Posts Tagged With: salvation

Testimony of my 2nd year in missions

I’m at the point where I feel like I just have to do. I can’t sit around and wait for a big voice from the sky to tell me out loud what I must do. I feel this way because I think God wants me to know how to step out in faith. This is one of the main things that I think the Lord has wanted to teach me in my 2nd year of missions. I’m tired of sitting around and waiting for the God-given desires of my heart to fall into my lap and be fulfilled. I want to go out and get them. I want to seek and find. I want to play an active role in my journey of faith, fulfillment, and salvation. I need to know that I’m exercising my free-will to the best of my abilities, that it’s not withering up.

My second year of missions has also been a time of intense growth and learning. At times it has been painful. It has ALWAYS been fruitful. Spiritual inertia is something that’s very hard to conquer. Disobedience relentlessly persecutes the human soul. Impatience robs us of the present moment. I’ve had to deal with all three of those things this year. Having to immerse myself in a new culture and language took a toll on me. Living with someone very different than me who is many years my junior was tough. Having little or no funds, and for much of the time being in the negative, was extremely difficult and humiliating. Realizing that I’m not the easiest person to live with was a blow to my ego. Knowing that I was judgmental towards the poor was a punch to the proverbial gut. Add to that a failed relationship and the very real after-effects, and things didn’t get any easier.

Now if you take everything I’ve said so far at face-value, it could possibly paint a very depressing picture. But with God, it’s not just about the superficial. In all of the growth and learning, the suffering has not been for naught. It has been through the cross, and that’s how I know it has value. That’s how I know it’s been of great benefit to me and hopefully for the people in my life. And I’ve known for months now that something big is about to happen. Someway somehow I’m about to turn a big corner in my life. It’s an exciting feeling and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me.

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Epiphanies and Visions

6-24-11

During my morning prayer time, as I was rereading Mrs. Genie’s 1st book, the thought occurred to me “As a missionary it’s hard to see the forest while in the midst of the trees. But the forest is still there.” I sensed that it’s God’s way of telling me that the everyday life of a missionary can seem mundane and unimportant. However, these small moments are important in and of themselves. They’re also part of the bigger picture of salvation history.

I also got this brief moment of genuine happiness and contentment as I walked to my room. Don’t really know how to explain it. I think it’s just a grace that God gave me to realize how blessed and joyful missionary life is.

6-25-11

At praise and worship last night I had a vision. As I was standing there with my eyes closed and hands uplifted, I sense that there were 2 angels above me. They were leaning down towards me and holding my hands. I could almost feel it.

Later on during Praise and Worship, as my legs were getting tired, I wanted to sit down. But I heard God say to me “I will give you strength beyond your strength.” I knew it was specific for that exact moment as well as his way of telling me that he will give me the grace to do what he calls me to do as a missionary.

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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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This guy is jonesin’ on SOMETHIN’, so what’s the right thing to do?…………….

Tuesday, Februsary 1, 2011 – 5:33pm – In the front room @ the Marian Home mission house in Castries, St. Lucia

As you can see from the location I listed, we’ve officially named the first floor of the convent “The Marian Home Mission House”, named after the nursing home right next door. It just seemed appropriate because the Marian Home itself is going to be one of our constant ministries throughout our time here. It’s also good because if a local friend/contact wants to visit us, the name “Marian Home” is very well known. It’s also good for when people send us stuff in the mail, they can use an official name. But I digress.

So earlier today, one of our local co-workers in the vineyard, Peter Fevrier, arranged for a bus to pick us all up and bring us to the Chancery. The Chancery, for those who do not know, is the central office for the Archdiocese of Castries, where the Archbishop and other diocesan officials have their offices. Peter works with the Family & Life secretariat and as per the Archbishop’s request, was assigned to work with us and get us involved in his ministry. At the Chancery, we met everyone in the various offices and made some good contacts. Of particular interest for me was meeting Sister Velona. She is in charge of youth ministry for the Archdiocese. We discussed World Youth Day and a few other particular things of interest. Mainly though, we (me, Mark, and Lora) discussed with her what we do as FMC missionaries (evangelism is our focus) and how we wanted to work into whatever ministries were already existing in the diocese. She seemed very pleased with this. According to her, even though St. Lucia is a mission territory, the difference is that ministries are very organized. Also St. Lucia is very small (14 miles x 26 miles).

All these things are reasons why working into what’s already going on is a good thing. We don’t wanna step on anybody’s toes. We don’t wanna re-invent the wheel. We don’t wanna come in, and give the impression that we American missionaries are the wisest in all the earth and we have come to save you. Yes, we are here to bring people into a close relationship with Jesus, but we have just as much to learn from them, if not more so to learn from them, than they from us. We also want to work ourselves out of a job, by empowering the local laypeople and Catholic community to take charge and be more active. We also don’t want to start anything that is heavily dependent on us, because as soon as that happens, and as soon as we finish our time here (whenever that may be), whatever is dependent on us will flop. At the end of our time visiting with the various people in the Chancery, we attended 12:30 Mass before going back home. It was quite a simple Mass, held in a simple office building type of room, but for some reason was quite moving. I think it had alot to do with the quiet and meditative atmosphere. It also had alot to do with the amazing homily. The priest made lots of good points, but he spoke simply and straightforward.

So when we got back, and after we ate lunch, me and Mark decided to walk into town. Earlier at the Chancery, I expressed interest in the post cards they had because I wanted to send one to my mom for a little birthday present (about all I could really afford). I’m also considering sending post cards from St. Lucia for my thank you notes. Mark graciously (and unbeknownst to me until Mass time) bought three of them for me. I addressed them (sent one to Mom, one to my nieces, and one to my parents’ trophy shop to all my former co-workers), wrote on them, and then proceeded to the post office. It was closed, so we’ll have to go back tomorrow. As we were out and about going to other stores looking for a few small things, a homeless guy I had met the previous week came up to me. I’m glad he remembered me and that I bought him a little snack, mainly because it meant that someone remembered me for something good I did. He was a little “skittish”, which was not abnormal for a street person, especially since he, like many other street people around here, struggle with drug addiction.

So, as we begin to talk, he seems very impatient for me to help him. Tries to get money several times, and I told him no, but that I’d buy the food for him. Then, I told him that we’d have to wait for Mark, who was inside one of the office supply stores. This is what started to set him off, and make him real fidgety and louder. He tried to get me to go buy a big ole thing of Chinese food, which i didn’t, because it’s alot more expensive than a snack from the store. And as a missionary, I have to budget my alms money or else I’ll not only run out of that, but I’ll run out of money for food and bills. anyhoo, so on the way to the grocery store, which was only a 30 second walk from where we were, he tried again to get money instead of food, and expensive food instead of a little snack. Every denial added to his fidgety-ness and caused him to ramble on in Creole (good thing I don’t understand it, who knows what he was sayin’).

Once we got to the supermarket, he kept trying to up the ante on what i would buy, and again each denial got him more key-ed up than before. To top it all off, the locals inside and outside of the store were laughin’ and talkin’ about the whole idea. So, i finally walk into the store, with a sigh of flustration on my face (flustration = flustered + frustration), and the cashier kinda chuckles. I pick up a little bag of chips and i thought homeboy was gonna start kickin and wailin like a little baby. Right or wrong as this may be, I was dumbfounded by this. I mean, if you’re desperate, and need some food or drink, how can you possibly be picky. The cashier said he wouldn’t eat it, and when I asked why, said something about his teeth being bad (maybe from drug use). Ouch, that hurt. Minus one for me. So, i ask her for the cheapest bread, which was a $2.00EC (divide that by 2.5 for the U.S. dollar amount), and she got me a fruity carbonated beverage for an extra $1.50EC.

All in all, i didn’t spend much money at all. But, one thing Mark inspired me to do was instead of just giving somebody something, ask them to pray with me first. If they really need the help, then they’ll pray with me. So, I prayed with the guy, gave him the snack, and we all parted ways. I noticed the reaction of the locals to the whole situation, which included one guy at an electronics store we were at squirting some hand sanitizer in my hand after I shook hands with the homeless guy, maybe because he thought the guy had AIDS or whatever. The other locals laughed and chattered. I myself, as a new “local” got frustrated and a little concerned too. I was frustrated with his skittish-ness and his pushy-ness. And as imperfect as everybody’s reaction to this guy was, they were somewhat justified. Maybe they were legitimately concerned that he was a druggie and that helping him was enabling him. Maybe they were concerned that he would get violent.

There could be a million other reasons why me and the various people reacted the way we did or thought what we thought. But, the reason I helped the guy is because I’ve been helped many times before, even when I didn’t “deserve” it. I helped him because druggie or not, food and water are necessities for everyone. I also helped him because I wanted to put my faith into practice by helping someone in a very real and material way, and by praying for them and with them. After all, our focus as missionaries is to evangelize and bring people closer to Jesus. I also wanted to try and be a concrete example to those who witnessed the whole episode, as to what I felt was the right thing to do. I still feel guilty though about where my heart is. My legitimate concerns and caution still go way off into self-righteousness, selfishness, and false concern. My heart is hardened by the uncomfort level and difficulty of that type of situation. No matter who the person is, how “bad” they are, or how much they “don’t deserve it”, they are all children of God just as much as we are, and God loves them just as much as us. I could go on and on.

My solution will be a simple one though. Continue to buy a small bit of sustenance to help these types of people, and make sure I pray with them.Maybe limit myself to doing this two or three times MAX per trip into town.  For, if I give them material goods, but don’t bring them closer to Jesus, then all is for nought. Or, I also considered buying a big pack of bottled water, and some small soft bread type of snacks, and making little bags to carry with me everytime I go in town. That way is someone asks me for help, I can pray with them and give them some food and water. Once I run out of bags for that particular journey into town, I can honestly say that I’m not able to help, aside from prayer. It just feels like these are the best ways to help, and at the same time make sure that I’m a good steward with the support my benefactors give to me. Any thoughts or comments you have would be appreciated.

Lord, help me to help those who need help, and to discern with wisdom the best way to do so.

Much love and God Bless!

Well, the right thing to do is to keep the supreme Law of scripture: you will love your neighbour as yourself; but as soon as you make class distinctions, you are committing sin and under condemnation for breaking the Law.”
–James 2:8-9–

How does it help, my brothers, when someone who has never done a single good act claims to have faith? Will that faith bring salvation? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,’ without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? In the same way faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead. But someone may say: So you have faith and I have good deeds? Show me this faith of yours without deeds, then! It is by my deeds that I will show you my faith.”

–James 2:14-18–

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