Posts Tagged With: pasture

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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Slight change of direction and other miscellaneity

Friday January 7th, 2011 – Approx. 7:45am – Kitchen Table @ Big House @ Big Woods (Facing Pasture)

Ok, so I don’t even know if “miscellaneity” is a word. I was basically trying to say “other miscellaneous things”. Anyhoo, as the title suggests, things have changed slightly for me. If you refer back to my entry from (date omitted), you become acquainted with my missionary friend (name omitted). Wonderful person and wonderful missionary. You also heard about how we were not honoring our singles commitment and were called out on it. Well, since then, we’ve been striving to follow that commitment, but at least on my behalf, have not totally succeeded. According to the letter of the law, we were doin pretty good. But I noticed that even though I acknowledged that we were not a couple, I was not orienting my thoughts and prayers and will in that direction. It’s like I was living it on the outside and not on the inside. Furthermore, just the sheer speed at which everything happened and the sheer speed at which conclusions were reached and certain feelings expressed SCARED ME! (And it’s not just cuz I’m a guy and afraid of commitment. :p )

I felt like the outcome was already a foregone conclusion and that at least on my part, there was no wiggle room or opportunity to change my mind. Not only that, but I also felt like I was too prepared for the future as opposed to simply embracing my call to missions, rejoicing in where God has me, and putting that as my priority & being faithful to that. I feel like I definitely took things out of God’s hands and put them into mine. Yes, there is a point, and here it is. I’ve decided to take a step back.  And while I do fear that I’ve possibly damaged our friendship in some way, I still feel very much at peace and that I’ve made the right decision.  As excited as I already was to go into missions, I’m now even MORE excited!  I feel like my heart, my intentions, and my prayers are now where they’re supposed to be. And if I’ve gotten to know (name omitted) well enough during our friendship, I think she’ll be OK with it too. It’s just a great feeling to know that I now can be totally open to whatever God brings to me in missions, and to do so with an undivided heart. It’s also exciting to know that anything else God might wanna do in my life is now possible. And in the spirit of fairness, I feel like I should also mention that it was not any kind of one-sided thing. I assume as much responsibility for the situation becoming what it was.

OK. Enough about that. Now onto the “miscellaneity”. We actually leave for St. Lucia on the 19th instead of the 17th. Can’t remember what the change was for, or if maybe I just misunderstood the date. What I can say is that 2 days is like a blink of an eye compared to how long I’ve been waiting to get to St. Lucia. J So I think I can handle it. All in God’s time. I’ve been blessed in a lot of little ways too as I prepare to leave. I was able to shave down the amount of stuff I have quite significantly. The amount of clothes I have now is much more manageable and pretty darn close to what I think I can fit in my bags. Speaking of bags, I sent out an appeal online for anyone that could spare a large duffel bag. I figured that if I had a large duffel bag, I could roll my clothes and pack them really tightly THUS freeing up more space in my other big suitcase for things like books, toiletries, etc….. A good friend of mine from back in da’ day, Catherine Lemoine, pulled through and dropped one off for me to my mom at the trophy shop. Merci Cat pour ton generosite!

I also got a nice little bit of spending money cash given to me earlier in the week. Brother Henry Gaither, of The Brothers of the Sacred Heart, came to visit Big Woods. I met him a few months ago at St. Pius X parish in Lafayette one Sunday at Mass. He was giving a talk about and handing out literature for CNVS (Catholic Network of Volunteer Services). CNVS is a directory/network of volunteer and missions opportunities both stateside and abroad.  We’ve kept in touch since then, and when he was in New Iberia for a lunch meeting we worked it out for him to pass by Big Woods to visit. It was good catching up with him, and me, him, and Mr. Frank chatted for awhile before he had to leave. As he was leaving, he handed me a wad of cash, & I’m sure he emptied his wallet to do so, since religious brothers aren’t exactly rich. Merci a toi aussi pour ton generosite!

I was also blessed to get a few Christmas presents that were much appreciated and needed. My parents gave me two nice bottles of cologne (Cool Water and Dolce & Gabbana). These will come especially in handy if my missionary duties keep me too busy to bathe! 🙂 I also got an MP3 player which has allowed me to take the multitude of CD’s that I have and condense them onto a little tiny device that’s the size of a cellphone. Space comes at a premium in missions, and this will help me save lots of it. I also received a digital camera. Up until recently, I had a film camera that I would use to take and develop pictures and then convert them to digital format so I could share them online. Well, I fell out of love with yesteryear and it’s devices, and was happy to embrace the ease and convenience of a digital camera. It’s a lot easier to use, much less expensive in the long run, and is much more useful to me while in missions. I’ll be able to take pics and video and keep people updated more quickly and easily. And if there are any of the pics that I really want to get developed, I can go to Walgreens or Walmart and some point and get it done.

Oh yeah, one more thing, we have our plane tickets bought, a place to stay, and ministries already lined up in St. Lucia! 🙂 Last but not least, I went to the UL men’s basketball game last night. Me and Beau (Frank and Genie’s son) used my parents tickets since they’re outta town. It was very enjoyable actually. I knew I’d enjoy the game and I also enjoyed hanging out with Beau, and chatting and just having a guys night, you know?

Well I hope all is well with y’all. If you have any prayer requests I can add to my missionary prayer list, please let me know. God Bless!

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Random fun moments during missionary training

10-7-10 – In the kitchen in the trailer behind the office @ Big Woods (Esther, LA)

Today’s entry marks a bit of a change of pace. We’re gonna talk all about the fun randomness of missionary training. 🙂 So, this past Saturday we had our Lord’s Day Supper as usual. Afterwards, several people were going to watch a college football game on TV and I was planning on listening to the UL game on the internet radio feed. But, once supper was over and I was headed to Mrs. Genie’s office to listen to the game, I heard a bunch of the kids screamin’ and hootin’ and hollerin’ (nothing unusual about that) so I decided the game could wait and that I was gonna go investigate. As soon as I approach the living room, the kids launch into a screaming ROAR and started to chant my name. Little did I realize that they were having a headstand contest and I had just become the latest contestant. Well, with my mile-long legs and small torso my success was nominal at best. But, I did achieve a headstand and yet another raucous roar of approval.

After observing the insanity for a few more minutes, I go back to the game. Once halftime rolled around I wondered “What the heck am I gonna do for twenty minutes?” THIS time I heard more hootin’ and hollerin’ and some music too. Of course I went back to the living room for round two. Lo and behold it was a dance party with the 4 single missionaries and all 16 missionary kids! All kinds of Disney songs and other songs were played and we danced like a bunch of crazy fools. 🙂 At one point when dancing with 4 year-old Bridget, I received proper instruction on how to do the “twirl and dip” (when the guy wraps the girl in his arms and dips her backwards). I may have even partaken in some free-form ballet as well as some random spaz dancing. Honestly it was the most enjoyable worry-free fun that I’ve had in a long time.

My next adventure involves horses. Apparently, the horses in our pasture here at FMC are very smart, because they found a hole in the fence on Monday at lunchtime. So Mrs. Genie comes honkin’ like crazy in the Suburban saying “the horses are loose! Let’s go round ’em up!” Me and Sarah Carroll hop in the Suburban and drive down Horseshoe Rd (no pun intended) past the horses and get out the vehicle. We (along with Mrs. Genie) spread our arms wide to make ourselves look big and form a human chain to prevent them from going past us. Once we had the other road to Hwy 82 blocked off and Mr. Frank got to where we were, we herded them up the road to FMC and back into the pasture. Should have known that NOT fixing the fence meant they’d get out again. Duh.

So at lunchtime I see Mr. Frank in the truck on the gravel path going back to Joe and Brooke’s house. When I go to investigate (I wanted to use the truck) he tells me “the dang horses got out again.” Luckily where they were was a dead end path. I stood in the path with my arms spread wide and lookin’ big and hoping they didn’t head my way. Mr. Frank drove the truck down the path and herded them back into the pasture through the hole they escaped from. Once again, no patch in the fence = another escape. Sheesh…

So, shortly after our men’s bible study started after supper, I hear another series of loud honks. Good heavens, I hope Mrs. Genie just needs help bringin’ groceries in. Nope. It was escape #3 for the day! Me and Odilio Alvarez open the gate to the pasture and park the Suburban to the side of the entrance with his lights on. We were hopin’ to get them in the direction of the corral so we could keep them there until the fence was mended. (While we were waiting, the other guys blocked off the roaded and herded them down Horseshoe Dr. back into our pasture). Needless to say, the pasture is huge and Me and Odilio could not block them. So, we proceed Wild-West style to chase/herd them back towards the corral. Mark informed us afterwards that it probably wasn’t the best approach, since they could have been spooked and possibly been very hard to get into the corral.

We also almost goofed up because they ended up goin around the lake, which means they could have potentially escaped/wandered off into the swamp. In the end though we succeeded. The other guys (after askin’ us to not herd them with the Suburban anymore) met them on the opposite side of the lake with some grain and led them into the corral. It sure was fun though. The Suburban  had the step-side thing and I initially hopped on the step and held onto Odilio’s seat as we started the chase. After seeing that combining my position with speed and momentum during the chase would equal disaster, I decided to hop in the front seat. Our other technique was simply herding/chasing them in the direction of the corral, all the while slapping the side of the Suburban, yelling “Heah heah!” as well as several varieties of “Yeehaw”, “Giddyup”, and “Get ’em doggy!” 🙂

The last memorable thing to document is that I learned how to mend a barb-wire fence. It basically involved using existing trees and posts and inserting new posts into the ground. On some sections we simply reattached the existing barb-wire and in other sections we’d unroll a portion from the spool and attach it. We had a total of five sections to patch, and so far the horses have  not escaped again, so I think we fixed all of the escape routes. And I do have to admit that even though my role during the fence mending (with Mr. Frank, Mark Eckstine, and Odilio Alvarez) was mainly “helper/observer”, it still made me feel like more of a man. In conclusion, I just wanted to post this to let everyone know that missionary training is NOT all work and no play. God has been bringin’ me lots of happy moments. 🙂  Praise the Lord! Amen, Alleluia, Glory!

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I had a vision…

9/29/10 – On the swing facing the pasture, back porch of the big house @ Big Woods

So I’m sitting here, and the scenery and weather are absolutely beautiful. It’s a mild day, and the sun is shining. I can hear the bugs chirping and the birds singing. There’s a slight breeze blowing. If there ever was a perfect time to do a journal entry, it’s right now.

Earlier this morning, during my prayer time, I came across Psalm 62:1 which says “In God alone is my soul at rest”, and it really stuck with me. As the morning progressed, I realized there would be alot of free time. Immediately I thought about my pastoral session w/Mr. Frank yesterday, and how the need to devote time to personal prayer is a must. Couldn’t do it after morning prayer (that’s when I did my daily Scripture reading), so I did it after our teaching workshop ended. When I got into the chapel, I put on my earphones and was listening  to some instrumental Lakota (Native American) music to help me focus and meditate. As I was listening and beginning to pray, I asked to focus and really enter into prayer. I asked him to help me enter into true communion with him during my time of prayer. As I prayed and listened to the music, I received a vision.

I was lying on the ground in the forest. My body was bruised, and battered, and bloody. I don’t know exactly how I got there, or what I did. But I knew that it was because of sin and its effects on me and my life. It was slightly overcast and a slight breeze was blowing. There was thunder briefly and then a few drops of rain started to fall.  As the rain hit my face, I was a bit startled and awoke. After a little while, I got up and started walking through the forest, and as I walked the raindrops gently started to wash away the blood and the dirt and cleanse my wounds. At that time, there was no apparent destination, but I knew I had to go.

After some time I came to a meadow and started walking through it. As I journeyed through the meadow, I got a sense that others had made and were making the same journey. This motivated me and urged me on. Eventually I arrived at some hills, and this was where the weather started to clear. As the weather cleared, I noticed one large hill in particular, and I began to climb it. The climb up the hill was a long one but it was not a hard one. When I reached the top, I saw it. A huge cross. And then I saw Jesus standing beside the Cross. He told me “See, I too was battered and bruised but it wasn’t the end.” Then he opened his arms and we embraced.

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