Posts Tagged With: Spain

Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 7

Day 7 – Sunday – 9/30/12

Last night even after I ate supper and wasn’t hungry anymore, I didn’t have that full feeling. And because I was so accustomed to it before the fast, I was thinking of ways to eat more food. Ultimately I decided against it, feeling like it would defeat one of the purposes of the fast, which is to grow in discipline and self-control.

In regards to my mission post discernment, the only places I can see right now are Spain and The Phillipines. But discernment means being open to other possibilities too. What if there’s another location I haven’t thought of? What if I’m called to return to Big Woods? What if God calls me out of missions? It’s hard to imagine those possibilities but I feel like I have to be open to them too. I also wonder if I should be discerning mission partners or not. Of course I have some ideas, but I guess I’ll focus on the “where” and the “who” will make itself clear.

Another thing I noticed this morning opened my eyes. One of my mission partners, Albert, likes to drink alot of coffee. I noticed this not only because I see him drink gargantuan amounts of the stuff at all times of the day, but also because the bag of Community Coffee that we had been sharing is disappearing quickly. (keyword: HAD) No way it goes that quickly if it’s only me drinking it. So, I brewed another pot this morning and poured myself a cup and Albert one last cup. Once the rest of the coffee cools, I’m gonna pour it into a container labeled “Sid’s Coffee! Do Not Drink!”. That way the coffee will last me as long as possible in October before the group arrives on November 6th-ish.

I’m doing this because my Community Coffee is a piece of home (it’s made in South Louisiana) & I LOVE it! (emphasis on the word LOVE) While I LIKE other types of coffee, I LOVE Community Coffee. When I agreed to share my coffee with Albert, I didn’t realize how much of it he drinks throughout the day. Ergo, no more sharing this precious gift from my mom. I feel like I’m justified in doing this small thing, because we share in other ways. But part of me feels like it might be a tiny bit selfish. That’s the good thing about this fast. It’ll give me a chance to think and pray more about it than I normally would, so that I can learn from it (update: I ended up gifting Albert with a bag of Mexican coffee to get him started. Felt like that kinda helped to balance things out)

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Sid’s 40 Day Fast

Day 4 – Tuesday – 9/27/12

Felt the hunger pangs a little bit more this morning than I did yesterday morning, but nothing intense yet. Headacheyness is gone, so a good night’s sleep did me good. If it comes back today, then I’ll see if it disappears once I eat supper tonight. If it doesn’t, then that’ll be my clue to maybe adjust my level of daily Gatorade intake next week. I think I did a decent job last night of not overstuffing myself. I was slightly fuller than full, but not overstuffed. It’s hard not to overstuff when you’re really hungry and when you know your next meal won’t be for awhile.

I’m also happy that I’m starting to focus more on the mission-post-discernment aspect of my fast, and gaining the clarity that I seek by doing this fast. The two main possibilities that are coming up for mission posts are Spain and The Phillipines. In practical terms, The Phillipines is a more difficult place to go, at least money-wise. This is in spite of the fact that overall it’s a poor country. Expensive because of the plane ticket. Expensive because many things on islands have to be imported and that drives up the cost. And in The Phillipines there will be expenses of house bills too (electricity, water, etc….). Spain, in terms of money and living expenses would actually be slightly cheaper. That’s because the priest we would stay with has a free apartment for us to stay in that is owned by the diocese. As per his words, the only expense would be food and any personal expenses incurred. As a missionary who has always had low funds, this particularly attracts me.

As far as the travel aspect, The Phillipines has a slight advantage. On the way there I would pass through a few countries I’ve never been to. I would also be going to the continent of Asia for the first time in my life (making it my 5th continent to visit). Spain’s travel advantage is that travel within Europe is safe, easy, and cheap. I have no doubt that I’d be able to visit at least a couple different European countries that I’ve never been to. My parents, who love to travel and have enjoyed their visits to Europe, would be much more likely to come visit us there than they would here in Mexico or in The Phillipines. Also, because of the work our priest friend in Spain is involved with (youth), it’s very possible that I would be able to go with their diocese’s group to World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Also, my expenses for that trip would most likely be paid for by father and the diocese. Yet another new country and another new continent. All in all, I think the “travel” factor is almost even between the two, and if it’s God’s will that I go to a mission post then money is not an obstacle for him. Ministry-wise I think what it ultimately boils down to is what will I most be able to give to and benefit from.

In The Phillipines, I would be living and working among the poor, in a ministry environment where you cannot turn down the invitations fast enough because there are so many opportunities. Exhausting yourself in service of the poor, living in a less than comfortable environment, and also BEING poor are some of the benefits and growth opportunities for a missionary there. In Spain, I see the advantage as future preparation. In a sense, you could say that richer people need God just as much as poor people, because of the illusion of self-reliance that comes from a more comfortable lifestyle. Because of this factor, my ministry there would better prepare me for the ministry and lifestyle I would experience once I’m back in the USA at some point in the future. And lemme tell you, if there’s a country that really needs God and conversion, it’s the USA. I would also have the advantage of continuing to develop spanish, my third language. So as you can see, the choices are not easy because both of these options are really good. That’s why I’m fasting and begging for clarity.

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Who in the world reads my blog?

I mean that question literally, which is why I posted this. As a blogger, it’s always a source of fascination and excitement that people actually take the time to visit and read your blog. And while I don’t have a ton of “site views”, I do have over 5,000. That’s 5,000+ views of missionary related posts. Even more fascinating to me is where these views come from. A few of them I expect: USA, because that’s where i’m from. Mexico, because that’s where i’m currently stationed. The Phillipines, because some of my fellow missionaries are there. But it’s the random countries, many with only 1 site-view each, that fascinate me. Slovenia? I don’t even know where that is. Didn’t it used to be part of the USSR? Nigeria. That’s awesome, considering the problems they have between Muslims and Christians there. Maybe my post is providing courage to a Christian, or a new perspective to a muslim. Bangladesh, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia…..the list goes on. But I’ll let you check it out. Pretty cool stuff, huh? Till next time, take care and God Bless!

p.s.- I think the only thing that could make this post any better, is if someway somehow I could travel to all the countries listed in this post 😀

p.s.s.- Actually, the one OTHER thing that could make this post any better, is if I got to travel to Antarctica, the 7th continent that even many well-travelled people rarely visit.

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World Youth Day 2011 Pilgrimage – Madrid – part 2

Sunday – August 21, 2011 – 3:00pm – Starbucks next to Hotel Husa Moncloa – Madrid, Spain

World Youth Day 2011, Madrid, Closing Mass & Vigil…… Closest thing to organized pandemonium I’ve ever experienced. Lest I get ahead of myself, let me start from the beginning of the day. Woke up for breakfast at 7. Everybody must have stayed up late the night before, because I was the only Magnificat Travel pilgrim there for the first 30 minutes. After a few sips of coffee & some conversation with the other pilgrims, I headed back to my room and took a shower and got dressed for Mass at 9. After Mass, we had a meeting for those who were planning on attending the overnight vigil and closing Mass. Went over some logistical details and then went our separate ways for a few hours of free time. I walked a few blocks down from the hotel to a Spain souvenir shop to buy a small Spain flag to add to my collection. After I got back to the hotel, I finished my packing for the vigil and also got some last minute things and a bite of lunch from the grocery store around the corner. Took a nap until 2:00 and then made my way down to the lobby to meet the other pilgrims for our 3pm departure.

Then the madness began.

From the very moment we arrived in the first subway station, the crowds were insane. We had to squeeze (literally) onto every subway car. Making our way through the various hallways at each station was like being in a rat race/maze. The lines and crowds as we arrived at the Cuatro Vientos airfield just continued to multiply like crazy. We passed through the first gate only to realize that we weren’t actually inside the official seating area yet. As we got close to the gate for the actual seating area, we just got squished into a humongous crowd and waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually we got word that they had completely closed off the gate. Apparently the WYD organizers had underestimated the amount of space that each pilgrim occupies and thus overbooked each section. So, we just plopped down outside the official seating area, in a section that was not far from where we were originally supposed to sit. Then we just hung out and started taking it all in.

Ate. Got water. Danced with pilgrims from other countries. Proudly waved the Acadiana flag while I danced. 🙂 Observed/watched the sheer number of people outside the airfield. Just the people outside the seating area had to be at least half-a-million people. At one point I even heard the band L’Angelus playing! Seeing as how they’re from the Lafayette area and we by chance happened to sit next to where they played was awesome. Felt like a little piece of home was with me and it made me quite happy. Didn’t get to actually see them, but just hearing them was good enough. After a few hours of participating in and observing the madness, most of our group decided to head back to the hotel. Among other reasons, we realized that we wouldn’t be able to see anything or receive communion. We also figured that the crowds on the subway would be a little too intense after Mass in the morning. So at roughly 8:45 we started back towards the hotel.

There was still somewhat of a crowd as we headed back since alot of other people had the same idea as we did. The crazy thing too was that we ran into some Lafayette people on the way back. Seems to be a Lafayette thing, with going somewheres far away only to run into people from Lafayette. Actually had fun on our trip back to the hotel. Partially out of joy for leaving the pandemonium (people as far as the eye could see, literally). Also due to delirium! 🙂 Sang and hooted and hollered with pilgrims form other countries as we travelled on the subway. Finally got back to our hotel at 10:45. So if it took us 2 hours to get back without a big crowd, then I don’t even wanna think what the subway was like today after the Mass ended.

Threw my stuff into the room and made my way to the hotel bar where I guzzled down 2 Cokes and hung out for awhile with the other pilgrims. Back to the room at midnight to take a shower and then passed out. Woke up around 9:30, just in time to watch the Closing Mass. After observing the crowds yesterday in person and today on TV, there had to be at least 1.5 million people. My personal estimation is more like 2 million. The cool thing was realized that all those people were there because of the Pope and our Catholic Faith, and most importantly, Jesus. At the end of the Mass the Pope blessed religious articles so I had my mission cross and a few other things blessed. Packed my bags and then headed to one of the hotel meeting rooms to attend 12:30 Mass for our group, since most of us did not attend the Closing Mass in person. Got a few logistical instructions after Mass and then headed home. We have supper at the hotel tonight at 8 & then we board the bus to the Barcelona airport at 10pm. (Our flight leaves tomorrow morning).

I suppose this is gonna be my last journal of this pilgrimage. I must say that it was truly a blessed experience, a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing. Got to see and do so many awesome things. Looking forward to being at home with friends and family for a few days before I head back to St. Lucia for my last few weeks. It’ll be nice to start posting pictures and journal entries online, and start going over the whole experience in my mind and processing it. Really excited to get back to St. Lucia. Get to see my mission partners, the Eckstines. Miss them alot. Get to see all of my friends that live there. I think I’m most excited about going back renewed, refreshed, and revitalized. Want to finish my last weeks there on a strong note.

And now, Europe, I bid you adieu! Until next time……….

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World Youth Day 2011 Pilgrimage – Madrid – part 1

Friday – August 19, 2011 – 11:30pm – Hotel Husa Moncloa – Room #366 – Madrid, Spain

Time flies when you’re having fun, or driving/flying all over Europe on pilgrimage, or BOTH! 🙂 Seems like we just got to Assisi the other day and now we’re almost done with our trip. Yesterday was a travel day, as we were en route from Barcelona to Madrid. It was a safe and mostly uneventful drive. There were a few highlights though. First that I remember was one of the rest stops we went to. Was only supposed to be a 20 minute stop for the bathroom and maybe buying a quick snack. Well, it seemed like every pilgrim on every other bus headed to Madrid decided to stop at the same bus stop. Most crowded I’ve ever seen a gas station. It was tempting to get frustrated, but then I realized it was God using that to prepare me for the crowds in Madrid. The other rest stop we stopped at to actually get lunch was a good stop too. I was able to get an empanada and Coke for lunch. All for less than 5 Euros. Then, at the table I sat at, one of the ladies from our group gave me half of her chicken sandwich!

Another highlight was crossing the Greenwich Time Meridian thing. It’s the longitudinal marker that I think divides the Earth into Eastern and Western hemispheres. It also has something  to do with all the different time zones in the world. it was marked by several highway signs at various intervals as well as a huge metal arc thingy over the highway right where the line is. Then at various intervals along the highway to Madrid, there were gigantic metal bulls propped up on the hillsides. Also had some massive wind turbine electricity generators. Pretty cool stuff.

Today was Avila day! 🙂 One of the highlights of the trip. Took us about an hour to get there by bus. When we got there we headed to the church where we were celebrating Mass. It was in the chapel where St. Theresa founded her 1st convent. Then we toured the newer church next door, as well as a small museum next door where her coffin and other relics were on display. Our guide then showed us around town, explaining interesting little tidbits here and there. Eventually we made our way to the church where she first began her life in the convent.

The neatest part was being in the room where she was born, a room which is now a side chapel for the church. We also got to see the cell she used to live in. Had a late lunch and then hopped back in the bus to come back to Madrid. Ate some leftover chicken from lunch once we got back, checked my email real quick, and then decided to explore a little. Didn’t have a map, didn’t have an agenda, and it felt great. Felt great to just get up and go. Only had 5 Euros in my pocket and wanted a snack, but things are so expensive here and I didn’t see any cheap-o places still open. Luckily though a lady from Burger King was handing out coupons, and guess what? One of the coupons was for a double-cheeseburger combo meal for 4.99! God works in mysterious ways. 🙂

Walked around some more and found a big town square area that had a fountain, and that’s where alot of French pilgrims were hanging out. Talked to a few people and then headed back to the hotel. Stayed in the lobby and visited with some of our group for awhile. Then I got another blessing…… Was chatting w/a pilgrim and her mom. They mentioned they were hungry at which I suggested they check out the hotel restaurant. I was lamenting the cost of Cokes, and so when I joined them while they ate, they bought me 2 Cokes! Not one, but two! 🙂 Praise The Lord! And then at the end of dining, they mom slipped me 20 Euros and said she was returning the favor due to kindness others have shown her kids over the years. Thanked them profusely and after they finished eating, we got up and left to go our separate ways. I’m about to go to sleep so I can be rested up for the Vigil tomorrow night.

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World Youth Day 2011 Pilgrimage – Montserrat, Spain

Wednesday – August 17, 2011 – 9:30pm – Hotel Abat Cisneros – Room #227 – Montserrat, Spain

I just realized that with my entrance into Spain yesterday, my tally on international travel is now up to 16 countries & 2 U.S. territories. The countries are: Canada, U.S.A., Mexico, Bahamas, Haiti, St. Lucia, Honduras, England, France, Spain, Italy, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, New Zealand, & Vatican City. The 2 U.S. territories are Puerto Rico & U.S. Virgin Islands. I’ve been so blessed to travel as much as I have, and I only hope that I continue to be able to travel. Now onto today…..

When we arrived in Montserrat last night, after a long day of travelling, I decided that I was going to forgo the half-day bus excursion to Barcelona. Yes, I had to sacrifice a trip to see Sagrada Familia church. After hearing about it and seeing pictures, I knew I’d enjoy visiting it. However, I just couldn’t stand the thought of getting back on a bus so soon. And with as much as we’ve done on this trip, I needed a day of not travelling at all, where I could leisurely explore my surroundings and have some much needed prayer time and relaxation.

So after breakfast we had Mass in the chapel behind the main altar. On our way into the chapel we got to see the statue of Our Lady of Montserrat, aka – The Black Madonna. It was kinda neat to see the statue that was responsible for the existence of the abbey and everything else that exists here at Montserrat. It’s called The Black Madonna because of all the soot that has accumulated from candles burning over the years. After Mass I took time exploring the grounds, just getting a lay of the land. Headed back to the statue of Our Lady again (felt rushed the first time, since we were on our way to Mass.) Then I decided to go to my room and put on my shoes to hike down to Santa Cova, the place where the statue of Our Lady was originally found. (It was hidden there during the invasion of the Moors in the 1st millenium so that it wouldn’t get destroyed.) On my way to my room I found another pilgrim from our group who wanted to come with me. Obviously accepted, and enjoyed hanging out with him. As we headed to the little train that takes you part of the way down to the Santa Cova, we stopped at one of the little food places so he could grab a bite to eat. Unexpectedly bought me lunch, which was GREATLY appreciated. I didn’t really have it in my budget to be able to buy lunch everyday. The hike down to the Santa Cova was not too bad. Yeah, I was feeling it in my legs, but it was pretty comparable to any of the other climbing and walking we’ve done so far.

It was neat also to see the original spot where the statue was discovered after being hidden for hundreds of years. Saw some AMAZING scenic views on our way down and on our way back up. We decided to hike the whole way back up to the top instead of taking the train, due to an almost 40 minute wait. Only took us 10 minutes extra, so we saved about 30 minutes. Bought a bottle of water and had a coke too, cuz bruh, I was THIRSTY after that hike! When I got back to my room I decided to take a nice LONG nap, about 3 hours. After I woke up, I made my way back into the church to see the crypt since I hadn’t had a chance yet. Also took some time to pray in one of the side chapels in the main church. It’s separated from the noise and foot traffic of the main church by a set of glass doors. It also had a tabernacle. Got some really good quiet/prayer/meditation time in. It’s amazing what time alone with the Lord can do to restore your soul. Once my prayer time was over, I went into the main church for vespers. The benedictine monks sounded exactly like the benedictines from St. Ben’s in Covington. Granted, the language was Catalan instead of English, but still it made me reminiscent of the good ole days in seminary. After vespers was supper, and now I’m here. 🙂 Tomorrow we travel to Madrid.

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June Missionary Newsletter

Easter is not just a day, it’s a way of life!

My Dearest Benefactors,

It brings me great joy to write you and let you know how the Lord has been moving in my life and in missions. The last time I wrote you, it was almost the end of Lent, which was a spiritually enriching experience for me. I hope it was for you too.

Holy Week and the Easter Triduum were a blessing as well. The opportunity to experience the life of the Church through another culture was a great blessing. I was chosen to be one of the 12 “Apostles” for the foot washing during Holy Thursday Mass & it was an experience I’ll never forget. I was also blessed by the St. Lucians’ celebration of Good Friday. The day began with Stations of the Cross at 4am with a group from our church parish. We prayed and had meditations for each station, then would sing and process down the street to our next station. At the halfway point, we joined up with another group from the Cathedral. After we joined this group and added to that all the other people who joined the procession, there were almost 2000 people! Later that morning I assisted with another Way of the Cross at a mission station on the mountain. We started at a parishioner’s house and had a 2-mile trek to the local school. As we were getting started, I saw that no one had yet volunteered to carry the wooden Cross, so I got to do that too!

As good as all these celebrations were, it was a real blessing to get back to “normal”. The difference now was getting to live out our missionary calling within the graces of the Easter season. For the first time in my life, I’ve seen Easter as not just a day or a ritual we go through. It’s a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection and his power in our lives, and I’m thankful that the Church celebrates it for 50 days! We’ve resumed our various ministries: nursing homes, prayer ministry, parish office hours, feeding the poor, evangelization, and work projects. We’re also making plans to start some new ministries. For the past two weeks, however, there’s been a slight change of pace. A visiting missionary group from Nebraska came to St.Lucia and is staying at our house in Castries. During this time we’ve been staying at a Franciscan convent in the south of the
island, having a team retreat, some prayer time, and doing some work projects. We were able to do some roof repairs at a blind lady’s house. We were also able to get her house primed to be painted. At the house of a young man confined to a wheelchair, we built a mold and poured the concrete for a ramp from his front door to the street.

We’ll be heading back to Castries tomorrow and then things will REALLY get hoppin! We’re welcoming 4 of our missionaries and a priest who are coming down to assist in FMC’s first ever Summer School of Missionary Evangelism.
It’s a month-long program where participants study Church documents and Scripture & take classes on mission work. During the last week they’ll be focusing entirely on going out into the community and putting what they learned into practice. I’m excited to reconnect with my missionary brothers and sisters & the participants as well. I think the fellowship during this coming month will fan the flame of the Holy Spirit in my heart. I look forward to a renewal of my call as a missionary!

At the end of the summer school (1st week of July) I will be flying back to the States for 6 weeks for a FULL summer. In July I’ll be assisting at Faith Camp. The focus is on providing an amazing experience of faith and fellowship for middle school kids that will deepen their relationship with Christ. The week after, I’ll be an adult volunteer at another Christian
summer camp that I attended as a camper and later as a counselor. The next week and a half will be spent visiting family and friends, & going to appointments and running errands. Then on August 8th I fly out to Europe for World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid! It’s an amazing event where millions of youth and young adults gather to celebrate Jesus and meet the Pope. We’ll be seeing various pilgrimage sites in Spain, France, and Italy before we go to Madrid to celebrate the overnight vigil and closing Mass with Pope Benedict XVI. My favorite part of the trip will be visiting The Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica! It’s the center of the Church and has been a lifelong dream of mine to be able to go there. A few months ago I
didn’t even know if I’d have the money to go, and then I got the message that an anonymous benefactor had donated the entire cost of my trip! Praise the Lord! Yet another humbling experience of God knowing my heart’s desires and providing for me in a way I never thought possible. God is good!

I would like to end my newsletter by thanking you for your constant support. Without your prayers my work would not be as fruitful as it has been. I also thank you for your financial support. It’s vital to my mission and I thank God in prayer that you have been providing for me so generously. Please continue to support me through your prayers and financial contributions. I’m still in need of a plane ticket back home to Louisiana for my summer visit and a round trip ticket from Louisiana to St. Lucia and back. I also need benefactors to continue to support me so that I can pay for my monthly expenses.

I encourage you to read my online blog, https://cajunmissionary.wordpress.com. Please feel free to email me (sidsavoie@catholic.org) or look me up on facebook. I love to share my experiences and pray for my benefactors. And for anyone who wishes, I also like to write talks, reflections, articles for bulletins & diocesan newspapers, etc….

May God Be With You!
Sid Savoie

“Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?”
–Job 4:6–

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Gregory Peck knows karate & I’m goin’ see the Pope this summer!

Ash Wednesday, March 9, 2011 – 4:15pm – School room in Marian Home Mission House – Castries, St. Lucia

Yes yes yes, the title of this post is definitely meant to raise eyebrows and cause you to come and read my blog. Indeed I have stooped to the level of chintzy news writers. But, all for the sake of my blog and God’s kingdom, right? 🙂 The Gregory Peck reference has to do with a homily, yes, a homily given by our pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Marchand. Msgr. Bonifacio was talking about turning the other cheek, and mentioned something about Gregory Peck knowing karate and would get back at the bad guys, and that it wasn’t the best example. He really is a joy to have as a pastor. While he is not of the same culture as us missionaries, we have in common the fact that we’re not from St. Lucia. This helps us to gain insight from him on how the people are and the way they interact and operate. Slowly but surely we’re  using this information to more solidly establish relationships and get more active in our ministries.

It’s ironic that I’m talking about this right now, because I feel like this journal entry mirrors what our ministry has been like in our time here. I’ve known for awhile that I needed to do it and get active. But that’s all I’ve had, the desire to do it. A few times I’ve tried to do it, or got close, or thought really hard, but nothin’ goin’, u know? Had some thoughts cross my mind as to what I wanted to say/do, and gathered some really good ideas. It seems though that I needed to get to a point where I let go and it would just happen. I wasn’t planning to do my journal right now, but it just kinda came together as a culmination of the previous events of the day. A big motivation for me doing it is that I had this really strong feeling that it was time. Even if I didn’t know yet what I was going to say, I knew I needed to say SOMETHING. Anyhoo………….

The other part of my journal title is somewhat self-explanatory. Indeed, I am going to see the Pope this summer. World Youth Day 2011 is being held in Madrid. I had the most amazing experience of my journey with Jesus when I attended World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia. It was the most tangible glimpse I’ve ever had of the Catholic Church as Universal. As soon as I got home from Australia, I knew that I’d love to go to Madrid in 2011 but I just never realized that I’d get the chance. So, once I officially joined FMC as a missionary, I knew that I might get my chance. John-Paul Summers, the youth minister for FMC decided to organize a group to go. I kinda thought about it, but never seriously. To be blunt, I didn’t know what my summer plans were, and what my mission post would be or what the work would entail. However, in the past few weeks, I firmed up plans to come back to Louisiana in July. From the 11th to the 15th of July, I will be volunteering at Faith Camp. It’s a huge part of FMC’s family and their ministry, and I really wanted to experience it especially now that I’m a full-time missionary. After that was confirmed, I began thinking about Camp Hardtner, a Christian summer camp that I attended as a camper, counselor, and adult volunteer. It had been three years since I’ve been able to go (summer 2008). You know, that thing called life kinda happens. So, I contacted a few people after I realized the last camp session of the summer was right after Faith Camp, and voila, I’m back! I’m really excited to be going back, even if only for a week. The chance to be at a place that I really love is priceless. Life has shown me that I need to enjoy the blessings God gives me because you never know where life will take you or if you’ll ever have another chance to see that person or visit that place.

While we’re on that subject, I should mention to that right after my week at Camp Hardtner, I’ll be doing another three day silent retreat at Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House in Grand Coteau, LA. It’s a retreat house run by Jesuits, and they model their 3-day silent retreats off of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. Me and Dad have done several of these, but it’s been 2 or 3 years since we’ve been able to make one together. I’m pretty sure I could make one by myself or with some friends, but it’s something that I’ve only done with my dad. And guys being guys, you take whatever chance like this that you can get, if it means you’ll get some good male-bonding time.  So, my timeframe for the months of July and August look something like this: July 11th-15th – Faith Camp @ Camp Woodmen in Abbeville, LA. July 18th-26th – Camp Staff for Middle High @ Camp Hardtner in Pollock, LA. July 28th-31st – Silent Retreat @ Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House in Grand Coteau, LA. August 8th – 22nd – World Youth Day Pilgrimage, visiting London, Paris, Cordoba, Rome, Assissi, and Madrid. I would assume that I’ll be flying back into Lafayette 3 or 4 days before Faith Camp, and just spending time with my family and friends. Same with the time in between each trip/event I’ll be involved with. Hopefully I’ll get some chances to pass on some stories and knowledge and wisdom that I’ve gained from being in foreign missions.

The other big thing on my mind is Ash Wednesday. Lent is one of my favorite times of the year. The whole penitential aspect of it really excites me. Something about freshly committing myself, and by God’s grace becoming holier and more loving, captivates me. My Lenten strategy has varied from year to year. What do I give up? What extra thing do I do? This year, I felt like as a foreign missionary I had a decent handle on having already given up lots of stuff. Was there something extra I could do? I hadn’t really thought about my Lent this year, and what I was going to do. Now, Ash Wednesday rolls around and I still didn’t know. During my morning prayer and my morning routine, I committed myself not to worry too much or to force myself into something. Eventually, I’d figure out what God wanted me to focus on for Lent. Little did I know how soon my answer would come. During morning prayer, as I was tempted to daydream and lose focus, it dawned on me. I need to focus. It comes as a way to address the larger problem of not being present. So easily I get caught up in the past or future, that I forget to live in and be dedicated to the present, which is the only moment we have. Ergo, I have decided that I will ask God to give me the grace to notice every single time during prayer, meals, fellowship, ANYTHING, that I’m tempted to lose focus. Then, I can re-focus and re-dedicate myself to the task at hand. PTL.

As I finish my journal entry, I think of a few things that need some prayer:

-For Patricia, Dylan, & Marlin Monero. Patricia is a nurse at the Marian Home. Her relationship with the father of her children is bad. These boys need guidance. By God’s grace, we’re able to help fill some of that need. She also needs to relocate to a different house/piece of property. Long story, but big headache. Please pray pray pray.

-For Sabina. She’s a local resident who attends daily Mass at our chapel. In her home she is helping care for unwed mothers and is also fostering children. Every month she also does a lot of work to supply food and other needs of the local poor. We’ve been blessed with her bringing us into this ministry, but there is so much need.

-For all of the FMC missionaries. This is a season of getting established at various mission posts and finalizing plans. Pray that God’s will be done.

-For me and those on my mission team that will be travelling back to the States this summer. You already know my travel plans. Some of the Eckstine kids (along with Mark) are also going to be attending Faith Camp, and they may have other travel plans as well. Pray that our time away from our mission would renew us, and that we would have lots of opportunities to share about missions and to evangelize. Please also pray for safe travel and for the funds we need to do all of this.

God Bless!

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MISSIONARY JOURNAL – FINAL DISCERNMENT

12-14-09 continued

It was really good to go and see people I hadn’t seen in awhile (can’t remember the last time I went to Mass there). I was a little sad though cuz the last time I was at Wisdom to venerate the relics of St. Mary Magdalene, I knew the 2009 Intake was there, and it made me sad since they had gone back home to visit family before going into the mission field. I echo Sarah Kate’s sentiment that it’s too quiet w/o all the missionaries being around. But missing them is one of those little signs that tells me I like missions and being around missionaries. 🙂

After I had dinner with some Wisdom peeps after Mass, I went to Zea’s where some coreteam peeps had dinner after 6pm Mass at Cathedral. Sarah Kate was there so I got another opportunity to talk missions with her. Nothing new really, but like I said earlier, getting to talk about missions with anybody, especially another person who is into missions, is good stuff. Talked a little bit about her goin to Spain, about mutual friends of ours who are in mission or who might be going into missions. Fast forward to this morning, I had an epiphany while I was taking a shower that I think Lent will be my final period of discernment, and that unless God makes it abundantly clear that he doesn’t want me to enter Intake 2010, then by Easter I will have made my final decision. Seems right that I have that final deadline. I think it will help me to make a decision and stick with it. It’ll also help me to give my family and friends a final decision instead of me continuing to be in a state of “maybe I will, maybe I won’t”. Lord, give me the grace to face this day, to fall more deeply in love with you, and to be Christ to those I meet. God Bless!

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MISSIONARY JOURNAL – IT’S KINDA LIKE THAT SHOW “CHEERS”

Saturday 12-5-09 / 1:40am @ 1st Saturday adoration @ Our Lady of Wisdom

This week was a GOOD week. 🙂 Where did we leave off?…… Oh yeah, Wednesday evening. So, after work Wednesday, I washed my face and brushed my teeth and freshened up at the shop right after we closed. I figured that traffic might be bad and that even if it wasn’t it might take awhile to get out there anyways. It’s a good thing I left straight from the shop. Once I got into Maurice, traffic slowed to almost a standstill b/c of a wreck. The good thing is that I was able to pray for those involved in the wreck as well as the emergency personnel. And as I was waiting in traffic, as well as once I got past Maurice, I had some really intense personal prayer time and felt able to just talk to the Lord and praise him out loud.

That’s another thing I like about being around FMC and the missionaries, is that I’m learning how to talk to God in a more sincere and passionate way. Once I got to Big Woods, it was all good. I saw way too many people to mention all of them by name. I’d describe it as being in that TV show “Cheers” and you get to the bar, and you seem to know everybody… Among the people I chatted with was another one of the Spain missionary girls, Maria Moran. She was so friendly and open to talking about her mission experience. The more of the Spain team I talk with, the more I’m truly impressed with their missionary spirit, as well as their overall Christian attitude. I also got to chat with Lily Hannan, one of the Intake missionaries who had to leave Mexico early. It was good to see her back in the mix and enjoying herself. The atmosphere was abuzz with missionary fervor and joy. Everybody was talkin to everybody, smiling, laughing, and having a good time and enjoying each other’s fellowship.

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