Posts Tagged With: poverty

We are our own best friend & our own worst enemy

Friday, August 24, 2012 – 4:00pm – under a bridge at the edge of town – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Strange spot for a desert day prayer time, I know. But, it was the quietest and shadiest spot I could find. Even though it happens to be under one of the main roads in town. When you live in a small town like this, the “main roads” are not all that busy. We were also short on gas so we had to pick a close spot, and this was the best we could manage.

The bible verse I got today is Acts 16:9-10: “One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and kept urging him in these words, ‘Come across to Macedonia and help us.’ Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the good news.” Now my point here is not to talk about visions, as great as they may be. And my point here is not to determine whether it’s better to have this foreigner or that foreigner appearing in your dreams. My point is simply this: God can work in your life much easier when you are relaxed and open. How much more relaxed and open can you be, than by being unconscious in a state of sleep? I think that’s why God so often has used and continues to use visions and dreams. But before you rush to the neighborhood pharmacy to buy some Melatonin, realize that you don’t have to be unconscious for God to speak to you. You just have have to be humble, willing, and ready to hear him.

A few other tidbits that came to me:

1.) We are our own best friend & our own worst enemy. – Sure, there are lots of things that are not within our control. There are also alot of things that ARE within our control. One thing that is always in our control is how we react to life happening. All too often we hide behind the lie of being helpless as a way to excuse how we react to certain things. All too often we see defects and problems that are noone else’s doing but our own, and we despair. How do you fix yourself if you yourself are the root of the problem? We are our own worst enemy because of this. But (there’s always a “but” in the vocabulary of the ever optimistic Christian), this should also give us great hope. If we are our own worst enemy because of the power we wield against ourselves, then it should follow that for this very same reason we are our own best friend. Who controls whether or not we react with charity or anger? We do. Who controls whether or not we go to Sunday Mass or stay in bed? We do. Who ultimately makes our choice for good or for evil? WE do.

2.) Giving out of our need – as a pretty frequent 10% tither in the past, I was comfortable. It was a little more than I wanted to give, but not so much that I felt uncomfortable. I knew I was doing good, and that was enough for me. Now, as a foreign missionary, I have become acquainted with giving out of my need, instead of giving out of my excess. 10% net tithing of an American sized weekly income, even when small, still leaves alot left. Giving ANYTHING when you live in excess of $6000 below the poverty line, is a little tougher. It’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s where our words that we preach and profess are tried and tested, to see if we’re ready to live it. Never before did I ever think I’d be stingy about a single apple, or a few slices of bread. Never before have I felt the remorse I feel when I think I’ve not given enough to someone who is truly poor. And never before have I felt the immense joy of truly giving out of my need. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it. For their livelihood, and for your holiness.

3.) Giving lovingly and not begrudgingly – It’s SOOOO easy to give begrudgingly. Resenting that poor person because you think they’re too lazy to work for it, or because they’re bothering you at an inconvenient time. How dare they do such a thing! And to tell you the truth, I have a long way to go in this area before I get to where I wanna be. But I’m glad it’s not easy. I’m glad it’s a challenge. Because I know that when I do get to a point in my life as a Christian, that I can give to those in need, and do it with LOVE, then I will indeed be blessed.

4.) Voluntary poverty – Now why on God’s green earth would someone choose poverty? That’s just straight up dumb! If that’s the hand life deals you, then ok. But to choose it? You mean to tell me that you WANT to be poor? You want to give up the securities of a financially comfortable life? WHY?!?!? I’ll tell you why. It’s for the same reason that our omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God decided to incarnate himself to save us. To truly serve with compassion those to whom God has sent us to serve, we can’t look down on them. We can’t be prideful. We have to live among them. We have to be friends with them. We have to suffer with them. We have to feel their pain. It is only then that we can truly minister to them with a sense of urgency, passion, and care.

5.) Maybe it’s God’s plan to allow us to struggle – This one ties in pretty closely with #4. Looking back on my first year of missions, I spent WAY too much of it trying to retain a level of comfort and security which would remind me of life back home in the States. I resented the fact that my mission partners, while cooking a sufficient quantity of food for us to live off of, cooked food that at times was humble and far from fancy. And not gonna lie, at times I could have eaten alot more that what we had. Mission life is hard enough already, why skimp on food? This year, I still struggle with not wanting myself to struggle. Since we’ve been here, and especially in my time since language school, it seems like me and my mission partner’s meager monthly stipends have been burning holes in our pockets. We have just barely enough to survive, but not enough to survive without having to worry. Part of me hates this. Why should I have to worry about whether or not we can put gas in our van? Why should I have to worry about whether or not I will have to live off of hotdogs for the next 2 weeks? But as these worries flood my mind, I start to realize some of what those who are truly poor have to go through all the time. And then I hang my head in shame. While I simultaneously thank God for all he has given me. God you’ve made your point. Well played, my Lord. Well played.

That’s all I got this week y’all. Hope you have a blessed week. Ciao!

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My latest FMC newsletter article

Missions Is The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Loved…………..

There’s a common misconception in our world today that Love is synonymous with good feelings and easy times. And while good feelings and easy times can sometimes be indicators of a season of God’s grace in our lives, they are not the be all and end all of the Christian life. When we look in the Bible, from Adam to Moses to Jesus to the Early Church, we see lives of sacrifice. Whether God tests us as he did with Job, or whether we are persecuted for our beliefs as were Jesus and the early Christians, we know that the path to salvation is not an easy one. The first half of Isaiah 49:4 says “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity” I do not mention these things to discourage you. I mention them to encourage you. I don’t want you to lose heart as soon as things get tough. I don’t want you to think all is lost when tough times reappear.

As I sit here in our mission house in St. Lucia, reflecting on my first three and a half months as a foreign missionary, this is what comes to me. As a matter of fact, the title of this very article is a phrase that popped into my mind when reflecting on how to describe life as a missionary. What is so hard about being a missionary? The first thing that comes to mind is family and friends. As good as they are, and as much as they are a blessing in my life, God has called me to the sacrifice of being far, far away from them for the next 2-3 years of my life. Then there are all the small luxuries of life in America. I can’t go down the road to Meche’s donuts. There’s no boiled crawfish readily (or ever) available. Sometimes we don’t have hot water. It’s never cold, which on the flipside, means it’s always hot. On a more serious note, we face a nation that struggles mightily with promiscuity and a breakdown in the family unit. We face churches that are dwindling in numbers. Many of the youth are surrounded by poverty and affected by gang violence and other types of crime.

On a personal level, missions is hard because I actually have to look at myself for who I really am. In this sense, missions is kind of like a cross between a mirror and a microscope. God is stripping away the layers, helping me to get to know the true me, for better or for worse. In a nutshell, I’ve come to discover that I can be a grumpy recluse who is selfish and can’t be bothered.

However, lest you think missions is too hard, I must also mention the amazing things about life as a missionary. The first thing is that God provides. The second half of Isaiah 49:4 says “yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God.” I experienced this truth in bits and pieces over the years on the many mission trips and pilgrimages that I participated in. Never did I lack for funds or any other necessity. And now, as a full-time missionary I get to experience that all the time. Even if it’s at the 11th hour, God ALWAYS supplies me with the money I need to travel or buy supplies. Many times his providence is not only sufficient but also abundant! Whether it’s through my benefactors back home or the generous people of St. Lucia, I am never lacking anything I need. Never.

Another tremendous blessing of being in missions is seeing how God raises up servants to be our co-workers in the vineyard. With all the difficulties of getting adjusted to being a foreign missionary, living in a foreign country, and coming face to face with all the problems here, I was beginning to get discouraged. I just couldn’t see how there could possibly be anyone who would carry the torch whenever our time here is done. However, God has slowly revealed that there are amazing servants here who are willing and ready to work right along side with us. There’s the lady who feeds the poor and fosters orphans, Our pastor and his driver give us rides since we don’t have a car. Our friends in the community (who oftentimes are poor and in need) bring us food and cook for us. Young adults from the community have become regular visitors at our mission house and are beginning to help us plan bible studies and other ministries. Our Archbishop, Robert Rivas will often take time to serve guests their meals at various diocesan events. If I had more space, I could give you many more examples.

One thing I never realized about missions was that my relationships with my family would actually improve. Kinda seems silly when you think about it. Lemme move thousands of miles away, and not see my family for months and months at a time. Yeah, that’ll work. But it’s so true. In the absence felt both by me and  my family members, God is filling our hearts with a special grace. That grace is to be able to endure the sacrifices so that we can receive the blessings. Never before have I had such a good relationship with my parents.

The last thing I’d like to say is directed towards those out there unsure or discontent. Like some of you, I used to wake up every morning discontent. I would either think “Do I really have to go to class today? or I wish I didn’t have to go to work.” Even when school was good or work was not causing me stress, I always had that thought in the back of my mind that “there’s gotta be more than this”. Though you may think I’m crazy, I want to advise you to hold onto this, Pray about it, meditate upon it, and think about it. Take this discontent, and instead of letting it make you bitter or hopeless, let it motivate you to seek out what God wants for your life. Allow God to use the tragedies in your life, the moments where you are shaken to your very core to draw you closer to him. God’s has given me the grace to be able to do these things, and I do not regret it at all. Since my very first day of missionary training, and every day that I’m in the mission field, never have I woken up with dread or discontent in my heart. I know that I’m where God wants me to be, and that brings a joy and surety to my soul that is almost indescribable.

Brothers and sisters, please keep me in your prayers and be assured of mine.

“The Lord called me from the womb and he said to me ‘I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’ ” (take from Isaiah 49:1-6)

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April 2011 Newsletter

For every Good Friday there’s an Easter Sunday!

“The Word of God will be fulfilled in our lives to the extent that we embrace it” -Fr. Jason Biscette-

To my Friends and Family,

Greetings from St. Lucia! It brings me great pleasure to be able to write you again. Can you believe it? As I write this letter I realize that I have been here for two and a half months already. Where did the time go?!? It seems like we were just getting here the other day and trying to get ourselves settled in. It’s hard to believe that we’ve already been here this long. But praise God that we’ve got lots of time left here and that there’s lots he has for us to do. So let’s get right to it. As the beginning of April drew closer, I started debating with myself about what to write to y’all. I said to myself “What is it that my benefactors need to hear? What is going to help them realize that what they do for me is vital to my mission work? How will they know that their sacrifices of prayer and financial support are indeed going to a worthy cause?” Finally I realized that I needed to put some faces to the stories from the mission field. So instead of this letter being a laundry list of things that God is giving us to do (and believe me, he’s giving us A LOT), I’m going to tell you stories of people that are part of our lives and ministry here in St. Lucia.

My first story is about one of the nurses here at the Marian Home for the Elderly. Her name is Patricia Monero. She is in her late 30’s, is a single mother, has two teenage sons, and works full-time. When we first got here and started our ministry at the Marian Home, she told us that she had two teenage sons. Being that we have lots of kids here (10 to be exact) we told her to bring them by sometime to meet the family. Little did we know how much we would get to know her story and be involved in their lives. The boys come over daily for fellowship and supper when they finish school. As a single mother who struggles to get by every month, not having to pay for after school care or worry about her boys’ safety is a huge help to her. We’re also able to assist them with school work and bring them with us when we go to church or do youth group activities. The opportunity to witness to Patricia and her boys through our simple, humble missionary way of life is a blessing for them and us as well. Her boys’ father is absentee at best, and at times has been a physically abusive alcoholic. Due to the breakup of her relationship with the father, she is having to vacate the piece of property that their house is on. At present, we have already assisted her with paperwork to obtain a piece of land in the countryside from the government. Mainly due to my mission partner’s construction skills, we also stand ready to assist in the construction of a new house, or in the relocation/renovation of her current house. Please pray for Patricia and her sons Dylan and Marlin in this tough time they face.

My second story is about a local pro-life warrior, Sabina. She lives about ten minutes walking distance from our residence, and occasionally attends Daily Mass at the Marian Home chapel. We first became acquainted with her when she invited us to help her prayer group to feed the poor in Castries. On the first Friday in March she escorted us to her house where we assisted in preparing food to feed roughly 400 people. The next morning we met her prayer group downtown and assisted in passing out food and drink, as well as using the opportunity to evangelize. We participate again in April and it looks like we’ll be able to help out on a monthly basis. She herself has had it rough, with lots of family members passing away. But in spite of the adversity she’s faced, her commitment to the poor and less fortunate is an inspiration. She also distributes clothing to the poor and homeless around town. In her house she is currently housing two young unwed mothers, and is fostering a child. While a lot remains to be done here to establish a widespread pro-life ministry network, she is certainly laying the groundwork. She is an answer to our prayers for pro-life ministry here in St. Lucia, and we will continue to assist her in whatever way we can.

It would be remiss of me to leave out our Saturday workday accomplishments as well. To this point we have cleaned up a large portion of yard waste and downed tree limbs, and have also succeeded in doubling the size of the vegetable and fruit garden. From donations received, a basketball backboard and hoop have been purchased and installed in the back yard.We’ve also organized a schoolroom full of books for distribution to area schools and the local library. Our future plans include reinforcing the rear perimeter fencing, renovating the basketball playing surface, and making a prayer garden. As I draw this letter to a close, I continue to ask for your prayers. Please pray for the success of our ministries, funding to attend various ministry events this summer, and for our spiritual and physical health. Remember to email me if you need anything (sidsavoie@catholic.org ) or visit my missionary blog at https://cajunmissionary.wordpress.com.

God Bless,

Sid Savoie

“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” –Lamentations 3:25-26–

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WRAP UP AT 30,000 FEET ABOVE SEA LEVEL

Sunday 3/14/10 – Approx. 30000 feet in the air, aboard American Airlines flight from Monterrey, Mexico to Dallas, TX

We’d need to go back into my journal to verify, but i think this is the first journal I’ve ever done while flying on a plane. The sun is shining, the weather is beautiful, and all is good. It’s a bittersweet happiness though as I head home after a week of amazing mission work in General Cepeda, Mexico. The realization that I may never see the people I encountered this week until we get to heaven, is, well, a little tough. I fell even more in love with the people of General Cepeda. I feel in love with and was inspired by my fellow missionaries.

**random side story: As I was boarding the plane, I saw that a pilot was among the passengers. A question I had always wondered came to mind. Wouldn’t distance travelled be less if planes flew at a lower altitude? The answer is yes and no (according to the answers he gave me). If planes lifted straight into the air like a helicopter, the distance would be greater as the altitude increased. However, planes ascend and descend at a gradual rate, changing the actual distance travelled. Another aspect of the equation is that at higher altitudes the air is thinner and provides less resistance, ergo, less gas is burned.**

Back to my regular entry: Of particular inspiration to me among the people of General Cepeda were the native missionary families like Tonio and Mari. In spite of their relative poverty, they give of themselves and their family as missionaries to their own people. They are generous and supportive as co-laborers with the FMC missionaries. Their example as missionaries and as a married couple was very inspiring. I kow, without a doubt that God has blessed them and is using them in a powerful way.

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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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