Posts Tagged With: Intake

Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 13

Day 13 – Saturday – 10/6/12

Yesterday’s Desert Day and Rancho visits were good. It had been since the 3rd week of September since we visited, due to the fact that finances are tight so we spend even less on gas and because we wanted to do more in town as per father’s advice. We’ll be going again this week for our final visit as a team of singles before the Intake missionaries arrive at the beginning of November. When we got back and I went to buy a few things from the store and then came back to eat supper, I was reminded how even in the midst of fasting God is still allowing me to feast. When I say “fasting” I’m referring to both the “going without” that is experienced by many here in town on many different levels, as well as my own “going without” that I experience in the missionary life (combined with my 40 day fast). I had to carry two huge 5-gallon jugs of fresh drinking water that cost a mere 10 pesos each (less than $1 U.S.) I ended up carrying at least 4 grocery bags heavy with stuff. After my simple supper, I got to eat some inexpensive cookies for  dessert ($17 pesos/$1.25 U.S.) that many people here can’t afford, and one of my mission partners let me have a piece of his Mexican chocolate to make a cup of hot chocolate. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

In morning prayer this morning the reading was from Hebrews 13 & the words that really stuck out to me were “…imitate their faith, Jesus Christ is the same, do not be carried away…”. Simple but powerful. Experienced a very small victory/grace from my fast earlier tonight. I remember that someone told me my fast will be less of a struggle with the hunger feeling and more of a struggle with controlling my desires and will. I wanted to eat a small piece of the Mexican chocolate that Albert gave me (which I had decided to give to one of our missionary families). Almost convinced myself that it was no big deal, then I remembered about how small victories are still victories. Resisted the chocolate. Felt good. Went over to Gallo and Rita’s so she could show me how to make bunuelos, which are thin flour tortillas that are fried and then dusted with sugar and cinnamon. Apparently they have to dry overnight, and then we’re gonna fry them up tomorrow morning. Told her we were gonna save them to eat when me, Luis, and Albert go over tomorrow night to watch the final episode of one of the telenovelas. Have us some popcorn too. Gonna have a good ole time 🙂

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My 40-day fast – Day 2

Sid’s 40 Day Fast

Day 2 – Tuesday, 9/25/12

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

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

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

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My 40-day fast – Day 1

Sid’s 40 Day Fast
Day 1 – Monday, 9/24/12

So this is my journal for my 40 day fast. I was inspired to do the fast because one of my missionary brothers recently did one, and said he really got alot from it. He also kept a journal, which is why i’m keeping one. Great way to recall my thoughts and share them. I was also inspired to do this fast when I was listening to someone talk about fasting and how it gives you clarity.

My main prayer intentions are: *for my sister, *for the grace of clarity as I begin to discern my mission post next year, *for growth in humility & grace, *for all the missionaries in Intake 2012.

I’m a little nervous, but not in a bad way. It’s more of a really excited full of anticipation sort of way. I’ve been saying for a few weeks now that in my spiritual life, I feel like I’m on the verge of something big, like I’m about to turn a corner. And I think this fast will play a big part in that. Not sure how intense the hunger factor will be, since I’ll only be eating one meal a day. But I hope it’s a big enough factor to challenge me. I also hope that I know a little more what it’s like for these poor people that we serve, to struggle with hunger and a lack of resources at times. I’m gonna eat my one daily meal at supper time. I figure I’ll have more time each day to feel the hunger. Also figure that if I eat at night, I won’t be doing any kind of physical activity to burn off those few precious calories. I’ll allow myself whatever liquids during the day. Coffee in the morning. Gatorade during the day, so that the electrolytes/vitamins/nutrients can supplement some of what I won’t be getting from food. I was already taking a multi-vitamin everyday so I’ll have that too.

I’m kinda surprised though at how I didn’t really feel much hunger today. Maybe it was because I prepared myself with a 2 meal-a-day fast for two and a half weeks prior to this fast. Maybe, since today was my first day my body hasn’t had a chance to feel the hunger yet. We also had some food at the end of a prayer group this afternoon too. I’m thinkin’ too it could be the liter of Gatorade I drank over the course of the day. No it wasn’t good solid food, but it was something to fill my belly. We also ate at Rita &  Gallo’s house tonight. Nopales (cactus), frijoles (beans), arroz (rice), and tortillas. I wasn’t feeling the hunger factor before we ate, but judging by how much I ate, I was definitely hungry. I kinda stuffed myself. Maybe I was also trying to eat a little more than I normally would, knowing that I wouldn’t be eating again for a whole ‘nother day. Not sure if that defeats the purpose of a fast or not. Well, I’ll give my current way of doing things another week or so. If I still don’t feel the hunger, I may cut down to half a liter of Gatorade. We’ll see how it goes.

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Cold Day in the Desert

Friday – 3/9/12 – 2:02pm – On a mountaintop in General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

The moutain we’re on this week is the one right behind La Colonia, which is a neighborhood very close to our casa. In fact, this mountain is close enough that we can walk to it. It is the highest mountain in town, but don’t let that fool you. Climbing time to the top was 15 minutes max. Nonetheless, the view up here is gorgeous. From here we can even see the other mountaintop where we did a Desert Day during La Entrada (Intake) in February. It (the other mountain, not the one i’m on right now) is the mountain that’s right next to the farm that’s owned by the same lady who owns the Las Portales restaurant next to the church in town. Perfect spot to come and pray for Desert Day. Now that I think of it, this is my first “true” Desert Day for me and Luis since we arrived in Mexico over a month ago. It’s just the two of us today.

A few minutes ago as I was reading my Bible, I was at the beginning of the book of Judith. It starts off by saying how King Nebuchadnezzar wanted everyone in the land to basically say and act like “Hey dude, you’re the man and the best ever and so much so that we wanna pay you homage and worship you.” When they didn’t do that, he basically wiped out alot of them, and plundered and terrorized so as to strike fear in their hearts and force them to submit to him and worship him. And that story got me thinking about fear, both good and bad fear. King Nebuchadnezzar’s fear was the bad kind of fear. It’s the fear that makes you afraid, the fear that removes your free will, the fear that FORCES you to submit. Then I got to thinkin’ about the fear of God.

The fear of God, properly viewed, is a GOOD fear. The way I see it, it’s not a fear of death, revenge, or horrible suffering. It’s the fear of offending a love so great, that its’ a love completely unrivaled. THAT’S the kind of fear we should have towards God, and the fear that should be a guiding factor in our lives. It’s a fear that leads us to love, not despair.

We also had a great week this past week. Last Saturday for our free day, me and Luis decided to take a bus to and from Saltillo. We did it because A.) we wanted to learn how to get to and from Saltillo by bus, and B.) so we could walk around town a bit. Our handicapped friend Hugo whom we met in November 2009 on a short term mission trip, was not in his usual spot in front of the Cathedral and the Cathedral was closed. We checked out the market and the surrounding area for awhile before heading to the bus stop on the edge of town where we caught the bus back to General Cepeda. Don’t think we’ll be doing that every week though. Even taking the bus is an expense that really adds up. On Sunday we did morning Mass, and then went to La Puerta, our Sunday rancho visit. We’re gonna visit that rancho on the Sundays we don’t have communion services in other ranchos. The plan is that we’ll do some songs and prayer, lead a reflection on that Sunday’s reading, and close with some more prayer and song. We also continued to integrate more and more into our weekly schedule. We are now in full-swing with our door ministry, home visits, and rancho ministry. I think from here on out it’s just a matter of fine-tuning how we do things and figuring out the best way to minister to people. We’ve also been blessed to be able to go to Daily Mass during the week. This week we’ve also been participating in a series of talks given by the priest in preparation for a Lenten mission that we’ll be giving next week. All in all, we’re experiencing a good balance between busy-ness and rest, and I look forward to things getting better and better.

God Bless!

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Missionary Reflections and Tidbits

3-2-12 – Friday – 3:54pm – Desert Day – same location as last time, except just a bit downstream

Utterly peaceful. Gentle breeze. Babbling brook. Nice spot in the shade. Praise the Lord for this time of prayer and recollection. Alot has been going on the past few weeks. We finished up La Entrada (Intake) 2012 for the missionary families. Had a few hiccups along the way, including people getting sick and our shirts not being ready on time.

Allende mission trip was a huge success. Our Life In The Spirit Seminar and other ministries went very well. People received us with open arms. Living in community was a challenge and was starting to wear me down. Still have a ways to go before I can say I do a good job at living in community. But God didn’t give me more than I could handle. La Entrada ended at just the right time.

Me and Luis have our own place now. Bonding as a mission team and integrating ourselves into our weekly ministry schedule. Been able to go to Mass and receive the Eucharist alot. Helped some people during Door Ministry hours by buying/supplying meds, food, and praying with them. One home visit and one rancho visit so far. Lenten sacrifices of exercise and fasting going well. Start my spanish lessons with Profe this coming Tuesday. Been blessed to be able to keep in touch with my girlfriend and parents. The Lord is really blessing us here……………

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Missionary Adventures and New Relationships

Desert Day – 2/10/12 – alongside a little stream (“arrollo”) just outside of La Puerta, an ejido (“rancho”) of General Cepeda,Coahuila,Mexico– 2:27 p.m.

 

When I was looking for a place to sit, I knew it would be a challenge since we have so many kids with our group. I told myself I had to find a place where the silence was deafening & where I couldn’t hear any other voices. I found that place. The sun in shining. The sky is clear and blue. A little bush behind me gives me shade to sit in. The stream wanders by lazy and carefree. A gentle breeze keeps me cool. God’s presence is so strong all around me, out here in the beauty of his creation. I can’t imagine being an atheist and not having anyone to thank for this.

Just looked back at my last entry, and it’s been since November 19th that I’ve written in my journal (when we were here for Intake). God has done so much for me in the past 3 months & it’s time to reflect on that. December was a fairly slow month. After the Donor’s Dinner I went back to my parents’ house for the rest of the month. Took that opportunity to visit with friends and family. About mid-December Fr. Bill Melancon, a personal friend of mine, who’s pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes in Erath, gave me the blessing of speaking at all 5 of the weekend Masses. It was fun getting to hang out and catch up with Fr. Bill. Got to spread the word about lay missions. Many of the parishioners were generous and either gave me donations or signed up on my address sheet. I was also able to speak at the LifeTeen meeting after the last Mass on Sunday night. It felt good to reconnect with youth ministry. Later on I was blessed to celebrate Christmas with my family and even got to visit with my nieces who live in the Houston area.

January was the month where A LOT happened. 🙂 And by that, I mean that it was filled with lots of good stuff. New Year’s Day I flew out to South Carolina to visit my cousin Jonathan for a week. Before our visit in September 2010, we hadn’t seen each other in 9 years. We vowed to never wait that long again and are trying to do yearly visits (or in this case, a year and a half). We are two peas in a pod and partners in crime. 🙂 Getting to spend time with him, his wife & son & her family was truly a blessing. I really, really enjoyed my visit and hope we can do it again soon. I was even blessed to be able to visit with his mom, my Aunt Anna, whom I hadn’t seen since my grandpa passed away. Missed her a lot so it was really good to see her too. From South Carolina, I flew to St. Lucia to help lead a one week mission trip. Me and James Franke (FMC’s short term missions coordinator) led a group of 16 students and 1 priest from the Newman Club @ Adelphi University near NYC. They’ve done mission trips with us in the past, and one of their students even spent a month with us last year in St. Lucia for the Summer School of Missionary Evangelism. Getting to lead a short-term mission trip for the first time ever was awesome. It really brings a whole new perspective to mission work. Getting to reconnect with some of the friends we made in St. Lucia last year was another huge bonus. And of course, feeding off of the energy of these students really gave me a boost & helped me to renew my missionary spirit.

 

Oh yeah, what happened after the St. Lucia trip was quite interesting! 🙂 I flew up to Kalamazoo,MI so that I could go to BentonHarbor, MI. Why, might you ask? Well, a few months prior to that I met a girl named  Nina Koziuk on CatholicMatch.com. It’s a Catholic relationship/courtship website where you can set up a profile with a picture, bio, and other info so that you can network with other Catholic singles who feel called to marriage. I had seen their ad online and in church bulletins. I’d even heard from people I know who told me about successful relationships/marriages that came about because of this website. So, being 30, ready for a relationship, with nothing to lose and ALOT to gain, I signed up for the website. Met Nina one night in a group chat room and we really hit it off quite well. We share alot of the same ideas and opinions. We are both involved with ministry, and most importantly we share a passion for our Catholic faith. It’s the most important thing in our lives. After we’d been talking for awhile and realized how well it was going & how much we enjoyed it, we both acknowledged a desire to meet each other. It was the next logical step. As good as it was up to that point, we knew that it had potential and that we needed to meet in person to see if it was real. Yeah, I was nervous, especially when I stepped off the plane in Kalamazoo and realized that in mere minutes I’d be meeting her face-to-face for the first time ever. “No turning back now” and “oh crap” were the two main thoughts running through my head. :-p

 

I was also worried if meeting her face-to-face would live up to my hopes and expectations. Of course if it didn’t, then better to find out sooner rather than later, after having invested more time and putting my heart out there even more. But PRAISE THE LORD! It lived up to and far exceeded my expectations!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 She is as beautiful in person as she was in her pictures and on Skype video chat. We clicked right away and really got along well. Visiting with her parents  was alot of fun and truly a blessing (stayed at their house while Nina stayed at her place). Visiting her other family members and friends , going to the church parish where she works, and ESPECIALLY getting to attend Mass & Eucharistic Adoration together was absolutely amazing. I knew going into this visit that I might come out of it with a girlfriend. All I needed was her dad’s permission and of course for her to say yes! Haha. 🙂  Well both happened and so now I’m proud to say that I’m blessed to be in a relationship with the beautiful, the one and only Nina Koziuk! I know from talking to other missionaries who’ve been in long-term relationships before ending up married that the distance apart is not easy but it is a blessing. I’ve learned that time apart is as important as time together, so I’m really looking forward to what these next few months bring our way.

I guess the last thing to talk about is my new mission post! Exactly one week ago me, Luis (my mission partner), Mr. Frank, Mrs. Genie, and Simon Peter (their son) left for the FMC Casa de Misiones in General Cepeda. Our purpose in coming here was two-fold. First of all, we came to put on a 3 week Intake for the four Mexican missionary families that we have living here in General Cepeda. Three of them have been connected with FMC for many years (Raul & Marta, Tono & Mari, and Gallo & Rita). One of them (Juan & Linda) got connected with us this past year. Our thought was that even though they were already our missionary families we wanted to give them the same blessing that all of our other missionaries (including myself) received from Intake. We wanted them to have talks, studies, and discussions about the Si Senor teachings on the practical aspects of living a missionary life. We wanted them to study the Book of Acts & John Paul II’s encyclical “Missionof the Redeemer”, which is all about the Church and missionary work. Besides them getting to do all of that, we also wanted the four families to form community with each other. I’m blessed to be able to say that it’s already happening. That’s a good thing because we want evangelization and missionary work to continue to thrive here even when there are no full-time FMC missionaries from American stationed here. I personally think that this mission house and these missionaries also have the capability of becoming a training and staging facility for Mexican missionaries to be sent out all over Mexico and Latin America. This Intake is a vital first step in that direction.

Our other purpose in coming here was to install myself and Luis as full-time missionaries. For however long God has us here, this is our house. My four previous trips here have all been short-term trips. This time around is a whole different feel. It’s our home now. These four families are no longer just nice people to visit with during our trips here. Now they are our co-workers in the vineyard. The people we visit and evangelize have a deeper connection with us now that we live here. I think too that me and Luis will have even more time to bond and get settled in here once Intake is over. Once it’s just the two of us living here, we’ll have more of a chance to do things together and bond as a mission team. Needless to say, but I think our first week here has gone really well and the rest of our time will continue to go well for us. There’s so much more I could say, but my hand is getting tired and I don’t have enough pages in my journal. 🙂

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Blows my mind to think that I’ve found grace in someone else…………

11-30-10 Tuesday – 9:57pm – In my bedroom in the trailer @ Big Woods (Abbeville, LA)

It’s almost ironic how prophetic our own words can be sometimes. I was sitting here, reading through a journal entry from earlier during Intake, and in it I was thanking God for all the struggles that would come. I did that because I knew struggles help me to learn, and grow closer to God. The Holy Spirit refines our souls as fire refines a precious metal.

My struggle lately has been in honoring my first-year singles commitment. Since me and (name omitted) have been visiting and praying together, we have naturally grown closer. And as you grow closer to someone you desire to spend more time with them. From a Christian perspective, the reason you want to spend more time with them is because God has allowed them to be a channel of his grace in your life. All of these things are true and good. However, I voluntarily made a singles commitment for one year upon joining FMC. After some community members drew our attention to the fact that we were not honoring our singles commitment like we should be, we realized that we’d have to take a step back. In order to be obedient and faithful, we now know that we have to limit our communication. As hard as this is, I know that it will be a source of grace for us during our first year of missions, so that we can focus on our mission work. Ultimately, I believe it will also serve to strengthen our friendship.

I’m also a little bummed out because (name omitted) decided to leave voluntarily for a few days. This past week she had a recurrence of a medical condition which was causing alot of stress for her. She felt like instead of dealing with it here and having it affect us too, that it would be best to go stay with her aunt. I recognize and appreciate her selflessness, BUT, it’s a little hard on me. When you grow close to a friend and suddenly they’re gone, it’s kinda sad. It reminds me of a bible verse from my entry on 9/17. 1 Corinthians 12 says “…if one member suffers, all suffer together…” I want so much and pray for her to be healed so she can follow God’s call to the mission field. The good thing is that later on in that chapter it says “…if one member is honored all rejoice together…” As I said earlier though, I think it’s a good struggle. Developing the virtues of patience and obedience will serve me quite well I think. It’s also good now to get used to not having  her around, because once we leave for our mission posts we won’t see each other for at least a few months and will probably at most only communicate once a week.

I have some other good news too. We (me and The Eckstines) finally got a response from Archbishop Revis in St. Lucia! He sent an email response to Mrs. Genie and asked her to send more info on me and The Eckstines. So we wrote about our formation experience, past ministry experience, and what skills and talents we have, as well as potential ministry we envision ourselves doing once we arrive in St. Lucia. What was also very encouraging was that the Archbishop seemed to be very eager to receive us. So, I’m going to step out on a limb here, without fear of “jinxing” myself, and say that me and The Eckstines are going to St. Lucia! 🙂 It’s such a relief to finally know where we’re going. I’ve also been blessed by my benefactors’ generosity. They have been very generous in both “treasure” and prayer. Since donations have started coming in, I’ve been graced to be able to do some thank you notes, because I sincerely want them to know that they are a blessing to me and that I am thankful. I also want to be able to in turn, support them by offering up their prayer intentions during my daily prayer time.

Oh wait…….What is that?…….I hear something. It’s my bed calling. 🙂 So I bid you good night and adieu.

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Encountering Jesus in Tejocote……..

Desert Day – 11/12/10 – Intake 2010 Mexico Mission – 2:45pm – Tejocote (Outside of General Cepeda) Coahuila, Mexico

It’s amazing what a difference one year makes. One year ago, I sat in this exact same spot in this same little valley for Desert Day on my first trip to General Cepeda. If you look at my pictures from last year, you’ll also see that this is the spot where a local rancher was herding his cows. So far today no cows, but we still have an hour left so we’ll see. What makes this Desert Day almost surreal is that I’m part of Intake this year, and not just a visitor. After this trip is over, I don’t just go back home to the “same ole same ole”. When this trip is over in a week, I go back home to BIG WOODS, and I finish up my missionary training. I get to live there until it’s time for me to go on missions in January with the Eckstine family. This is for real y’all. 🙂 My life has been irreversibly changed. YAHOO! YAHOO! YAHOO! PRAISE YOU JESUS! PRAISE YOU JESUS! PRAISE YOU JESUS! GLORY! GLORY! GLORY! ALLELUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUIA! Sorry about that. It’s just that I had another moment of realizing what God has called me to, and I got very excited.

The past week that we’ve been here has been amazing. Our trip here was delayed a full day b/c one of the vehicles broke down an hour outside of Lafayette. We had to sleep at a gas station overnight too. But it was all in God’s plan. It was an opportunity for lots of random fun and visiting. We even had the chance to pray with people and talk to them about missions. Once we arrived in General Cepeda on Friday, we had the chance to go to Mass before bedtime. It was my first time going to Mass at that church since it’s been renovated and it’s absolutely beautiful. Kinda weird to think that a church in a small rural town in a third world country is prettier than many churches I’ve been to in the U.S. All I know is that these people must be proud of their church. Saturday and Sunday were basically “chill” days for us. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were a bit more active. We had our life in the Spirit seminars in the morning. After lunch and a siesta, we went to some local area chapels at night to evangelize. As we normally do, we sang praise and worship songs, shared testimony, gave a teaching, and then prayed with them. And as usual, I was a little hesitant and fearful at first, but when things got going and I saw the fruits of the evening, I felt very blessed. Yesterday was our Saltillo day. I didn’t go into the market because A.) had no more spending money, B.) didn’t want anything, and C.)I’d been there twice before and saw all there is to see. I stayed outside and talked w/some locals (as best as I could in my broken Spanish) and then with the other missionaries as they trickled out of the market. We ate at the same restaurant that we normally do, the only difference being that it is now on the 6th floor of the hotel and has a MUCH better view. Needless to say though, that my highlight was Mass at the Cathedral and getting to see Hugo. (For those who don’t know Hugo, check out my blog/journal from November of last year. Be aware though, that last year, we thought his name was Omar instead of Hugo). The only downside is that I’m not getting many pictures. The film camera that I’d had for eons is finally out of the picture (pun intended). Methinks that I might ask for a digital camera for Christmas, which will make it much easier to take and upload pictures and video. Speaking of Christmas wishes, I might also ask for an Ipod so that I can load all of my CD’s onto it. This will allow me to get rid of all of my CD’s and save ALOT of space. (Space is a precious commodity for missionaries and it mustn’t be wasted)

I also got to do some home visits today for the first time ever. It was quite enjoyable actually. You basically go sit and talk with the homebound and then you pray with them, read scripture,and leave a dispensa with some basic food supplies in it. Not exactly sure what the rest of our time here will be like but I know it will be blessed. I know that we have at least one work project day. I would also imagine that we’ll be doing more evangelizing in the ranchos as well as working with some of the local prayer groups, some door ministry at the mission house, and some more home visits too. Then it’s back to Big Woods to wrap up Intake and then prepare for the annual Donors’ Dinner. The rest of December and some of January will be used to do final preparations before going out into the mission field. As far as me and The Eckstines are concerned, we’re leaning most towards St. Lucia/The Diocese of Castries, where Archbishop Revis is stationed. He’s a good friend of FMC and Mr. Frank and Mrs. Genie. He used to be the bishop of the diocese that the island of St. Vincent is in and that was when FMC missionaries were stationed there. We’re in prayer right now b/c Mrs. Genie is trying to make arrangements with him. It would be a great place to do ministry b/c of the desperate situation of families and marriage. In that area, almost 70% of the people are born out of wedlock and the culture there struggles with chastity and purity. The witness of a wife and husband with 10 kids, as well as the witness of a young single man who is committed to being single for a year, would be revolutionary. However, if that doesn’t work out then we’re almost certain we’ll go to Ecuador. All I know is that missions will be amazing no matter where we’ll go.

Another exciting thing to pray about during this first year of missions is friendship. What do I mean? I’m glad you asked. 🙂 A few months before as well as during the course of Intake, I’ve been blessed to befriend (name omitted). She’s another one of the singles in Intake. Originally from (place omitted), her family now lives in (place omitted). She’s good friends with (name omitted). When time permits, we’ve been blessed to spend time together visiting with each other. We’ve also been blessed to be able to pray together. It feels like a truly Christ-centered friendship and we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. It’s also nice to be able to have someone to share your faith life with, whether it’s Mass, prayer, ministry, or whatever else. We’ve talked to Mr. Frank and Mrs. Genie about our friendship as well as Mark and Lora Eckstine (my mission partners) and Odilio and Stacy Alvarez. We recognized that we needed accountability partners to keep us on track with our singles commitment this first year. We also recognized the need for them to pray for us as well. We want this to be a friendship that develops into what God wants it to be, and we feel like the only way to do that is through prayer. During this first year of missions, as we live our our singles commitment, and as we are stationed halfway across the world from each other, I really look forward to getting to know her better and seeing where God leads us. It also seems to be a GREAT chance to develop our communication skills. After all, when you’re living on opposite sides of the globe, you kinda have to do that! 🙂

Anyhoo, it’s almost time to head back to the car, so I gotta wrap this up. I just wanna say Thank You Jesus for all the wonderful blessings you’re showering upon me and all the ways that you are helping me to be a better missionary…..

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Epiphany in the shower………

10-22-10 – On the swing facing the pasture, back porch of the big house @ Big Woods Mission Base

When I was cleaning up after my morning jog, I was doing some reflecting on things I’ve been going through and thinking about lately. It felt like such an amazing epiphany that I praise God that I remembered it until now. Seems like so many times I’ve had great ideas and things to share but I always forget them and forget to write them down. I hope that I can maybe share this with everybody at High Praise tonight.

By now I’m sure you’re thinking “Get to the point!” so here goes. As I stared going to Mission Formation last year, the Intake missionaries told me that no matter who you are, Intake will change your life. They were not lying, I can assure you. I have to admit that I was not even close to being saintly before Intake started and I still am not. However, I thought I was doin ok. Mostly small issues are what I felt I was dealing with. Boy oh boy, how big the small things turn out to be. Since Intake is an intense journey further towards the Lord, you learn alot about yourself. It’s like being under a microscope and REALLY getting to know yourself and your faults.

At this point, I’ve discerned that my 3 primary struggles are 1.) Laziness, 2.) Impatience, or in other words, failing to live in the present moment and receive it’s blessings without being too focused on the future, & 3.) Letting go of relationships and the desire for them. I already knew that laziness and impatience would give me problems, but I really felt like with out one year singles commitment that #3 would not be a struggle. I was wrong. It continues to be a great struggle for me. Besides the whole weakness of “being in love with Being in Love”, the wonderful missionaries I’m surrounded by make it really difficult too. What I mean is that I’m surrounded by amazing married, engaged, and dating couples. I see how the Lord blesses them through that and it makes me really want that. And then I see the amazing females that God called to FMC and it makes me want it even more. I mean, How can you NOT be enamored with a woman whose inner beauty far exceeds her outer beauty? (though to be fair, I should qualify that statement and say that the outer beauty is still TOTALLY righteous) :]

What makes me really ashamed is when my petty insecurity and jealousy raises its ugly head. When I see people that I admire sharing their genuine love and Christ-like affection with others, I don’t know how to handle it, except by maybe keeping silent and bringing it to prayer. It’s as if they owe their affection to me and me alone. I also seem to have a greater desire for human companionship than I do for companionship with Jesus. How could I do this? Why would I want to be this way? In light of the grace that God offers us, I have no answers to these questions and my selfishness is non-sense. Only thing I can say is that somehow/someway God’s grace will get me through this.

Recently, I was reading a book that Mrs. Genie passed on to me. It’s titled “Prison to Praise”, and it’s a pastor’s testimony of God’s saving grace in his life. But beyond that, what really struck me was what he viewed as the solution to our problems. Let me begin with a key bible verse he used to make his point: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the spirit…” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

As I’m sure many others have been, I was really confused by this. Sure, praise God for the good, but for the BAD too? That’s ridiculous. That’s insane. That’s being a glutton for punishment. But the more and more I read & thought about it, the more and more it made perfect sense. If I don’t praise God in all things, then I lose my faith and confidence in Him, and start to give power to my circumstances. As soon as I do that, I do exactly what The Bible verse told me not to do. I begin to quench the Spirit. However, if I praise God for everything, it gives him glory, it helps me to realize that he has the power to overcome anything, and thus I begin to unlock his healing power in my life. This is such an amazing revelation to me and I praise God for it.

Another reason I feel blessed to realize this is it will help me to continue to strengthen myself and especially others. If I can’t allow myself to trust God in these “smaller” matters that I’m dealing with, then how can I trust him in bigger things? If HE can’t trust ME  to be faithful to him in these smaller matters, then how will HE be able to trust ME with bigger tasks? What really strikes me is that if I can’t trust God and praise him so that he can get me through this, then how can I possibly go to Mexico next month and minister to God’s children there, whose problems are much worse than mine? I feel like doing that would make me a liar and would diminish the power of my witness.

It would be so much easier to not trust God and not praise him for even the bad circumstances. At least that way things would make a little more sense and I’d at least have a little power I could call my own. But, I know that’s not what I’m called to do. I pray that by God’s grace I can praise him in all things, so that his healing power can flow freely in my soul. I pray that I can humbly receive the grace to “Let Go and Let God”. Lord, walking the straight and narrow path to holiness and salvation isn’t easy, but I know it’s worth it. Praise You Lord Jesus. Amen.

p.s. – It just occurred to me after all this talk of praising and thanking God, that the word “Eucharist” means “Thanksgiving”. Thank God I’m Catholic! 🙂

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Hopefully this is the start of something good

Monday 7/26/10 – 1:00pm @ Awardmaster

Four times in less than three weeks. That’s been my recent frequency of my spiritual journal. Maybe it’s because I’ve got alot going on and coming up. Maybe I’m just bored at work. Either way, I hope I can keep it up. I really enjoy the reflective nature of journaling and it also seems like something that could help give insight to others.

First order of business is to name the “friends” that I talked about in my last entry. First is Mandy Gaerke. She’s a student at Miami University in Ohio. She was on the mission trip to General Cepeda, Mexico  back in March. She’s got a tremendous heart for ministry and missions, and will be spending  the year in Guanajuato, Mexico for a study abroad program. Second is Sarah Carroll. We’ve only become acquainted recently through friend #3, Madi Dold, whom I’ll talk about in just a bit. Sarah is from the Lafayette area, but lives in Pensacola (thus her connection to Madi). We’ve actually crossed paths recently at Joe and Brooke Summers’ wedding (she’s Brooke’s cousin) but we didn’t know each other yet. She recently went on a two week trip to General  and LOVED it. Felt the call to missions in an undeniable way, and has plans to be at Intake in September.  Last but not least is the aforementioned Madi Dold. We met on the trip to General in March (the one that I met Mandy at). Also like Mandy, she’s got a heart for missions. She’s also got alot of love in her heart and really cares for and loves all those whom God has put in her life. Like Sarah, she has also felt a call to missions and has plans to be at Intake in September.

The only sad thing about these 3 musketeers is that Mandy won’t be at Intake. I believe she has a heart for and call into missions, but she’s got to follow God’s plans and timeframe which I believe she strives to do. I’m kinda sad that I don’t get to talk to Mandy much, especially now that she’s in Mexico. It’s possible too that I feel that way cuz I’m blessed to talk with Madi and Sarah so much, and Mandy is so much like them. After talkin’ with Madi last week, I got in touch w/Fr. Wayne Duet who is  a friend of Madi’s family, and I’m gonna spend some time visiting with him next weekend. Really looking forward to that. Seems like a nice guy and I’m sure he’ll give some words of wisdom that’ll benefit me. Coincidentally, he knows my dad from back in the day when he was at St. Jules and my dad used to do the weekly Ultreya meetings over there. He’s also the priest in Richard, LA at the church parish where Charlene Richard’s grave site is at. 🙂 Small world, eh? It’s amazing how interrelated our lives our and how God makes connections, many times when we don’t even realize it. Lately in my convos with these three, I’ve come to realize how God is moving in our lives and how he’s beginning to open doors for us and provide us with what we need.

It’s also teaching me how building a sense of community and relationship is crucial to strengthening our faith lives as Catholic-Christians.  You could use the term “relational ministry”. In my opinion, since God is Trinity (relationship and communion in its purest form) this should be the most important aspect of Church and ministry. Oh, I also forgot to mention that Fr. Wayne helped Fr. Sam Jacobs (now bishop) to start the Awakening retreat. AND when he was stationed in Erath, was a really big supporter of their Lifeteen program. Awesome, huh? Like I said, it’s a small world and the connections are many.

Last thing is that I ask you to pray for my friend Ryan Breaux. He recently felt a call to be a missionary with Lifeteen and needs alot of doors opened and alot of things squared away in the next month to make it on time to the start of missionary training. Thanks and God Bless!

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