Monday, July 21, 2008

Humility at it's finest...

On a daily basis I pray and ask Christ for humility. I know my tendency is to be a prideful person and I want to change. So I ask... and as I write this I'm acknowledging that Christ has given me one of the biggest opportunities to be humble.

I'm coming home.

23 days into the "co-worker" program and I'll be back in Dallas. This comes as a shock not only to you, but most definitely to me. I'm sure there are lots of questions... I have them too. I was simply told yesterday that I am not called to be here. Certainly I believe that to be a missionary is a call from God. I believe he called me here so I, out of love for God, came. And now he is calling me back home and out of love, I'll go. There is certainly a back story to this; one that is best told in person. All I can say is that my coming home is humbling and I'm sure at some point I'll see it as a blessing... a gift from God.

Rest assured, I'm not coming back to do the same thing. I know without a doubt that Christ has called me to mission work. Just clearly not here.. I'm tossing around a couple of different options and hope to leave again with in a month. There is an orphanage in Ecuador that needs volunteers, also, the missionaries of charity (think Mother Theresa) have interns in the Bronx. Also a good option for me. Please keep me in your prayers as I continue to discern what Gods Will in my life is.

Yesterday, when I was told it was time for me to come home I dealt with all sorts of emotion. Feelings of failure, confusions, sadness, humility, anger, and some joy too. I begged to stay... mainly cause I don't know what else to do. I'm currently working on trust and surrender. I've got to believe that the God who loves me more than anything has a plan for me and is calling me away from here because He has something that will bring me greater joy.

I asked myself: if I wasn't called to be here... what was I doing? How did I get it so wrong? My answer... I got it right. I've learned so much in this month. I've learned about myself, about love for Jesus and for others. I realized the importance of prayer and silence and the importance of truly knowing yourself. As I come home, even though it's been a short while, I hope to come back a changed person and take all of this experience on to the the next place that I go.

I thank you all for your support and prayers. Trust, I'll keep updating the good ole blog... I would hate for you to wait with baited breath and not know where or what my next step is. I'm excited about the opportunities and experiences that await me... even though I have NO idea what they are. God knows and I'm seeking, so that's enough. I've got to believe that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mission Possible video

video Laugh it up f olks. Here is an idea of what I'm doing during this year. :) This is the video we created for the mission in Howell.

Enjoy. :)

Juliana Christine

So now that I only have an hour of internet time I week I find myself thinking ... hmm... what should I write about next week?! What would anyone want to know.

Something that has been on my heart that I'd like to share is my sister Julie.

Many of you may not know that I have a sister in heaven. Her name is Juliana Christine. She is a bit older than me but I've not known her. She lived for 3 days and then entered heaven. I, for as long as I can remember, have had a closeness with her. It was always comforting to have an older sister who I could confide in and rely on. In fact... now that I have two older sisters (Julie and Denise) I have them both on wedding planning detail. Life doesn't get much better. Anyway. I digress... Like I mentioned, I've always had a closeness with Julie. I could always tell when she was around by feeling her presence or, more concretely seeing a white butterfly. Every year on her birthday I see a white butterfly and then some random times during the year. I always know it's her. :) Since I've been here I have of course missed my family and friends. I've longed for someone to be close too. I also want hugs. People are not huggers or touchers here and I am SUCH a hugger. All of this story is to really say that Christ is so faithful in granting the desires of our hearts. Since the day I arrived here I've seen a white butterfly EVERY day. I know that it is Julie. God was able to let me know and see her presence and be comforted at having family around. Yesterday when I was running (Yes, I've become a runner... 45 minutes a day!) a white butterfly landed on my arm and hung around for a bit. I love it and have such joy knowing that even the little things, the little desires of our hearts are noticed by God and granted. We are SO LOVED!

Onto something else...

This past weekend we put on a mission for a parish in Howell Michigan. I was leader of the youth team and was working with some amazing other young women. we put together a night activity and if I can figure out how to post a video of it I will. Our theme was Mission Possible: Heaven. A total hit. The weekend itself was non-stop and lots of work and very rewarding. I believe overall that I scraped like 3 barrels of chipping paint off the ceiling of the church as part of the humanitarian mission and then for the evangelical mission we all overall knocked on over 370 doors. TONS of walking and lots of talking. I mentioned it before and I'll mention it again lest anyone gets the wrong idea; we did not knock on doors to convert people. We went out to neighborhoods on behalf of the local parish to invite people to church and to ask if they had any prayer intentions. It was more about loving the people we encountered than anything else. One thing that surprised me the most was how many people have nothing they want prayed for. NOTHING... I can think of like a million things I need prayer for. I suppose that when you're caught of guard it could be difficult to come up with something... and thankfully most of the time life really is good. I would just ask that each of you look at your life and think of everything... good and bad and bring it before God. Either as a prayer of thanksgiving or asking Him for help. Any conversation is good. :)

Life here is getting "easier." By easier I mean I'm adjusting. There are still the daily struggles and things I don't understand... but I carry on. I have such a peace about being here and no longer think about coming home everyday. I've embraced this time and know that it is changing me and making a stronger woman already. The classes that we take are great and I'm really learning a lot. Lately we've been focusing on understanding Gods Will and also on a bunch of moral issues and natural law. Ladies and gentlemen I'll come back smarter for sure... woooo!

Ohhhhh, so last week we had this ridiculous event called "Fun Olympics" I'm not going to go too much into it, only to say that it is TOTALLY out of my comfort zone and not something that I enjoy... so I learned sacrifice. :) I'm also a team leader and chose to embrace the opportunity to set an example. I'm proud to let you know that my team won EVERY event. Yes, the ultimate champions. It was quite gratifying. I also took a little trip to the emergency care clinic because of these Olympics... Word to the wise: When you're competing in tug o war don't wrap the rope around your hand. We were all thoroughly convinced that my hand was snapped in half. Painful and swollen to twice it's normal size. Turns out it's nothing really, just some pretty bruising and lots of motrin. You live and learn. :)

As far as spirituality is concerned... I'm growing in leaps and bounds... well, maybe not bounds. Christ reminds me daily that this year is a gift. Both from me and to me. I've got to embrace it and understand that truly, a year is nothing to give to someone who gave their life. I just read a testimony of a young 23 year old man who was a co-worker. He talked about how heroic he thought he was that he left his job, girlfriend, friends and lifestyle etc. He was so proud until he looked at what he'd given up from the viewpoint of the cross. When we look upon our lives from the vantage point of the foot of the cross all that we do pales in comparison to Gods gift to us. It also inspires me to give more generously and with a joyful spirit.

I'll end with an old cliche... Our life is a gift from God, what we do with our life is our gift to him.

Love to you,
Jessica

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

internet time

Okay, here is the latest and greatest. I've just received the "norms" aka rules for my year as a co-worker. I'm allowed 1 hour of Internet a week. Today is my day. :) WOOOO! So you can expect updates around this time. Also, I'm not allowed real phone time so it will be quite difficult to keep with anyone except fam on the telephone. SO SAD. So please email me. Ill read and write back!!!

What's new here...

This weekend all of us girls are hosting a Mission weekend at a local parish. We will be doing door-to-door missions, youth activities, painting and repairing the parish, a pope party for kids, and a picnic for the whole parish are just among a few of the things we'll be doing. I'm excited for the opportunity to actually do some missionary work. :) Now you may be wondering what the door-to door missions are about. We don't go to evangelize. We more so knock on doors to ask for prayer intentions and to invite people to church. I'm leading the team that's working with the youth group at the parish (along with another girl who is awesome!) I guess when you put former youth minister on your application they figure you're good with teens... that and all of the other girls here are teens. :) My mission is clear.

I've got to tell you, Christ is working so intensely in my life. I never thought this would be so hard. I'm not sure why I thought it would be so easy though. I'm constantly humbled and reminded of my littleness. I've learned to seek much solace in God as I often feel confused and broken about what I'm doing.

It's been one week. ONE WEEK. Whoa.

I think I'll start writing little things on my notebook during the week so I'm more thorough in my update. It's hard to remember all of the little things when I'm trying to get everything done in an hour. Oh my.

Please know this... I know why I'm here. I have a joy and a peace. I'm excited about the opportunities I have to love. If I've figured out one thing so far... it's that my capacity to love truly is much more than I thought it was. When things get rough and I'm ready to throw in the towel on a daily basis... I first think, "I can do this out of love for Christ." That thought is immediately followed by "I can do this out of love for souls." I think of EACH person in my life. I think your name and I see your face. Out of love for you that you may live in a better world I'm here. Picturing each of you as better happier people because of anything I can offer up makes everything worthwhile. Know that your smiling faces and the love I have for you make this much easier and more worthwhile for me. I'm so thankful for the wonderful people God has placed in my life. Wow... what a difference it makes!

All my love,

Jessica

Saturday, July 5, 2008

re-cap

OKay... I've got a bit more time now.

Counting today I've been here 5 days. Trust, it feels like an eternity. I miss Jamon, I miss my family and friends. I miss bell peppers and hummus and firemans 4. Most of those things are understandable... some are trivial. Really... I can live without beer. :) FOR SURE!!! Overall I will say that all is well though. I know that I'm supposed to be here so the joy is greater than anything else. Not just like regular happiness... but actual joy!

Yesterday was a great day It was the 4th of July and we all went to Lake Michigan and got to go to the beach and people watch and play volleyball and basketball. We also had a cookout. Mmmmm! Then we went to a different park and watched the fireworks. I'm so thankful to live in the country that I do. We should all be so thankful and give hugs to every service man or woman we ever see for sacraficing to make this country what it is. If I could insert music I'd be playing God Bless America or something wonderfully patriotic like that.

So maybe you're wondering what I do in a give day. I'll do my best to lay it ou for you.

I wake up at 6am and have some Jess time which usually involves push ups and sit ups - Thank you Jamon for inspiring a physically fit spirit in me. Ha. Then I get ready for the day go to morning prayer, mass and breakfast. After that I do laundry. I'm in charge of laundry for all 30 girls. I love it. really I do. Nothing like smelling downy fresh. After laundry we have a conference / lecture. We actually have 5 classes a day. They consist of Spirituality, Morality, Regnum Christi workshop, ECYD workshop and a Mystique Course. I love learning so this is great. We also have an hour of sports. I usualy play basketball and am getting back to being decent. :) I've got to wrap this up as free time is endning so I'll briefly lay out the other activities of the day. Mid day prayer, lunch, night prayer, dinner, night activity, more laundry sleep. I'm getting 8 hours a night which is awesome!

Next time I write I'll try to fill you in on the spiritual side of this whole misisonary thing. It's really pretty challenging and amazing. I know that God is working on me and opening my heart to love more than I thought possible.

OKay, away I go.

All my love,

Jessica
HHEEEYYY! I've got a ten minute break and wanted to let you that all is well in Michigan. I also found out that I wont be told where I'm going until August 12th! So everyone wait with baited breath with me. :)

Thankfully I have my own room and wearing nylons is not nearly as ridiculous as I thought it would be. I've been challenged emotionally, spiritually and mentally daily. Pray for me please.

The other girls are sweet. Younger than my little sister... like girls I taught in higschool youth group. But they are precious and I have taken on a maternal role. :) I get to hear a lot of stories and do a bit of consoling. I'm certainly in my element.

More later for sure. Right now I've got to run upstairs. I have a conference on spiritually and morality. All my love to you.

Jessica