Posts Tagged With: Lord

Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 11

Day 11 – Thursday – 10/4/12

So, I think one of the fruits of my fast that I’m already beginning to see is an increased level of appreciation. Just in general. I seem to be appreciating stuff more. It also seems like my general/overall “happiness” level is up too. At noon today is the first of two St. Francis feast day Masses at our church parish, San Francisco de Asis. And the retired Bishop Emeritus, Francisco Villalobos (who sounds like the voice of God when he talks and reads) will be celebrating Mass. Kinda neat that Francisco is celebrating Francisco’s feast at the parish of Francisco. Feel like that’s Catholicism’s way of ensuring a gaping ripped hole in the space-time continuum that will create a massive black hole that will swallow us all and send us to a much earlier than anticipated meeting with our maker. (edit: as you can tell, the whole “rip in the space-time continuum black hole” thing didn’t happen. But what did happen is that I got to briefly chat with the “voice of God”, aka Bishop Villalobos briefly after Mass. Super holy, super nice dude)

He’s a really good friend of our missionary company’s founders, Frank and Genie, from way back in the day when they first came here and he was the bishop. Speaking of fasting and eating, maybe if I play the “I’m Frank and Genie’s missionary” card, he’ll invite me to eat a delicious lunch with him. I mean, bishop’s gotta eat, right? So why not eat with him? 🙂 We’ll see…… (edit #2: didn’t get to play that card, so I’ll never know. Ended up eating 7 missionary hot dogs for lunch. A missionary hot dog is a hot dog that uses a slice of wheat bread for the bun instead of a regular hot dog bun. Ends up be a little healthier and ALOT cheaper)

I think aside from clarity being a product of my fasting, I’m also starting to notice that I seem to have more spiritual insight. Lest I be mistaken as prideful, I can assure you that any and all insight is a gift from God and has nothing to do with me. For example, when we comment on the scripture reading during our community prayer, I feel like the scripture is more alive and that I have more to say and share. And of course I also seem to have more spiritual insight in regards to my own personal journey with the Lord. Well, I’m off to enjoy the singing, dancing, and other fesitivities that lead up to the main event later tonight, the fireworks! 🙂 As a near and dear missionary brother of mine says, Hasta La Pasta!

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 10

Day 10 – Wednesday – 10/3/12

This morning I realized that even though I’m a “morning” person I can still be a little somber or grump-ish sometimes. It’s something I was reminded of this morning when we had to be at a 6am rosary at church. Another thing that’s been on my mind lately is how God changes us. It’s less of an instantaneous thing and more of a developmental process. Kinda like an athlete. An athlete doesn’t become good overnight with nothing but happy feelings. The excellence and satisfaction come after much hard work. I believe it’s  the same in our spiritual life. When we pray for patience, he tests our patience in order to develop it. Right now I’m praying (as part of my fast) for an increase in humility and charity. I have not magically all of a sudden been filled with humility and charity while being able to practice them perfectly. Instead of giving me humility, he has first humbled me, in many ways. Instead of increasing charity in my life, he has first shown me where I fall short and do not practice charity. I think these are necessary stages to go through in order to truly receive those gifts and put them at the service of others.

Gold is purified and refined in fire. A metalsmith heats up metal from it’s cold, hard state until it is malleable. Then he hammers it into shape to create the beautiful final product. Another thing the good Lord reminded me of is realizing what we actually want when we pray for something. What we really want when we pray for patience is an easy day where we are not tested. What we really want when we pray for humility is not to be humbled. What we really want when we pray for charity is to feel good about having gifts to share without actually having to part with those gifts. And by the way, my self-control was tested this morning after the rosary. I had to sit and watch everyone else eat the delicious tamales Marta prepared yesterday. However I was able to take 3 of them home and eat them for lunch. 🙂

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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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Coffee, Contrition, and Clarity

Saturday, September 8, 2012 – 1:10pm – Cafe Central Coffee Haus – Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico

So I’ve been back in General Cepeda for about 2 months now. Earlier this week I realized that even amongst all the down time I’ve had from week to week, I’ve not left town a single time. So I decided to come to Saltillo for a few hours, just to get away. Hopped on the bus, and 35 pesos and 2 hours later I arrived. Having been here many times before, I had no desire to do anything touristy. I just wanted to walk around, explore a tiny bit, and relax.

I’d heard that just down the road from where the bus drops you off, there is a mall. Small, but nice. And the added bonus was stumbling upon this coffee shop. After I walked around the mall, I knew that this was where I’d have my chill time. Spending time at coffee houses is one of my favorite things to do back home. This habit first started during my high school days and cemented itself into my life during my college years. It’s a place and an environment where you can read, study, relax, visit, or people watch.

Did morning prayer from the breviary once I sat down with my frappucino. Also read alot from a book by Ralph Martin, a prominent figure within the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. People-watched. Enjoyed the calm, relaxing atmosphere. The soothing hum of the coffee machines, coolers, and various other appliances. Realizing through all of this that we should always have some scheduled down-time, just to relax, refresh, re-energize, and get away for a bit. Also realizing that a key element in living apart from your favorite places and people is to always carry them in your heart. Another key element is to seek out a little taste of home wherever you are. A peaceful coffee shop. A city park. A grocery store. A shopping mall to aimlessly walk around in. These special things and little reminders are a part of who you are and what makes you unique. Embrace them. Rest in the comfort of these little blessings God sends you. They are part of what has made you who you are and gotten you to where you are. I believe in doing this, you will be more genuinely yourself and thus be better able to live and serve where God has you.

Another thing I want to share about is contrition, aka – sorrow for sins. As a Christian the more self-aware I have become, the more I have reflected on this. I feel like I am truly making progress in my spiritual life and that the Lord is helping me to find the proper balance in this area. What follows is a question I posed to several priest friends of mine and their responses. Names have been changed so that you can focus on the answers. And though not worded in exactly the same way, all of the responses essentially and basically say the same thing.

God Bless!
(the following is the question I posed to my priest friends and their responses)

Is it possible to have a healthy fear of sin (a fear that, if healthy enough will get me to the confessional) without feeling sadness or desperation? Another way to phrase the question is, Is it possible to have a healthy fear of sin without being scared of sin?

“My thoughts…Yes. One of the compounding negative effects of sin, especially habitual sin, is despairing emotions/shame. The progress one makes in combating sin is not all lost by a later fall. One truly does get closer to God and grows in his love and grows in trust. A later fall grieves us but our increased trust in God’s mercy dominants our emotional reaction to the sin.” –Fr.K—

“Yes, A healthy fear of sin, is a fear of the distance from God it brings. Being scared of sin means feeling that it’s bigger than God’s Mercy and therefore unforgiveable. count your blessings that you ‘ve been able to move beyond the previous despair. Despair is a trick of the Evil one, to lead you to procrastinate about Confession, to believe less and less in the Mercy of God and more and more of your worthlessness; both are lies. Sin, does not cause you to become worthless in the eyes of God. There’s nothing wrong about you, even if you’ve done something wrong!” –Fr.H—

“I think you are experiencing consolations of seeing some of the progress you’ve made. That is wonderful! I would say: yes, enjoy the good healthy reactions you have but also make sure to guard against the sin of presumption and do not let up in your efforts at self-mastery… Enjoy the consolations AND keep fighting the good fight!” –Fr.S—

“I certainly think so.” –Fr.B—

“I can only give a guess at what’s going on. First, there is a distinction in types of grace. You may have fallen from a state of “sanctifying grace” due to the sin and thus your conscience rightly pricked you making you aware of the fall. Seemingly God has blessed you simultaneously with an “actual grace” of hopefulness and love despite your fallen state. I would guess it was God presenting himself to you through “actual grace” in an attractive manner so that you trust in his future goodness and continue to follow him. You could prayerfully reflect upon this as though you were one of Jesus’ disciples in scripture before his actual death and resurrection. The joy and inspiration they received from his presence would have been more along the lines of “actual grace” (blessings from God) rather than salvific, since he had not yet offered himself in forgiveness of sins. (Of course, Jesus did forgive certain people along the way, but forgiveness was not yet offered to all prior to his death.) [The other alternative interpretation is that the feeling of “being okay” was from another spirit other than God. A way to discern this is reflecting upon whether your impulse at the time was to avoid the things of God (perhaps a subtle sense of joyful passivity and ambivalence to the things of God) or were you being drawn toward God and a deeper awareness of the peace and love that he reveals?]” –Fr.J—

“ the short answer is yes. Feelings are not a necessary part of the spiritual life. The spiritual life resides in “the will,” not “the heart.” And so you ought to have an intellectual fear of the consequence of sin and have the strength of will to avoid sin. If your feelings support those, super good! If they don’t, well that’s not a big deal. It is not necessary to feel sad or even frustrated when you sin. All that is required is contrition – which is an intellectual understanding of the consequence of sin and a disposition of will to make amends. Of course, all that’s very clinical. Unless you’re a robot, your emotions will play a part. Just don’t give them too much power over you. You can be contrite, even when you’re not “feeling it.” And contrition is what you need, not sadness or despair.” –Fr.R—

“Interesting that you ask this because I was talking about it with someone the other day. I think it is possible to have a healthy fear of sin and yet not be given to great sadness or despair in committing sin. Especially with sins that have been habitual to some extent in the past and from which we are trying to purify ourselves, I think we can arrive at a point at which, though we may fall into sin we realize that God is still working with us and trust in His mercy. There’s a book called “Clean of Heart” that is a 50-day meditation on sexual purity. In the introduction it speaks of a similar thing, namely when one falls they ought not too fall into great despair and get overly-consumed with the actions of the past but simply recognize one’s brokenness, bring it before the Lord in confession and continue the battle again. Hopefully that makes some sense.” –Fr.B—

“In a simple answer, it is possible. The more we grow in trust in the Lord the more we also grow in developing a healthy fear of sin. The challenge if one falls though, regardless of the sin, is to never become complacent. In other words, to recognize the seriousness of sin and go to confession as soon as possible, but at the same time not to despair because one has fallen. This comes with developing a healthy fear of the Lord.” –Fr.G—

“First off, I want to congratulate you for cooperating with God’s grace to create ways to protect yourself from sins of impurity. This is the point of confession: not just to shed the guilt of past sins, but (just as importantly) give strength to change these sinful behaviors and to break free from old patterns.

I definitely feel that your new perspective on sin is another a sign of God’s grace affecting your heart and mind.

That “normal” past sense of despair after falling into sin is healthy and necessary in the early stages of spiritual development. As you mentioned, our conscience must be attuned to the evil ugliness of sin and should thrust us into a healthy sense of guilt and remorse as well as compel us to go to confession ASAP. But as we grow and mature in the spiritual life, we should develop a greater sense of confidence in Christ’s victory over our sins.

So… Yes it is possible – and is in fact the goal- “to have a healthy fear of sin (a fear that, if healthy enough will get me to the confessional) without feeling sadness or desperation.” That sense of despair that you used to feel was in some way a lack of confidence in Christ’s power over your sins. This transition in thinking that you’ve described is a transition from worry about what you have done (sin) and what you now have to do (discipline) toward a confidence in what Christ has done (died on the cross/forgiven your sins) and what you and HE together now have to do (cooperate).

So… “Is it possible to have a healthy fear of sin without being scared of sin?”… Yes. Because with Christ by your side there is no reason to fear sin. He has already conquered it. 2000 years ago. It’s done.

This is the transformative power of God’s forgiveness given through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Hope this helps.”

–Fr.M–

“When we realize that sin is not distasteful to God, but that we have messed up our relationship with Him we are usually moved to fix it as soon as possible. Humility tells us that we have more work to do. It is no longer a childish fear, but an adult understanding of what I have to do. We have hurt the One who loves us most and most perfectly. Sorrow is a condition that comes, but in itself does not necessarily give feelings. Instead, it is the movement to get things right.”

–Fr.B–

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Desert Day in the Graveyard

Friday – August 10, 2012 – 10:30am – Panteon Santa Ana – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Desert Day in the Graveyard

So, my mission partner is about 5 hours away in another part of Mexico with one of our local missionaries riding along. They’re doing the bi-annual (twice a year?) renewing of the Mexican permit we need to have our American van here with us. No van = weekly Desert Day prayer time at a location that I can walk to. So I chose the tried and true local graveyard. Lest you think I’m some kinda morbid sort of person, let me explain myself. The idea of Desert Day is to follow Jesus’ example of escaping the busyness of ministry by retreating to a quiet locale, free of distractions/disturbances, for some much needed time with the Lord. Obviously, the graveyard is very VERY quiet. The people who “live” there don’t make any noise at all. (Ok, ok, corny/bad joke, I know). Also, there are a few really good shaded spots to escape the sun. Last but not least, if you’ve never been to a Mexican graveyard, then you’d never know how colorful and decorated they can be. The graveyard here in General Cepeda (Panteon Santa Ana) has nary a totally plain gray or white tomb. Many are painted various bright and varied colors. And for those tombs that are white or gray, they are usually adorned with a colorful Jesus or Our Lady of Guadalupe statue.

My reflections today centered around two bible passages I received during my Desert Day prayer time as well as a excerpt from the current chapter I’m reading in the book “Catholicism for Dummies: 2nd Edition”.

First passage – John 10:27-28 “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from my hand.”

When I came across this verse, it really struck me. I caught myself thinking that sometimes in life I succeed in listening to his voice, ergo, being his sheep. But how many times do I NOT listen to his voice? Everytime this happens, I am not his sheep. Not out of his decision. He ALWAYS wants me to be his sheep. But he also respects my freewill, and that is how we as human beings are the most unique species of “sheep”. Unlike our animal counterparts, we have more than just animal instinct that guides our decision to follow or not follow him. We have, as previously stated, freewill. So, back to my point, because I have not always heeded his voice, there have been many times that I have not been his sheep. Many times that I have not followed him and he has not known me. Again, always because of my decision and never EVER because of any decision on his part. He always gives me what I need, including every possible chance to turn from my ways and towards his. Sometimes out of my nature of being a “tete-dur”, I choose my way. (“Tete-dur” is a cajun-french phrase my dad taught me when I was a little boy. It means “hard head” 🙂 ) But, the consolation of my reflection on this passage lies in the last verse. If I do choose to be his sheep, I will have life…………….ETERNALLY. I will NEVER be lost or stolen from his hand.

Second passage – John 11:41-42 “So they took the stone away. Then Jesus lifted up his eyes and said: Father, I thank you for hearing my prayer. I myself knew that you hear me always, but I speak for the sake of all these who are standing around me, so that they may believe it was you who sent me.”

This passage was with Jesus, Martha, et all at her brother Lazarus’ tomb, days after he died, moments before Jesus raised him. To me it shows two things, which I just so happen to desperately need, day in and day out, as a missionary. (All Christians need this too). It says to me that I need to be confident that God hears my prayers. And, it tells me that I need to pray not for selfish reasons, but in service to others.

This last passage is from the book I mentioned. “Darkening of the intellect: This wound is the reason many times we can’t see clearly the right path to take even though it’s right under our nose, so to speak. Sometimes, our wounded human nature cloud’s our intellect’s ability to see with precision the proper course to take. Often, we need good advice, counsel, and perhaps even fraternal correction to compensate when our minds are unable to digest the situation or we find it difficult to figure out the proper solution to our problem”

It’s a passage that really struck a chord with me. Currently I’m living out my commitment to be in Mexico until the end of November. What will happen after November, I honestly have no earthly clue. (Maybe a heavenly one?) And it’s frustrating. But, when I read this I felt like it helped me to understand the nature of why it’s hard to udnerstand God’s will and path in our lives. And the compensation it mentions (good advice, counsel, and fraternal correction) is right on the money. I have and still continue to benefit from all three.

And that’s all I got for today. I felt really good about my Desert Day prayer time today. Like God really spoke to me. It’s a great feeling.

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Desert Day Musings, Frank Summers Style

Friday – July 13, 2012 – 3:00pm – near Rancho La Puerta – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

My Desert Day prayer time musings were definitely in the style of Frank Summers today. Just went and sat with my bible. Observed all the various things in nature and different stimuli that surrounded me. 

First bible verse that came to mind: “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow faint.”     –Isaiah 40:31–

-Placed myself in God’s peaceful presence – Rain reminded me of his blessings raining down on me – Tried to come to Desert Day without an agenda or “to-do” list – Wanted to come here just to be in His presence and hear him – My time is not mine, it’s His – The same can be said for my talents, treasure, and any other blessing I’ve received – Be present to your mission – Focus more on relationships with people – I hear the magnificent rolling thunder in the distance, and I’m reminded of a verse from the hymn “How Great Thou Art” – The wind reminds me of the Holy Spirit – I can’t see the source/cause, but I can see, hear, and feel the effects – Instead of leaving our Desert Day spot during the rain, we took shelter in the gray van – Reminded me of the Psalms that talk about God being our refuge – Also reminded me of the Psalms that talk about taking shelter under God’s wings – The rain/thunder/lightning is intimidating yet beautiful – The missing rear-view mirror reminds me to go foreward and stop looking back

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I’m back, and then I’m gone again

Saturday – June 16, 2012 – 6:37pm – Cafe Calibri on Rufino Tamayo St. – Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico

How the heck do I manage to go a whole month without journaling? I always lament that fact each time I journal and silently promise myself that I’ll do it more often. But do I? Well, lemme put it this way. If journaling equaled oxygen I’d be gasping for air. Anyhoo……..

So I’m really diggin’ this little cafe. Reminds me alot of CC’s back home. And if you know me, you know that CC’s is my 2nd home. So I’m glad I discovered this little place. Good place to come and journal, read, or hang out. Maybe when some more students arrive next week we can come hang out here. The drink I ordered is kinda like a Mochasipi @ CC’s, except bigger, and it’s got a scoop of ice cream with sprinkles on top. AND, it’s only $34 pesos. Divide by 14 and that’s one really good coffee drink for really cheap. The best part is that it’s only a few blocks away from the house I’m staying at. But enough about my environs, let’s get to the really good stuff.

You know another thing I (to use Mrs. Genie’s phrase) “do not prefer” about infrequent journaling? It’s trying to figure out how to talk about all that’s happened since your last entry without writing 27,000 pages. Lots has happened since my last entry in Lafayette. For one thing I returned to Mexico. I had been away for almost 2 months. When I left, I had a girlfriend at the time and was convinced I wouldn’t return to Mexico. I’d even been away for so long that I was beginning to wonder if I even wanted to come back. Sure, I no longer had a girlfriend (we decided to go our separate ways), so that wasn’t a factor. But I just wasn’t “feeling” it. Didn’t see myself getting enough money to go to language school. So why would I want to come back to a place where I couldn’t communicate with the people I’m supposed to serve?

I was also able to think of at least 20 other mission posts I’d rather go to. But then something happened. First, some fellow missionaries that had surplus donations gave me money to attend language school. Then, I had a good talk with one of our other missionaries. He helped me to realize that in the long run, not going back to General Cepeda would not help me all that much. It actually would deprive me of the chance of practicing faithfulness to a commitment, which is something I knew I needed to work on. So even though I had my doubts, I decided to come back. I’m glad I did. It was a little weird at first being back. But there’s nothing like a group of 50 visiting short term missionaries to lift your spirits and help you get settled back into your home. 🙂 Having that group was amazing. All the happiness, energy, action, and liveliness was priceless. They were really good sports about everything and jumped head first into everything that we did. Being back also gave me the chance to reconnect with our Mexican missionaries and other friends in town. Surprisingly, for someone who didn’t want to come back, I was really glad to see them. The fact that I was happy to reconnect with them was yet another sign that I was in the right place.

A week after the group left, Odilio and Stacie and the kids prayed me off on my way here to language school. Took an overnight bus from Saltillo to Mexico City and then to Cuernavaca. Ended up arriving early in Mexico City which allowed me to get on a 7am bus instead of my originally scheduled noontime bus. My house parents, Mario and Marusa Quinones picked me up from the station and brought me to the house. Got settled in, took a shower and then we headed to 1pm Mass at San Miguel. It’s a small but beautiful church, with an active and tight-knit community. The priest, Fr. Alvaro, is a good dude. He’s young, and holy, and orthodox, yet friendly and approachable too. Good combo.

The week was a busy week. Besides getting oriented at ENCUENTROS, I had double the amount of classes than I normally would, as I was the only student this week. Jeannie, the director, figured that since I was slightly above the “beginner” level, and because I’d have plenty of time in the following month to do extra-curricular stuff, that I could forego some of the normal activities. Partially out of necessity, because it wouldn’t really work with just one student. That gave me the chance  to do 2 class periods each day, for a total of 4 hours of class. It was intense. Lots of info crammed into my head. A few times in class it was exhausting. But I learned alot. And it also advanced me enough that I’ll be able to have another student with me next week. (If no other student is at your level, they give you your own teacher. Good for your learning. Bad for your sanity. 🙂 ) Some of the highlights at school this week included playing with Max the Rottweiler (house pet), movie night, and getting to tour the Cathedral and downtown area.

God has also given me a few ministry type of opportunities. Those have been a huge blessing. It’s hard in a city this big (900,000) to feel the same missionary “atmosphere”. Sure, people who aren’t poor need Jesus too. But General Cepeda and our Casa de Misiones are so special that it’s hard to readjust. As I said though, God has provided. A couple of street ministry opportunities with the homeless. Conversations with some of Mario and Marusa’s house guests. Speaking briefly in front of the congregation at San Miguel’s at the end of a weekday Mass. Assisting Fr. Alvaro at a funeral Mass. Next week I’ll have the opportunity to speak at a prayer meeting at San Miguel. Please pray for that. For the people to  be able to understand my simple Spanish and for them to be blessed by whatever the Lord says through me. In the few conversations I’ve had with Father Alvaro, it also sounds like he wants to make use of me while I’m here. Please pray for that to be fruitful as well.

On a random sidenote, the barista that took my order and brought me my drink is gorgeous. Not an unapproachable type of gorgeous, but more of a cute type of gorgeous. She actually looks like the actress Eva Mendez, which is a GOOD thing. 🙂 I won’t get my hopes up though. I can barely speak and understand enough to order a coffee drink. Don’t think my fluency is to the point where I can sweep her off her feet. So for now, it appears that there won’t be any little half-Mexican Sidneys in my future! Well, my butt hurts from sitting for so long, and my drink is melted, so I better go. Until next time…………

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my classroom at language school

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Max

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da Cathedral

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Old friendships renewed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Desert Day – November 19, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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