Posts Tagged With: marriage

Drunk in church & reflecting on my fast

Sunday – 9:00am – In the back seat of the old gray missionary van on the way to communion services in the ranchos – middle of nowhere, Coahuila, Mexico

Trying to write a journal entry in this van is like trying to build a house of cards during an earthquake. Very difficult to do. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but it is kinda difficult. 🙂 But as you can see from the title of today’s entry, I got some pretty interesting stuff to talk about and didn’t want it to slip my mind. It also felt really strange yesterday not writing in my journal after having written everyday for the past 40 days. I can kinda see now how writing is therapeutic and can help you make sense of things a little better.

Now just to clear things up, I was not drunk in church, at least not on alcohol. But there was a drunk guy that wandered into Mass. I’m assuming he was a by-product of the concert last night at the Presidencia. Thankfully he was a very quiet and respectful drunk. You could definitely tell he was drunk though. His breathing was loud and labored. His walk and stance were a little bit wobbly. He weaved in and out of the pews a couple of times and had a couple of different seats before he finally settled on the same one for the rest of Mass. He also stomped his foot on the kneeler a few times. Oh, and at the end of Mass he walked up to the front pew and did a little dance too. To the credit of everyone there, they didn’t seem bothered or overly curious, with the exception of some stares by a few kids. What I felt kinda bad about was my initial reaction. I was worried that he’d be a distraction and that he shouldn’t be in Church. Wasn’t it Jesus that said he came to save the lost? Isn’t that one stray sheep just as important as the other 99? So for the rest of Mass I tried to pray for him instead of keeping an eye on him. Figured he could use my prayers more than my judgment.

Now that I’m a couple days removed from my fast I can also do a little bit of looking back on the experience. At this point I’m thinkin’ mainly of two things: guarding my growth and following my heart. When I think about the fast and all the graces I got during the fast, I’m amazed. The graces of chastity, patience, and perseverance are just a few that come to mind. I’m also thinking how awesome it was to have that sacrifice (hunger) to offer up. Now I’m realizing that I have to guard those graces. I have to continue to look to develop them. I’ve got to continue to look for sacrifices to offer up so that I have ammo against my weaknesses and temptations. Maintain the momentum. Yeah, that’s a good way to sum it up.

I’m also thinkin’ about the whole clarity thing, in regards to my mission post. When I started my fast, I was under the assumption that “clarity” meant figuring out which country I wanted to go to. Never did I think  when I started my fast that it might actually mean figuring out whether or not I would even go back into the mission field. What does seem clearer is that I don’t think I’m at peace with going back out into the foreign mission field, at least not at this point in my life. Maybe later in life, once I’m married? Who knows…. My heart is ready to pursue friendship and see what develops. That’s alot easier to do if I’m stateside. Plain and simple, it’s what I want for my life. I believe it’s my calling and so not only do I want to pursue it, I HAVE to pursue it. I also don’t think it would be fair to mission partners and people that we’d be serving if I had a heart divided between missions and marriage. It seems wise to pursue the vocation of marriage with a single, undivided heart, and then whatever else is next will fall into place.

That being said, I pray for those of you who are also discerning your vocation in life, that you would be patient, persevere, and receive clarity and peace. Please pray for me too as I pursue friendship and ultimately marriage. Till next time, take care and God Bless!

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On the nature of Love & bein’ a country boy

Monday October 24, 2011 – 7:35am – Office @ Big Woods Mission – Esther, LA

“Learn where there is wisdom, where there is strength, where there is understanding, that you may at the same time discern where there is length of days, and life, where there is light for the eyes, and peace.”
–Baruch 3:14–

Last week I started getting the urge to do another journal entry. After all, it’s been over a month. (Where does the time go?) Thought that I’d get a chance Saturday during Desert Day, but I had a good distraction. A friend of FMC who attended our Life In The Spirit Seminar at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Lafayette stopped by. I had been corresponding with him to try and get a copy of Sarah Granger’s talk to him. Tried to get back to journaling later in the day on Saturday, but things kept coming up, and I didn’t wanna force it. Sunday I was gone all day. Caught a ride to 10am Mass in Richard with Kylie so I could hear Sammy and Lindsey give a talk for World Mission Sunday. Stopped at Candyland Cottage in Rayne after Mass, and then Uncle Donald’s after that.

Ok captain, time to land the plane and get to the point. So, two weeks ago, someone close to me told me she was doing a discernment retreat to try and get a handle on what God is saying to her about her next steps on her journey. Being the good influence she is, I was motivated to do one as well. I was discerning both missions and marriage. For missions, I was discerning my next steps for both long-term and short-term mission opportunities. For marriage, I was discerning the who/what/how/when factors. As far as my discernment of missions went, my desire to go to Asia at some point was confirmed. Seeing as how it looks like me and Luis might end up in Costa Rica, my time in Asia is looking like it will be with a short term mission group. I also discerned that if God puts me with a family again next year, that it would be with the Romeros. For short term missions a whole plethora of opportunities popped up. The Phillipines, St. Lucia, Ecuador, and Peru all came up. Already confirmed that I’ll be helping to lead a trip to St. Lucia in January. We’ll see what God does with the other three locations.

As far as the marriage thing goes, you didn’t honestly think I’d give you all the answers to that, did you? 🙂 It’s a private revelation from God sort of thing, where only the people concerned find out. However, I can say that I also did alot of reflecting on friendship and love, and the end of this entry I’ll include some of the nuggets of wisdom God gave to me. The realizations and revelations were a blessing to me and were proof of the Holy Spirit working through prayer.

Living out in the country has been really good for me. Yes, a big part of my season of growth right now has been due to community life. When you are surrounded by good people and a life of prayer, you WILL grow in holiness. But that’s not the only factor. Being surrounded by nature is good for my soul. Living in the peace and quiet instead of the noisy and fast-paced city is good for my soul. Seeing things like rice fields, swampland, horses, cows, pastures, fog, dogs, barbed-wire fences, & birds is good for my soul. Swimming in a muddy pond that is home to the occasional 3-4 foot gator is exhilarating…………….and good for my soul. Burning logs and branches is messy, and good for my soul. Killing wasp nests is good for my soul. Pounding on a pile of rock hard dirt, shoveling it into the back of a truck, dumping it into a hole, filling a wheelbarrow full of horse manure to fill said hole with “fertilizer” so grass can grow and thereby hold the dirt in place, is good for my soul. Riding my bike down a country road and seeing a beautiful oak tree draped with spanish moss is good for my soul. Working and sweating and getting blisters and sore muscles is also good for my soul. I love where God has me at right now. I love that I get to wake up and do this (and other missionary stuff) every day. I think perhaps the singular greatest blessing I’ve received since being back at Big Woods is being able to work with my hands and do manual labor. It has taught me so many things, including obedience AND knowing the satisfaction of a hard day’s work.

Lord Jesus, thank you for all of these blessings. Please continue to shower them down upon me. Help me to continue being open to your guidance. Bless us in all our missionary endeavors here at FMC, especially as Mrs. Genie prepares to go to China, and Intake prepares to go to Mexico.

Nuggets of Wisdom from The Holy Spirit about Love:

* be free to love * love unconditionally * draw close to me so that you can draw close to her * take a leap of faith * Friendship is not just a consolation prize, it is love through companionship. And marriage is the fulfillment of friendship * Instead of choosing good over evil because of an ideal, I can now choose good over evil because of someone. When I think in terms of people instead of ideals, love as a choice becomes real, and is easier to make * It should be a give and take, where you can savor the mystery * I need someone who brings out the best in me * I need someone who can bring me out of my shell * If you know the Lord has brought someone into your life, if you know you are drawn to someone because of a mutual love  for the Lord, then do not hesitate to grow close to that person! Do not be afraid that you are “deifying” them or “idolizing” them. Let yourself enjoy them and their company. Let yourself enjoy the love you give and receive. Draw closer to them by drawing closer to the Lord. That person is an instrument of God’s love in your life. To put them off due to a false sense of caution, humility, or discernment is a tragedy. By not putting your heart on the line and loving the person unconditionally, you risk losing out on the greatest treasure in life, LOVE.

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Vieux Fort – week 2!

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

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

link to pictures:

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

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

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

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

Today’s gift of the spirit: Fortitude

Psalms 2:7-9

Do what’s right even when it’s hard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Peace through presence (part 2)

Entry subtitle: God speaks to my heart through Scripture

8-7-10 (cont-d)

I thought the previous page would be my only entry today. When I finished, I really felt God calling me to read Scripture, specifically the prophet Isaiah. When I grabbed the Bible off the stand however, it was opened up to Proverbs 31, the passage about “The Ideal Wife”. As someone who aspires to the vocation of marriage, this made me happy and struck a chord in my heart. Here are a few verses from that passage that stood out: “When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life. Her husband is prominent at the city gates as he sits with the elders of the land. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel. Her children rise up and praise her; her husband, too, extols her: ‘Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all.’ Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.” –Proverbs 31: 10-12, 23, 25-26, 28-31–

Isn’t it amazing how God speaks to us through his Word? And not just in a generic one-size-fits-all sort of way. He speaks specifically to our hearts: to our hopes, dreams, and desires. It’s moments like this that make me wish that I was already in the habit of reading Scripture as part of my personal prayer life. Reading God’s Word while I’m face to face with The Living Word, makes it even more amazing. St. Jerome once said “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Jesus, I don’t want to be ignorant of you. I want as much of you as I can possibly get.

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The blessings of friendship (with the opposite sex)……

Tuesday 7/6/10 – 3:30pm @ Awardmaster (my place of employment in Lafayette, LA)

I find myself reflecting today on the blessings of friendship. Recently, I met up with a friend of mine (who happens to be a female) to go jogging at a local park.  I needed to exercise (hadn’t in over a week) and also wanted to spend some time with her. Now, typically, it has been very hard for me to visit with a female friend and not think ahead of myself (if you get the hint). My tendency is to think light years ahead at the possibilities instead of immersing myself in the blessings God has for me at the present moment.

In this case, the blessing of the present moment was enjoying the company of a friend, with no strings attached. It was AMAZING how much I enjoyed myself. Society, as a whole (myself included), has largely forgotten the value of friendship. Even within the youth and young adults of the Catholic Church, I think we tend to skip the friendship phase because we are so in love with “being in love”. I’ve heard from many solid married couples that say “I married my best friend.” Ergo, I draw the conclusion that friendship is a wonderful foundation for a possible future relationship. Even better is the fact that if a relationship/marriage does not happen, you still gain a friend. And frankly, who couldn’t use more of those? Someone whose company you could enjoy, whom you can confide in, someone to socialize with, the list goes on and on.

Anyhoo, I hope that my reflections have maybe reawakened the grace of friendship in your life, or that maybe I planted a seed of friendship and an appreciation of it. Another reason (as alluded to earlier) that friendship is on my mind is because of the struggle of a close friend of mine. To be fair, I also used to struggle with the same thing quite a bit, and though I’ve come far, I still have a ways to go. Plain and simple, he is just trying too hard to be in a relationship. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great guy, my best friend actually. But he just keeps desperately grasping for this miracle, wonderful, “OMG it’s so great” relationship that will just make him forever content.

I’ve learned that relationships/marriage, if we’re called by God to that vocation, are like sand or putty in our hands. First of all, it has to be placed there by God. Second of all, if we don’t wait for God’s timing and try to grasp at it ourselves, it will always elude, only serving to further the frustration and desperation we feel. If in our attempt to grasp at a relationship we somehow succeed, then our tight grip will only cause it to slip between our fingers and cause us to lose it. It’s so hard to watch my friend go through this because everytime some sort of date or meeting is setup and doesn’t work out, he get’s so aggravated and depressed.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about this, it’s that God alone is our source of happiness. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we will be happy, no matter what our relationship status is. It also means that we can truly let go, let God take control, and trust that he will bless us with the desires of our heart on his timeframe, not ours. My hunch is that when we let go, and when God finally fulfills the holy desires of our hearts, we will know a joy that can’t even compare to a thousand forced & failed relationships.

It seems to me also that women/relationships are like feral cats.  You cannot force things or just lunge at what you want, or else they will just scatter. They (both feral cats & women) can usually sense someone who’s desperate for attention and will steer way clear of them (I speak from experience). However, if you are patient, and take your time to gain their trust and treat them right, you’ll eventually have a friend for life and possible more. Let me leave you with a random missionary-themed bible verse, that coincidentally is one of my top choices for my next tatoo on my left foot: “How beautiful on the mountains, are the feet of the messenger announcing peace, of the messenger of good news…..” Isaiah 52:7

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MISSIONARY JOURNAL- CAN’T GIVE WHAT I DON’T HAVE

12-2-09 (continued)

As the saying goes, “I can’t give what I don’t have”. The same goes for spreading the gospel. How can I do something that I don’t know how to really do? I’ve got to allow myself to be formed by God in the environment that he chooses. I think for both marriage and being a Catholic “evangelist”, foreign missions is where I can learn what I need to. Call it a coincidence, call it random-ness, call it whatever you want, but it was on the Mexico mission that a passion for missions was reawakened. I also realized a couple things. First thing is (as already stated), that I need to be in love with the Lord. Head-knowledge and going through the motions don’t mean much at all, especially if I don’t have an intimate, loving relationship with my Lord and Savior. Second thing is that I think foreign missions is where I’ll learn how to evangelize and be a missionary.

Whether it’s developing missionary zeal, learning how to speak with people about Jesus, or learning what the Catholic Church teaches about missions, I think the foreign mission field is where God wants me to learn all of this. Will God ever call me out of foreign missions? I don’t know. Why did he even call me into foreign missions in the first place? I don’t know that either. All I know is that following God’s call, even if I don’t know the “why”, is the only thing that will bring me true happiness. Another thing God has been showing me is that I need to work on my patience. During our voyage to and from Mexico as well as while we were there, I encountered situations that tested my patience, and by the grace of God, I fared quite well.

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MISSIONARY JOURNAL – FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF MY LIFE

Tuesday 12-1-09 / 6:15AM @ CC’s Coffee on Johnston St.

Yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life. Yeah yeah yeah, I know, we can say that about EVERY day but do we really mean it? Do we REALLY feel that way? I know I do. It was a bit difficult for me going back to work yesterday. What I realize is that I’m blessed to have a job and it’s where God has me right now. It’s the environment where I need to work on becoming a holier person. However it’s not where I feel called, so it’s hard to sit still and be patient (literally and figuratively). Seems like God is saying to me “THIS is where you begin to develop your missionary spirit and zeal. Until you enter foreign missions, THIS is your mission territory.” In reflecting back on this mission trip, I truly feel like I am changed and different. I feel a bit like Saul in the book of Acts, living my life more or less on my own terms. Then this mission trip comes along and knocks me to the ground.

This trip really opened my eyes to how dear the poor are to God, and how much God wants us to bring his Word to everyone. This mission trip was also my Ananias, because I was blind and I now feel like the scales have fallen from my eyes. I hope that people can see a difference in me like they saw with Saul….. The other thing to mention is my prayer. I still pray for specific people and situations, but I feel less of a need to have a rapid-fire list that I mentally go through everytime I pray. This trip has helped me to realize that I need to pray to be able to trust God, to really trust him. I also feel led to make the other part of my daily prayer that I could just let go and fall in love with the Lord. Cuz if I truly feel called to missions, and if I truly feel like God is calling me to marriage, then the only way to be true to those callings is to have a heart after God’s heart, and for people to be able to see by the way I live my life, that I am truly, fully, and joyfully in love with the Lord. God Bless!

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