Posts Tagged With: Ministry

Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 36

Day 36 – Monday – 10/29/12

The first thing I realized this morning is that the last day of my fast is All Souls Day. It’s always neat when a big day like a birthday, anniversary, or something else falls on a feast day, because it gives it added significance. In this case I can offer up the last days of my fast for all who have passed away. And since Saturday marks my first day of normal eating again, not sure how I’ll celebrate for breakfast. Probably cook and eat a whole pack of bacon 🙂 I’ve got three, maybe four days max to regain my normal appetite before the group gets here. That’s when Marta’s cooking starts!

Another thing I was thinking about during my morning walk was the challenge that ministry is going to be this week. I mean, how do you focus on your ministry when you’ve got 60 people descending upon your house over the next month? How do I keep focus when after being so quiet over here for so long, we finally get some liveliness, energy, and action in our house? On top of that, it’s gonna be a slow week anyways. We don’t have any rancho visits this week so we’ll have even MORE time to think about how excited we are about the group. 🙂 It’s not a bad thing though. Just another opportunity to grow in focus & self-control. And speaking of self-control, another opportunity of growth will come soon once the group gets here. This will be the last week of getting to indulge in long text, video chat, & phone conversations with yesterday’s aforementioned yet-to-be-named female friend. I will enjoy the heck out of it, that’s for sure, because I really enjoy talking to her. But when the group comes, it’ll be nice to immerse myself in group activities and the group schedule. It’ll also give both of us (especially her, a school teacher) a chance to catch up on sleep a little bit! 🙂 Besides, I’m sure that we’ll still have some form of communication, be it texting, email, brief phone call, or a combination of all three. Another benefit is it’s one of those “absence makes the heart grow fonder” moments that is necessary for a friendship (& God-willing a relationship) to flourish.

Yesterday, God blessed me with more of the normal hunger pangs before and after eating. And as always, eating a kinda big meal, and eating it late, did not eliminate them later in the day/evening. Neither did eating two of my favorite Mexican snack cake treats later in the evening do anything to mitigate the pangs. But what I did do was elicit a brief moment of sugar-induced bliss, and a few audible mm-mmm’s. 🙂 The good thing about the group being here too is that group money will pay for all of the meals, so I’ll have a little more spare money to pay for snacks! Well, lemme end this on a sorta gross and random note, as a fun-loving bachelor missionary man’s mom would be inclined to do. Yesterday after eating my eggs for lunch, I noticed afterwards, that everytime I burped it tasted like potatoes. Weird, huh? Since when did egg-burps taste like potatoes? Oh well, maybe that was God’s  modern day version of multiplying the loaves & fishes. 😀

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 30

Day 30 – Tuesday – 10/23/12

Yahoo! I’m 3/4 of the way through my fast. One thing I’ve discovered over the past 3 months of various types of fasting, is that it makes the time whizz by! Maybe because you always have some kind of schedule that you can count down, and mark the progress. Who knows…..

So last night a friend of mine gave me a Bible verse, Phillipians 2:12-18. I can’t remember if she got it during her prayer time or at Mass. It’s a very missionary-themed verse where St. Paul encourages them to be faithful and that their faithfulness makes him proud. For that matter, ANY of his letters will be missionary-themed. But what I really liked about it was the reason why she gave me that Bible verse. She said it reminded her of me (because I’m a missionary) and wished me a happy World Missions Sunday. It may seem small, but it really touched and encouraged me & made me feel special. The cool thing is that she wasn’t the only one. It happened several times with other friends too, and each time it made me feel special.

Another noteworthy thing happened yesterday. On the weeks following communion service Sundays, we have 2 more rancho chapel visits on Monday, and throughout the week we have all our normal home visits. Besides bringing the Eucharist to the rancho chapel visits for communion services, we bring it to most of our home visits to offer communion services in case they didn’t get to go to Mass (as many of them are old or infirm). So yesterday, we brought the Eucharist with us, in one of those little gold containers, to both home visits and both rancho visits. We ended up not doing a single communion service, due to various reasons. And so I was tempted to think that we wasted our time bringing Jesus with us to all those visits. But then I said to myself “Hey wait a minute! We may not have consumed the Eucharist, but we were in the physical bodily presence of Jesus Christ for both home visits and both rancho visits. How awesome is that?!? So it was obviously still a very blessed time of relational ministry. 🙂

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 16

Day 16 – Tuesday – 10/9/12

Well, the split-meal thing worked out ok, but I think I need to give it some more time to see if it makes a difference. I didn’t really notice much of a difference yesterday as far as feeling hungry is concerned. In fact, I think it actually lessened the hunger because even though I ate the same amount of daily food. I was eating more often. The only difference so far was that this morning I did feel slightly hungrier. Be interested to see if that lasts. Last night I regretted not having my daily mealtime at supper. Why? Tono’s family. ‘Nuff said. 🙂 His family is from the town where we live, and they have been missionaries with FMC going back many years ago. They recently moved to another part of Mexico to be missionaries and are in town a few days to visit. We went over to their house after night prayer to visit because we didn’t know if we’d see them again before we went back to the states. Stupid gringo that I am. Shoulda known there’d be amazing Mexican food cooked by his wife Mari. 3rd stupidest thing to do in Mexico, is to visit Tono’s family while fasting. I did allow myself one flour tortilla and a few pieces of really good cheese some other lady made/brought. It really was good to see them though. I’m glad we got the chance to go, since we don’t know if we’ll see them again before we leave at the end of November.

On a more serious note, I realized two things this morning during my morning walk: 1.) I need to stop praying for humility and charity so that God stops testing me in those areas. Because we all know that when you pray for something like humility, charity, patience or whatever else, that he doesn’t automatically grant them to you. He tests you in those areas to help you develop in those areas. That takes work and time, and isn’t easy/painless. 2.) I’ve got a LONG way to go in developing love and concern for the poor. Obviously I don’t mean #1 literally, but it’s just hard to be tested like that. Number 2 is the truth for sure. This morning on my morning walk around the plaza in front of our house, I saw a lady I recognized coming in my direction. It pretty much looked like she was headed straight towards me. When I moved, she seemed to move in the same direction, almost as if she was actually trying to run into me. You know what I was thinking? “Lady, please get outta my way, stop trying to get in front of me. I don’t have anything (not true), PLEASE don’t ask me for anything.” Really cruddy stuff to be thinkin’. Especially considering that I’m a missionary, and I’m supposed to be an example of holiness and charity, and a servant of the poor. That lady was Jesus in disguise, and I walked the other way. :/

It’s like I still have that attitude of self-centeredness, that somehow I can’t be bothered. If it’s on my terms, I’m fine. But if it’s not, it gets me all twisted. That’s just it though, life and it’s needs and ministry opportunities are not “according to Sid”. They’re not on my time-frame, not on my terms. It’s GOD’s time-frame and terms that should be the guiding force. However, the paper-thin lining of this large gray cloud of self-centeredness that’s really obscuring the SONshine, is that God has blessed me to recognize that I struggle in this way. Now that I’m more aware, I can go to God and ask for his help.

I’ve also noticed one of the negative parts of being a poor missionary, at least as far as it pertains to me personally. It’s the whole notion of self-preservation or non-sharing. As a poor missionary whose funds seem to be perpetually VERY low, I find it easy to self-preserve and hard to share. After all, I don’t wanna give away everything and not be able to provide for myself, right? Well, that’s true but only to a certain extent. While I have to be able to provide for my legitimate needs, I also have to be willing to go out of my comfort zone to share with others and give out of my need (and not just my excess). This is the essence of true generosity. But I have not done this well, not at all. I have allowed myself to somewhat devolve into a justified existence of not really giving as much as I could/should, as well as becoming prideful and judgmental of those who ask for help, making it way too hard for them. All under the seemingly laudable guise of “prudence”. I’d like to think that the downturn in people who come to our door is because they know we aren’t just walking-talking wallets who give out cash willy-nilly. While that may be partially true, I suspect it’s more likely that they don’t want to have to deal with me. Even if you’re really in need, is it worth being humiliated or disrespected?

But as I alluded to earlier in this journal entry, at least I know this now and can begin to work on it. I also half-jokingly/half-seriously commented to one of my mission partners that I’m learning what NOT to do in order to fruitfully and effectively serve the poor. That’s why I wanna do a third year of missions. Now that I’ve finally arrived at the point where I know what to do and what not to do, I wanna be able to take that knowledge and put it into practice. The other thought that crossed my mind after all of this, is that The Bible says God’s power is perfected in our weaknesses, therefore we should boast of our weaknesses so that God’s power may rest upon us. If that’s the case, then my self-perceived self-proclaimed weaknesses make me one of the strongest people in the world! :p

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast

Day 4 – Tuesday – 9/27/12

Felt the hunger pangs a little bit more this morning than I did yesterday morning, but nothing intense yet. Headacheyness is gone, so a good night’s sleep did me good. If it comes back today, then I’ll see if it disappears once I eat supper tonight. If it doesn’t, then that’ll be my clue to maybe adjust my level of daily Gatorade intake next week. I think I did a decent job last night of not overstuffing myself. I was slightly fuller than full, but not overstuffed. It’s hard not to overstuff when you’re really hungry and when you know your next meal won’t be for awhile.

I’m also happy that I’m starting to focus more on the mission-post-discernment aspect of my fast, and gaining the clarity that I seek by doing this fast. The two main possibilities that are coming up for mission posts are Spain and The Phillipines. In practical terms, The Phillipines is a more difficult place to go, at least money-wise. This is in spite of the fact that overall it’s a poor country. Expensive because of the plane ticket. Expensive because many things on islands have to be imported and that drives up the cost. And in The Phillipines there will be expenses of house bills too (electricity, water, etc….). Spain, in terms of money and living expenses would actually be slightly cheaper. That’s because the priest we would stay with has a free apartment for us to stay in that is owned by the diocese. As per his words, the only expense would be food and any personal expenses incurred. As a missionary who has always had low funds, this particularly attracts me.

As far as the travel aspect, The Phillipines has a slight advantage. On the way there I would pass through a few countries I’ve never been to. I would also be going to the continent of Asia for the first time in my life (making it my 5th continent to visit). Spain’s travel advantage is that travel within Europe is safe, easy, and cheap. I have no doubt that I’d be able to visit at least a couple different European countries that I’ve never been to. My parents, who love to travel and have enjoyed their visits to Europe, would be much more likely to come visit us there than they would here in Mexico or in The Phillipines. Also, because of the work our priest friend in Spain is involved with (youth), it’s very possible that I would be able to go with their diocese’s group to World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Also, my expenses for that trip would most likely be paid for by father and the diocese. Yet another new country and another new continent. All in all, I think the “travel” factor is almost even between the two, and if it’s God’s will that I go to a mission post then money is not an obstacle for him. Ministry-wise I think what it ultimately boils down to is what will I most be able to give to and benefit from.

In The Phillipines, I would be living and working among the poor, in a ministry environment where you cannot turn down the invitations fast enough because there are so many opportunities. Exhausting yourself in service of the poor, living in a less than comfortable environment, and also BEING poor are some of the benefits and growth opportunities for a missionary there. In Spain, I see the advantage as future preparation. In a sense, you could say that richer people need God just as much as poor people, because of the illusion of self-reliance that comes from a more comfortable lifestyle. Because of this factor, my ministry there would better prepare me for the ministry and lifestyle I would experience once I’m back in the USA at some point in the future. And lemme tell you, if there’s a country that really needs God and conversion, it’s the USA. I would also have the advantage of continuing to develop spanish, my third language. So as you can see, the choices are not easy because both of these options are really good. That’s why I’m fasting and begging for clarity.

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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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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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Sid’s August Missionary Fundraiser/Update Newsletter

“The angel of Yahweh encamps around those who fear him, and rescues them.”
–Psalm 34:7—

To all of my friends, family, and loved ones,

It’s good to “visit” with you again. It may not be in person, but I really
do enjoy these letters, which to me are chances to “visit” with y’all and
give updates on my life as a missionary. The bible verse above is one that
I received in prayer recently, during our weekly Desert Day prayer time.
It brought me great comfort, and I hope it brings you great comfort as
well.

Since we last visited, lots has happened! As my last letter arrived, we
had just concluded a successful one week mission trip with a group of
families, mostly from Southern Louisiana. To experience their energy and
enthusiasm was something that was truly inspiring to me. It brought new
life to our mission post here in Mexico. It renewed me as a missionary.
And most importantly it brought the light of Christ to the people here in
Mexico.

After the group left at the beginning of June, I had one week to help
clean up and regroup before heading off to language school. This was
something that I was very much looking forward to. After roughly 3 months
in Mexico, I had picked up about as much Spanish as I could on my own, and
I really REALLY needed some formal study of the language. I spent a month
in Cuernavaca at ENCUENTROS Spanish immersion school. It’s roughly about 2
hours southwest of Mexico City. My host family was gracious and
accommodating. They even integrated me into the life of their local church
parish, which led to opportunities to help the priest as well as speak
(yikes!) at the parish’s charismatic prayer group.

I also had several other small opportunities during my time in Cuernavaca
to minister to the poor and others in need. I learned a lot of Spanish,
and experienced great friendships and fellowship as well. And because of
the cheap cost of travelling by bus in Mexico, I got to go on several
excursions. My two favorites were Teotihuacan (2nd largest pyramid in the
world), and The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Many thanks to my
fellow missionaries Eric and Sarah Baquet for donating some of their
surplus funds to enable me to attend language school!
As I write this letter, I’ve been back at my mission post in General
Cepeda for 2 weeks. The name of the game now is me and my mission partner
getting back into the groove. We’ll be visiting as many as 8 ejidos
(desert communities) each week, bringing them the Word of God and
conducting communion services. Every week we have 6 different home visits
scheduled. And last but not least we have our door ministry, where we pray
with and help all those who come to our door. That’s not to mention all
the other occasional and random opportunities that God sends our way!

I would also like to remind you of 2 upcoming mission trips that God has
opened the doors for me to participate in. One is this coming winter (Dec.
or Jan.) in India. During our time there we’ll be doing a combination of
evangelization and corporal works of mercy. The last time FMC visited
India, we worked with The Missionaries of Charity (Mother Theresa’s nuns),
brought food and evangelized in the slums, and spoke to various student
and church groups. I also have the opportunity to attend a post-Christmas
week mission in the barrios of Buenos Aires. Some fellow pilgrims from
World Youth Day last summer have invited me to participate in this mission
sponsored by a local Catholic prayer group. As you can imagine, I will
need lots of help to make it to both of these trips. God has opened the
doors for me to go to India and Argentina? Will YOU help me to walk
through those doors?

Last but not least, I would like to thank all of you for your generosity
which enables me to live the blessed life of a foreign missionary. Without
you, I would not be able to do what I do. Please also remember that every
little bit helps. (see Mark 12:41-44) Please pray for me, the missionaries
I work with, and the people we serve. And please continue to be generous
in helping me to live life as a foreign missionary. The needs are great &
and I can only continue to meet those needs with your help.

In Jesus’ Love,
Sidney E. Savoie, II

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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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Cold Day in the Desert

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless!

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Desert Day – November 19, 2011 – part 2

LINKS TO VIDEOS AND PICS (you might have to copy and paste the link):

Facebook picture album:

Mexico mountaintop scenery – http://youtu.be/CwzRU8me5VQ
Concrete slide – http://youtu.be/1NzAYt7x_pY
Missionaries headed to the rancho – http://youtu.be/aHM5IYweHUw
Missionaries preparing food for the poor – http://youtu.be/dWZYNzunl9Y

 

I figured part 2 would be a good chance to also share some stories about our Mexico trip. The funny thing is that the trip actually started before the group got here last saturday. Monday of last week, me and Luis drove Odilio’s old suburban down to the border to donate it to our Mexican missionary, Raul. Without giving you all the fun details, let’s just say it was quite an adventure. It involved crossing the borders 8 times in 2 days at 2 different locations. Got stopped by border patrol on both sides, and got held at the US Customs and Border Patrol station for an hour and a half. But, in the end, we were able to get the suburban to Raul so that he could get the paperwork completed so that it would be transferred to his ownership. Why not wait until the group came down last Saturday? Well, there was a Mexican law that was about to change that would have raised the cost from $1600 to $6000, and we wanted to beat the deadline.

Since we’ve been here things have been great. This trip has taken on a whole new feel than the previous three times I’ve been here. All those trips were amazing, yes, but this is my first trip here with the knowledge that me and Luis will be living here in January. Yep, you heard right, the Casa de Misiones in General Cepeda will be my mission post next year. So now, instead of just participating in the normal daily activities, I’m also getting to know where things are in town. I’m starting to make connections with our mexican missionaries here. It’s the process of starting to familiarize myself with this place and getting settled in, so that it can feel like home when I come back in 2 months.

Our first week here has been great. I feel like one of the graces I’ve received during my first year of missions is to really grow and progress in my spiritual life and in other aspects too. It seems like God is giving me the grace to really dive deeply into prayer and ministry while here. I’m really loving praying over people, giving alms, doing home visits, welcoming visitors to our mission house, going door to door in the ranchos to invite people to our prayer services, singing praise and worship music, and giving testimonies. I LOVE it! 🙂 Daily life with the other missionaries brings me alotta joy too. Everything from cleaning bathrooms, to washing dishes, to community prayer, personal prayer time, and fellowship with each other.

Next week seems to be quite a busy and blessed week as well. Praise the Lord!

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