to confession. So, yeah, we went to Mass. 🙂 Came back, and I uploaded my journal entry from the previous week and my pictures too. Spoke briefly to mom and dad on the phone to wish them a happy anniversary. It’s their 38th, which is amazing. I’m so grateful to the witness their marriage has been to me, and to the stability and foundation it has provided for me. Ate lunch, took a nap. Woke up around 3 and helped Mark, Sister Mary, and some of the kids deliver care packages for the St. Vincent DePaul society. All of the people we brought them to were her regular stops. Took about 2 hours. My whiney little mind was thinkin’ about how exhausting it was and how sweaty I was, but i knew I  needed to help out. Die to myself. And to see the kids and this older sister doing it, I had no other choice. Of course the need of the people we visited also helped to motivate me. Once we got back, I took a shower, and it was a pretty typical remainder of the evening.

“Only on the basis of friendship does a person arrive at the fullness of an interpersonal relationship.” –Cursillos in Christianity: Leader’s Manual–

Today’s gift of the spirit: Fortitude

Psalms 2:7-9

Do what’s right even when it’s hard

Day 8 – Monday, May 30, 2011 – 8:14pm – Upstairs Living Room

I wanted to begin today’s entry by giving thanks and praising God for my parents. Today is their 38th wedding anniversary. Their marriage has been such a witness to me, and has provided me with stability and a strong foundation in my life. Mom and Dad, I love you! Aside from that bit of good news, today was still a really good day. There was no morning Mass so I got to sleep in a little bit, 6am instead of 4am. ha! After morning prayer, me and Mark returned to Ms. Bibi’s house to finish up our work on her roof. We covered the rest of the screws on the metal roof with the tar-backed aluminum tape and also covered some long seams as well. Came back home and got some good reading time in. Went upstairs, watched some TV and then check email. After lunch, we went to the beach, this time on the Atlantic side. Lemme tell you that it was MUCH better! No horse poop, marijuana, or treacherous walking trails. In fact, the walk was really nice because most of the route there is along the highway and there’s a wide grassy shoulder that we walk on and it puts us far from the cars. The beach itself is much nicer too because there’s much more sandy area where you can lay down or sit. The water itself, also beautiful-er. 🙂 Really nice and clear. Gorgeous blue/green. And the waves were much bigger too. On the Atlantic side you get much more wind and current. After a quick dip on the water, I laid in the sun for a half hour. Was feeling very relaxed and enjoyin it. Then I decided to get my daily exercises done at the beach since I didn’t know if I’d get a chance once we got back home. The good thing too was that as soon as I finished my exercises I jumped in the water to rinse off. Walked up and down the beach for another half hour, and then we began our trek back home. Stopped first at the lumberyard to pick up some 2×4’s that we’re using to build a ramp for Moses, a paraplegic that we met last week. So, then, imagine two grown men, carrying some 2×4’s on their shoulder, with 7 kids in tow. Strange sight, I know. Then picture 1 of the men, sitting in the grass with all but 2 of the kids and the 2×4’s waiting for the other man and the other kids to grab some things from the grocery store. Yeah, I know. Definitely a sight to see and experience only in missions. Made our way home, showered, ate a snack, did some reading, and then we headed to 6:30 Mass, which turned out to be a communion service. I was particularly proud of Sister Mary because she went to get Ms. Bibi from her house and bring her to Mass. After Mass we came home, I changed my clothes and ate some supper, and then settled down to read those chapters from Job. I also began reading a new book: Love & Responsibility, by Karol Cardinal Wojtyla (Blessed Pope John Paul II). I’m not far into the book, but judging by what I’ve already read tonight and after looking at the table of contents, I think i’m gonna REALLY like this book. It’s all about love and sexuality and the responsibilities that come with it.

“Personal prayer is dealing in a friendly way alone with the One whom we know loves us; not a matter of thinking much, but of loving much.” –Cursillos in Christianity: Leader’s Manual–

Singing “Come Lord Jesus” to begin our retreat sharing time, I also happen to be glancing at my Star of David tatoo. Can’t help but think how in my personal life I often feel like the Jews did as they waited for the Messiah. I feel a bit like they did as they begged and prayed for his coming, and I continue to do so.

Just finished reading the latest book I’ve been reading, “Cursillos in Christianity: Leader’s Manual” & I thorougly enjoyed it. The thrust of the book is to seek those who are natural leaders in their environments and help them to become CHRISTIAN leaders in their natural environments. It’s a great thing for me to be studying during my missionary work.

Note to self: gotta think about 10 things that I’m thankful for here in missions.

At the recommendation of Mr. Frank, I’ve started reading the book of Job. His recommendation came after a recent conversation in which I was relating to him the various difficulties of being a first year missionary. I only got to the first two chapters tonight. Get this: at the beginning of his misfortunes his 500 oxen and 500 donkeys are stolen and the servants attending them are killed. It gets better. A firestorm from the sky kills his 7000 sheep and the servants attending them. Then his 3000 camels were stolen and the servants attending them were killed. Finally, all  10 of his kids were killed when strong winds destroyed the house they were in. You know what Job’s final response was to all of this? “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Mr. Frank, point well-taken. 🙂

Day 9 – Tuesday, May 31, 2011 – 8:17pm – Upstairs Living Room

Not much to say about today. We were supposed to go to Moses (paraplegic) and Annette’s house to build a wood ramp. When we got there and started talking about what we were gonna do, she asked us to wait and see if we could do a concrete ramp instead, since it would last alot longer. At first I didn’t know if it would work, or would we have the time or the money to do it. But, alot of times, things get done when people don’t accept no for an answer. This was one of those cases. Annette just wouldn’t let go of the idea, so me and Mark said we’d talk to Sister Mary and see what could be done. Long story short, we’ve secured all the ingredients we need for teh concrete and we already have the wood to frame the pour mold. Looks like we’ll be going back tomorrow to get it done. Supposedly a guy from town is gonna come and help get us started by showing us how to mix it and in what proportions.

“Man’s capacity for love depends on his willingness consciously to seek a good together with others, and to subordinate himself to that good for the sake of others, or to others for the sake of that good.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“Sexual morality comes into being not only because persons are aware of the purpose of sexual life, but also because they are aware that they are persons. The whole problem of ‘using’ as the antithesis of love is connected with this knowledge of theirs.” –Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

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

So today’s reading from Job (ch. 3 & 4) are more familiar to me. Job laments his misfortunes to the point of cursing the day of his birth. Although I’ve never arrived at cursing the day of my birth, I have much too easily lamented my misfortunes instead of trusting in God. I think I like chapter 3 because it shows me that even really holy people are human like the rest of us. It also inspires me because it also proves that “all the rest of us” have the ability to be like “them”. Chapter 4 was also encouraging because his friend Eliphaz gave him words and witness to lift him up.

“Although the sexual urge is there for man to use, it must never be used in the absence of, or worse still, in a way which contradicts, love for the person.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

10 things I’m thankful for in St. Lucia
1.) beach days
2.) rainy weather
3.) the breeze
4.) constant access to Jesus’ Eucharistic presence
5. )the opportunity to more fully discern my vocation to marriage by living with and learning from a large  family
6.) visits with the elderly
7.) numerous opportunities each day for prayer and reading
8.) our friends from church and the surrounding neighborhood
9.) having manual labor to keep our hands occupied and as a way to bless others
10.) learning to appreciate all the small blessings of life

Today’s gift of the spirit: Knowledge
-Divine knowledge is revealed to us by God
-helps us to differentiate between what is and isn’t consistent with the faith
-only one truth
-prevents us from being mislead in the faith

“The established order of human existence, as of existence in general, is the work of the Creator, and not a work completed once and for all at some moment in the dim past of the universe, but a work continually in progress.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

Day 10 – Wednesday, June 1, 2011 – 8:48pm – Upstairs Living Room

Today got off to a pretty good start. As I was waiting here for Mark to walk Lora to the resale shop (run by Vieux Fort Children’s Society), one of Sister Mary’s friends called and said she was coming by. Homegirl dropped off a bag full of the little love apples. They’re small apples that are shaped like pears. Quite humbling to see how the people around here, who have only known us for a week treat us like we’ve lived here our whole lives. They’re very friendly and they’re generous too, even though they don’t have a whole lot extra. When Mark got back around 9:30ish, we walked over to Moses’ house and began working on the ramp. We didn’t actually pour the concrete today, but Mark built the wooden mold-form into which we’ll pour the concrete. A little bit before lunch time, Ms. Annette (Moses’ mom) said she would fix lunch for us. Knowing that they don’t have much money to spare because of Moses’ medical expenses, we were VERY hesitant to accept. But then we remember that part of being a missionary was to gratefully accept all the ways that our poor brothers and sisters want to bless us. We have to allow people the blessing of being able to bless us. They’re like the poor lady in the Bible who gave her last two coins. She didn’t give much, but because she was poor and because it was all she had, that is precisely why it was such a blessing. Lunch was actually quite good. She made some rice and cooked up some tuna and onions with some yellow tomato slices on the side.

About an hour after lunch we finished our work for the day. Yet another example of God not calling me to be super productive or successful. I didn’t really DO a whole lot. Yeah, I cut a few pieces of wood. But Mark did most of the work. My time was not for naught though. Just being out there, sacrificing my own desires to serve someone else was a blessing to me. Helped me to learn more how to try and put others before myself. The other thing I noticed today was that I continue to struggle with adjusting to life with all these kids. God-willing, I might even have this many one day. So yeah, this is a wonderful learning experience. But i’m still adjusting. It wasn’t that they did anything out of the ordinary. I think it was just that for some reason I really noticed the tension between the kids learning how to behave towards someone who is an outsider and learning how to respect that person and his space, while on the other hand that outsider (me) learning patience in dealing with and raising children as well as the need to compromise on things that are not of dire importance. It’s not easy for them to learn how to behave towards me and me towards them, but it’ll come. Only a matter of time. And in the end, we’ll all be better off because of it.

Seems like I’ve also been having alot of opportunities this week to share with friends and family back home about my mission work.  I never realized how much someone taking an interest in my work would be a blessing to me.

“The Creator’s will is not only the preservation of the species by way of sexual intercourse but also its preservation on the basis of a love worthy of human persons.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“There exists a joy which is consonant both with the nature of the sexual urge and with the dignity of humans persons, a joy which results from collaboration, from mutual understanding and the harmonious realization of jointly chosen aims, in the broad field of action which is love between man and woman. This joy […] may be bestowed either by the great variety of pleasures connected with differences of sex, or by the sexual enjoyment which conjugal relations can bring. The Creator designed this joy, and linked it with love between man and woman in so far as that love develops on the basis of the sexual urge in a normal manner, in other words in a manner worthy of human persons.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“Sexual morality and therefore conjugal morality consists of a stable and mature synthesis of nature’s purpose with the personalistic norm.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“If there is intimate cooperation between the man and the woman in a marriage, and if they are able to educate and compliment each other, their love matures to the point of which it is the proper basis for a family.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

Day 11 – Thursday, June 2, 2011 – 10:08pm – Upstairs Living Room

When you rely on an alarm clock, you should probably make sure it’s on before you go to sleep. It’s a lesson I re-learned today. Usually when I wake up early, i’m rested well enough but still feel a little bit tired. Oh, and it’s dark outside. Well today, I thought it odd when I woke up and before I opened my eyes I thought “I feel REALLY well rested. I wonder why?”. And then I open my eyes and see the light (literally), and then have that “oh crap” moment, and look over at my clock to see that it’s 5:48. I hear people outside my door, and I throw on some shorts, peek out the door, and tell them that I must have slept through my alarm. So, instead of going to 6am morning Mass, I took a shower, and had some personal prayer time in the chapel. Even when I go to bed really late I usually am able to wake up early anyways. But, I know that with some better time management and getting to bed a little earlier I can avoid mornings like this morning altogether. The only other notable thing was the laid back day I had today. Now, if you’ve been following my blog the past two weeks, then you know the whole time here has been laid back. More of a retreat atmosphere. But, we did a little more work project stuff this week compared to last week. And I fully expected today to be working on something. But Mark said that he was gonna have some of the kids help him paint Ms. Bibi’s house. I knew that there were only so many rollers and paintbrushes to go around. I also knew that Mark was looking for more ways to get the kids involved with our mission work. So, I jumped at the chance and decided to stay home and get some good reading and journaling time in. Checked my email, and then had some more reading time. Speaking of, it’s funny how when you’re reading a really good book it’s not hard at all to find time to read. Such is the case with me right now.

“To be attracted does not mean just thinking about some person as a good, it means a commitment to think of that person as a certain good, and such a commitment can in the last resort be effected only by the will.” –Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

(The above quote reminds me of the saying “Love is a choice not an emotion”)

Today’s gift of the Spirit: Piety
-makes us more sensitive to God’s guidance
-fills us with eagerness to do works of mercy
-Ruth 1:16-17
-a virtue that governs our behavior at all times

“Unrequited love is condemned first to stagnation in the person who feels it, then to gradual extinction. Sometimes, indeed, as it dies it causes the very capacity for love to die together with it.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“The structure of Love is that of an interpersonal communion.”
–Love & Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

I’ve noticed that as an American, I’m used to having a full belly when I eat. Today at lunch, I knew what I ate was enough even though I didn’t feel full. But taking for granted the luxury and feeling of a full belly, I found myself trying to graze and stuff myself a little further. Eventually I got a hold of myself and realized that I’m a missionary and part of being a missionary is solidarity with the poor. And if that means not having the full belly and having to experience a little of what it’s like not to have an abundance of food, then so be it. Fasting is also a good way to be able to pray and offer up your discomfort for others. (sidenote: While I didn’t gorge myself or engage in the sin of gluttony at supper, I definitely stuffed myself a little fuller than at lunch time. Seems like this might be my next area of growth to focus on.)

Day 12 – Friday, June 3, 2011 – 8:27pm – Upstairs Living Room

The busier you are, the faster time goes by. That’s today’s theme. Left with Sister Mary at 8:30 to go to an elementary school in Micoud to assist her with Religious Knowledge testing. It’s an apostolate she’s developed and administered in her time here, and it gives the teachers, schools, and the archdiocese an idea of what kids know and what they need to learn in regards to the Catholic faith. Sister put me upstairs with 2nd grade (i think) and she had all the kids downstairs. After I finished collecting the written tests upstairs, I went downstairs to help her finish up. I sat down at a table and one-by-one a kid would come to me with his/her test, and I would ask them to make the sign of the cross and then say the hail mary. Even if they only got some of the answer correct, they still got half credit. Then we walked down to the bus stop and went back to the convent in Vieux Fort to catch a quick lunch. Hopped on the 12:30 bus to Castries for the Vocations Committee meeting. Got there with about 20 minutes to spare. At the meeting we had a post-mortem review of the Vocations Rally in May. Talked about what worked, what didn’t, what more we can do, and what we can change. Got a chance to talk to Sav (archbishop’s secretary) after our meeting and she said they’re still “processing” our visas. Told me to call her in 2-3 weeks to either have her tell me that they’re ready, or to get some kind of documentation from her saying that my visa application is being processed. If my visa isn’t ready, I need to have this documentation available in case the airport asks for it. That way I don’t have to pay any extra taxes or fees. Chances are, with the way I’ve noticed God working in my life as a missionary, the visa won’t be ready until RIGHT before I go back to the States in July. For whoever reads this, please please please say a quick prayer that our visas would get approved soon. So then we hopped on a bus back to Vieux Fort (about an hour, hour 15 to get back). Got home, took a quick shower, changed clothes, and then we went to First Friday Mass at 6:30. I really enjoyed the day. I know God allows me to have slow days for a reason, but I feel so much more productive and less lazy when the days are busy. Speakin’ of being busy, I think me and Mark are going back to Moses and Annette’s house to pour the concrete for his wheelchair ramp. Oh, and I just realized for the first time this week that I have no quotes or wise sayings to offer! 🙂

Day 13 – Saturday, June 4, 2011 – 9:54pm – Upstairs Living Room

Day started off pretty well. Slept in a bit because there’s no morning Mass on Saturdays here. Didn’t take a shower, cuz i knew that I’d be gettin all sweaty doin laundry and other possible work activities. After breakfast I decided to handwash my laundry again. Not that I’d wanna do it every week since we have a washer at our house in Castries, but I do kinda like it. It’s one of those voluntary sacrifices that I don’t mind. Gives me something to do. Helps me get back to the basics of life without technology. Helps me to get a feel for what it’s like for most people in this country when they do their laundry. About 2/3 of the way through doing my laundry, right when my hands were sopping wet, is when Mark decides to call. He said he’d call when he and the local guy he hired started pouring the concrete. So, after I finished my laundry, I went over to Moses and Annette’s to check it out and take a few pictures. It was another instance of me not needing to be there, in a utilitarian sense, but still wanting to be there. The very fact that I was there meant I was sacrificing a little bit of ease and convenience. It was also a good chance to take some pictures of the work Mark was doing and see the final product of his/our hard work during the week. While Mark and Ed were working on the ramp. These two really slick-dressed guys come in the house and briefly talk to Moses, and then leave. Nice guys, and very polite. But, as they’re about to walk in, Mark casually asks them what church they are with, and they reply “Seventh Day Adventists”. Not what we wanted to hear.

Now, I have to say first that at least they were Christian. And just the fact that they were out and about was a witness to us about the lengths we should go to evangelize. However (there’s always a however when Sidney tells a story about slickly dressed Seventh Day Adventists), I still wasn’t happy that they came. First of all, they didn’t go to any other house, and I know this because I saw them come straight to the house, and then saw them after they left. I felt like they purposefully went to the house of the guy who is paraplegic and cannot choose to not receive them. He can’t “get away” from them because he is basically bed-ridden. They knew they had a captive audience, whether he wanted to be or not. Another reason I wasn’t happy is because Seventh Day Adventists do NOT like Catholics. Among many other issues they have with us, they think having Sunday as the Sabbath is sinful. And regardless of what denomination you are, if you worship on a Sunday as your weekly Sabbath, it means they’re not very fond of you. But, when I was telling Sister Mary that story, I told her “if you look at what they did and then you look at what Mark as doing for him, I think he knew who really cared for him and was taking care of him.” Only other highlight of the day was finally getting a fan for my bedroom! 🙂 Sister Francis had basically set aside a fan to be thrown away because she thought it overheated when using it one time and that it was broken. Bottom line, worked fine and nothing was wrong with it. So, I had the first “sopping-wet-with-sweat-free” nap since I left Castries. Funny thing though, is that I’ve become so accustomed to the heat and sweat while sleeping in my bedroom here, that I think I can sleep without a fan on if I have to. Small milestone that helps me to feel more legit as a missionary.

“….sentimental love is very often a cause of disillusionment. Disillusionment where the woman is concerned may come with the discovery as time goes by that the man’s sentiment is only a sort of screen for concupiscence or for the will to use another. Man and woman alike may be disillusioned to find that the values ascribed to the beloved person are fictitious.”
–Love and Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“The process of integrating love (making love whole) relies on the primary elements of the human spirit–freedom and truth.”
–Love and Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“The experience of freedom goes hand in hand with the experience of truth.”
–Love and Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“Freedom exists for the sake of love.”
–Love and Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

“….man longs for love more than for freedom — freedom is the means and love the end.”
–Love and Responsibility, by Blessed Pope John Paul II–

Day 14 – Sunday, June 5, 2011 – 11:21am – Upstairs Living Room

So I dunno if I’ll journal anymore after today, but I wanted to write down some great advice I received from a missionary priest that I met this morning after 9am Mass. 1.) Stay connected to your mission partners and the people you serve. You are not in a 9-5 job. Do not isolate yourself. 2.) Pray and you will be saved. Pray in order to stay connected and have a relationship with the Lord. 3.)Let go of the small things and don’t let them bother you or get on your nerves. 4.) Love the people. They are wounded and hurt. The way they will be lead to God is not by finger wagging or the finer points and minutiae of doctrine, but by a good LOVING life and example you set. Jesus loves you so you LOVE them. 5.) Be joyful. Smile. Come out of yourself. 6.) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

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Vieux Fort Retreat – Week 1

Team Retreat/Mission Trip – Sisters of St. Francis Convent – Vieux Fort, St. Lucia – May 22-June 7, 2011

Since I will be journaling several times a week, and only posting the collections of these entries once a week as a single missionary blog post, I forewarn you that this entry is VERY long. But I do hope you take the time to read it and enjoy the pictures.

here’s the link to my picture album on facebook, you might need to copy and paste it into your broswer.

Day 1 – Monday, May 23, 2011 – 9:00pm – Upstairs Living Room

I’m sitting here, writing this at the end of our first full day here. We arrived here yesterday around mid-afternoon and spent the afternoon getting settled in, cooking supper, and discussing with the sisters some of the things we would be involved with while we are here. Supper was delicious, and I think God multiplied our pasta, because there’s no way I’d have thought one pan of pasta would be enough to feed 5 adults and 10 kids, but somehow it did. I also really enjoyed chatting with Sr. Francis. We chatted yesterday and today about all kinds of things: ministry, culture, missionary work, etc… It’s nice to have somebody that I can talk to and discuss things. After night prayer, me, Sister Francis and some of the kids played Rummikub, a board game based off of the card game rummy. It’s an opportunity we had because of not having as much access to the internet here. Back at the Marian Home, we basically have unlimited internet because of the wireless signal we get from the sisters upstairs. And although we try and limit ourselves in our usage of it, inevitably you devote a little more time to that instead of devoting a little more time to ministry and fellowship. So, that was a nice change of pace. I think it will also help me to appreciate the contact I do have with family and friends. Since I won’t have it as much, I’ll appreciate it more. I’ll also be better able to enter into the “retreat” aspect of our time here. Ended up getting to bed around 10 o’clock (early for me). That was also due to not having as much internet access, thus not putting off getting the rest that I need. And believe me I need it since I wake up at 4am. (4:30 back at the Marian Home). I have to wake up that early so that I can get in my personal prayer time and Scripture reading before I take a shower, get dressed, and then go to morning Mass.

Today was a really nice day too. Woke up refreshed, enjoyed my personal prayer and Scripture reading time in the chapel downstairs (which has a tabernacle with Jesus Body and Blood! 🙂 ), and then joined the sisters in their morning prayer before we went to 6am Mass. (It was actually a communion service and will be the same tomorrow, since the priest is out until Wed. morning). After breakfast and morning prayer, me and Mark walked with Sister Francis on her way to a lab appt. and then headed off to the Super J (grocery store chain) to get a few things. Saw alot of locals and their streetside “market” where they sold all kinds of diff. fruits, veggies, and other things they grow. Passed by the local independence monument, and kicked myself for leaving behind my camera, although it’s such a small town and easy to navigate that I’m pretty sure I’ll pass by it again. After we walked home, we decided on a whim to go to the beach for a short while, about an hour. Besides wanting to go to the beach, we wanted to investigate our beach options. Since Vieux Fort is literally at the southern tip of the island, when you look out the west side of the house, you see the Carribean, and when you look at the east side, you see the Atlantic. Today, we checked out the beaches on the Carribean side. First off, I gotta say that we enjoyed our time at the beach. The kids were able to swim and play in the sand. I was able to take a dip in the water a few times and got to lay down and catch some sun. However, it was definitely a missionary beach experience, not a ritzy touristy one. Our trek that led us to our spot on the beach led us past rocks, pieces of junk and trash (litter is a big problem in St. Lucia), and some less than ideal walking spaces for such a large group. One of the guys that gave Mark directions on how to get to our beach spot had the world’s largest joint in his hand. At one point on the path, we walked past a free roaming horse and her baby (forget what horse babies are called). And I’m pretty sure I caught the scent of horse poo several times while we were at the beach. Like I said, it was both enjoyable AND interesting.

Made our way back to the convent, did my daily workout and took a shower, and had a pretty normal remainder of the day. Aside from our normal routine, one of the things Sister Mary did was to introduce us to some young girls nearby. She’s going to have some of the older kids help the girls with tutoring and I think she also wants these local girls to have someone to visit with, as I’m sure they dont’ get that very often. Me, and 3 of the Eckstines also accompanied Sister Mary to a planning meeting for a fundraiser for the Vieux Fort Children’s Society. It’s a non profit that has been formed with the hopes of starting a children’s home. Currently, the only children’s home on the island is in Castries (in the north), so the kids down here that are homeless, abandoned, come from abusive homes, etc… have nowheres to turn to. The meeting was a perfect example of Mother Theresa’s saying “God calls us to be faithful, not successful.” Of course there were some minor details discussed that pertained to us, but 99% of our time there was spent watching and listening and doing nothing at all. I wanted to go because I had nothing else to do and wanted to spend my time as a missionary doing something constructive instead of being lazy. Another reason I was called there was to test my patience. I think too that aside from learning that and some other things from the people that were there, that hopefully they too were able to learn from our witness and presence. Came home after that, ate supper, and then did night prayer as well as some more retreat reflections and discussions.

The two themes that seemed to stand out today were Joy and God’s Guidance. Our scripture for God’s Guidance was 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5, & the passage that related to Joy came from our morning prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours. The summary of my thoughts on God’s Guidance was “God will send us brothers and sisters in Christ who can strengthen our faith and He will direct our hearts to his love and Christ’s steadfastness.” In regards to Joy I wrote “If we welcome the Word of God into our hearts and seek after the right values, we will have abiding & eternal joy.” Then during our night prayer tonight 7 of us were a assigned a gift of the Spirit to read, pray, and reflect upon. I chose the gift of Wisdom, which is something I yearn for and which fascinates me. I found some great references (Wisdom 6:12-16 & CCC #474) and my nugget of wisdom was that “true wisdom comes from God & helps us to make good use of knowledge and understanding.” To demonstrate it, I came up with the following analogy: Knowledge is the certainty that the sun is bright and hot. Understanding is realizing it is that way because it is a gigantic ball of burning gas that emits heat and radiation. Wisdom is the ability to use that Knowledge and Understanding to warm ourselves, see where we’re going, or get a tan.

Day 2 – Tuesday, May 24, 2011 – 9:12pm – Upstairs Living Room

Really enjoyed the day today. The rain stopped us from taking a walk around town this morning. We were also gonna take a walk by the lumberyard to see what materials were available for the work we need to do on the blind lady’s house. Ended up staying home all morning and doing alot of journalling and some reading. Ate lunch and took a nap. Woke up, prayed the chaplet and then we walked around town just to explore and familiarize ourselves. Got to see the Indepence memorial monument. Then did my workout and took a shower before supper. Had two different times today that we did our “retreat” portion of the day. So far, I’m really diggin’ this retreat aspect of our time here.

The gift of the spirit that I had to report on was Wisdom. True wisdom comes from God (CCC #474) and helps us to make good use of knowledge and understanding. Reference Wisdom 6:12-16, Sirach 39, 2 Peter 1:4, Galatians 5:2-23, and Proverbs 2:1-15. Wisdom is being a good steward of God’s gifts in your life. Wisdom is know what to do with what you got. We need to be docile to the Spirit (malleable, flexible too).

Ministry reflection questions: 1.) What are my primary ministries? 2.)How are they going? 3.) Is what you’re doing what you thought you’d be doing?

1.) My ministries are primariliy visiting with the elderly at 4 different nursing homes, as well as having a ministry of prayer.

2.) They are going well. Both of them seem to fit well with my personality and gifts that God has given me. The necessity of both is evident. The elderly need someone to pray and visit with them. They need to know that they are cared for and not forgotten. My own life and spiritual journey, as well as the needs we encounter show me that my ministry of prayer is also important. I’m able to visit the Marian Home, St. Lucy Home, Adelaide Home, and Missionaries of Charity Home each week. Some of them I’m able to visit multiple times per week. On a typical day, my prayer ministry includes personal prayer in the morning (meditation, scripture, and intercessory prayer), Mass, grace at meals, morning prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, the Angelus, Noonday prayer, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and Night Prayer.  At first I thought that I prayed alot because I wasn’t yet busy with what God really wanted me to do. But then it occurred tome that I’m supposed to pray because without prayer, which is my connection to God, which is how I receive God’s grace, there will not be much fruit that’s born in my life and in the lives of all for whom I pray and with whom I am connected.

3.) What I’m doing is NOT what I thought I’d be doing. I thought I would be teaching in a school and leading a youth group at a church. However, i’m not disappointed that this has happened. I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy the ministries I do, and how much I’m motivated to do them.

Random Reflection:

I’ll spare you the details, but I’m in need of the sacrament of confession. It looks like that won’t happen until tomorrow since the priest is out ’till then. I’m so used to having this sacrament readily available as soon as I need/want it. That has been a huge blessing for me. On the other hand, being in a situation where it’s not as readily available really makes the priest shortage so much more real to me. It also gives me an increased appreciation for the priests we do have, as well as helping me to appreciate all those who support and promote vocations. And since this time of retreat and prayer cannot be put on hold until I’m able to receive absolution, I have to deal with it the best that I can. I’m forced to live with and reflect on the tension created in my life and soul that results from choosing sin over God. I have to live with not having the peace of heart and soul that I could have. It also increases my desire to restore right relationship with God. Another thing I’ve realized is that it has almost forced me to confide in the protection and intercession of the angels, saints, and Mother Mary to protect me and guide me until I can receive the sacrament of confession and not be at risk of dying in a state of mortal sin.

The whole experience has also humbled me. It seems like my thoughts, reflections, and journaling is the best it’s been in quite awhile. My first guess as to why this is happening is because whenever I’m not in a state of mortal sin, a subtle form of pride creeps in. I allow myself to rest easy. “It’s ok. I’m in God’s grace. No danger for me. I feel at peace. I like not having to worry.” Yes, God wants us to have peace, but the Bible also tells us that we have to always be vigilant on our spiritual journey. The moment we relax too much, lose focus, and think that we have “arrived”, that marks the beginning of our downfall. So in a paradoxical and ironic sort of way, I realize my need for God and his mercy while I’m in this state of mortal sin. And I think this has allowed me to receive the humility that has allowed my thoughts, reflections, and journaling to be what they have been thus far. And while I’m discussing sin, it also occurred to me how many of our battles with sin occur because of giving ourselves excuses to do so. Under the guise of false concern, a defeatist attitude, or some other weak reason, we give ourselves permission to indulge in sin by not fighting against it.

One of these excuses, which is itself a sin, is the sin of presumption. It’s the sin whereby we presume that God will forgive us for what we are about to do. In other words with this sin we say “God forgive me for what I’m about to do, because I’ve already sinned and I might as well do this too since I have to go to confession later anyways.” Besides selfishly distorting God’s grace and mercy for our purposes, this also means we’ve fallen victim to the lie that when we’ve fallen into sin, all hope is lost & there’s nothing good we can possibly do. True, we have separated ourselves from God by our own choice to sin. But, we are still his child and we also still have angels & saints as well as our own brothers & sisters here on earth to put us on the right track again and assist us in doing good works. This is one area where for the first time, I feel like I was able to make some progress. In spite of my intial choice to commit mortal sin, I feel like I’ve been able to choose not to add sin to sin. It feels really good. I have a hunch that if God’s grace has allowed me to advance to this stage, then I’m really close to conquering this particular sin permanently.

Day 3 – Wednesday, May 25, 2011 – 8:27pm – Upstairs Living Room

Today started off differently than I had hoped it would. Sister told us Sunday that we’d have communion services Monday and Tuesday since the priest was out, but Mass would resume today. Well, I get to “Mass” and out walks the same layman that officiated the communion service the previous two mornings. He begins by telling us that the priest missed his plane. I hope the priest is ok, and my second thought was I sure hope he comes back tomorrow. The rest of the morning was low key. Mark and Lora went to the resale shop run by the Vieux Fort Children’s Society and did some other errands. I stayed home and watched the kids. About 10:00, the little kids were being too noisy and woke up the baby. So, of course he’s cranky and not happy with the world. Ellie tried holding him, I tried. And when he was trying to throw a tantrum, I tried quieting him, even spanked him a couple times. He finally calmed down a bit, but I could tell he just needed to get back to bed. So, after imposing threat of “getting in trouble with mommy and daddy” to get the littles to be quiet, I began my odyssey of getting the baby to sleep. I don’t have much experience with kids, but this one sure does fight the sleep. I sang the chaplet. He calmed way down, and his eyes even got a little droopy. But, now and then, he’d get a little whiney. So I finally decided to lay him down in his bed. Had to keep a hand on him, not so much to hold him down but moreso to reassure him that someone was there. He’s one of those babies that always has to have some kind of contact in order to not be whiney or fussy when trying to put him down for a nap. So, after at least 30 minutes of tahtah-ing him and reading a book to pass the time, he FINALLY zonked out. Praise The Lord! The only other thing really notable about the day we me and Mark walking to the lumberyard/hardware store. Yeah, I know, that’s how you can tell i’m a missionary on retreat. When the highlight of my day is walking to the lumberyard! 🙂 We needed to check out their materials and prices so we could get an idea of what we were lookin’ at to be able to fix up that blind lady’s roof so it didn’t leak. Mark figured $200EC (approx. $70US), which is not bad at all.

My first spiritual nugget of the day was a quote from the book “Cursillos in Christianity: Leader’s Manual”. It states “….it is not likely that a person will love God unless he prays to him, unless he spends some time with Him as a person. It is the same with any personal relationship. Two people have to spend some time together or they will not develop a friendship and a love. The friendship will be broader than just the time they spend together. It will begin to penetrate all of their lives the deeper it becomes. But it is the time together that is indispensable for the forming of the bond.” I was drawn to this quote for 2 reason. First of all, it opened my eyes on how to approach my relationship with God. Do I really talk with God and spend time with Him everyday? Or do I just mentally acknowledge his presence, rattle off a few prayers, and call that a relationship? Second of all, it brought a whole new meaning to my discernment of marriage, and the process of friendship and dating that precedes engagement and marriage. It speaks to me of the importance of forming a friendship, a truly loving friendship that brings joy and happiness, and is centered on God. I also see in it the importance of devoting time to that special person. Of course, as a missionary, any friendships that I begin to form now will be long distance. But I feel like I can devote the time necessary to nurture these friendships, both in prayer and in conversation. Online chatting and video chat programs make it much easier to have some good face time. And in God’s time, I’ll have some actual face-to-face encounters as well.

Today’s gift of the Spirit was Understanding. During Ellie’s presentation of this gift, I came away with some good tidbits. I discovered that it is an intimate knowledge of God. Not just knowledge, but INTIMATE knowledge. (ref. Proverbs 2:3-13). Understanding will guard you. Understanding helps us to see what God is not; helps us to have a deep and abiding peace; helps us to be at peace with the mystery in life and to savor the mystery. I especially like the part about “deep and abiding peace”.

Well, I gotta go. Need to get MagicJack running on my computer so Sister Mary can make some phone calls home to the states. Then, gotta get back online and do some more researching of plane ticket prices.

Day 4 – Thursday, May 26, 2011 – 8:27pm – Upstairs Living Room

So, I’ve discovered that there are two reasons to not worry too much about what you’re going to do on any given day as a missionary. For one thing, it helps you to trust God and just be at peace with whatever he brings to you. It also saves you the trouble of saying that you’re gonna do something and then having to explain later why you didn’t do it! 🙂 Today was one of those days where I shoulda done that. It started off VERY well. I had been needing to go to confession since Monday, and as I mentioned earlier in the week, i was expecting Father to be back for Mass on Wed. morning. Well, since he missed his plane, I had to wait until this morning. He was very accomodating and agreed to hear my confession after Mass, and then even came over and met the rest of the mission team. We were also blessed to visit with Peter Fevrier this morning. He works for the Family & Life Secretariat here in the Archdiocese and was instrumental in getting us set up here with the sisters in Vieux Fort. Since the first day we arrived we were expecting him to come and visit with us. Today he finally made it here (he’s been VERY busy). I was thinking the whole purpose of him coming was purely practical. Maybe he was going to help us purchase supplies to work on Ms. Bibi’s leaking roof, or bring us food, or something like that. And while we did take a minute or two to briefly discuss practical matters, most of his visit was exactly that, just visiting. We must have spent almost an hour just talking about different aspects of pro-life ministry and things that are coming up soon. It was good just to sit there and visit with him, not have an agenda, and be blessed by his witness and enthusiasm. Later in the morning Mark mentioned that he and Lora would go by Ms. Bibi’s house sometime after lunch with the ladder to make some last minute assesments and then me and him would go to the lumberyard to get the materials we needed. Well, the rain changed those plans. Mark went to Ms. Bibi’s, by himself, without the ladder. And by the time he got back, the lumberyard was about to close, so we didn’t go. An unexpected blessing that I did receive came later in the evening. Sister Mary took me and Mark to visit a quadriplegic guy named Moses. He was probably close to my age. We briefly talked with his mom about building a ramp from their front steps out to the street, so getting him in and out would not be as difficult. Got to talk to him a little bit too. Understandably he wasn’t extremely talkative, but he wasn’t shy either. Sister even said that she was surprised at how talkative he actually was. I’m guessing he’s normally very quiet. Maybe having some guys there kinda made him feel at home and loosened him up a bit. I know Mark is the brains of the construction type of work, but i’m hoping to get a chance to just go and visit with him before we leave.

Our retreat time was good today, but we didn’t do quite as much as I thought we would. Can’t really explain why, except that it’s how rhythm of the day unfolded. In his homily this morning, father mentioned that “a wounded animal is the most dangerous. it’s desperate and has nothing to lose”. During our retreat time, Mark recalled this and posed the question to us: “how have we hurt or wounded each other?” Then as the discussion veered towards summer plans and what we would need for them to happen, Mark reminded us of Mr. Frank saying that we have to keep in touch with our donors, that way they can donate to us and so they can be blessed by our sharing and testimony. As Mark talked to the kids about whether or not they would be able to go to faith camp, he mentioned that if the Lord says no, then it’s a good thing. I echoed that by telling the kids how when God has said no to my heart’s desire (a loving relationship with a girl) he has blessed me with the incredible experiences of seminary and living life as a foreign missionary. Then I kinda reflected on all the wonderful things going on in my life right now, and realized that I am in a season of blessing. 🙂

Day 5 – Friday, May 27, 2011 – 9:34pm- Upstairs Living Room

Today was quite the day. Our team retreat this morning was really really good. The catalyst for the conversation was a question about how can things be improved. And that basically launched me and Mark on some really good reflections about what is so challenging about missions specifically for each one of us, and some of the things we hope to see happen in the next few months. It was very much a blessing to see Mark open up like he did, and Lora had some really good input too. I think it was the first time since we’ve been here that the three adults have really just laid it all out on the table. It’s not that we don’t like each other, but we’re at diff. stages in life and still learning how to interact with each other. None of us is particularly outspoken, so it’s hard for us to just come out and say stuff. We also finally got over to Ms. Bibi’s house to start fixing her leaky roof. She’s the blind lady I mentioned earlier in the week. After Mark assessed the situation, and even went there yesterday when it was raining, he couldn’t tell exactly where it was supposedly leaking from. So we bought some tar-backed aluminum tape, and covered the holes and seams that we could. We’ll probably go back in the next few days with another roll or two to see how much more we can do. Got some really good action pics and got a pic of me and Mark with Ms. Bibi too. Me and Mark also got the chance to visit Moses again. I hung out with Moses and chatted while Mark made some measurements for the ramp out front and went around the house while the mother showed Mark a few other things. It was really good to chat with Moses. I felt like just being there as a Christian and as a friend was helpful. Not sure how many visitors he gets each day, but i know i wouldn’t mind having visitors myself.

Had some good reflections today too. So, you know during Mass, the penitential rite where we confess our sins to God and community? (“I confess to almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, etc….”) As we were saying that during Mass earlier this morning, it struck me that I was just SAYING it but not PRAYING it. Then I got to thinkin’ about 2 things: 1.) How often do I say instead of pray? & 2.) Do I claim God’s forgiveness? What I mean by #2 is that this morning I noticed I was just saying the penitential rite instead of praying it. I wasn’t trying to claim God’s forgiveness and mercy. Naturally I then started reflecting on how many other times I’ve failed to claim his forgiveness. How much different would my spiritual  journey be if I did claim that forgiveness?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

“….loneliness is the greatest fear of humanity. In isolation people cannot be fully human. Our experiences of life confirm this. People inevitably form into groups, associations, communities, organizations. Some are temporary, some long-lived. They have a variety of purposes, but all prove man’s need for sharing and living his life with others.” –Cursillos in Christianity: Leader’s Manual–

Day 6 – Saturday, May 28, 2011 – 10:00pm- Upstairs Living Room

So the first thing in my notes said “My prediction for today is that either we have a cleaning/work day or a beach day. We’ll see what happens 🙂 It definitely wasn’t a beach day. The morning started out with me accompanying Sister Mary on a few errands to prepare for the St. Vincent DePaul Society meeting later in the morning. Had to pick up some snacks and a few things from the store. Came back just in time for the start of morning prayer. Afterwards I decided to hand wash my laundry. I wanted to handwash for a few reasons. First of all, when I saw the clothes that Mark washed in the washer the other day, some of the shirts had a ridiculous amount of what i’m guessing was lint all over them. Not a fan of lint, so that had me sold on handwashing. Second of all, I had some little packets of Tide laundry detergent that was specifically formulated for handwashing of clothes. I bought them back in 2008 when I went to Australia/New Zealand for World Youth Day and I figured I should use up some more of it. Third reason was that I needed something to do. There wasn’t really any other work for me to do, and I didn’t wanna be a complete slacker either. Also felt like handwashing would be a way to toughen myself up a bit and sacrifice the ease and comfort I was used to. So after filling buckets (2), suds-ing, agitating, wringing out, rinsing, re-wringing out, and hanging up to dry, I was done. Took me about an hour or so. Did alot of reading the rest of the morning. After lunch, I checked email and then took a nap. Woke up, prayed a chaplet of divine love for priests, took a shower, and then went back into the house. After supper we had evening prayer and our retreat time for the day. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my day.

(from earlier today) As I sit here, sippin’ on some coffee, doin’ my morning spiritual and scripture reading, a nice rain is falling. The doors and windows are open. A nice breeze is blowing. Several of the kids are sitting in the room, next to me, quietly reading. It’s one of those heaven moments 🙂

Oh yeah, one more thing. So as I’m sitting here, I’m wearing my Pope Benedict XVI shirt from World Youth Day 2008, and Isaac keeps pokin’ the Pope’s face and makin garbled goo-goo sounds. Methinks he likes the Pope! 🙂

Judging by the amount of good reflections I seem to be having and how having a small journal nearby makes it easy  to record them, I think I’m going to try and have some kind of little notebook on me at all times. Try to be more vigilant about rewriting these thoughts…

I was also doing some reflecting on friendships and relationships recently. I’m at that stage where my year-long singles commitment is almost up (Sept. 15th). And regardless of singles commitment or no singles commitment, I’m at that stage in life where it’s what I notice and think about quite a bit. My past relationships, my faith, and other life experiences have taught me alot about the opposite sex and how I interact with them and what to look for. One thing I’ve realized is that everytime I’ve acted unchastely or improperly towards or with a girl, it was simply a very misguided way of seeking true fulfillment. (If you’ve studied Theology of the Body then you’re familiar with this concept). It occurred to me that these actions represented my want and need to be able to open up to someone, for them to be able to see me as I am, and for them to open up to me too so that I can truly see them. I’ve also reflected on things I can use as a measuring stick for determining if I have a good connection with a girl or not. One of those is “Do I act chase with her, and do I also DESIRE to act chaste with her?” Chances are that if I don’t have unchaste desires or actions with her, then it means that she brings out the best in me, and that she’s a possible match. If however, I struggle with chastity in some way with a girl, then there’s a good chance that a good connection might not exist and that I need to be cautious.

I should be thanking God for my struggles because they show me what I need to work on. If these struggle were never made evident, then how would I know to correct them?

Romans 8:14-18

The gift of counsel makes us responsive to the enlightenment of God. It’s a good gift to pray for while at Mass, considering all the ways God enlightens us through the Mass.

When my mind wandered during our sharing, I used my ink pen to draw squares around all the freckles on my right leg.

You know, I kinda wish that one of the struggles I have right now, grumpiness, would disappear soon. No, I’m not one of those people that’s grumpy with the world. It’s just that being a missionary, even in a paradise like St. Lucia, is difficult. And i’m still working on trying to adjust to living with a family that has 10 kids. Sometimes adjusting to that plus dealing with my own shortcomings and struggles plus the normal stresses of mission life, it all makes me a little grumpy sometimes. I’m lucky that these kids being as good as they are, just kinda brush it off. But, they do notice it, and that’s what has me feelin bad. Whoever the patron saint of grumpy missionaries is, please pray for me! :-p

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Old Folks, dominoes, and visiting nature preserves……..

(follow this link for pics – http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=279206&id=605007873&l=fd7e8d37df)

Monday, March 14, 2011 – School Room @ Marian Home Mission House in Castries, St. Lucia

Normally I’m not big on frequent journaling. I’ve never been one of those people who can journal everyday.  Just can’t do it. The urge has to come to me. The moon has to strike me right. I just have to be in the right mood, u know? For me journaling is less about writing down the daily details and more about relating experiences and lessons learned. Sometimes I go weeks even a month or two between journal entries. Sometimes it’s as frequent as one or twice a week. Just checked, and my last entry was written five days ago. But as you can tell by the title of this entry, got to experience some pretty cool stuff since last Wednesday.

Old folks and dominoes is my first subject of journalistificationessnicityalityment. In case you were wondering, that was an overcomplification of a word to make myself sound smart and to give some variety to my entry. Sometimes the struggle when presenting factualities is that you feel like you repeat a lot of words and sound boring. As you know from previous entries, my visits to the old folks in the Marian Home is an almost daily occurrence. I feel like I have a responsibility towards them, and because it’s one of the only constants in my missionary life here, it’s high on my priority list. At first I didn’t need to think much about what to do when I’d visit. We just sit down and visit with each other and talk. And to tell you the truth, that’s all these people really need. They need someone to give them the time of day. They need someone to show them that they’re not forgotten and that somebody cares for them enough to sit down and talk. You’d be amazed at how grateful and easily pleased these folks are.

That being said, even if it’s only on my part, it does get a little difficult when visiting multiple times a week to hold up my interest level. That’s the struggle of missions: maintaining your charted course, the course you know is right and needed, even when the romance level of it all has gone down. So, taking a clue from my mission partner whom I saw playing dominoes with one of the residents a few days ago, I brought the domino set with me. I was still able to visit and talk and pray with some of them. But, I was also able to extend my time there with the dominoes. Simple games like that provide an icebreaker. It’s often easier for strangers to open up over a fun and simple game than it is talking face to face. The game also gives you something to do during moments of silence. When these old folks find out they can also school me, take me to town Charlie brown for a good ole’ domino beat-down, it perks them up even more!:) Maybe if I can get over my fear of losing, I’ll bring the checker-board one day.

The other really great thing was that we got to visit Lushan Nature Preserve today. The proprietor/owner, Arthur, is a parishioner at our church parish, Sacred Heart in Marchand. He has repeatedly invited us to visit and we were just waiting until the right time. Well, when he told us that he’s busy when cruise ships come in, we figured that today was a good day to visit since no ships were scheduled. He came and picked us up in the company van. Huge blessing because we didn’t have to secure a ride or pay for it. Brought us over there and gave us a wonderful tour. It consisted of walking around and seeing the different trees, fruits, flowers, other plants, and wildlife as well. The only true “wildlife” we saw were various species, but at the animal cages we also saw some guinea pigs, dogs, and rabbits. There were also various stops during the tour where we got to sample some of the food. At the “produce hut” we got to sample a few different things that grow here: Grapefruit, Starfruit (also called 5-finger fruit), sugar cane, & bananas. While sampling the homegrown goodies, he also talked a lot about uses and growing seasons, etc…. Later on we stopped at another hut where some employees talked about some of the creole foods they bake and what they’re made with. Of course, some sampling was needed, and lemme tell you, it was GOOD!

To finish off our tour, we passed by a miniature grotto he created with a statue of Our Lady Queen of Peace. We prayed together and then he brought us back home. I think though, that the truly amazing part of the tour was Arthur himself. Yes, the natural beauty was nice. The fruit was nice. The food was nice. Getting out of the city and relaxing and unwinding was great. But, Arthur’s witness to the Catholic faith and having a relationship with Jesus were the absolute highlight. Everything he talked about including stories of his blessed childhood and family life, as well as the trials he faced when trying to make a living in the years prior to opening a nature preserve on his family’s land, it all exuded his spirituality. This man’s connection to God was evident. He’s worked really hard at being a witness to Christian family life. He’s worked equally as hard at getting involved in ministries and bringing other closer to Jesus through the Catholic faith. He and his family make it a top priority to share the profits of the family business with many worth causes. Speakin’ of, it was very humbling too when he mentioned that he is going to make a donation to our missionary work. Also mentioned that he will bring us fruit and other local produce when it’s in season. Even invited us to have dinner with his family sometime. He’s also a very hard worker. All in all, he’s a great witness and sets a great example for the rest of us. Till next time, peace and God’s blessings!

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A Joyful Meeting, A Joyful Apostolate………

So, I’m sittin’ in the Chancery waiting for the Vocations Commission meeting to start, when I spy this little magazine titled “The Voice of the Legion of Mary”. In it was an article, “The Joy of Being Catholic”. The whole article was fantastic. However, I was particularly fascinated by the two sections whose titles form the title of this post. I present them to you below.

A Joyful Meeting

The meeting should be the breeding place of Christian joy, and what Frank Duff calls “Legion Humour”.  It is at our meeting that we share the joy of the apostolate we undertake. Because of the harsh realities of some conditions met on Legion work, this makes it all the more important to develop his idea of a joyful attitude, in our fellow legionaries. He entitles a chapter of his book Woman of Genesis (published 1976), “Legion Humour”. In it he gives an explanation of the importance of humour in the Legion.It is in order to encourage at our meetings joy, happiness and openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit where a joke/humour is concerned. A “heavy” meeting, in the eyes of a new recruit, could be transformed into being “not so bad” or even “good” by the delicate touch of Legion humour. The President of each praesidium is encouraged to rise about the tiredness of a busy day or sleepless night and be the leaven that raises the mood of each meeting. This is true of all the members and not just the officers.

A Joyful Apostolate

Our Apostolate should know no bounds. According to Frank Duff, one should be willing to walk the ends of the earth in pursuit of a single soul, but are we willing to smile? In his first publication, he emphasizes how much a joyful disposition can contribute to an effective apostolate. For him a “smiling face” and “cheerful words” will help those you visit to really look forward to your return. In his Encyclical entitled Christian Joy, Pope Paul VI speaks of the Joy we receive from having faith and he calls us to be Apostles of this joy, He says: All those who believe in Christ are called to share this joy. Jesus wishes them to have in themselves His joy in its fullness.

I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them. –John 17:26–

Our apostolate must be approached in the way of building relationships and no better way than with humour.

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This guy is jonesin’ on SOMETHIN’, so what’s the right thing to do?…………….

Tuesday, Februsary 1, 2011 – 5:33pm – In the front room @ the Marian Home mission house in Castries, St. Lucia

As you can see from the location I listed, we’ve officially named the first floor of the convent “The Marian Home Mission House”, named after the nursing home right next door. It just seemed appropriate because the Marian Home itself is going to be one of our constant ministries throughout our time here. It’s also good because if a local friend/contact wants to visit us, the name “Marian Home” is very well known. It’s also good for when people send us stuff in the mail, they can use an official name. But I digress.

So earlier today, one of our local co-workers in the vineyard, Peter Fevrier, arranged for a bus to pick us all up and bring us to the Chancery. The Chancery, for those who do not know, is the central office for the Archdiocese of Castries, where the Archbishop and other diocesan officials have their offices. Peter works with the Family & Life secretariat and as per the Archbishop’s request, was assigned to work with us and get us involved in his ministry. At the Chancery, we met everyone in the various offices and made some good contacts. Of particular interest for me was meeting Sister Velona. She is in charge of youth ministry for the Archdiocese. We discussed World Youth Day and a few other particular things of interest. Mainly though, we (me, Mark, and Lora) discussed with her what we do as FMC missionaries (evangelism is our focus) and how we wanted to work into whatever ministries were already existing in the diocese. She seemed very pleased with this. According to her, even though St. Lucia is a mission territory, the difference is that ministries are very organized. Also St. Lucia is very small (14 miles x 26 miles).

All these things are reasons why working into what’s already going on is a good thing. We don’t wanna step on anybody’s toes. We don’t wanna re-invent the wheel. We don’t wanna come in, and give the impression that we American missionaries are the wisest in all the earth and we have come to save you. Yes, we are here to bring people into a close relationship with Jesus, but we have just as much to learn from them, if not more so to learn from them, than they from us. We also want to work ourselves out of a job, by empowering the local laypeople and Catholic community to take charge and be more active. We also don’t want to start anything that is heavily dependent on us, because as soon as that happens, and as soon as we finish our time here (whenever that may be), whatever is dependent on us will flop. At the end of our time visiting with the various people in the Chancery, we attended 12:30 Mass before going back home. It was quite a simple Mass, held in a simple office building type of room, but for some reason was quite moving. I think it had alot to do with the quiet and meditative atmosphere. It also had alot to do with the amazing homily. The priest made lots of good points, but he spoke simply and straightforward.

So when we got back, and after we ate lunch, me and Mark decided to walk into town. Earlier at the Chancery, I expressed interest in the post cards they had because I wanted to send one to my mom for a little birthday present (about all I could really afford). I’m also considering sending post cards from St. Lucia for my thank you notes. Mark graciously (and unbeknownst to me until Mass time) bought three of them for me. I addressed them (sent one to Mom, one to my nieces, and one to my parents’ trophy shop to all my former co-workers), wrote on them, and then proceeded to the post office. It was closed, so we’ll have to go back tomorrow. As we were out and about going to other stores looking for a few small things, a homeless guy I had met the previous week came up to me. I’m glad he remembered me and that I bought him a little snack, mainly because it meant that someone remembered me for something good I did. He was a little “skittish”, which was not abnormal for a street person, especially since he, like many other street people around here, struggle with drug addiction.

So, as we begin to talk, he seems very impatient for me to help him. Tries to get money several times, and I told him no, but that I’d buy the food for him. Then, I told him that we’d have to wait for Mark, who was inside one of the office supply stores. This is what started to set him off, and make him real fidgety and louder. He tried to get me to go buy a big ole thing of Chinese food, which i didn’t, because it’s alot more expensive than a snack from the store. And as a missionary, I have to budget my alms money or else I’ll not only run out of that, but I’ll run out of money for food and bills. anyhoo, so on the way to the grocery store, which was only a 30 second walk from where we were, he tried again to get money instead of food, and expensive food instead of a little snack. Every denial added to his fidgety-ness and caused him to ramble on in Creole (good thing I don’t understand it, who knows what he was sayin’).

Once we got to the supermarket, he kept trying to up the ante on what i would buy, and again each denial got him more key-ed up than before. To top it all off, the locals inside and outside of the store were laughin’ and talkin’ about the whole idea. So, i finally walk into the store, with a sigh of flustration on my face (flustration = flustered + frustration), and the cashier kinda chuckles. I pick up a little bag of chips and i thought homeboy was gonna start kickin and wailin like a little baby. Right or wrong as this may be, I was dumbfounded by this. I mean, if you’re desperate, and need some food or drink, how can you possibly be picky. The cashier said he wouldn’t eat it, and when I asked why, said something about his teeth being bad (maybe from drug use). Ouch, that hurt. Minus one for me. So, i ask her for the cheapest bread, which was a $2.00EC (divide that by 2.5 for the U.S. dollar amount), and she got me a fruity carbonated beverage for an extra $1.50EC.

All in all, i didn’t spend much money at all. But, one thing Mark inspired me to do was instead of just giving somebody something, ask them to pray with me first. If they really need the help, then they’ll pray with me. So, I prayed with the guy, gave him the snack, and we all parted ways. I noticed the reaction of the locals to the whole situation, which included one guy at an electronics store we were at squirting some hand sanitizer in my hand after I shook hands with the homeless guy, maybe because he thought the guy had AIDS or whatever. The other locals laughed and chattered. I myself, as a new “local” got frustrated and a little concerned too. I was frustrated with his skittish-ness and his pushy-ness. And as imperfect as everybody’s reaction to this guy was, they were somewhat justified. Maybe they were legitimately concerned that he was a druggie and that helping him was enabling him. Maybe they were concerned that he would get violent.

There could be a million other reasons why me and the various people reacted the way we did or thought what we thought. But, the reason I helped the guy is because I’ve been helped many times before, even when I didn’t “deserve” it. I helped him because druggie or not, food and water are necessities for everyone. I also helped him because I wanted to put my faith into practice by helping someone in a very real and material way, and by praying for them and with them. After all, our focus as missionaries is to evangelize and bring people closer to Jesus. I also wanted to try and be a concrete example to those who witnessed the whole episode, as to what I felt was the right thing to do. I still feel guilty though about where my heart is. My legitimate concerns and caution still go way off into self-righteousness, selfishness, and false concern. My heart is hardened by the uncomfort level and difficulty of that type of situation. No matter who the person is, how “bad” they are, or how much they “don’t deserve it”, they are all children of God just as much as we are, and God loves them just as much as us. I could go on and on.

My solution will be a simple one though. Continue to buy a small bit of sustenance to help these types of people, and make sure I pray with them.Maybe limit myself to doing this two or three times MAX per trip into town.  For, if I give them material goods, but don’t bring them closer to Jesus, then all is for nought. Or, I also considered buying a big pack of bottled water, and some small soft bread type of snacks, and making little bags to carry with me everytime I go in town. That way is someone asks me for help, I can pray with them and give them some food and water. Once I run out of bags for that particular journey into town, I can honestly say that I’m not able to help, aside from prayer. It just feels like these are the best ways to help, and at the same time make sure that I’m a good steward with the support my benefactors give to me. Any thoughts or comments you have would be appreciated.

Lord, help me to help those who need help, and to discern with wisdom the best way to do so.

Much love and God Bless!

Well, the right thing to do is to keep the supreme Law of scripture: you will love your neighbour as yourself; but as soon as you make class distinctions, you are committing sin and under condemnation for breaking the Law.”
–James 2:8-9–

How does it help, my brothers, when someone who has never done a single good act claims to have faith? Will that faith bring salvation? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,’ without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? In the same way faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead. But someone may say: So you have faith and I have good deeds? Show me this faith of yours without deeds, then! It is by my deeds that I will show you my faith.”

–James 2:14-18–

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