Posts Tagged With: fellowship

Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 9

Day 9 – Tuesday – 10/2/12

Well, I slept a little better last night, but it’s still too early to tell if it’s because I’m eating lunch instead of supper. I had a spiritual insight this morning. The first psalm talked about “a soul thirsting for God”, “yearning for God”, “for you my soul is thirsting”, & “my body pines for you like a dry weary land without water”. Because of my fast these verses came to life in a whole new way. After I read them I started wondering if I thirst & hunger for God at least as much as I hunger and thirst for physical food and nourishment. Am I as ravenously hungry at the table of God’s Word in the same way that I am at a table of regular food? Since I am fasting, once my daily mealtime comes around I REALLY look forward to eating, and when I start eating I feel like I could just eat and eat and eat and that I can’t get enough. Do I feel the same way or even more strongly when I encounter prayer, The Eucharist, Scripture, fellowship, missionary work, etc…..? Another analogy I thought of was wondering if I desire God as much as I desire the air that I breathe? To be honest, I have to answer no, which is not a good thing. But at least God has revealed that much to me and I can begin to work on it.

I also had a tiny snack this afternoon after Mass. One of our missionary families is preparing breakfast for everyone who will be at the St. Francis novena rosary tomorrow morning at the parish. Marta invited me over after Mass to take pictures of the food prep for their missionary newsletter and said I could sample one of her tacos. Felt it would be rude to turn down the invitation! 🙂 But, in moderation, and not wanting to break my fast too much, i had one small RIDICULOUSLY DELICIOUS taco. Coulda eaten 10 of those things. After that taco and a small soft drink, I told everyone that was in the kitchen visiting and helping that I picked the worst country to do my first 40-day fast. (They all got a good laugh outta that).

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 6

Day 6 – Saturday – 9/29/12

Indulged in one of my new missionary hobbies last night. Took some fresh corn tortillas, made earlier in the day at one of the local tortillerias, and fried them up. Some of them I fried whole, and others I cut up into various sizes. Some I dusted with sugar, others with salt. They ALL tasted good. The salty ones I ate with some salsa. Delicioso. I discovered: *that you need to fry them for at least 3 minutes, *fresh tortillas work better than stale ones, *you need to have alot of oil in the pan, & *the smaller the pieces the better.

Besides wanting to make your mouth water, I’m also telling y’all this because it taught me a few lessons. One of which is appreciation. I am learning to appreciate the simpler things in life. Conversation and fellowship with my mission partners. Frying up tortilla chips while I listen to Mexican music on the radio. I also learned about anticipation. Having to wait until meal time to fry up and eat those chips helped my anticipation to build up to a level that caused my aforementioned level of appreciation to be much higher than it would have normally been. I also learned about self-control. Tried not to eat all of those chips as I was cooking them, so that I could save some for my missionary brothers. (Did end up eating some) Didn’t eat a single one of the leftovers this morning as I put some saran wrap on the plate. (Ate a few later during the day for a little snack)

Speaking of self-control, I’ll learn more about that later today. Football games ALL day that I’ll be able to watch. That includes a game for my alma mater The University of Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns! 🙂 Otherwise it’ll be a slow and relaxing day. Nothing on the schedule except for doing laundry and my 2 Saturday visits: Pepe & Senora Amanda. Definitely feeling the hunger pangs more today. Of course a little bit when I woke up, but that was mitigated by my cup of morning coffee. Now I’m feeling it more (the hunger). Maybe my body is finally starting to adjust. That’s good though, cuz it gives me more to offer up. 🙂

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My 40 Day Fast – Day 3

Sid’s 40 Day Fast

Day 3 – Wednesday, 9/26/12

So I think it will be easy to reflect on and focus on the hunger-related aspect of this fast and the corresponding spiritual growth that comes along with it. But my primary purpose for this fast is to gain clarity in my discernment of my mission post for next year. It might take a little while before things start to get clearer. Gotta give it some time. I was wondering about money and the role it will play in that process. If after all is said and done I don’t have the funds, it doesn’t matter what place I discern. No dough, no go. However, I won’t have a chance to do any significant fundraising effort until after the fast is over. So for now I will just assume that God will tell me where he wants me to go, and then at some later point provide me the money to go there! 🙂

Noticed a little earlier today that I was feelin’ a bit headachey. It took me a little while to remember to offer it up as a gift in prayer for my prayer intentions for the fast. I’m not sure if I’m headachey because of the fast, my lack of sleep last night, or the fact that I drink a liter of Gatorade during the day after I have my morning coffee and vitamins. I’ll stay the course on everything I’m doing and make sure I get good sleep tonight. If my headacheyness disappears, problem solved. If not, then I’ll try cutting down to half of a liter of Gatorade daily once next week rolls around. If I’m still headachey, then praise the Lord! I’ll know that I’ll be that way because of the fasting and that I’ll have that additional suffering to offer up every day.

Also wondering if my restlessness last night had anything to do with what I ate/drank or a lack of ministry/physical activity to burn off energy. We’ll see. Still not feeling much hunger pangs, though I think I’m feeling a little more today than yesterday. I did have a SMALL snack this morning as well as the Gatorade I drank during the day. So apparently that small stuff doesn’t prevent me from feeling those minimal hunger pangs. But if they stay minimal, that’ll also be part of my motivation for my changes next week. Within reason, I don’t want this to be too easy. I wanna feel it, you know? Good thing is that I’ll definitely be feelin’ some hunger by the time I receive the Eucharist at Mass. 🙂 And after Mass me, Luis, and Albert are going to Gallo and Rita’s for supper. It’ll be amazingly awesome, without a doubt. We’ll prolly have rice, beans, nopales (cactus), and tortillas. I’m gonna try making dulce-de-membrillos (literally “sweet of membrillos”) using the same recipe Mawmaw Doris gave me for making fig preserves, except that I will substitute membrillos for the figs. FYI, membrillos are about the size of apples, grow here in Mexico, are a little harder than apples, and more sour. We will most certainly be feasting on the food and I look forward to feasting on the fellowship as well!

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First Overseas Lent/Easter

(warning: LONG entry. But, it all ties together and I didn’t wanna break it into multiple sections)

Monday, April 25, 2011 – 11:18am – School Room @ Marian Home Mission House in Castries, St. Lucia

For the first time in my life, I spent Easter away from family. To the best of my recollection, I’ve never spent it overseas or away from family. There’s a first time for everything, right? I think a good recap of Holy Week and the week before is in order. (sidenote: I just realized it’s been over a month since I’ve had a regular journal entry. that’s flippin’ crazy. Usually i do it at least once a month. But that illustrates a point that I’m learning quite well: once you get into the mission field and get settled in, time begins to pass by quickly.)

The week before Holy Week was a really good week. We had our parish Lenten retreat. It was led by Brother Jeffers Paul, a layman from Dominica who works for his home diocese. I don’t really remember the theme of the retreat. As is usual with anytime i’m in church, I daydream even when I try not to, and have a hard time paying attention. But what I do remember is that he was a very passionate preacher. Not that passion and performance is everything, but being able to get excited about something you’ve devoted your life’s work to, says alot in my book. I could also tell that his life reflected what he preaches, which is what I think drew so many people to the retreat. It was the perfect blend of charism and orthodoxy. Besides the actual talks, which helped me to grow in my journey with Jesus, the sacrifice of my own will and plans to go to the talks and the closing Mass at the end of the retreat were also good for me. This is how the week basically went: Sid realized he’d have to get out of his comfort zone, sacrifice his own desires and plans, and not be able to sit at home to relax and veg out. Sid got mad. Sid went to the retreat anyways. Sid’s eyes were opened and he was blessed. Sid was then glad that he went and participated.

Me and Brother Jeffers Paul, the speaker for our Lenten retreat

Palm Sunday was not much different from the 29 previous Palm Sundays I’ve experienced. What I did notice however was the lively faith of the parishioners at our church. Well, I’ve noticed it in bits and pieces before, in fleeting moments. But there was something about Palm Sunday where I really noticed it. The best way to sum it up is that for the recessional hymn, I was waving my palm around like there was no tomorrow, dancing to the music and being joyful in the Lord. Genuinely joyful in the Lord. Not just faking it. Playing around with the kids as we started to walk out of church.

Palm Sunday Procession

The next three days were fairly non-descript. We had our normal daily routine of prayer, Mass, meals, ministry, fellowship, etc……. The routine took a backseat once Wednesday evening rolled around and we attended the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral. For those unfamiliar with it, the primary things occurring at that Mass, besides the miracle of the Eucharist are 1.)Priests renewing their vows, and 2.) Bishop consecrating the holy oils to be used by the priests for the year. It was my first Chrism Mass ever. Even in the age of priest shortages, it was truly amazing to see all the priests from the whole diocese together on the same altar. Makes the priest shortage not seem as bad. I was also really blessed by the loving words spoken by the archbishop. The other thing I remember most about this Mass was the blessing of the oils. Part of this blessing involves the bishop breathing on the oils, which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and is also a reflection of Scripture, where the Spirit hovered over the waters during Creation, and when God breathed into Adam to give him life.

Opening Procession of Chrism Mass at the Cathedral in Castries

Thursday night was the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. It’s when we focus on The Last Supper, when Jesus instituted the Eucharist. For this Mass, me and Mark, my mission partner, were chosen as two of the twelve men selected to represent the apostles for the foot washing ceremony during the Mass. Again, the Scriptural symbolism of this is a real and powerful way of internalizing the virtue of humility. It was humbling for me to have my feet washed, cuz i’m definitely not worthy. And it was also humbling for me to have to lower myself to the seemingly mundane task of washing someone else’s feet. It was the first time in my life I have experienced being part of the foot washing ceremony.

Foot washing at Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper

Good Friday had a very sacrificial feel to it, as it should. Our church parish has the tradition of doing the Way of the Cross starting at 4am. If you thought you knew early and tired, you don’t know early and tired until you’ve done Way of the Cross at 4am! 🙂 It was a beautiful thing though. We started at the doorstep of our church with the first station, did the meditation, and then following the person who was carrying a wooden cross, walked through the streets stopping along the way to do each of the stations. We had a truck with a loud speaker on top so that everyone could hear the choir leader singing the hymns and the people leading the prayers. About halfway through the stations, we paused on the road we were on and prayed a chaplet while we waited for the other church parishes to meet up with us. By the time the other group met up with us, we were 4 church parishes total. And, I kid you not, by the time we reached the end of the Way of the Cross, the crowd was easily 2000 people. It was quite a sight to see, this massive crowd of people walking through town, praying and meditating on Jesus’ own Good Friday journey. We too had people along the way that were, as I shall attempt to diplomatically put it, not reverent towards what we were doing. We also experienced a little bit of physical discomfort. That’s what I love so much about the Catholic faith, it makes the experience of God real in a very physical and present way.

Way of the Cross winding through the city streets

After we were done with that Way of the Cross, we headed back to the mission house to have a cup of coffee, and try to regain a little bit of strength. Then, me and Mark went with our pastor and his driver to a little mountainside community that is within the boundaries of our parish, and did another Way of the Cross. Although it was not as long, it was also a walking Way of the Cross. We started at a parishioner’s house about a mile or two down the road from the chapel. As we got ready to do the Way of the Cross, and everyone else assumed their duties, no one had take up the cross yet (literally). So by chance, but perhaps by Divine Providence, I became bearer of the Cross. I had not set out to assist at this Way of the Cross with that intention, but I was happy to be able to do so. In the same way as the first Way of the Cross earlier that morning, it had some lifelike similarities and characteristics to Jesus’ Way of the Cross. We had those who were less than thrilled with what we were doing, though thankfully not many. At one point during the walk, the car with the loudspeaker we were using was parked on the side of another car that was on the side of the road, while we stopped to do one of the stations outside the house of a blind lady who was a parishioner. As we were about halfway through the station, a bus was coming up the road in the opposite direction. Seemingly unable to wait three or four more minutes, a man got off the bus and complained and said we needed to get out of the way. That in itself, while it may have manifested some impatience was not really out of place or unjustified. It was when the guy, maybe after seeing the wooden cross we were carrying, or seeing the plaster relief of the Station we were meditating on that was being held by Mark, made a comment in frustration about “Catholics worshipping statues”. Like I said, small thing overall, but it was a small “persecution” of sorts, that made the Way of the Cross seem that much more authentic and real. There was also the physical discomfort associated with such a journey. In St. Lucia, the weather is summer year round, literally. Lows are never below the 70’s with daily highs in the mid to upper 80’s. Even earlier in the morning, it still gets hot and sweaty. Add to that the exhaustion and tiredness I was already feeling, plus the headache and neckache, and it made for a very poignant and real experience. In the end, I was thankful for such an experience, and that God revealed to me things that I could improve upon.

Carryin' the Cross

After a break for a few hours, we headed back to our church parish at 2 for a meditation on the seven last words (phrases/utterances) of Jesus. Again, I had a hard time focusing, and didn’t remember much of what was said. But what I do remember was good stuff, and the opportunity to further try and sacrifice myself to be more available to God was good for me to experience. Then at 3 we had the Veneration of the Cross. It’s basically a liturgy, but it’s not a Mass, because there’s no liturgy of the Eucharist. The liturgy of the Eucharist is left out on Good Friday, because that’s something that first occurred on the first Holy Thursday at the first ever Lord’s Supper. On Good Friday, we remember Jesus’ death and that he’s in the tomb, and one of the ways we do that is by not celebrating the liturgy of the Eucharist and the consecration of the bread and wine into Jesus’ actual body and blood. The precious body and blood of Jesus that is consumed on Good Friday was already consecrated the day before and held in the tabernacle. We were told on Good Thursday that the “apostles” who did the foot washing ceremony would have to bring their robes on Friday because we might be asked to represent them again. Because of this, I wore a small white t-shirt and a pair of shorts to church so that I would not be too hot underneath my robe. Normally I don’t wear this kind of wardrobe to church. But when we got there, we found out that we wouldn’t have to wear the robes. Not thinking far enough in my preparations, I had failed to bring a pair of pants that I could slip on so as to be more presentable in my dress at the service. So, as to not be too much of a distraction, I sat almost all the way in the back. For the part of the service where everyone walks up to kiss the Cross, I stayed in my pew. There was only one line, and the Cross was all the way in the front. I know Jesus loves me anyways, but i did not want to distract or cause scandal by my casual dress. However, I was blessed to still be able to receive Jesus precious body and blood. When it came time for that, the area I was sitting had a Eucharistic minister at the halfway point of the pews, instead of all the way up in front. Plus, it was a side aisle. So, I felt like the combination of not having to walk past many people (and thus not being a distraction), plus feeling called by Jesus to receive his precious body and blood, justified my decision. After the Veneration of the Cross, we were quite happy to return home. We had been so busy the previous 2 days that it was nice not having anything scheduled.

Saturday morning was a normal workday. Shoveled some compost that quite literally smelled like crap. Smell didn’t leave my hands for a full day, no matter how many times I washed  them, or how many times i used hand sanitizer or poured rubbing alcohol on them. It still hasn’t completely left my workboots and work gloves. Finished off the workday by cleaning my room, doing laundry, eating lunch, and taking a nap. Woke up, played games with the kids and hung out, and then had supper. After supper, had some more downtime and then I showered, dressed, and got ready for the vigil, which was to start at 10pm. Right before we left, I downed a cup of coffee, which coupled with my later than usual in the afternoon nap, proved to aid me in staying awake at the Easter Vigil Mass. Atypical of St. Lucia/the Carribean, the Mass was really close to starting on time (things here are rarely on time). Only about ten minutes late. Had the lighting and blessing of the fire outside, we all lit our candles, and processed inside. Had the Liturgy of the Word, complete with it’s 9 scripture readings, the Homily, the baptisms and confirmations, and of course, the Liturgy of the Eucharist where we got to receive the precious body and blood of Jesus. The thing that I was expecting but was not prepared for, was the length of the Vigil Mass. Over here, a normal weekday Mass is 30-45 minutes, and a Sunday Mass is about 2 hours. All in all, Mass here, in whatever form or time of year, is twice the length of what it is in the States. So, I knew that the Vigil Mass was going to be long. Monsignor told us that it was going to end at 3. However, it “only” lasted until about 2:30. But, it wasn’t hard like I thought it would be. The reason the Masses here last so long is that there’s ALOT of singing. So while it makes Mass longer, it also helps things to pass by quickly. After we left church, we arrived home and happily acquainted ourselves with our beds. 🙂 Easter Sunday (yesterday) was a good day. Had a lazy and relaxed morning, ate Easter candy and chocolate, played games, and got to talk to my family on the phone. It really was a blessing to be able to talk to my nieces and parents. Then yesterday evening, we went to the Chancery to participate in the Knights of Columbus Easter Family Gathering. Several of the Knights and their family members (including the Eckstines) did various musical performances and then we enjoyed fellowship and dinner together. Among the various people I got ot visit with, I met a young woman from Canada, who is in St. Lucia for 3 months, living at the orphanage run by some Dominican sisters. It’s part of her Master’s degree program, and she’s helping to come up with a strategic plan for the future of the home. It was a blessing to meet at talk with her, because one of the things I lack here are people close to my age that I can visit and establish community with. The more fellowship and community we have, the more fulfilled we are, and the less likely we are to go looking for love in all the wrong places. What’s interesting is that she’s not Catholic. She’s Indian, though she talks and acts like a “normal/typical” Canadian or American because she’s lived in Canada her whole life. She didn’t say what religion she was either. I hope that I can receive some extra graces from God to represent my Catholic faith in a way that is loving and inspiring, and at the very least, does not turn her off to Christianity and Catholicism. And my real hope is that somehow I can plant a seed that leads her to a deeper relationship with Jesus.

pretty flower i stumbled upon during workday

our humble and beautifully decorated church during the Easter Vigil Mass

Christ our Light

Now I sit here, enjoying my day. It’s a national holiday today (Easter Monday), so we’ve been taking it easy. Did some reading and prayer earlier today. After I finish this entry, I’m going with the Eckstine to a local friend’s house to visit for a few hours. PTL for all of these blessings. Until next time, I leave you with a bible passage I stumbled upon recently……..

Coasts and islands, listen to me, pay attention, distant peoples. Yahweh called me when I was in the womb, before my birth he had pronounced my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, he hid me in the shadow of his hand. He made me into a sharpened arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, ‘Israel, you are my servant, through whom I shall manifest my glory.’ But I said, ‘My toil has been futile, I have exhausted myself for nothing, to no purpose.’ Yet all the while my cause was with Yahweh and my reward with my God. And now Yahweh has spoken, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him and to re-unite Israel to him;-I shall be honoured in Yahweh’s eyes, and my God has been my strength. He said, ‘It is not enough for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel; I shall make you a light to the nations so that my salvation may reach the remotest parts of earth.’ ”  –Isaiah 49:1-6–

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St. Lucia – The Mission Begins!

(sidenote: follow these two links to see pictures that I’ve taken so far. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=262702&id=605007873&l=37f3154156 

Thursday January 20, 2010 – 2:15am – first floor dining room at the convent of the Corpus Christi Carmelites – Castries, St. Lucia

So, here I am, adjusting to a new place, and I’m having trouble falling asleep. Part of it could be the time difference (back home it’s only 12:15am), and part of it also could be all that’s been going on. As I type this entry though, I could not be more at peace. It’s 75 (24 Celsius) with a breeze blowing and a light rain falling.

This past weekend I had a great time visiting with family and friends for one last weekend. Spent some time with my parents and some other close friends. I was particularly blessed by being able to spend some time with my dad, and having some guy time. Got back to Big Woods on Monday morning and spent most of the day packing and getting a few more things. Tuesday we ran some last minute errands before having one last lunch together with all of Intake 2010 (minus Madi Dold, and plus a few other missionaries that were on base), and then we hit the road. Later that evening we arrived at Kevin and Sarah Granger’s apt, where we were graciously hosted. The next morning we woke up at 3:30am and left for the NOLA airport at 4. I felt like God was helping things to go smoothly because we got all 14 of us checked in with no problems or delays at all. 🙂 And I think it was while we were waiting for our flight to Miami (which left at 6am) that it started to hit me, that we were leaving the USA and were going to live in St. Lucia for the year as missionaries. We arrived in Miami after a 1.5 hour flight, and had approx. 3.5 hours before our flight to St. Lucia. Most of that time was spent sitting at the gate talking and playing games, or walking around the terminal, looking at all the shops and places to eat. As we were getting ready to eat lunch, we started chatting with a lady who was also waiting for a flight to St. Lucia. Ends up that she’s some kind of businesswoman and senator in St. Lucia. We got her contact information, had some good fellowship with her. She was an extremely nice lady and even shared some of her snacks with the kids. Then we grabbed a quick bite to eat before getting on our plane.

Our flight into Hewanorra airport was as smooth as could be. I was a little worried because about 45 minutes until landing, the captain said we would begin our descent soon and to buckle up because there were some rainstorms and we might experience some turbulence. Now, I’ve flown alot, and have experienced some crazy turbulence. So, I know that when a pilot says “a little bit of turbulence” that usually pilot-speak for “things might get crazy”. So, one the one hand I was a bit nervous, but it was all for nothing. With the exception of some turbulence that was the same as any other fairweather flight I’ve taken, it was as smooth as could be. Perhaps my favorite part of the flight was the VIEW! As we were flying south of Puerto Rico, we passed over some random little islands that looked like they came straight out of some deserted island movie scene. Then, our descent into St. Lucia was beautiful. Since we were flying into the south airport, we got to fly over the entire island. (Doesn’t take long since the island is only 24 miles north to south.) And as we got to the southern tip and started circling around to land, we got an amazing view of the water, shoreline, foliage, and of course The Pitons. The Pitons are the two most famous landmarks, mountains, on the southern coast. Le Gros Piton is approx. 800m tall, and Le Petit Piton is approx. 750m tall. After we landed, our trip through customs was quick and easy, and our bus driver was waiting for us as soon as we were done. We took about a half hour drive to the north part of the island, where the city of Castries (pop. 60,000) and the convent are located. We quickly unloaded our bags, and then went to the archbishop’s house for dinner. About 2 hours later, we came back home and got settled in for the night. Briefly spoke to some relatives on internet video chat before trying to go to bed.

Needless to say, I’ve enjoyed myself thoroughly the past day and a half. The time we spent with The Grangers was amazing because of the fellowship AND because I think that’s where I could sense that something was different and life was about to drastically change. It’s in those moments of realization and heightened awareness that the simplest of occassions can become quite memorable. All of our travel time yesterday was enjoyable too. As I said earlier in this entry, it started to hit me that our call to be long-term lay Catholic foreign missionaries was about to be made very real. Seeing the kids giddy and full of wonder was probably the best part though. What little knowledge and experience I had, I was able to share 🙂 . Perhaps our dinner at the bishop’s house was the most enjoyable part of the day. Besides getting to eat some delicious food (both regional and American), we got to fellowship with the Bishop. Getting to know our leader and seeing how generous he is and how happy he is to have us is such a blessing.

Please enjoy the pictures and video posted below!

Thank you Jesus for blessing us in our journey as missionaries, and for opening doors and preparing the way for us. Help us to serve you by serving the people you have sent us to. God Bless!

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Coreteam Retreat Journal Reflections……….

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

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

Reflection Questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My heart is content………..

Tuesday 6/22/10 – 8:30pm @ the chapel in the main house at Big Woods

What a time of blessing the past two days have been for me. Living out here @ FMC, living the daily routine of work, prayer, and recreation has been so uplifting for me. Before I even got here, I was blessed because I got to pick up two other come and see participants from the airport. Showed them around town (including the Cathedral), stopped for some seafood @ a local restaurant, and talked missions and faith life on our way out to Big Woods.

The first blessing was not having to go home at the end of the night. I got to feel what it’s like to live here. 🙂 I like it! Of course I also am getting to experience the daily routine of meals, prayer, fellowship, study, etc….. I’m starting to feel like I’m a part of FMC, and that I belong here. It’s gonna be hard goin back home on Thursday, but I know now what I get to look forward to for Intake in September. A huge blessing for me has been the witness of the Eckstine family, a family of 10 kids and Mark & Laura, the parents. Their prayer, unity, & working together, especially when considering how many of them there are, is mind-boggling. Also mind-boggling is how generous they are with their time and resources. They are not wealthy by any means, but you will find it very hard to out-do them in generosity. In particular, their children have been a blessing to me. It’s been so much fun talking and playing with the kids. They’re like the brothers and sisters I never had. The joy of children is awesome!  If you wanna feel special and loved, then devote your time and love to a child and you will definitely be blessed 🙂

Another thing that has been on my mind is how much I want my  family (especially certain family members) to receive the joy and blessings that I feel I have received. The reason this came to mind was because of a bible verse I stumbled upon yesterday, 1 Corinthians 7:14. It says “For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through the brother.” What I feel like God is telling me was that as I strive to follow the call to missions, he will bless my family with graces to draw closer to him. I now know that in my absence, God will heal and bless my family, and draw them into a closer relationship with him. So that means my family is in good hands. 🙂 Well, the night is here, and my eyelids are beginning to feel heavy, so I bid adieu. Amen! Alleluia! Glory!

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I want to find myself……….

Tuesday 5-25-10 – 8:00pm @ Adoration Chapel at Our Lady of Wisdom Church in Lafayette, LA

Lately, as I’ve been reflecting on my successes and failures, one particular verse has come to mind. St. Paul says in Romans 7:19 “For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” This describes with great accuracy my current spiritual journey. I feel like I have grown immensely over the past 10 months I’ve even been journeying towards what I believe is a call from God to be a lay foreign missionary. I’ve experienced God’s marvelous mercy through the sacrament of confession, and I’ve been blessed by the prayer and fellowship @ FMC.

Now, it’s not that I have sinful pride that causes me to think I am ever or should be perfect. I know I’m going to be a sinner with imperfections. However, as I’ve aged, I’ve come to expect more from myself. Problem is, that’s not necessarily what I’m getting. While I do encounter moments of grace, I still feel like i’m stuck in the same ‘ole sins, and that I’m not able to overcome them. I want to overcome them so I can start working on other imperfections. My theory though, is that I will discover who I am when I go into missions. I long to be able to find myself. Once I know who I am and who I can be, I believe that I can really grow, and learn, and make progress. Lord, grant me patience, humility, obedience, courage, and perseverance. Please Lord, also take care of my family, especially my parents and my sister.

Lord, in my absence, fill their hearts and liveProxy-Connection: keep-alive
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with an abundance of grace. Thank You Lord Jesus for your love and your mercy. Amen!

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STILL AT 30,000 FEET

I was also blessed and inspired by my fellow short term missionaries. The energy of the university students re-energized me. They jumped right into the mission and were a good example to me. The married couples who were among the group of short term missionaries were also wonderful people who helped me to learn and grow alot. And as someone who aspires to be married one day (God willing), I was particularly drawn to the beautiful, holy, Catholic young women in our group. In a perfect mix of inner and outer beauty, I saw all the things that I hope God blesses me with in a spouse. I saw a love for others, a love for missions, joie-de-vivre, and so many other things. **To be continued later today….. we’re approaching Dallas for our landing and i gotta put my stuff away.**

Okay, I’m back. At gate B-10 in Dallas waiting to board my flight to Lafayette. I didn’t realize it at first, but when I arrived here, the time change had gone into effect. That meant instead of arriving in Dallas at 5:15 and boarding my plane at 6:45, I landed at 6:15. It’s a good thing I didn’t have any checked bags to slow me down. Got through customs very quickly and arrived at the gate with two minutes to spare. **Gotta go. boarding the plane**

BAck again….. waiting on the flight to depart from the gate. As I was saying, I was blessed with great young women to fellowship with. Whether one of these women is my future wife, or whether it’s someone else, I was most blessed by their presence. Next on my mind is what is gonna happen now that I’m going back home. One part of me has no idea how I will survive the next few months until Missionary Intake 2010 with FMC in September. I want to be in missions so badly and it’s something I really feel like I’m called to.

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JOYFUL JOYFUL WE ADORE THEE!

Tuesday 3/9/10

Chapel @ Casa De Misiones in General Cepeda, Mexico

Earlier today i wrote myself a note to make today’s journal entry about the joys of missions. The first thing that came to mind was how I tend to focus so much on the intensity, or the sacrifice, or whatever, that I forget that missions is a joyful thing! Then I thought about how much joy that fellowship with other people on this trip is bringing to me. We laugh, we talk, we joke, we play…. I smile just thinking about it. It’s also impossible not to think of the joy of the people we are serving here. All of the kids who smile at us, and laugh and play… All of the adults who wave to us as we exchange greetings of “Adios”…

Besides the obvious, there’s also the deeply rooted joy that God gives me while on missions. Because it’s a sacrifice I love to make, it brings me joy. I don’t wake up in the mornings and roll my eyes or lament the fact that I have to go do the same thing again. Honestly, I wake up and I’m excited at what the new day will bring. The anticipation of fellowship with other missionaries, of working hard and sweating to build a roof, of ministering in the ranchos, it all brings me joy!

Yes, I realize there will be sacrifice. Yes, I realize things will be hard sometimes. But even the Bible says everything has it’s season, which means that we WILL experience joy in serving the Lord. The more I think about it, the more I think about how the joy I get from being on missions is what will help me through these next few months until the start of Intake 2010. Praise You Lord Jesus for all you’ve blessed me with, especially the privilege of serving you in missions. God Bless!

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