Called to Serve

June 10, 2010

Where it all began…

March 2009 –

  1. Finishing up studies at Franciscan University: a year and a half of studying the faith and the Church.
  2. Unsure of status after graduation: youth minister, dre, high school teacher..?
  3. Prerparing to go on a mission trip to Mexico with the University: not quite sure what missions are but I’m sure it will be a fun time.

March 2010

  1. Finishing up Mission Europe: three months of sharing the Gospel and giving testimony throughout Europe.
  2. Unsure of where my next permanent mission post will be: General, Coatzacoalcos, Unknown..?
  3. Preparing to return to Mexico to help lead the short term trip from FUS that I was on one year ago: blessed beyond belief.

What a difference a year makes!!! If anyone had told me at the beginning of last March what I would be doing with my life, how the Lord was going to change all of my plans and show me His, I would have told them they were insane! But oh how our God is faithful!  Exactly one year later, the Lord was blessing me with the opportunity to return to General Cepeda, to the place where it all started, to once again serve Him there in mission.  And to do so with the group that would be coming from Franciscan University, the very group I was on for my first mission, those short twelve months ago 🙂

After a breif two night stop on Long Island, after leaving Ireland, me and Jonathan made our way down to Louisiana and then drove down to General Cepeda.  Upon arrival, we were joyously surprised by a very warm welcome of the short term group that had been there for a week from Miami University (OH).  Within minutes I was thrown back into the reality of the beautiful General Cepeda. I could already see the smile and the pure joy that readiated from those who had been living in this humble place for nearly a week. The unique beauty that never fails to shine through each and every person to spend any amount of time serving the Lord in this beautiful little pueblo!  I was already getting excited to hear all of the glory stories and ways that the Lord had changed these students lives over the past few days.  Later that night, I was blessed to sit down with a number of the missionaries from the group and hear their witness, of all the things the Lord had done for them, how He had opened their eyes and broken their hearts to love the poor in a new way!  I was also blessed to share my own story of how the Lord worked on me during my first short term trip down to General.

The next day, with an early wakeup, me and Jonathan rushed off the the airport in Monterrey to pick up our short term group, flying in from Steubenville!!!  Waiting outside of the International Arrivals gate, one by one we saw students with looks of anticipation, excitement, and a bit of nervousness walk out into the lobby, getting ready for what would soon be one of the greatest weeks of their lives! (whether they knew it yet or not, hehe). With twenty bright eyed students led by Daniel Telles, Theresa Haines and Fr. Rick Martignetti, we piled up our two vans and headed home to the Casa de Misiones!!!

The minute we arrived at the mission house, all twenty-one missionaries began their week by kissing the ground of their mission field… and never looked back once from there on out.  From day one, each and every member of the mission team, gave fully of themselves to everything and everyone.  Serving above and beyond, loving without reserve and stepping outside of every comfort of home, this group was such a blessing not only to the people on General Cepeda, but to our mission team as well!!! They were always shining examples of what it means to die to self and to serve, to be fearless and bold in preaching the Good News!

Our week as a team was chock-full!!!  Our work projects were many and ranged from building roofs and bathrooms to painting homes inside and out.  We had daily teams going out to the rancho’s to evangelize and offer Mass and we also had teams doing home visits, visiting the poor and the sick who are unable to leave their homes.  One of our rules of life here at FMC is that ‘in all things, praise the Lord’.  Well this group did just that!  From the moment they woke up in the morning they could be heard singing joyful songs to the Lord.  Throughout all of the morning service projects, General Cepeda was ringing with praises to our God… even after lunch, when most groups would be resting after a long morning of work, this group could be found all gathered in the coral with guitars and drums having praise and worship together!  It was just so beautiful to have the rooms of our humble little mission house echoing with shouts to God at all hours of the day!

– Jonathan preaching to the little ones in a Rancho.

– Franciscan students filling buckets of fill for a newly made roof.

– Missionaries painting the inside of an elderly man’s home.

Just like with all of our short term groups to General, our evenings were spent driving to the local rancho’s to share testimonies, have praise and woship, to offer prayer to the people and at times to offer mass.  The first night out at the rancho’s, anyone there could tell that this group had not only prepared what they were going to share, but that they had done so prayerfully, that they really took the time to listen to the Lord and to have Him reveal to them how He has worked so powerfully in their lives!  All week long, the testimonies shared by the missionaries were beautiful witnesses of how the Lord wants to, and IS, working in all of our lives.  We were even blessed to have two students come forward and volunteer to give a teaching.  Each of them waited upon the Lord to share with them what He wanted to speak, and faithfully they delivered His message in a powerful way, speaking truth, light and love into the hearts of those who listened!!

– Theresa reading some Scripture to a woman who we were building a bathroom for.

– Work Project team who built a new bathroom.

– Happy Missionaries!!!

As we approached the end of our week, we were blessed to be able to take a pilgimage day to Saltillo.  In Saltillo, the missionaries truly used this day as a day of pilgrimage.  Students headed off to the market to buy blankets for the homeless or food for the hungry.  We then moved on to the Cathedral which was a time of prayer for us and the group, to thank the Lord for all that He had done with us, for us and through us throughout the past week. After eating dinner as a group, we returned home to General… stopping briefly out in the desert to see the beautiful stars which the Lord was blessing us with on such an incredible evening.

– Building a room onto the house of a young family.

– The entire group in front of the Cathedral in Saltillo on our day of pilgrimage.

The following day would be our last full day in General Cepeda as a group.  After breakfast, we all took off for Desert Day, a day of prayer out in the desert to be refilled and renourished, to thank to Lord for every blessing He has poured out upon us, and to seek His will for each of us.  Going off in our seperated directions, many of the missionaries grabbed a seat near a little stream or found shade under a cactus.  However I knew where I was headed… back to my cave.  A year later to the day, I was able to return to the spot where the Lord had first called me to missions.  Stepping into the cave I was excited and a little saddened… excited to be back, saddened to see that the back of the cave had caved in.  However the Lord showed me that what once was dark, the inside of that cave, was now filled with light.  What once was unclear in my life, my vocation, now was shining brightly in my living as a missionary.  The Lord is, has, and continues to bless me abundantly in this life as a missionary.  After our desert day, we had an incredible opportunity to go to the rancho San Jose and celebrate their feast day!!  Their celebration included Danzantes, a beautiful mass, and a feast for the entire community.  Returning home after a long day, our final evening was spent together in the sala, sharing our experiences from the week and how the Lord had blessed us.

– Danzantes at San Jose.

– Padre Ricardo (Rick) walking with a woman to begin the ceremonies of the Feast Day at San Jose.

A week of blessings!!!  These young Franciscan students came to General unknowing… but ready!  They left as missionaries, on fire to serve the Lord and their brothers and sisters.  I pray that all of those who left with a desire for missions, continue to seek out the Lord and His will!  That He would give them the grace and the strength to answer this call and that the doors would be open for them to do so!!

Missionary Randoms 😛

– Me and Mirna, one of the Garza children, a family of full-time missionaries from General Cepeda.

– Really no explanation 😛

– Cannonball!

– Preparing for when the world is turned upside down by the transforming love of God being brought to the ends of the earth!

– Flying Ninja Jonathan!

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