Posts Tagged With: praise

Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 15

Day 15 – Monday – 10/8/12

Well, I made it through my first two weeks of the fast. I’ve definitely learned and grown alot already; I’ve definitely gained some clarity in my discernment of next year’s mission post. But, there’s still alot of time left in my fast so I’m sure there’s alot more progress to be made. I think this week I will start eating my daily meal at breakfast. Or, I might split my daily meal between breakfast and lunch to see how that works. See how it affects the hunger factor. One of the main reasons for the second option is that with a once daily meal, it’s a little bit bigger than a normal-sized meal for me. I suppose that’s a way to compensate for less meals. Guess that’s ok, as long as i’m not eating a daily meal that’s big enough to be three meals! 🙂 More food = more time to prepare it and eat it. But, after morning prayer I usually have things I like to do before our morning ministry gets started and I don’t know if I’d have time to eat AND do all of that stuff. Ergo, the split-meal idea. I’ll at least try it today and see how it works out.

edit: Tried the split-meal thing and it seems to work ok. But, I think as long as I don’t dilly-dally I can eat a meal all at once. Might try that tomorrow. A meal all at once would also give me more of a hunger feeling later on in the day, that I can offer up. 🙂

Earlier today we did our second to last rancho visits to Santa Ines and Independencia. Let them know that in two weeks would be our last official visit as a mission team before the 2 groups of missionaries arrive in November. At the rancho where I conducted the communion service (Independencia), I had a good chat with the lady who is the unofficial caretaker of the chapel. I’m giving her that honorary title because she is the keeper of the tabernacle keys, and i think she’s one of the few regulars when they pray the rosary in the chapel. She was lamenting the fact that few people show up at the chapel, whether it’s a rosary or a communion service. She specifically mentioned her wish that people would have a hunger for God. HUNGER. This word caught my attention for obvious reasons. It’s the type of hunger that she’s obviously concerned with, and in my fasting i’m realizing that it’s the type of hunger I too should be concerned with. I kinda smiled on the inside when she said that, because knowing that she and a precious few others like her are in that rancho keeping the light of Christ burning, is very comforting. Regardless of the numbers, it’s nice to know as a missionary that the people you serve have a hunger and a thirst for God.

Last but not least, offer up a little prayer for our mission team here. One of the guys was sick last night and this morning, and the other one has been sick today. Praise the Lord I haven’t gotten sick, but I woke up late, and have been in kind of a funk all day. I feel like it might be some kind of spiritual attack. So like I said, prayers please! 🙂

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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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St. Lucia – The Final Countdown

Saturday – September 3, 2011 – 11:00am – Benedictine Convent @ Mount of Prayer, Coubaril, Castries, St. Lucia

So, it looks like we’ve come to the end of the road here in St. Lucia. (cue the sappy Boyz 2 Men music) When I came back here on August 25th, it was with the intention to follow my original plan. I would remain here until the end of November and then return to Big Woods for Year End Review. However, right before I came back, Mark informed me that  on their family retreat, they discerned it was time for them to leave St. Lucia. They were in need of some time to rest, recuperate, and re-energize themselves. So they will be in Oregon with their family until they return to Big Woods at the end of November for Year End Review. Even when I first heard this, my initial reaction was to stick to my original plan of remaining here until it was time for Year End Review. After all, I do have a problem of sticking to my commitments. A worthy reason to remain, by anyone’s standard, in my opinion.

But as I got back a week ago and really started to think and pray about it, my mind started to change. For one thing, I realized that if I stayed here by myself, I would not have the benefit of the missionary community life. And this is something I REALLY need. As contemplative and solitary as I can be at times, I know that I need to live in community in order to be as spiritually strong as possible. It also seemed like all of the various little signs we were receiving pointed to  us leaving St. Lucia and moving on to a different mission post. Now keep in mind that I believe we were meant to be here. God called us here and allowed us to be here. We were able to accomplish many things and make many friends. But, now it is time for us to move on. It is time to go, because we believe God is calling us out of this place.  (Speaking of plans, I heard one time that if you want to make God laugh then make plans.)

So once I decided it was prudent for me to leave St. Lucia at the same time as the Eckstines, my plan (haha) was to go straight to General Cepeda and spend some time there as a missionary while waiting for Intake 2011 to arrive for their mission immersion experience in November. Well, that kinda fell through (lack of sufficient funds in my missionary account). Now it’s confirmed that I will be returning to Big Woods on Wednesday September 21st to help out with Intake and to do whatever else Frank and Genie need me to do. Then, when Intake goes to Mexico in November I’ll accompany them. So, I’ll still get to go but not for as long as I’d thought and with a large group instead of just a few full-time missionaries.

There’s still alot of blessings for me this way though. For one thing, I get to exercise the virtue of obedience by respecting Mr. Frank’s insight and wishes by returning to Big Woods from here. I also get a wonderful opportunity to get to know the new missionaries and maybe start getting a feel for who my new mission partners might be next year. Being close to home ain’t too bad either. Always good to be able to see loved ones, family, friends, etc…. I really think too that the community life at Big Woods during Intake will do much to refresh me and renew me even further. Recapture some of the zeal and passion of being a missionary. This has also been a good experience of seeing how God can change our plans and work contrary to our reasoning and logic in order to get us to a certain point where we can experience certain blessings.

Logic would have told me to stay in Lafayette so that I would not “waste” money on two plane tickets and already be at Big Woods for Intake. But then, I wouldn’t be able to say good-bye to everyone here. I wouldn’t be able to tie up loose ends. I wouldn’t be able to finish up my time at my mission post with my mission partners. Logic would also have told me that I should go straight to Mexico from here. Experience “normal” missionary life in General with other full-time missionaries and without a big group . See what day to day life is really like there as a missionary.  But as I said earlier, this would mean that I lose out on all the opportunities I have at Big Woods. Come to think of it, the theme of my whole first year in missions has been life not as I expect it, with plans changing many times. But I can tell you that because of this, and because of the many other blessings and challenges associated with this, my first year as a full-time foreign lay missionary has been a time of enormous spiritual growth and insight.

Praise God for such an awesome first year, & here’s to an even better 2nd year. God bless!

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I will refresh you with living waters

Wednesday – June 15, 2011 – 6:15am – Marian Home Chapel – Castries, St. Lucia

One of the challenges I’ve discovered in my first few months as a Catholic lay foreign missionary, is that even though you may have grown enough to the point where God can use you as his instrument, you still are not perfect. I also commented last night as our group of SSME missionaries did Night Prayer, that the Devil does not like what we are doing and will come against us however he can. (Our scripture for Night Prayer was the one that talks about being on guard because the Devil prowls like a roaring lion, seeking to devour its prey.).

Since we’ve been here, I’ve been reminded that I still struggle with a lack of patience, joy, zeal, and humility. And since a big struggle in the past has been chastity (or lack thereof), the Devil has been throwing those kinds of temptations my way. It almost seems like the more and more I strive to be chaste and holy, the more temptations are thrown my way, and the more lies the Devil tries to get me to believe. On top of that, it seems like now that I’ve achieved a certain level of victory over sins of the flesh, that “sins of the spirit” that I mentioned earlier (impatience, lack of zeal, etc.) come at me with a fury. (Disclaimer: Even though I realize I’ve achieved a certain level of victory against sins of the flesh, I realize in humility that I must always be vigilant and on-guard and humble so that I do not fall back into these sins again.)

So taking all of this into account, you can see how my beginnings as a foreign missionary, though blessed, have been challenging and frustrating at times. This morning, as I was about to take a shower before Mass, all of this was on my mind again. Even though the wheels are always turning in my mind, I was puzzled as to why God allowed this to be on my mind at THIS time of day. As I step into the shower, turn the cold water handle, and feel a blast of cold water hitting my head, I think about how good it feels after a restful but sweaty night of sleep. Then I hear the Lord tell me “I will refresh you with living waters”. A sense of peace came over me. Thank you Lord for telling me what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it.

(Interesting sidenote: Right before my shower, I was reading Mrs. Genie’s 2nd book, and was at the part where she relates the story of how God revealed to her what their family’s missionary newsletter should be called. Having just read that, and then having the experience I just had, I decided that my missionary newsletter will be called “Living Waters”. It just seems so right and that it’s the perfect fit. Praise the Lord!)

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Still feelin’ like a tourist, but this tropical paradise does have it’s quirks………..

To see pics, follow this link (you might have to copy and paste if clicking on it doesn’t work):

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=263701&id=605007873&l=01d8a8adbc

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 – 5:20pm – In my room at the Corpus Christi Carmelite Convent in Castries, St. Lucia

Ok, I gotta say that I’m not one for alliteration, but check out my location. That’s a buncha C’s. Anyhoo, today was a great day. One of the things we were taught to do as a missionary is to get to know the culture, people, and places associated with your mission post. The idea is that you want to inculturate yourself so that you’re not a stranger and so you can work among the people. As part of that, we took a tour of the island today. One of Sister Annie’s volunteers (Tim) hooked us up with a friend of his that has a taxi/van that can be rented out for tours. When we first walked up to the van, I already thought “boy, this’ll be interesting fitting everybody in there” because it looks like the size of a sardine can. Then, when I saw that there were two additional women and a baby already in there (and the driver of course) I really did a double-take. It just didn’t seem like everybody was gonna fit. But, we ended up like a circus-act clown car, and everyone managed to get in. Not that we had a ton of extra space inside, but we were all reasonably comfortable. By my count, we ended up fitting 18 people into that van. Craziness, I know. This van was like most Catholic churches I’ve seen. They seem much bigger once you get on the inside. Maybe the Lord just shrinked our bodies or multiplied space. Je ne sais pas.

So, we basically headed south from Castries, stopping at various scenic viewpoints along the way. We stopped at the top of a hill in Castries that overlooks the bay where the cruise ships dock. We also stopped at Marigot Bay and a few other nice areas and got some really good photos. Even saw some cats at one of the places. 🙂 (Nerdy, I know. But i’m a cat lover). The thing was though, that we didn’t stop at half the places with nice views because there were so many of them. When we got to Vieux Fort (on the Atlantic side) we stopped and had lunch and played on the beach for awhile. At first it was rainy and cloudy but eventually cleared up and we really enjoyed it. Except for right on shore where the waves churn up some sand, the water was a gorgeous blue. Got to see the Maria Islands just off-shore too. As the kids were playin’ in the sand and water, I found what looked like some natural sponges that washed up from the sea. I found a few that were decent sized and soft and brought them back. One is serving as a pencil/pen holder in my closet, and another will be used as a loofah. Well, I’ll attempt to anyways. After the beach we made our way back north, passing through Dennery and a few other towns along the way. Once we got back, I was happy. Though taking the tour and inculturating ourselves was nice, it was good to get back home.

There’s lots of other little blessings too here in St. Lucia. For one thing, the temperature is between 70 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit and breezy…………………………YEAR ROUND! And it rains here almost everyday, never for more than a few minutes at most. Helps keep things at a nice moderate temperature. Also helps out when you wanna take a nap. 🙂 The view from my room is amazing. I see alot of the homes on the surrounding hillsides, and we’re a mile or two at most from the harbor where all the cruise ships dock. Within a 10-15 minute walk from our living quarters are the Cathedral, Walcott square, and a bazillion different little shops and restaurants. Tim was teaching me a few Creole phrases last night, and one of the local priests is supposed to be teaching us some Creole too. The other day when me, Mark, and Lora were grocery shopping, I got to talk to one of the locals in French. I could go on and on. But the flipside to all these little blessings is that it makes me feel like a tourist. I kinda feel guilty and a little uncomfy. After all, I came here to be a missionary, not a tourist. We’ve been here almost a week and have done a whole lot yet, as far as missionary activity is concerned.

However, Mr. Frank reminded me that when beginning a new mission post, patience is essential. Things don’t happen all at once. They take awhile to get up and running. Until then, he said we gotta take time to get settled in, acclimate to our surroundings, find out where everything is at. Eventually he says that things will get to a point where you’ll be so busy that you have to turn down some opportunities. I look forward to that day. But until, then I’ll be content with where God has me at. I think another lesson God is trying to teach me is that I need to let him bless me as much as he wants. If he didn’t want these blessings to happen, then he would have found a way for me not to be here. Also, he doesn’t bless me because i’ve earned it, he blesses me because he wants to and because he loves me. Help me Lord to simply accept your blessings.

Another facet of all this, is that before the obvious opportunities for missionary activity present themselves, we are trying as a mission team to be open to all the small opportunities to be Christ-like. One instance of this is when Lora & Mark & some of the kids have visited the nursing home next to the convent. The other day when grocery shopping, I had the opportunity to buy lunch for some guy that I met (the same guy I spoke french with). We’ve had several opportunities to pray with people.

Mortification, in many small ways, is another facet of our mission post so far. When God puts you in paradise, expect to love it and to be blessed. But part of our mandate as lay Catholic missionaries is to have compassion. (“Compassion” literally means “to suffer with”.) There has to be some way that we have pain, or struggle, or suffering so that we can grow stronger, and have something to offer up as a prayer for others (just as Christ did). For as it says in Colossians 1:24:

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church…”

One of the ways that I’ve done this is with cold showers. The hot water here is heated by solar power (to save electricity). However, this means that in the mornings, when I like to take my showers, there is NO hot water. 🙂 See where I’m headed? Another thing is that a regular old coffee pot that we use back in the states to brew costs over $100U.S. (almost $300E.C. – eastern carribean dollars). So unless a generous donor wants to ship one to us from the U.S., we are drinking instant coffee. For our everyday activities, we have to walk everywhere, no car of our own. My closet door can’t close all the way because of the way it is positioned in my room. We have no dishwasher, our oven is small. I could give you lots of other examples of the many small ways that we have opportunities to “self-mortify”. All in all, I’m glad that we have them, for reasons mentioned earlier. It gives a sense of accomplishment and legitimacy to our mission.

I’d just like to finish up by saying that our first week here has been tremendously blessed so far. Things are falling into place for our ministries and we are making fruitful contact with all the various people we’ll be working with. People are being immensely generous for us, and helping to provide us with all the things we need (including food and groceries to get us started, as well as a local cellphone!) We have a place to stay free of rent, and just have to pay utilities and grocery bills. There are so many good things happening that I can’t even write about them all because it would make this the longest journal entry ever, AND IT’S ONLY THE FIRST WEEK! Everything that is happening is confirming the fact that we are right where God wants us. Mr. Frank even said that never before has a mission post started off with so many things falling into place so easily and quickly. That being said, I am VERY excited about what God has in store for us in the coming weeks and months.

God Bless!

p.s.- Thought the seasponges I found at Vieux Fort (Atlantic side) would make good loofahs. NOT so. Just a bit too rough. They’ll probably make better sink and toilet and shower scrubbers. 🙂

p.s.s. – I should also mention that we have daily access to Mass and Confession (if necessary). 😀 Praise the Lord!

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January 2011 Missionary Newsletter!

Dearest Benefactors and Prayer Supporters,

 

It is with great joy that I write this latest newsletter to y’all. There is much to rejoice about and much news to share. First of all, let me share the big news that I now have a mission post! Praise God! When I sent out the last newsletter, there were three possible mission posts and we were searching and hoping and praying and emailing and doing everything we could to try and figure out where God wanted our mission team to go. To make a long story short, we finally heard back from Archbishop Rivas and he welcomes us with open arms in St. Lucia! (For those who don’t know, St. Lucia is a tiny island nation in the southern part of the eastern Carribean. The island is a mere 14 miles x 24 miles, with a population of approximately 160,000. English is the primary language, while many of the people also speak Creole. The people are friendly and the culture is welcoming. However, family life is not strong and purity and chastity are often overlooked.) Archbishop Rivas informed us that we will be staying at a convent with the Corpus Christi Carmelites. They live on the second floor, and there are several rooms on the first floor where myself and the Eckstine family will stay.

 

As far as ministry is concerned, we know for sure that there is a nursing home on the same premises where we will be ministering. The Archbishop also asked me to teach at one of the all-boys school. Aside from that, there are lots of other possibilities. We are hoping to have lots of opportunities to evangelize as well as work with the poor. As mentioned above, we also hope that our witness as a family and a committed single will open doors for ministering to and strengthening family life as well as the values of chastity and purity in the culture. And as funny as it may sound, we hope to be able to minister to tourists as well. Whether it be standing at the dock when the cruise ships come in holding a sign with information on Mass times and ministry opportunities, or whether it be our simple witness through our missionary way of life, we hope to inspire visitors to witness to the Gospel EVEN when they are on vacation. I guess you could say that patience and waiting has paid off. As it says in Isaiah 40:31 “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength”. We fly out of New Orleans on January 19th to head to St. Lucia, with a  quick layover in Miami. However, as much as it brings me joy to report on all of this good news, please offer up prayers for the other mission teams. They are still trying to figure out lots of details and logistics, and when you’re a missionary who’s ready to go out into the mission field, waiting can be very difficult.

 

The Lord has also blessed me tremendously in my preparations to leave for St. Lucia. I’ve been able to whittle down my clothing and possessions to what I can fit in my luggage. A friend of mine donated to me a large duffel bag which will help tremendously in packing my clothes and other items. One of the gifts my parents gave me for Christmas is a digital camera, which will help me to document all of our missionary activities and keep everyone posted via blogs, facebook, and email. I could go on and on about all the kindness shown to me and the help given to me as I prepare to leave for missions. Alas, I only have two pages for my newsletter, so I’ll save some of the stories for my online blog! I do have some prayer requests that I’d like you to offer up. 1.) For ABUNDANT prayer support for all of FMC and its missionaries. We cannot do what we do if we are not supported daily in prayer. 2.) Focus and dedication for all of the missionaries. It’s very easy to get distracted and lose sight of what God has called us to do. 3.)Please also pray that God would raise up generous donors for our efforts. Trust me, I hate to talk about money, but I have to. It’s a necessity. As a mission company and as individual missionaries, we simply cannot do what we do without the help of others.

 

In closing, I would like to thank y’all for the tremendous amount of support you have given me, and thank you for your continued support. Please send me any prayer intentions you have so that I can add them to my missionary prayer list. If you wish to stay in touch with me in between newsletters, you can email me at sidsavoie@catholic.org. You can also visit my blog, https://cajunmissionary.wordpress.com, or you can look me up on facebook. And though I am no longer able to offer my services for speaking engagements, meetings, etc.., I’m more than happy to write articles or talks if needed. Once again, Thank You and God Bless You for your support. Please enjoy some pictures of life here at Big Woods Mission. (I couldn’t decide yet which pics to use, so just go look on my facebook profile! 🙂 )

 

In Christ,

Sid Savoie

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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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Epiphany in the shower………

10-22-10 – On the swing facing the pasture, back porch of the big house @ Big Woods Mission Base

When I was cleaning up after my morning jog, I was doing some reflecting on things I’ve been going through and thinking about lately. It felt like such an amazing epiphany that I praise God that I remembered it until now. Seems like so many times I’ve had great ideas and things to share but I always forget them and forget to write them down. I hope that I can maybe share this with everybody at High Praise tonight.

By now I’m sure you’re thinking “Get to the point!” so here goes. As I stared going to Mission Formation last year, the Intake missionaries told me that no matter who you are, Intake will change your life. They were not lying, I can assure you. I have to admit that I was not even close to being saintly before Intake started and I still am not. However, I thought I was doin ok. Mostly small issues are what I felt I was dealing with. Boy oh boy, how big the small things turn out to be. Since Intake is an intense journey further towards the Lord, you learn alot about yourself. It’s like being under a microscope and REALLY getting to know yourself and your faults.

At this point, I’ve discerned that my 3 primary struggles are 1.) Laziness, 2.) Impatience, or in other words, failing to live in the present moment and receive it’s blessings without being too focused on the future, & 3.) Letting go of relationships and the desire for them. I already knew that laziness and impatience would give me problems, but I really felt like with out one year singles commitment that #3 would not be a struggle. I was wrong. It continues to be a great struggle for me. Besides the whole weakness of “being in love with Being in Love”, the wonderful missionaries I’m surrounded by make it really difficult too. What I mean is that I’m surrounded by amazing married, engaged, and dating couples. I see how the Lord blesses them through that and it makes me really want that. And then I see the amazing females that God called to FMC and it makes me want it even more. I mean, How can you NOT be enamored with a woman whose inner beauty far exceeds her outer beauty? (though to be fair, I should qualify that statement and say that the outer beauty is still TOTALLY righteous) :]

What makes me really ashamed is when my petty insecurity and jealousy raises its ugly head. When I see people that I admire sharing their genuine love and Christ-like affection with others, I don’t know how to handle it, except by maybe keeping silent and bringing it to prayer. It’s as if they owe their affection to me and me alone. I also seem to have a greater desire for human companionship than I do for companionship with Jesus. How could I do this? Why would I want to be this way? In light of the grace that God offers us, I have no answers to these questions and my selfishness is non-sense. Only thing I can say is that somehow/someway God’s grace will get me through this.

Recently, I was reading a book that Mrs. Genie passed on to me. It’s titled “Prison to Praise”, and it’s a pastor’s testimony of God’s saving grace in his life. But beyond that, what really struck me was what he viewed as the solution to our problems. Let me begin with a key bible verse he used to make his point: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the spirit…” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

As I’m sure many others have been, I was really confused by this. Sure, praise God for the good, but for the BAD too? That’s ridiculous. That’s insane. That’s being a glutton for punishment. But the more and more I read & thought about it, the more and more it made perfect sense. If I don’t praise God in all things, then I lose my faith and confidence in Him, and start to give power to my circumstances. As soon as I do that, I do exactly what The Bible verse told me not to do. I begin to quench the Spirit. However, if I praise God for everything, it gives him glory, it helps me to realize that he has the power to overcome anything, and thus I begin to unlock his healing power in my life. This is such an amazing revelation to me and I praise God for it.

Another reason I feel blessed to realize this is it will help me to continue to strengthen myself and especially others. If I can’t allow myself to trust God in these “smaller” matters that I’m dealing with, then how can I trust him in bigger things? If HE can’t trust ME  to be faithful to him in these smaller matters, then how will HE be able to trust ME with bigger tasks? What really strikes me is that if I can’t trust God and praise him so that he can get me through this, then how can I possibly go to Mexico next month and minister to God’s children there, whose problems are much worse than mine? I feel like doing that would make me a liar and would diminish the power of my witness.

It would be so much easier to not trust God and not praise him for even the bad circumstances. At least that way things would make a little more sense and I’d at least have a little power I could call my own. But, I know that’s not what I’m called to do. I pray that by God’s grace I can praise him in all things, so that his healing power can flow freely in my soul. I pray that I can humbly receive the grace to “Let Go and Let God”. Lord, walking the straight and narrow path to holiness and salvation isn’t easy, but I know it’s worth it. Praise You Lord Jesus. Amen.

p.s. – It just occurred to me after all this talk of praising and thanking God, that the word “Eucharist” means “Thanksgiving”. Thank God I’m Catholic! 🙂

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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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Urban missionary’s spiritual battle ammo for extra graces……..

Thursday 7/22/10 – 3:30pm @ Awardmaster

You know how as soon as you get to work on certain days, that you can tell “it’s gonna be one of those days”? Well this morning certainly had that feel. For some reason, when my coworker asked me a question, I let my impatience mate with my propensity for placing blame and immediately started to get irritable. I noticed after a few minutes that I continued being like this and that I was just AGGRAVATED! Dunno where it came from either. However, something I did which I had not done well with in the past saved me. I prayed and asked for prayer in my moment of frustration. I sent a text message to a friend and asked her to pray for me, explained the situation and that I did NOT want to have a bad day. Listen to what she told me: “Smile though you don’t feel you can and offer it up for someone on your heart. You’re being given ammo for extra graces!” How true is that….. Praise God! I followed her advice and today ended up being a good day and my frustration never got to me. It wasn’t easy “offering it up” but it has made all the difference.

Another thing that has been a blessing for me is the development of new missionary-minded friends. There are three in particular that God has brought into my life and they are a TREMENDOUS blessing. When I was discerning the priesthood, one of my best friends who was also on that path was my rock. I could level with him about anything even the nitty gritty, and it really helped me on my journey.  The same holds true with these three. I feel like I can level with them about anything relating to my journey into missions. I feel like I can ask them for prayer. Whenever I talk with them, my heart is full of joy and contentment because I know that our faith is what brought us together, and because I know they have a heart for missions. They have not been in my life for very long but I am thankin’ God right now that he blessed me with their presence, friendship, and guidance. At this point I’m pretty sure that one of them will definitely be with me @ Intake and another probably  will be there too (don’t know for sure yet, since the application was just faxed in today).

In other news, I gave a missions talk at the Lafayette Men’s Ultreya last night. The moment I confirmed that I was doin the talk I knew I needed prayer. Had my amazing missionary friends (and some others) prayin’ for me and the talk was AMAZING! You coulda heard a pin drop these guys were so riveted to what I was sayin. They ate it up and even asked some questions afterwards. Was blessed to get some contact info to add to my mailing list. What really humbled me though was how they lifted me up in prayer both before and after my talk. The feeling of being blessed by this was simply overwhelming. God is good to me through the people in my life 🙂 Oh  yeah, Mr. Jim Whittington, the leader of this group, told me that he’d try to see if any other area Ultreyas would like me to talk as well. Anyhoo, I must be going. Gotta figure out some things for the Word of God conference this weekend in NOLA. I leave you with this verse, the story of my life: “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

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