Called to Serve

September 28, 2010

Young Adult Group – August 2010

Following the group of seminarians, Jonathan and myself found ourselves needing to return to the United States for a few days in order to bring some missionaries back home and to bring others to catch flights to their homes.  After a short little stay at our Big Woods Mission Base in Abbevile, Louisiana, we made our way back to General Cepeda with a small group, including some of our missionaries (Alyse, Susanna, Eric, Sarita and Josiah) and some others coming down for the trip (Catherine Rose and my brother Daniel).  Leaving bright and early in the morning, come afternoon time, we found ourselves in Laredo, Texas where we decided to stay for the night to break up the drive for little Josiah.

Staying the night, we took off early in the morning to cross the border and head down to General!!!  Arriving at the border, we prepared for our usual no problem entry… however little did we know, we would be having a few bumps that day.  After having gotten everyone’s Visa for entry into the country, it turned out that my brother was not being allowed in because Mexico would not accept his Enhanced Driver’s License for a Visa.  Hours later, having exhausted every possibility, sadly we had to return to the States and put Daniel on what would turn out to be an 80 hour bus ride home to Upstate New York, missing out on the mission trip.

After all of that, I finally make my way across the border and begin the final stretch down to General.  A short four hours later, I meet up with the girls and the rest of the group who had left the border earlier happy and awaiting our arrival!!  Settling back down into our home, we awoke the next morning ready to drive to the airport to pick up our newest short term group from Denver, Colorado!  Coming home, we shortly saw off Eric and Sarah on their way to language school in Cuernavaca and began our mission with the group!!!

– Our good friend Don Pedro sitting front and center at one of our Rancho evangelization visits!

– Pouring lodo (mud) onto the adobe blocks to build the wall of a home.

– The second time this wall fell.  After re-building it again from our last work trip (St. Norbert’s), midway through our day the wall fell down on myself and Teresa’s sister Charlotte who was on the trip.  Weighing a few thousand pounds, we just praise the Lord that we were not hurt!!!

– Desert Day in a beautiful cave with an incredibly cold pool of water to relieve me from the heat of the day!!!

– Jonathan and myself after desert day in the cave!!

– A happy part of our group after rebuilding our re-built wall!!! Praise the Lord its finally standing strong!!!

Next up:  Moving back to Louisiana.


June 8, 2010

Claíomh an Spioraid. Tá an Chomhphobail an Ghrá.

I will first ask for the forgiveness of all those who actually speak Irish if my title is incorrectly translated. It is meant to say, “Sword of the Spirit. A Community of Love”.  After having left our mission post in Spain, I had decided ahead of time that our brief mission in Ireland wasn’t going to be much of mission at all, but instead just a break on our way back to America. Little did I know, that the Lord had other plans in mind.  The week and a half spent I was to spend there would soon become one of my most treasured times in our European mission. Leaving Cordoba, the ten of us missionaries flew and bussed ourselves to Madrid, off to Dublin and finally came to rest in the beautiful little town of Loughlinstown in County Dublin, just south of Dublin City.  Our plans were to stay, as a group, for a few days with the Moran’s, a family of one of our missionaries.  I don’t think they really knew what there were signing up for when they said yes to having us!

– The whole group in Ireland! (plus Inma!)

Arriving Friday, midafternoon, we had just enough time to invade the Moran house and throw our luggage all over, before we were rushing off to an evening of ministry. The ten of us, split up in pairs of two’s, and headed off to local homes in the neighborhood in order to speak and give testimony to five different aged youth groups, ranging from ages five to eighteen or so.   As a community, every friday each of the children in community come together for a night of prayer, scripture, teaching, and fun.  I was able to pair off with Teresa and spend my evening with 30 kids from the ages of 7-11.  Apart from all of the games we played and fun that we had, it was such a blessing to be able to sit down with them and share my testimony with them… to tell them how God spoke to me in a cave and called me to give my life to Him!!! He is so great!!! And these children were so intrigued, so captivated by the power of the Lord, of His desiring for us to live for Him, to follow Him, to trust Him, to give our lives to Him!!!

– Lord’s Day celebration at the Moran’s.

The Moran’s, along with a great number of other families in the neighborhood, are part of a Christian Covenant Community, Sword of the Spirit, a community which has chapters all over the world. Covenant Communities are comprised of  singles, married couples, and families all trying to live out true Gospel values. The members and families of the community often live near one another and simply provide support for one another as they all try to live as good Christians in the world today. Prayer meetings, youth groups and community events are all aspects of living in such an incredible community.As a “community of disciples on mission” The Sword of the Spirit seeks to…

√ proclaim the good news of Christ through direct evangelization
√ bring together Christians from different traditions and cultures for common mission
√ support parents in raising children with character and a clear sense of identity
√ envision and train the upcoming generation to take on roles of responsibility
√ help bridge the gaps of race, class, and culture
√ work in cooperation with the churches to foster Christian renewal and promote unity
√ give hope and vision to those seeing their countries destroyed by war and violence

This beautiful witness and way of life surrounded us during our time in Ireland as we did whatever we could to help the community and share our witness with them.  On Sunday evening, we were blessed to attent the community’s night of praise and worship.  A night of beautifully praising the Lord together with the older youths and young adults of the community was then followed by a time of planning activities for Evangelizing, fun activities for the youth groups in the community that would allow them to reach out to their friends, who either were not in the community or even not Christian, and show them their way of life and their faith in Christ.

– Missionaries and Young Adults at a Sunday Night Praise and Worship gathering.

As the weekend passed by, our team slowly dwindled down, until it was myself and Jonathan who remained.  Arriving in Ireland, we had planned on trying to attend an eight day silent retreat once the rest of the missionaries had returned home, however our plans did not work out.  Before we had time to think of other options, Mr. Moran generously offered to allow us to stay for an extra week with him and his family. The rest of our time in Ireland was filled with opportunities to serve.  We were blessed to be able to help out with chores around the community, to meet many of the other families, share meals and to continually give our testimonies to the Lord’s hand in our lives.  The following Friday we were able to once again partake in the youth group night.  Taking one of the age groups, we had an evening of games followed by the children asking questions about the faith for us to answer.  It was just so beautiful and often so surprising to see how intrigued, interested and insightful these children were.  They were asked questions that I would expect theology students in college to be asking, and then when we answered them, they would always have an insightful input and a true understanding of our response.  The Lord was and is truly working in these youth, preparing them for a life of love and service for Him!!!

– Sitting in front of the Doors of Dublin.

When I look back, I am still shocked by how much we actually fit into our schedules during that short time. The witness of that community is something that I will not soon forget.  To see families living together in such a way, living for the Lord, raising their children with good and holy Christian values gave me a glimpse of how Christ wanted the world to be… how He still wants it to be today!!! A place where all people are free in Him, have support from our fellow Christians and are fearless to be living for something more than this world has to offer.  In a special way, the Moran family blessed all of us so much during our time there.  They are a family, with struggles and trials just like every other family in the world, but the love that they showed for each other, for the other families in the community, and for us (basically complete strangers upon arrival) was and is still such a blessing in our lives. May the Lord bless them and the entire Sword of the Spirit community, pouring our His love and grace upon them and shining His divine light upon them to guide them into the way of truth.

– The sun setting over the homes of Ireland and setting on Mission Europe.

With what seemed like the perfect ending to such an incredible chapter in my missionary life, Mission Europe came to an end.

Next stop… General Cepeda.

Missionary Randoms 😛

– Me and my new friend 🙂

– Cannonball!

– Shadow Guy!

– Me and Jon at Killiney Beach.

December 14, 2009

Have you Heard?

General Cepeda, located in the Mexican state of Coahuila, is a municipality consisting of one pueblo (small town) and 46 outlying ranchos (desert communities).  With a population of about 11,000 people, the municipality is one of the poorest areas of the country.  It is a place where many go without electricity, heat, food or running water.  Apart from their hunger arising from a lacking of food, there is another hunger present in the area, a hunger which cannot be satisfied by anything of this world.  The people are hungry for truth, hungry for faith, hungry for God.  This hunger is what brought me and my fellow missionaries down to General Cepeda for our first mission for the month of November 2009.  Our mission in General lasted for about a month.  Our time was spent doing a number of different ministries.  Each morning we would participate in as many work projects as possible (building houses, repairing roofs, etc), we would make home visits to the shut-ins, we would travel to the desert communities to give out clothes, we would have our door ministry, where dozens of people would daily come to our front door asking for their needs, whether it be food, medicine, baby products, etc. or prayer.  Our evenings consisted of driving to the desert communities and sharing our faith.  We would lead the people in praise and worship, give our testimonies, and then give a teaching on the faith, on the scriptures

I could easily write a book about our trip, about the amazing things that I was blessed to see, about the numerous miracles that God worked.  However as Christmas approaches, there is one particular story that I would like to share, an experience that has helped me put my life and this holiday season into perspective.

It was early one morning, when the missionaries had decided upon which rancho we were going to so that we could give out some clothes to the people.  Upon arriving at the desert community, we were shocked at the turnout; a great number of children came to greet us, however only two women showed up which was reversal of most visits, when the number of adults greatly outnumbered that of the children.  Before giving out the clothes, we led the group in prayer and worship.  Another oddity, the children did not seem to understand what we were doing, they did not understand the songs, or anything that we were saying to them.  One of the missionaries thought it would be a good idea to give a little catechesis to the children and chose to talk about the Our Father.  To our surprise the children did not know this simple prayer.  Not only did they not know this prayer, we soon came to find out that they did not know who Jesus was.  It’s not that they didn’t know ‘a lot’ about him; it’s that they had never heard of him, ever.  They had never heard the name of Jesus Christ.

When we found this out we couldn’t help but tell them, tell them all that we knew, to tell them about our best friend, about our love, about our savior!  We told them the story, the story of our salvation, the reason for our hope, our joy, and our love.  By the end of the day, these children who had woken up in the dark were now in the light.  They had woken up not knowing the God of the universe and were going to bed knowing how much God loved them and the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for them.  They were walking around saying “Jesus loves me”, “Jesus died for me”, “I love Jesus”. God had blessed us with the opportunity to change their lives in one day.  God not only used us to change them, but he used them to change us.  He showed us that we must always be bold in proclaiming the truth, that we must always be ready to give a reason for our hope, to tell the story.  We cannot assume that people know the truth, we cannot be afraid to ask them if they have heard the Good News of Jesus Christ.  We must always be ready to give what we have, the gift of faith.  It can change their life, it will change yours.

As the holidays approach, as we welcome the coming of Jesus Christ, as we anticipate the birth of our Savior, it would be a tragedy if we took for granted, even for one minute, the gift that we have in our faith.  We cannot let our faith become anything other than a living and loving relationship with Jesus Christ.  There are still people in the world today who have never heard of him.  This God that we love and live for, they have never met.  Let us always be ready to share the Good News, to bring Christ to others, to ask the question ‘Have you heard?”

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