Posts Tagged With: heaven

Giraffe Necks and Weak Coffee

Thursday – 11/8/12 – 7:00am – Casa de Misiones – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Earlier this morning I had an experience which hasn’t happened since my sophomore year of college, roughly 11 years go. As I was turning on my computer the screen goes all white and then dark again for a few moments before booting up. While the screen was dark and I was looking at it, I saw my reflection. And I didn’t like what I saw. My head looked humongous & my neck was like a giraffe. In college, the same thing happened as I was passing by one of the big ground-level window panes on one of the classroom buildings. I saw my reflection and didn’t like what I saw. Both then and now, I woke up from that initial displeasure with an “aha!” moment. The realization was that the mirror I was looking into was not an accurate one. They were both modern day versions of the circus-mirror effect. The difference is that with the circus mirror I never took it seriously enough to be displeased with my reflection, because I knew it was false. So naturally from these instances it caused me to reflect on the accuracy of the mirrors in our lives, whether they be a physical mirror that shows us what we look like or some person/situation that reflects some aspect of our lives. With both I realized that you have to have a good mirror or else none of your assumptions or opinions will be accurate. Another vital part of the equation is to be able to interpret the results in a good way. If the results are good, you have to build off of that in a way that does not also inflate your ego. If the results are not so good, then you have to be able to build off of that and not let it deflate your will and sense of self-worth.

My other little incident this morning involved coffee. Come to think of it, when does anything in my morning routine NOT involve coffee? Yesterday morning one of our missionaries in training (who is a morning person like me) was up before I was and made the coffee. He appeared to have put about half a millimeter of coffee grounds into the filter to make the coffee. Stuff tasted like flavorless hot brown water. But I didnt’ wanna waste the whole pot, and I also knew that the “brown water” had caffeine in it. So I swallowed my pride, figuratively and literally, and drank the coffee. My morning depended on it. I was determined this morning to educate him on how to make stronger coffee. To me, one of my pet peeves is weak coffee. Seems kinda pointless. I think if I end up in purgatory instead of going straight to heaven, one of my thousand-year penances will be drinking weak coffee day in and day out. Anyhoo, back to my story. I didn’t get up in time to beat him to the coffee maker. But to his credit he remembered what I said yesterday about weak coffee and put more coffee grounds than he did yesterday. Still not quite enough though. Also to his credit is the fact that the only brand of Mexican coffee available here is really weak stuff when compared to my beloved Community Coffee. Ergo I enjoyed my first cup more than yesterday’s first cup but I was still determined that at least my second cup would be stronger. So I took the plastic filter thingy hostage. By “plastic filter thingy” I’m referring to the thing where you put the paper coffee filter and then fill it up with coffee grounds. Once I was sure that the first pot was close enough to being done, I dumped out the rest of it. Put water in the machine. And then I filled that thing up with a Southern-Louisiana-Cajun-appropriate level of coffee grounds, which according to Sid, means at least 1/2 to 2/3 full. Gosh dernit, I want this stuff to curl my nose hair it’s so strong. I want it to be so strong that it puts hair on my chest (a feat usually reserved for a good beer or shot of whiskey). You get the idea. I’m pleased that the 2nd pot was definitely stronger. I’m even pleased-er that I think the bag of Mexican coffee we’re on right now is our second to last, and 6 bags of Community Coffee are waiting in line to take its place.

You know, as I look back on the title of this entry I think someone could easily misinterpret that this entry is written by some innovative Cajun who found a new type of bait to put in his crab trap. I also remember that yesterday we had a class on tips for missionary photography and blogging. But I didn’t think that a picture of a blank computer screen, my neck, a coffee pot, or a cup of coffee would cause my journal entry to be any more interesting than it already is. So please, just use your imagination. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have a good one. God Bless

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 40

Day 40 – Friday – 11/2/12

What’s that you say? It’s day 40 of my 40 day fast? THAT MEANS MY 40 DAY FAST IS OVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! aoiejhanvclknasl;kfjgv;oairejhjgf;ncv’kjao;riehfanv;lknasfdoitaonc v;lakjhgoiag;ona;lxknv;oaijgf;ja;jkgfa!!!!!!!!a;isjv;lakngfajd;fljk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, I think I’ve got a hold of myself now. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s crazy to think that this is the end of my 40 day fast. I didn’t think it would go by so quickly. Neither did I think that it would be as amazing of an experience as it was. But I guess your first time doing something like this will always be memorable. Today was a pretty good day. Had a couple of cups of coffee this morning before heading out to pick up one of our home visits to go to the local cemetery to decorate family members’ graves for All Souls Day. We also went so that we could attend Mass in the cemetery. Lemme tell you somethin’, you ain’t seen nothin’ until you see All Souls Day (Dia De Los Muertos) in Mexico. I’ve never seen more flowers (real or artificial) in my life! And the cool thing is, it’s not some sad or mopey occasion. Here, it’s a celebration. People decorate the graves. They hire mariachi bands to serenade them and their dearly departed family members at the gravesite. They bring food, usually some of the favorite food of the deceased, and have lunch at the gravesite.

After Mass ended I came back home and tackled the table covering project. One of my benefactors sent me the money to buy new material to cover our tables with. Today was the first chance I had to actually get it done. Probably took me at least 3 or 4 hours. Now, I’m sure that I was slightly overboard on some of the things I did to make sure they were measured, cut, positioned, and then secured as best as possible. I was also just moving slow. There was no rush, not much going on tonight, so why hurry? Once it was done I was uber happy. The dining rooms and kitchen look alot better. To break things up a bit and to give myself a rest, I made a few trips to the grocery store. Since I can start eating 3 meals again tomorrow, I had to make sure I had some breakfast ready. One of my mission partners also gave me some pesos as his contribution towards the table coverings, even though it was all donated. So I ended up buying some absolute essentials for the house: coffee, creamer, and sugar! ๐Ÿ™‚ After I was done with all that, I headed across the plaza to the church parish for a little bit of adoration. Did night prayer and was in the process of reading a book when they told me they were about to lock up, so I came on back, and here I be.

So at the end of my 40 day fast, I have no choice but to retrospect. First thing I think about is all the “commitments” I had for the 40 day fast. Most of them having nothing to do with fasting, but all of them having something to do with self-control or making myself better. Less computer time. More guitar practice.
Diversify prayer time. I think I just got too caught up in trying to add on all these extra commitments, thinking that they could just ride on the coattails of my main commitment, and I’d be able to get them all done. But it was kinda distracting too. Next time I do something like this, i’m just gonna have my fast and that’s it. Otherwise I’ll lose focus on the most important thing, the fast itself.

In regards to my main commitment, the fast itself, I think I did ok. Didn’t do bad, but could have done better. I learned alot about self-control and honesty. Many times I found myself trying to get around the rules by either having snacks, spreading out my meal to lessen the sacrifice of feeling hunger, or eating a ton of food for my one meal so that I was fuller (less hungry) for longer. Another thing I was blessed with is a better perspective on how hungry and poor people feel. Now that I know the anxiety of hunger on a whole new level, I think I’m gonna be more in tune to the poor and ways that I can help them. My prayer intentions for the fast were: 1.)For an increase in humility, 2.)For an increase in charity, 3.)For clarity in discerning what next year will look like for me, 4.)For our Intake missionaries, 5.)For my sister and nieces, and 6.)For our presidential election. I think time will tell how much I succeeded in numbers 1 & 2. But I do think that I was blessed in those areas. As far as #3 is concerned, I definitely think I have more clarity now. Numbers 4-6, well, only God knows how those were affected. But I know that prayer works, and that God is a mighty God. And maybe I’ll never know in my earthly life what the effects of my prayers were, but when I get to heaven, then it will all make sense.

All in all, it was a great experience. A perfect way to prepare for all of the visiting missionaries this month. And a perfect way to end the year.

p.s.- Decided at 10:45pm that at midnight, when my fast ended, i’d celebrate by eating a bowl of cereal. Had to be the longest 75 minutes of my life.

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 38

Day 38 – Wednesday – 10/31/12

I’d like to start my entry today with a quote from a song that someone passed along to me. “Happiness don’t drag its feet. And time moves faster than you think.” I like this quote. Scratch that. I REALLY like this quote. At first I wondered “do I like it so much because of the person that sent the song to me?”. Yes, I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a reason I like the quote and the song. But, as I thought about it, I realized I like the song and especially this quote, because it very accurately reflects what I think and feel. Happiness indeed, don’t drag its feet. Why? Because it’s a good thing and it’s meant to be. Why should it be put off? Now don’t go gettin’ all nit-picky on me. Just take what I’m sayin at face value, for what it means, and you’ll see what I’m talkin’ about. And if there’s one thing I’ve discovered in life, time definitely moves faster than you think. So, what I take it to mean (at least to me) is that if happiness don’t drag its feet and time ain’t slowin down, I gotta go for this blessing. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

So, you remember that nap I told you about yesterday? You know, that REALLY good nap where I was dead to the world? I’ve re-discovered what happens when you take a nap like that too late in the day. You end up restless at 4am, walkin’ around bundled up in the freezing cold and prayin’ a rosary! ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s what happened to me this morning. Well, the nap was the main culprit. But also, I had an earlier bedtime than I normally have. I think too that because of our daily schedule here, even when the day is really full, it’s never one that is physically demanding or exhausting. So that trifecta came together in the perfect mixture I guess. It’s kinda good though. Early in theย  morning when the air is cold like this, it’s really crisp and refreshing. The prayer intentions that I offered up during my rosary made my early morning sleeplessness worth it. The other night I was telling someone that my style of relationship with God is to step out in faith and have the Lord guide me as I go. However there is nothing that can replace the security and assurance that comes with prayer. I know that the best thing I could do for the people that I love and are on my heart and the things that are on my heart, and the best way to be as close to them as possible (short of being physically present) is to lift them up in prayer.

Today should be a good day, even if just for the fact that Albert is back. Adds some extra energy to our daily life at the house. We have our last two home visits that we’re gonna do for the week. I’ll probably try and do some more preparations around the house. I can’t really do much cleaning yet, because I don’t want to sweep and tidy up the areas now, only to have them get dirty again before the group arrives on Tuesday. Gonna wait as late as possible to do that. Man, what I really need to do is consolidate my personal stuff in my room. It’s very spread out, which is I guess what tends to happen when you have a room all to yourself. But with 25 people coming next week, and 35 more coming the week of Thanksgiving, I know that I’m either going to be sharing a full room, in which case I’ll have to make my stuff very compact and also share shelf and closet space. Or, I might even have to move to another room. We’ll see. All I know is that I gotta do something with all that stuff. 6pm Mass is in the plans too. There’s no good reason not to go. Besides, how can I resist getting to receive Jesus’ Body and Blood in The Eucharist? ๐Ÿ™‚

And I hope they have volleyball again tonight, cuz I’m really starting to enjoy it. I played again last night and had alot of fun. Got to see a few people I know, play some volleyball, andย  just get out of the house. It’s nice to get away from the house and refresh yourself sometimes. Something as simple as the cool outside air and a game of volleyball can do that. I also have to get something ready for an errand I’m running in Saltillo tomorrow. Among other things, I plan on going to the Cathedral for All Saints Day Mass, and for my one daily meal I think I’m gonna pay a little visit to Domino’s. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been craving it ever since my last visit to Saltillo to pick up Albert. Thursday is also the last chance that I’ll get to go to Saltillo on my own before the group gets here. Friday is All Souls Day (Dia De Los Muertos) and I wanna be here in town for the Mass in the local cemetery, and to be able to experience whatever other types of festivities that go on during that time. I’ve also gotta be focused on all the things I need to help out with to prepare for the group (put new coverings on table, clean, organize, etc….) Also, once they arrive, and even when we go to Saltillo as a group, there’s not as much freedom or flexibility to wander around Saltillo on your own. Gotta orient yourself toward the group, know what I mean?

As far as my fast goes, I’m pretty excited about that too. After today I’ve only got two days left. And while in some ways I’m ready for it to end, it’ll also be bittersweet. Not that I like the feeling of hunger, but it’s something you grow accustomed to. It gives you something to offer up and helps you to sharpen your spiritual focus. It also gave me the chance to look alot more carefully at what exactly I eat and how much I eat. But like I said, I’m ready for it to end. Ready to get back to a normal schedule and way of life. I’m ready to be able to step back from the experience, recover, get a “bigger picture” perspective as I do some retrospection, and move on from there.

p.s.- I don’t understand how, but for some reason I felt really good when I got up at my normal time this morning. Decided I wasn’t gonna let myself sleep late just because of last night. I knew that getting up early as normal might mean I’d be a little tired, which I definitely was right when I woke up. But after getting out of bed and going on my morning walk I felt great! ๐Ÿ™‚

p.s.s.- Another thing that’s really great about early morning walks in cold weather is the nice hot cup of coffee that was waiting for me afterwards. Truly a piece of heaven in a cup.

p.s.s.s.- Random fun fact: As I was doin’ some more laundry, sippin’ on my mornin’ coffee, jammin’ to my favorite country singer Josh Turner, I did me a little country hoe-down jig. Only cuz I knew no one was watchin’. It’d take a mighty special person to get me relaxed enough to do that in front of them! ๐Ÿ˜€

p.s.s.s.s.- Another random fun fact: Misunderstood some of Josh Turner’s lyrics as sayin’ “pickle mess” instead of “big ole mess”. Though, I suppose that “pickle-mess” sounds like somethin’ that charming country folk would say, like maybe when Mawmaw Billy-Jo accidentally uses baking soda instead of sugar to make her apple pie and when she tastes it says “aw shucks! them thar neighbors is comin over fer dinner tonight and i’m in a pickle-mess cuz i ain’t got no apple pie I can serve ’em!”. Hyphenated names is just somethin’ that country folk do, and if yer a girl named “Jo”, you gotta spell it without the “e” cuz only boys named “Joe” spell it with the “e”.

p.s.s.s.s.s. – Last random fact, I promise: Today, I literally stopped and smelt the roses. We’ve got a yellow rose bush growin’ in the back yard garden of our mission house.

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Desert Day – November 19, 2011

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

These first four paragraphs (marked with an asterisk) are some transcribed audio recordings I made during my prayer time so that I could capture my reflections and thoughts. I was trying to type as fast as I could while transcribing them, so please pardon any errors ๐Ÿ™‚

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Life @ Big Woods: Best Reality Show EVER!

Friday, 9/17/10, Edge of the Pond @ Big Woods (suburb of Mouton Cove, LA, which is a suburb of Perry, which is a suburb of Abbeville ๐Ÿ™‚ )

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

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

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

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

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

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QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM THE 2010 DIVINE MERCY CONFERENCE

4-10-10 Saturday – Divine Mercy Conference @ The Cajundome Convention Center

I’ve decided this entry will be quotable quotes from today.

Fr. Hampton Davis quotes:

“Can’t catch love with a closed heart.” – “You better have some Jesus in You.” – ” Hell…….NO! Heaven……..YES!” – “M-E-R-C-Y. May Easter’s Reality Convert You!” – “We better count ourselves among the sinners, if we ever wanna count ourselves among the saints.” – “Ifย  a soul does not show mercy, it will not obtain my mercy. (Fr. Hampton quoting St. Faustina who was quoting Jesus)” – “If we are merciful we choose heaven, if not we choose hell.” – “Divine Mercy is God’s medicine.” – “If we don’t fill our empty hearts with mercy, something worse will come back and fill it up.” – “A fly cannot enter a pressure cooker. Evil cannot enter a heart full of mercy.” – “To have the title ‘Christian’, and not live up to it, THAT is taking the name of the Lord in vain.” – “C-R-E-A-M. Cash Rules Everything Around Me. The world wants CREAM.”

Dr. Bryan Thatcher quotes (involved with Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy):

“If you pray the chaplet of divine mercy at the bedside of a dying person, I will be there as their merciful Savior. (Dr. Bryan quoting St. Faustina who was quoting Jesus)” – “We resemble God most when we forgive our neighbors.” – “Father, your will be done = Jesus I trust in you.” – “Do what I did; give it up to God, look up to Jesus.”

Imaculee Ilibagiza quotes: (sidenote: She’s a survivor of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 that claimed 1 million lives, including her WHOLE family, except for one brother and herself)

“We own nothing. We should thank God for everything. It is all a gift.” – “If we grow our brains, but not our hearts, that’s bad.” – “God exists. He can help you. He is Almighty. He can do anything. If you ask him, he can move mountains.” – “At this moment of crisis, I had to decide which voice to listen to.” – “God heard me, he is real.” – “When you are angry, you are very creative.” – “You hating them does not change anything. If you pray for them, maybe there is hope.” – “The rosary is not just for Catholics or Christians. It is for every human being.” – “If I can forgive, anyone can forgive.” – “If you are conflicted between being kind and being right, choose kindness.”

Marcus Grodi quotes (he hosts the EWTN tv show “Journey Home” and is director of Coming Home Network International and is a former Protestant pastor):

“Proverbs 3:5-6. Look it up.” – “No Catholic ever gave me a reason to ever wanna become Catholic.” – “Sometimes we’re not open to an answer until we know there’s a problem.” – “1 Tim. 3:15. Look it up” – “3 biggest obstacles to becoming Catholic were ignorance of Catholic teaching, prejudice about their beliefs, and bad Catholics.” – “2 Thess. 2:15. Look it up” – “If you throw out the Church, you throw out everything.”

Annie Karto quotes (Catholic musician/evangelist):

“The truth can hurt, but it will set you free!”

Fr. Michael Champagne quotes:

“He is communion and he reconciles.” – “Enjoy the experience of your reposessed dignity.” – “When the priest lifts his hand during absolution, he’s washing you with the blood and water of Jesus. Let that inundate you.” – “Having received mercy, we have to, in turn, be merciful.”

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WRAP UP AT 30,000 FEET ABOVE SEA LEVEL

Sunday 3/14/10 – Approx. 30000 feet in the air, aboard American Airlines flight from Monterrey, Mexico to Dallas, TX

We’d need to go back into my journal to verify, but i think this is the first journal I’ve ever done while flying on a plane. The sun is shining, the weather is beautiful, and all is good. It’s a bittersweet happiness though as I head home after a week of amazing mission work in General Cepeda, Mexico. The realization that I may never see the people I encountered this week until we get to heaven, is, well, a little tough. I fell even more in love with the people of General Cepeda. I feel in love with and was inspired by my fellow missionaries.

**random side story: As I was boarding the plane, I saw that a pilot was among the passengers. A question I had always wondered came to mind. Wouldn’t distance travelled be less if planes flew at a lower altitude? The answer is yes and no (according to the answers he gave me). If planes lifted straight into the air like a helicopter, the distance would be greater as the altitude increased. However, planes ascend and descend at a gradual rate, changing the actual distance travelled. Another aspect of the equation is that at higher altitudes the air is thinner and provides less resistance, ergo, less gas is burned.**

Back to my regular entry: Of particular inspiration to me among the people of General Cepeda were the native missionary families like Tonio and Mari. In spite of their relative poverty, they give of themselves and their family as missionaries to their own people. They are generous and supportive as co-laborers with the FMC missionaries. Their example as missionaries and as a married couple was very inspiring. I kow, without a doubt that God has blessed them and is using them in a powerful way.

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