Posts Tagged With: relationship

New Year reflections on love and life from a Cajun Catholic missionary

Sunday, January 13, 2013 – Noon thirty pm – Mom and Dad’s house – Lafayette, LA
It’s been awhile since I’ve done a journal entry, and I was startin to feel the itch. My impetus for this particular entry is my friendship with Anne. One of the things I really enjoy about our friendship is that I’m learning so much due to all the talking and discussion that happens between us. While Anne is the only one privy to all of the background stories and discussions, I still want to share these “gems” with y’all.
-“I want the whole truth & nothing but the truth, along with an undivided heart.” Perhaps just as bad as lying is failing to tell the whole truth. Yes, in telling partial truths you can literally say you are not intentionally lying to somebody. You may not even be desiring to lead them astray. But if you don’t give them the whole picture then you bear responsibility for when things go wrong. Related to this would be loving others with an undivided heart. Nothing’s worse than trying to have a discussion with someone who is distracted. If someone does not pay attention to me when I’m trying to have meaningful discussion or interaction with them, if their actions don’t prove to me that I’m important and that they’re focused on me, then I feel gypped. Same thing applies to loving others. If you only seek to fulfill the “minimum requirements of love” (as if such a thing even exists) then you are not going to be able to show that the relationship and the person are important to you. My advice is to do what you have to do, and then do more. The extra effort will be worth it.
-“What’s not a big deal to you may be a big deal to someone else.” We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences in life. Inevitably your outlook on certain issues will be different than that of those whom you love. That’s why you have to be considerate and take into account what your loved one has gone through, in order for you to be sensitive to how things affect them. A simple joke or a seemingly small issue for you could be something that touches upon a very sensitive area for your loved one. And because you love them, you have to be prepared to pay attention to these small things and act accordingly or avoid them if at all possible.
-“A small deal can become a big deal, in both good ways and bad.” As I stated in the last paragraph, small things that are not heeded can create problems. But it also works for good. A simple note, a quick hello, a little hug, or a meaningful compliment can make the day of the one you love.
-“Daily personal prayer time is a must, no matter how many other spiritual things you do.” Imagine trying to run a car on fumes. Or sustaining a friendship when virtually no meaningful communication exists. That’s essentially what you’re do to your relationship with God when you don’t pray. Aside from that relationship suffering, you also won’t be able to get what you need to live your life lovingly for others. The same can be applied to your relationship with your loved one. Without communication, your relationship will wither and die. And if you don’t relate to God daily in prayer, then you won’t be able to relate to your loved one in the way that you need to.
-“The ugly truth is better than a pretty lie.” Sometimes we are scared to reveal unpleasant truths about ourselves or our pasts for fear that the other person will stop loving us. If they do stop loving you, then it was not the right kind of relationship. However, chances are that they’ll love you anyways, because they can see through the imperfections. But if you hide truths from them, or if you lie about something (even if it’s in a seemingly innocent or protective sort of way) in order to make yourself look better, then your relationship’s foundation is weakened. A pretty lie is still a lie. But an unpleasant truth honestly and freely revealed, is still the truth. Doing that will help you to build trust with the one you love and it will help you to be vulnerable in a way that is good.
-“Loneliness and stress can be cruel masters or great motivators.” Loneliness and stress are two of the leadings causing of people doing dumb stuff. It’s because they focus so much on the problems of loneliness and stress as well as the by-products of these two things, that they lose sight of the solution. Sure it’s easy to wallow in misery and self-pity when stress and loneliness are knockin’ at your door. But just imagine how much better things could be if you allowed these two things to motivate you instead of torment you. Instead of seeking wordly things that will never fill the hole in your heart, allow loneliness and stress to motivate you to do charitable works, or to pray more, or to seek the company of others. If you do this not only will you grow, but your relationship with your loved one will grow as well.
-“Love is a choice that is worth your time and effort.” Sometimes love feels great, both literally and figuratively. But our modern culture lies to us when we are tricked into believing that love always feels good. Love is sometimes hard. Love is sometimes painful. Love is sometimes confusing. It doesn’t just happen. You have to choose it. Yet it’s always worth it. And what is love? Love is doing right and growing closer to God. If you want to show your loved one that you truly care for them, then do right and help them grow closer to God.
-“Trustworthiness and vulnerability go hand in hand.” You cannot trust someone if they cannot open up and be vulnerable with you. On the other hand, you cannot be vulnerable with someone if you cannot trust them. It’s kinda like the chicken and the egg question. I’m not sure which has to come first. I just know you gotta have both.
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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 24

Day 24 – Wednesday – 10/17/12

Had another opportunity to practice self-control last night and this morning. I continue to explore the cooking side of myself in little ways. Earlier this week I bought some peanuts because I wanted to make homemade peanut butter. Well, besides the fact that it is not as easy as I thought it would be, I also didn’t account for my hunger making it really hard to resist eating it. 🙂 You’d think I would have learned by now. But I did sample a little bit last night and this morning and I’d have to say that I’m very pleased with the outcome. It’s not like what you’d buy in a jar obviously. I simply shelled the peanuts, stuck ’em in a blender, add a few spoonfuls of cooking oil for moisture and creaminess and voila! Only thing i’ll do different next time is maybe add slightly less oil and put some sugar too. And If pecans weren’t so much work to shell, I’d do pecan butter. But I promise you I do not have that kind of patience, especially not when I’m on a fast. It’d either be torture not being able to eat the pecans, or I’d be so dang hungry that I’d eat the pecans as soon as they were shelled. Alas, that’s the biggest dilemma I face in life right now, which means I’m VERY blessed.

To revisit what seems to be a constant theme of my fast, I continue to learn about areas that I need to work on, and I continue to be humbled by the generosity of others. What seems to be most on my heart at this point in my fast, is my somewhat negative tendency towards selfishness and self-preservation. I use things like “fairness” and “being broke” to try and justify my behavior. Seemingly little stuff like not sharing my personal stash of coffee or sugar. But my mission partners, probably unbeknownst to them, continue to humble me and teach me in these small ways. Me asking Luis to hold off on doing his usual email/internet stuff so I could watch a UL Ragin’ Cajuns football game on a live video feed. And he did it! I can’t say with certainty that I would also have done that. Albert, before he left earlier this morning to go to the States for a few weeks to do some fundraising (say a quick prayer for that), bought some Mexican coffee for me since he knew that we were almost out. Again, it seems small, but God is using these small things to powerfully touch and move my heart. And I know Albert will be back in a couple of weeks, but I’ll definitely miss him. We enjoy the energy and friendliness that he adds to the mix here.

And unrelated to the fast, but I just feel like talking about it, is my recent decision to rejoin CatholicMatch.com. It’s basically a relationship/dating oriented website for Catholics. I did it for awhile last year, and was taking a break. But I decided that I needed to give it another chance. It’s a great way for the Lord to be able to introduce me to like-minded Catholic women and to be able to enjoy their company, form friendships, and possibly more. I think too that this time around I’m a little more patient about the whole process, and a little more mature and realistic in my expectations and how I go about doing it. So far I have really enjoyed it. Having great conversations that I really, really enjoy, and I can see for sure that I’ve at least got some new friends already. We’ll give it some time and prayer to see if God blesses it to go any further than that 🙂

Came across an AWESOME quote from Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth) an encyclical by Blessed Pope John Paul II that I’m currently reading. “In particular, the life of holiness which is resplendent in so many members of the People of God, humble and often unseen, constitutes the simplest and most attractive way to perceive at once the beauty of truth, the liberating force of God’s love, and the value of unconditioned fidelity to all the demands of the Lord’s law, and even in the most difficult situations.”

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 17

Day 17 – Wednesday – 10/10/12

Well, today is a slow day so far. We have office hours this morning and later this afternoon we’re doing a prayer service at a chapel in a neighborhood right behind our mission house. (update: Our prayer service was blessed. 7 people showed up. We sang, prayed, and preached the Word. I preached on John Chapter 6’s teaching on the Eucharist. It was also really nice to be able to do a prayer service/chapel visit within walking distance of our house! 🙂 )

Had a good walk around the plaza this morning. Nice and cool. Very fresh air. During office hours, we had one of our semi-regular visitors come over to ask for prayers for her daughter who had her newborn baby with her. After we prayed for her daughter and the baby, the lady asked for us to pray for her too. Apparently she was having some head pain. It feels really good when someone comes over to ask for prayer. Even when they have a legitimate material need we can help with, we know that the real reason we’re here, and the best we have to offer to them, is the Lord’s love. Regardless of what you have or don’t have, if you are in love with the Lord, that’s the most important thing.

Also have to look at setting up a twitter account. Need to help promote FMC on Facebook, but I’m doing a complete facebook fast as part of my 40 day fast. But, I believe I can setup a twitter account and send updates through twitter to Facebook without having to access Facebook. I really wanna be faithful to this fasting from Facebook. I feel like it will help me to grow in self-control and other ways, and will also help me to prioritize what’s really important in life (my relationship with the Lord). I’m feeling a little bit more of the hunger feeling now that I’m splitting my daily meal into two smaller “snacks”. Next week I may split the meal into three smaller snacks and see how that affects me.

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Silence and The Sower

Friday, August 17, 2012 – Noon – Ejido Tejocote – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Sometimes we prepare the soil. Sometimes we sow the seeds. Sometimes we water and nurture the plants as they grow. Sometimes we reap the harvest. All 4 are important. These were some of the thoughts that came to me during my weekly desert day prayer time. In my time here in Mexico I’ve been slowly reconnecting with my childhood hobby of gardening. I’ve also been thinkin’ about the parable of the sower and what happens to the seeds when they fall on the different types of soil.

And that’s what got me thinking about the 4 stages I mentioned above. So much emphasis is put on the reaping of the harvest. But so often we forget that for there to even be a harvest, someone has to first prepare the soil. No good soil = no plant. And what good does it do to prepare the soil if we aren’t actually planting the seed. Furthermore, if we plant the seed but never water it, nor prune and nurture the plant as it grows, then all has been for nought. And as we all know, if you do all that but don’t actually go out and reap the harvest, then it’s a waste. Maybe because of the line of “work” i’m in, I can’t help but think in terms of evangelizing and helping others. To me, preparing the soil is equivalent to forming a relationship with people. Sowing the seeds is equivalent to evangelizing. Watering and nurturing the plant is the follow-up that must be done and the maintaining of the relationship. And reaping the harvest is equivalent to helping them put their gifts to good use.

As I sat in silence during my desert day prayer time, I was enveloped by peace and stillness and this came to me: “The most profound silence I’ve ever experienced outside of Eucharistic Adoration has been during my experiences of desert day prayer time. Sometimes it’s so peaceful and quiet that I think I may have gone deaf because I see a blade of grass moving silently, or a spider web glistening in the sun. But without fail, I end up hearing the breeze blowing over the rocks and through the trees. And I think the silence is as profound as it it because of its nature. It’s not a purely nature-inspired silence. It’s not a mere admiration filled with awe and a love for natural beauty. It’s a God-infused silence that stills you way beyond the capacity of anything in the nature created realm to do so. It’s the Creator inhabiting his Creation.

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When one door closes, another opens

Saturday May 5th, 2012 – 1:45pm – In the guys’ trailer @ Big Woods Mission Base – Esther, LA

“The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure, silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” –Psalm 12:6–

It’s funny how our human concept of love often leaves out pain. Pain? Really? Love is supposed to be, well, happy! But in reality, love is a decision, not always easy, and sometimes painful. But Love is still Love. It will always be worth the sacrifices we have to make. In fact, if Love was so easy to arrive at, if it didn’t require any real sacrifice, if we didn’t have to put our hearts on the line without any guarantee of success, would it really be Love? I don’t think so.

Right before I started writing this journal entry, I was re-reading over my last one. At the end, I was talking about my trip up to Michigan to see my then-girlfriend Nina. Talked alot about being honest and open. That was something I could have done better at. Not that I was dishonest. It’s just that I wasn’t open enough about how I really felt and what was really important to me. I was actually having concerns before I even left Mexico for the St. Lucia trip, but aside from not being open about it, I figured that maybe our visit would clear things up. I needed to give it a chance. And I truly believe that. I knew that in spite of my concerns, that I needed to go through with the visit to Michigan. It’s because visiting in person and getting to know someone up close and personal is way different than doing things long distance. Whether it was a make it or break it visit, there was value to be had in us being together. Needless to say, we figured out that a relationship wasn’t in the cards. Now I could take this time to go over all the potential reasons why things didn’t work out. But I won’t because that’s between me, Nina, and God. I could also look back and lament the things that went wrong, or I could wonder what the purpose of the relationship was if it ended up not working out. What I’m gonna do is hold onto the fact that in spite of the relationship ending, God let this happen for a reason. It taught me more about myself, and helped me to grow closer to God. I pray that Nina derived the same benefit as well. When I look at how plans have changed as a result of this, I can again rejoice. I now have the chance to be with my missionary community at our home base here in Louisiana. I can visit with friends and family before I head back to Mexico.

Speaking of Mexico, I’m still not sure what will happen there either. The theme of my missionary life so far has been A.) Expect the unexpected, and B.) Plans will change. After talking to Joe a couple weeks ago, we came to the conclusion that because there were no major obstacles to me returning to Mexico, that I should do that. Once I arrive in Mexico, the idea is that I’ll stay until Intake 2012 arrives in November to wrap up their training. We recognized that one of my needs is to stay and commit to this mission post for the rest of the year and really put myself into it. Really give myself to these people. I agree with that. There’s nothing illogical about that conclusion. But for some reason, I’m not totally at peace with it. Maybe it’s just the normal hesitancy one experiences when facing the unknown or something new. There are other reasons though. Part of me wonders if that not being at peace is because the mission post is not a good fit for me. Another part of me wonders if I maybe just need to live in community at Big Woods for a few months and help out with Intake. Then there’s the opportunity for travel to Asia. I REALLY want to go to Asia, and FMC has a month long trip to the Phillipines planned for June, and a 3 week trip to India in December. If I stay in Mexico until November, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make either of those trips.

Another thing that’s been on my mind is learning to play the guitar and learning to speak Spanish. At this point I’m having to try and teach myself. Spanish has come to a dead stop. I’m not even trying to study in any way. Guitar is almost at a standstill but I am trying to resurrect it. Practiced last night for the first time in weeks. It’s just that I have such a hard time teaching myself. Having a teacher who pushes me makes it alot easier. Don’t see that happening anytime soon though. Both speaking Spanish and playing guitar will come in handy for missions and other ministries as well. Guitar will be easier for me to stick with. I feel like it’s more useful and I have more of a desire. And even if Spanish is as useful as playing the guitar, it’s just hard for me to stick with it. My heart and my passion is with the french language. The fact that I have to neglect the language that is such a part of me and my culture, in order to learn another, is hard. Maybe one day God will bless me with mission trips to french speaking areas.

Here’s to having faith in God and trusting in his guidance during my missionary journey………………….

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Old friendships renewed

Saturday – 4/15/12 – 2:00pm – At Vigie Beach in Castries, St. Lucia

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all thy works.” –Psalm 73:28–

I chose this verse to begin my journal entry because I felt like it perfectly reflects the nature of my work as a missionary. It’s a good reflection of what I also try to do during my Desert Day prayer time. Alot has happened since my last entry. Me & Luis had our first full month alone as a mission team. Overall it was a good experience. Since there were difficulties, alot of which was due to the fact that we are both kinda solitary in our personalities and in our spiritual journeys too. We were also at the beginning stages of growing accustomed to each other, and developing team chemistry. Like I said, we weren’t perfect but we grew alot during that month.

Then we got a huge blessing with the addition of the Alvarez family to our mission team. I was glad to have them because it was too quiet around the house with just the two of us. Having the family there will help to pull us out of our shells too. After the Alvarezes arrived on Monday of Holy Week, we only had two days to get them settled before I headed here to St. Lucia. Got here a whole day later than expected (Holy Saturday) because of bad weather in Dallas earlier in the week. Monsignor Boni’s driver Tate picked me up from the airport and I bought some supplies before arriving at the Marian Home. Went to the Vigil Mass at Sacred Heart in Marchand, and spent Easter Day visiting with Ms. Renee Cenac and her family. 

She’s a friend of ours from when me and the Eckstines lived here last year. The group arrived on Monday and then the fun began. This trip has been really great. We’re plugging into ministries that we developed last year and on our short term trip this past January. Visiting the sick and elderly. Doing a 3 night rally @ Ti Rocher. Feeding the poor with our good friend Auntie Sabi. Getting to reconnect with our friends here has also been really great. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed being with the families that have been on this trip. They’re all from Our Lady of Prompt Succor parish in Alexandria, LA. Some of them have been on previous trips with FMC. They even brought 2 priests with them, Fr. Adam Travis & Fr. Harold Imamshah. Funny thing is that me and Fr. Harold have been facebook friends for at least a year or two before actually meeting. We have alot of mutual connections through youth ministry. 

This whole week the group has been willing to jump in head first and not hesitate to work hard or come out of their comfort zones. I think this willingness is the result of these families being part of a strong, vibrant, loving faith community. After wrap up tonight, we pack up and head out of the Vieux Fort airport tomorrow. James and Theresa head back to Big Woods, the families and priests head home, and I head to Michigan to visit my girlfriend Nina.

I’m simultaneously excited and scared. Excited because she’s awesome and she’s my girlfriend and I haven’t seen her since January 28th. It’ll be really nice to spend an extended period of time visiting with her. But I’m also scared because of the sometimes mysterious and unpredictable nature of relationships and discernment of them. I feel like the best way to discern this relationship is to be honest and open with God, myself, and Nina too. By asking ourselves about the various aspects of the relationship, by being honest about how we feel and what we want, by continually offering up the relationship through prayer, I think these things will ultimately help us to discern whether or not we are called to deepen our relationship.

It’s hard being patient and being open and honest like this. But it’s also the most freeing feeling. It takes any undue pressure off of us and helps us to have the freedom and space we need. Whatever the future holds, I know that God will bless us both and that through this relationship experience we’ll grow closer to Christ.

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Missionary Adventures and New Relationships

Desert Day – 2/10/12 – alongside a little stream (“arrollo”) just outside of La Puerta, an ejido (“rancho”) of General Cepeda,Coahuila,Mexico– 2:27 p.m.

 

When I was looking for a place to sit, I knew it would be a challenge since we have so many kids with our group. I told myself I had to find a place where the silence was deafening & where I couldn’t hear any other voices. I found that place. The sun in shining. The sky is clear and blue. A little bush behind me gives me shade to sit in. The stream wanders by lazy and carefree. A gentle breeze keeps me cool. God’s presence is so strong all around me, out here in the beauty of his creation. I can’t imagine being an atheist and not having anyone to thank for this.

Just looked back at my last entry, and it’s been since November 19th that I’ve written in my journal (when we were here for Intake). God has done so much for me in the past 3 months & it’s time to reflect on that. December was a fairly slow month. After the Donor’s Dinner I went back to my parents’ house for the rest of the month. Took that opportunity to visit with friends and family. About mid-December Fr. Bill Melancon, a personal friend of mine, who’s pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes in Erath, gave me the blessing of speaking at all 5 of the weekend Masses. It was fun getting to hang out and catch up with Fr. Bill. Got to spread the word about lay missions. Many of the parishioners were generous and either gave me donations or signed up on my address sheet. I was also able to speak at the LifeTeen meeting after the last Mass on Sunday night. It felt good to reconnect with youth ministry. Later on I was blessed to celebrate Christmas with my family and even got to visit with my nieces who live in the Houston area.

January was the month where A LOT happened. 🙂 And by that, I mean that it was filled with lots of good stuff. New Year’s Day I flew out to South Carolina to visit my cousin Jonathan for a week. Before our visit in September 2010, we hadn’t seen each other in 9 years. We vowed to never wait that long again and are trying to do yearly visits (or in this case, a year and a half). We are two peas in a pod and partners in crime. 🙂 Getting to spend time with him, his wife & son & her family was truly a blessing. I really, really enjoyed my visit and hope we can do it again soon. I was even blessed to be able to visit with his mom, my Aunt Anna, whom I hadn’t seen since my grandpa passed away. Missed her a lot so it was really good to see her too. From South Carolina, I flew to St. Lucia to help lead a one week mission trip. Me and James Franke (FMC’s short term missions coordinator) led a group of 16 students and 1 priest from the Newman Club @ Adelphi University near NYC. They’ve done mission trips with us in the past, and one of their students even spent a month with us last year in St. Lucia for the Summer School of Missionary Evangelism. Getting to lead a short-term mission trip for the first time ever was awesome. It really brings a whole new perspective to mission work. Getting to reconnect with some of the friends we made in St. Lucia last year was another huge bonus. And of course, feeding off of the energy of these students really gave me a boost & helped me to renew my missionary spirit.

 

Oh yeah, what happened after the St. Lucia trip was quite interesting! 🙂 I flew up to Kalamazoo,MI so that I could go to BentonHarbor, MI. Why, might you ask? Well, a few months prior to that I met a girl named  Nina Koziuk on CatholicMatch.com. It’s a Catholic relationship/courtship website where you can set up a profile with a picture, bio, and other info so that you can network with other Catholic singles who feel called to marriage. I had seen their ad online and in church bulletins. I’d even heard from people I know who told me about successful relationships/marriages that came about because of this website. So, being 30, ready for a relationship, with nothing to lose and ALOT to gain, I signed up for the website. Met Nina one night in a group chat room and we really hit it off quite well. We share alot of the same ideas and opinions. We are both involved with ministry, and most importantly we share a passion for our Catholic faith. It’s the most important thing in our lives. After we’d been talking for awhile and realized how well it was going & how much we enjoyed it, we both acknowledged a desire to meet each other. It was the next logical step. As good as it was up to that point, we knew that it had potential and that we needed to meet in person to see if it was real. Yeah, I was nervous, especially when I stepped off the plane in Kalamazoo and realized that in mere minutes I’d be meeting her face-to-face for the first time ever. “No turning back now” and “oh crap” were the two main thoughts running through my head. :-p

 

I was also worried if meeting her face-to-face would live up to my hopes and expectations. Of course if it didn’t, then better to find out sooner rather than later, after having invested more time and putting my heart out there even more. But PRAISE THE LORD! It lived up to and far exceeded my expectations!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 She is as beautiful in person as she was in her pictures and on Skype video chat. We clicked right away and really got along well. Visiting with her parents  was alot of fun and truly a blessing (stayed at their house while Nina stayed at her place). Visiting her other family members and friends , going to the church parish where she works, and ESPECIALLY getting to attend Mass & Eucharistic Adoration together was absolutely amazing. I knew going into this visit that I might come out of it with a girlfriend. All I needed was her dad’s permission and of course for her to say yes! Haha. 🙂  Well both happened and so now I’m proud to say that I’m blessed to be in a relationship with the beautiful, the one and only Nina Koziuk! I know from talking to other missionaries who’ve been in long-term relationships before ending up married that the distance apart is not easy but it is a blessing. I’ve learned that time apart is as important as time together, so I’m really looking forward to what these next few months bring our way.

I guess the last thing to talk about is my new mission post! Exactly one week ago me, Luis (my mission partner), Mr. Frank, Mrs. Genie, and Simon Peter (their son) left for the FMC Casa de Misiones in General Cepeda. Our purpose in coming here was two-fold. First of all, we came to put on a 3 week Intake for the four Mexican missionary families that we have living here in General Cepeda. Three of them have been connected with FMC for many years (Raul & Marta, Tono & Mari, and Gallo & Rita). One of them (Juan & Linda) got connected with us this past year. Our thought was that even though they were already our missionary families we wanted to give them the same blessing that all of our other missionaries (including myself) received from Intake. We wanted them to have talks, studies, and discussions about the Si Senor teachings on the practical aspects of living a missionary life. We wanted them to study the Book of Acts & John Paul II’s encyclical “Missionof the Redeemer”, which is all about the Church and missionary work. Besides them getting to do all of that, we also wanted the four families to form community with each other. I’m blessed to be able to say that it’s already happening. That’s a good thing because we want evangelization and missionary work to continue to thrive here even when there are no full-time FMC missionaries from American stationed here. I personally think that this mission house and these missionaries also have the capability of becoming a training and staging facility for Mexican missionaries to be sent out all over Mexico and Latin America. This Intake is a vital first step in that direction.

Our other purpose in coming here was to install myself and Luis as full-time missionaries. For however long God has us here, this is our house. My four previous trips here have all been short-term trips. This time around is a whole different feel. It’s our home now. These four families are no longer just nice people to visit with during our trips here. Now they are our co-workers in the vineyard. The people we visit and evangelize have a deeper connection with us now that we live here. I think too that me and Luis will have even more time to bond and get settled in here once Intake is over. Once it’s just the two of us living here, we’ll have more of a chance to do things together and bond as a mission team. Needless to say, but I think our first week here has gone really well and the rest of our time will continue to go well for us. There’s so much more I could say, but my hand is getting tired and I don’t have enough pages in my journal. 🙂

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Coreteam Retreat Journal Reflections……….

Coreteam Retreat – Butte Larose, LA – Saturday September 4th, 2010

Earlier this morning, I was sitting on the porch doing some spiritual reading when i decided to come inside to the prayer room for morning prayer at 8:30. My internal time clock must have been off, because it seemed like I was by myself for quite awhile. My first self-righteous instinct was to find some reason whine about it. But, I then realized that maybe it was a prompting of the Spirit, and by God’s grace my obedience allowed me to have some one-on-one time w/Jesus in front of the Blessed Sacrament. As I sat in there reading, praying, and reflecting, I was able to faintly hear people in the other parts of the house waking up, talking and visiting with one another. I think I even heard a little bit of music somewhere in background. I feel like God’s grace changed the way I interpreted that situation. Instead of getting annoyed and seeing it as a distraction from prayer I rejoiced at the fellowship and joy that was filling the house.  Then I realized that so far this weekend God has been blessing us with a lot of fellowship, happiness, and joy.  What more could you ask for?!?

Reflection Questions:

1 – What is your personal desire for yourself as a result of being in this Coreteam/community?

My personal desire for myself as a result of being in this community is to have a community I can connect with and be a part of. I want to learn about what it is to be in relationship with one another. I also desire to grow in faith and trust. There’s also an intense desire to learn how to be a faithful minister of God’s love, and really be able to reach people through the work I do.

2 – What specific gifts can you share with this community?

The most prominent gift I can share is my gift of presence. Just being there with someone and knowing that simply being present as someone who carries the Spirit of Christ, and that it can  help to heal someone, is amazing. My ability to be a sheepdawg and follow orders is another gift. Let someone else be the brain, and I can be the muscle. I also have the ability to be early/on-time.

3 – What areas do you  need help with, when it comes to working in a community?

My primary downfalls are my impatience, selfishness, & timidity. I am a  naturally impatient person which hinders my ability to relax and enjoy the moment. It also hinders my ability to be patient with others and put them first. My selfishness causes me to worship time as my own. It’s really hard for me to be comfortable in the present moment. I’m in a perpetual state of unsatisfaction, always waiting for the current moment to pass so that I can get to my future moment where there is a perceived “something” that I have a greater desire for, and where I (keyword: I) can be happier. My timidity is perhaps my greatest shortfall. I lack courage, backbone, and commitment. Simply put, I’m afraid to step out for the Lord and I lack conviction. And when things get tough, I tend to back down and weasel myself into a comfortable little hole where all is OK and confrontation is far away and unnecessary.

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Hopefully this is the start of something good

Monday 7/26/10 – 1:00pm @ Awardmaster

Four times in less than three weeks. That’s been my recent frequency of my spiritual journal. Maybe it’s because I’ve got alot going on and coming up. Maybe I’m just bored at work. Either way, I hope I can keep it up. I really enjoy the reflective nature of journaling and it also seems like something that could help give insight to others.

First order of business is to name the “friends” that I talked about in my last entry. First is Mandy Gaerke. She’s a student at Miami University in Ohio. She was on the mission trip to General Cepeda, Mexico  back in March. She’s got a tremendous heart for ministry and missions, and will be spending  the year in Guanajuato, Mexico for a study abroad program. Second is Sarah Carroll. We’ve only become acquainted recently through friend #3, Madi Dold, whom I’ll talk about in just a bit. Sarah is from the Lafayette area, but lives in Pensacola (thus her connection to Madi). We’ve actually crossed paths recently at Joe and Brooke Summers’ wedding (she’s Brooke’s cousin) but we didn’t know each other yet. She recently went on a two week trip to General  and LOVED it. Felt the call to missions in an undeniable way, and has plans to be at Intake in September.  Last but not least is the aforementioned Madi Dold. We met on the trip to General in March (the one that I met Mandy at). Also like Mandy, she’s got a heart for missions. She’s also got alot of love in her heart and really cares for and loves all those whom God has put in her life. Like Sarah, she has also felt a call to missions and has plans to be at Intake in September.

The only sad thing about these 3 musketeers is that Mandy won’t be at Intake. I believe she has a heart for and call into missions, but she’s got to follow God’s plans and timeframe which I believe she strives to do. I’m kinda sad that I don’t get to talk to Mandy much, especially now that she’s in Mexico. It’s possible too that I feel that way cuz I’m blessed to talk with Madi and Sarah so much, and Mandy is so much like them. After talkin’ with Madi last week, I got in touch w/Fr. Wayne Duet who is  a friend of Madi’s family, and I’m gonna spend some time visiting with him next weekend. Really looking forward to that. Seems like a nice guy and I’m sure he’ll give some words of wisdom that’ll benefit me. Coincidentally, he knows my dad from back in the day when he was at St. Jules and my dad used to do the weekly Ultreya meetings over there. He’s also the priest in Richard, LA at the church parish where Charlene Richard’s grave site is at. 🙂 Small world, eh? It’s amazing how interrelated our lives our and how God makes connections, many times when we don’t even realize it. Lately in my convos with these three, I’ve come to realize how God is moving in our lives and how he’s beginning to open doors for us and provide us with what we need.

It’s also teaching me how building a sense of community and relationship is crucial to strengthening our faith lives as Catholic-Christians.  You could use the term “relational ministry”. In my opinion, since God is Trinity (relationship and communion in its purest form) this should be the most important aspect of Church and ministry. Oh, I also forgot to mention that Fr. Wayne helped Fr. Sam Jacobs (now bishop) to start the Awakening retreat. AND when he was stationed in Erath, was a really big supporter of their Lifeteen program. Awesome, huh? Like I said, it’s a small world and the connections are many.

Last thing is that I ask you to pray for my friend Ryan Breaux. He recently felt a call to be a missionary with Lifeteen and needs alot of doors opened and alot of things squared away in the next month to make it on time to the start of missionary training. Thanks and God Bless!

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