October-Fest

Wow, well it looks like it’s been a whole month since I actually made a post. In other words, I’m way overdue. My apologies to you guys for being away for so long. October was a really crazy busy month with lots of things going on for me and the team. But now I’ve finally got a little bit of down time so I can update you all on the big things that have been going on in my life!

First things first, I’ve GOT to talk about the Zedd concert. BEST CONCERT OF MY LIFE. if you know me at all then you should know that I got to a lot of concerts so when I say that Zedd was the best concert ever, that’s really saying something haha. Nick and I headed up to Orlando and met up with the two guy missionaries from Florida Atlantic University, Nick and Cody, for a night full of amazing dance music. If you don’t know Zedd, he’s the electro-house DJ behind such hits as “Clarity,” “Stay The Night,” “I Want You To Know,” and “Beautiful Now.” Seriously if you haven’t heard his music, go check him out because you are totally missing out. I’ve been trying to see him for 3 years now while my brother has had the chance to see him multiple times. I was so excited for this show and let me tell you that it did not disappoint. Not only was the music great but the production quality and the staging was amazing. Every single sound/beat had a corresponding light effect. It was total sensory overload and it was great!

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Nick, Cody, Kevin and I had absolutely amazing time. It was really great to be able to spend some quality time with the guys  and I’m already looking forward to seeing Zedd again. Opening for him were artists Alex Metric, Dillon Francis and surprise guest, Dash Berlin. all of them were great but none of them matched the sheer majesty that was Zedd. It’s honestly impossible to put into words just how cool it was. Seriously check him out and definitely go if you get the chance to see him. If there was one downside i guess I couldn’t really hear out of my right ear for the next day but even that was worth it.

Kevin, Nick, Cody and I at the Zedd Concert
Kevin, Nick, Cody and I at the Zedd Concert

The week after Zedd marked the start of Fall Break and I had the opportunity to chaperon the Halloween Horror Nights Trip that the school put on. Basically I got to join 50 Ave Students on a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando for their annual Halloween festival complete with Haunted Houses! You all know how much I love scary stuff. I had the chance to go on the same trip last year and I had a ton of fun seeing how they decked the park our for Halloween and the haunted houses were very well done it was the same case this year! Had a great time walking around the park and we got  chance to walk around part of Harry Potter World which I’ve never done before. The only downside was that we didn’t get back to campus until around 5am so rest assured I was pretty exhausted from the whole ordeal.

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Fall Break also included some pretty special things happening for me down here at Ave, the first being that I joined a Household. A Household is like a Fraternity without the excessive drinking, the promiscuity, the hazing, the bullying, and the Greek stuff but does include the brotherhood, the accountability and the helping each other grow. Basically it’s everything that a Fraternity should be instead of what they’ve become known for nowadays. There are many different households here at Ave Maria but the one I joined is called the Fishers of Men based around the Bible Verse Mark 4:19. Out of all the Households on Campus I always had the most respect for Fishers because all the guys in it seemed the most committed to their brothers and to what their goals were so I was honored when they asked me to pledge. Initiation was over Fall break and was tons of fun and it feels nice to be a part of such a great group of guys and I know for sure that they’ll help me out in my mission here on campus.

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The men of Fishers of Men and our mascot, Nemo

Over fall break all the other missionaries  were gone but that was okay because I had a friend coming to visit. My buddy Chris came to stay with me for a few days during break. Chis was a FOCUS missionary for two years and I got to know him during my first summer training and he’s become a really good friend of mine. I hadn’t seen him since Easter so I was really glad to be able to get the chance to catch up and ask him how life in the real world is going. Miss ya lots Chris and hope you had fun while you were here! Good to see ya!

My birthday also happened to fall over break. 24? Man am I getting old. While there weren’t too many people around to celebrate my birthday this year, i still had a great day. I got to her from all my friends and family back home and then got to spend a great day with some good friends here culminating with a trip to The Cheesecake Factory (one of my favorite restaurants.) When the other missionaries got back we celebrated again the next week (with another trip to the Cheesecake Factory) so overall I guess turning 24 was pretty cool after all. Just wish I had taken some pictures!

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Christine and I as Lilo and Stitch!

Next up I guess I should talk about the Sadie Hawkins Dance. Every year at Ave the Halloween Dance is a Sadie Hawkins Dance. I was so honored to be asked by a very sweet girl this year and we decided to go as Lilo & Stitch. I ordered a pretty awesome onesie online and I think we looked absolutely fantastic. We definitely got points for being the cutest haha. My favorite part of the Halloween dance here is seeing how creative students get with their costumes. And no while we didn’t win the costume contest, we did get a lot of compliments and hard a great time. Big shout out to Christine for asking me to the dance!

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Well I think that covers all the BIG things that have gone on in the past month. As far as regular mish life goes, things are good! Bible studies and discipleships are great and team life is as awesome as ever. We’re each getting ready to head to the annual FOCUS Student Leadership Summit in Dallas coming up in January and that has been a lot of work. I do feel like we’re starting to reach that point in the semester when we’re getting pretty tired/drained but we have each other to lean on and I know we’ll finish out the year strong. Also! The whole month of October consisted of Intramural Soccer Season! I played on a team with Nick, Anne and some students and staff. It was really great playing soccer again and our team was actually pretty badass. We made it all the way to the semifinals before getting knocked out in a climatic battle. Thanks for a great season guys! Looking forward to Frisbee next semester!

The Intramural Soccer Team
The Intramural Soccer Team

This week I’m actually really excited to be heading home for a few days for the wedding of two of my best friends. I’m so so so so ready for it! Not only for the wedding but just being able to take a mini vacation. While the other missionaries traveled a lot throughout October, I pretty much stayed down here around Ave so I’m excited to be able to get out of the state. Even for just a few days. It’ll be great to see my family and I’m going to get to see a lot of friends at the wedding. Look for my next update where I’ll talk all about it! Please pray for my safe travels, for the wedding of Mitch and Annie and for all the students I get the chance to work with.

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Superheroes

Well would you look at that! This is my 40th post since starting this blog over a year ago! Wow that feels like forever ago and just yesterday at the same time. Thanks to all my loyal readers who have stuck with me all this time and to any first-time readers, thanks for taking a look! There’s plenty of material to read if you’re interested! Today I want to talk about one of my favorite things, Superheroes. If you read my post a few weeks ago about my drive down to Ave Maria then you know all about my undying love for Superman. However, today we’re going to delve a little deeper into the genre. But first, an update on how things are going at Ave!

The team and I got to have dinner with two Ave Maria community members last week, Nancy and Randy. They’re such an amazing couple and they helped set up meetings with other community members last year us when we wanted to do some fundraising for our big conferences. I’m really happy to say that they’re going to do th same this year. Thanks so much to you guys for all the help and the delicious meal they fed us. Also, thanks for letting us take another great picture with the one and only, Pope Francis…..cardboard cutout.

Just hanging out with the Pope
Just hanging out with the Pope

Bible Studies are going really well. I’m leading two on campus this year: Beer and Jesus and then what I call my DinoStudy (long story) and I’ve got a consistent number of awesome students attending. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to dive into scripture with these guys. I love hearing their insights as we read the Lord’s word together. It’s always some of the best parts of the week when I get to sit down and crack open the Bible with these guys. I only pray that I can continue to be a good leader for this great group of men and that Go really speaks to them in the passages that we read together.

Beer & Jesus
Beer & Jesus

Team life is great, discipleships are going really well and life in general at Ave has been great. I’m constantly reminded of how blessed I am to be at such a beautiful campus surrounding by the wonderful people here. Thanks be to God.

Now! Time to get into the Superheroes.  If you haven’t noticed in the past, Superheros in general are kind of an allegory for Christianity and Spiritual Warfare, Think about it: Great Heroes facing off with diabolical Villains while the fate of millions hang in the balance? The ongoing struggle of good against evil? Themes of virtue, peace, justice and truth? Sounds a lot like Christianity to me. Today I want to discuss three particular heroes are the perfect archetypes for Christians: Superman, Batman and Captain America.

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First off: It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the one and only Superman. He’s the perfect example of a Christ-like figure. Just think: He was sent to Earth by his Father from the Heavens above. He’s human but also not human at the same time. Though he was treated like an outcast, he has the power to save humanity. He’s widely regarded as the most powerful superhero of all (in addition to one of the first) and the one who sets the standard for all others. The “S” on his chest stands for “Hope” and he stands for Truth, Justice and the American Way. Though he’s been tempted to cross over to the dark side before he’s never faltered and continues to be a beacon of light and hope. he;s a savior that as hard as other heroes may try, the’ll never be able to match the power of Superman. But even so, he inspires them to be better and never turns his back on anybody in need. If you saw Man of Steel there’s actually a few scenes where he’s actually has his arms outstretched like Jesus on the cross. Subtle right?

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Next up we have Batman, arguably everyone’s favorite Superhero nowadays. Batman is a great example of the Independent Christian. He is purely human with no superpowers whatsoever. But what he does have is an incredible intellect and the will to never give up. He trains super hard and long to became the crime-fighting force he is. He’s got all sorts of fancy gadgets and tools that help him out. Sure he’s had a few sidekicks here and there but for the most part he chooses to do the most dangerous work alone. He’s a force of good, but it comes from a dark place. One of the reasons I think Batman is more popular than Superman is because his world is so much darker and grungier. Our culture is fascinated with all things doom and gloom because we find it intriguing, edgy and exciting while Superman (Jesus) is more the “goody two-shoes.” Batman is the kind of Christian who tries to do everything by himself. He’s fight for justice and truth but he tries to do it without any help. he relies for the most part on himself and his tools and likes to refuse the help of other heroes. As hard as he may try, he’ll never be as powerful as Superman.

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Finally we have Captain America and he’s the perfect example of the type of Christian we should strive to be. If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t now much about him let me just give you a brief background. Steve Rogers was just a super scrawny and weak guy from Brooklyn during. Despite being so, he had a pure heart and always stood up for what was right. He got beat up a lot but never gave up. When WWII started he tried repeatedly to join the Army but was constantly rejected because of how small/sickly/weak he was. But he kept trying because he wanted to fight for justice and to protect those he loved. Eventually he found his way into the Army by volunteering for an experimental super soldier program. He was injected with a serum that transformed him from the small and weak Steve Rogers into the powerful and agile Captain America an he leader of the Avengers. He became a Superhero.

Now listen closely. Steve is still human but part of him isn’t. Just like us. We are purely human but have an immortal soul. He was always just, brave, good and true but he couldn’t be super without some help. He needed the serum to help make him Super. Just like the super soldier serum gave him his strength and agility, our baptism gives us the Holy Spirit, which can help transform us. Make us stronger, more courageous and more faithful. He empowers us to be able to achieve great things.

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So the moral of that story is to strive to be like Superman but recognize that we can’t do it alone. We need each other to support and build each other up. We need to be confident in ourselves and always work hard.  But most importantly we need to seek and rely on God. He created us and wants to give us to grace to achieve the greatness that we’re made for.

Well I hope you enjoyed that extended analogy. It really spoke to me when I heard it. And before you give me the credit, I didn’t come up with this. I heard it from my teammate Nick when the team was meeting with our student leaders for the first time. So thank you Nick for giving that speech!! Hope you all get something out of it. Just gearing up for this week now and it should be a pretty good one! Look for my next post to hear all about it and remember that as cool as Batman is, we should all strive to be Captain America.

Back In Business

Well it’s official! Things here down at Ave Maria are back in full swing! The past two weeks the team and I have been busy having meetings, planning events, getting to know students, giving out free stuff and starting discipleships and Bible studies. It’s been pretty tiring but so much fun. So far things are going great and it’s going to be a fantastic year if things keep going like this.

First off, the team and I got to help out a little bit with Freshman Orientation. Like we did last ear, we got to help move new students into the dorms. It’s a great way to meet people and have a chance to introduce yourself to the freshman. They remember the person who carries their expensive flat-screen TV from their car to their dorm. I got to meet a lot of cool guys who I’m hoping to start getting to know better this year. Nick, Maemie and I also had some fun times getting to know each other playing with a shopping cart.

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Why, one of the pictures taken from that day actual got chosen to be blown up and hung in the cafeteria! Maemie and I are officially Ave celebrities! Seen by everyone when they walk in to have a meal. Thank you shopping cart. This would be a good time to say again how awesome the team is this year. I’m really thankful for my new teammates and I think we’re going to have a great year working together.

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Maemie and I displayed proudly as you walk into the cafeteria

Well we didn’t just spend all of Orientation moving people into their dorm rooms. We also got to go to a lot of the Orientation talks and events. One of those events being a welcome back concert starring Ave Maria’s very own Chicken Tender Day featuring chicken tenders being served for a snack. Remember how last ear I kept mentioning how many musically talented kids go here? Well this just reminded m of it. Chicken Tender Day rocked the stage with a surprisingly awesome variety of music. Looking forward to more performances guys!

Chicken Tender Day
Chicken Tender Day

Ave Maria University President Jim Towey also gave a talk at the pub on Mother Theresa and Mercy that was absolutely fantastic. Not sure if I’ve talked about this before but President Towey was actually a personal friend of Mother Theresa and his stories about her are always amazing to hear.

Theology on Tap with President Towey
Theology on Tap with President Towey

All great opportunities to meet new students. But you know, it’s also been really amazing to see all the students I got to know last year back on campus It’s crazy to see how much people can change over the summer. Not that anyone was immature, or drastically different, rather I’ve just noticed how over time they’ve grown into more complete people. It’s kind of a weird thing to describe. I guess this is how parents feel haha.

More Adventures In Shopping...I Mean Move-In Day
More Adventures In Shopping…I Mean Move-In Day

Since orientation we’ve just been busy starting up discipleship and Bible studies. So far we’ve tabled a little bit handing out root-beer float, iced coffee and watermelon in an effort to meet people and both times have been pretty successful. We also had a little dinner for all our Student Leaders on campus to welcome them back and to cast a little vision for the year. Nick gave a pretty awesome talk that I’ll be discussing in my next post, and I think all the student leaders are really going to set the campus on fire this year. It’s been great to see all my guys again and I’m s thankful for the amazing group of students we’ve been blessed to work with.

Tabling On Campus!
Anne, Nick and I tabling out on campus

I was able to get my Bible studies started up last week and I was really happy with how they went. I mean for a first meeting both group seem to be really interested in having good study and it looks like I’ll have a really solid group of students come to both this semester. I’m definitely looking forward to studying with these guys this year. Just praying that I can make it good for them every week and that they get some good stuff out of our meetings haha.

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Patrick, Peter, Ellie, Carolyn and I at the Magic Kingdom

This past weekend was a rich, full one for sure. Friday night we went for some late night bowling and IHOP with students followed by a day of Disney World on Saturday. If you remember from last year, I got to chaperon the Disney World trip and it was the same this year! Just like last time around it was Disney World’s Nigh of Joy, their big Christian Music festival a the Magic Kingdom. This year I think was just a tad better because last year I had to fly solo and it was still before I really knew anybody here. This year in addition to being able to hang in the Magic Kingdom with students, Maemie and Anne were able to go as well! We all had a blast and got to ride pretty much all the good rides. My only complaint is that we had to leave before Skillet came on which is pretty much the only Christian Rock bad I am openly a fan of. But oh well, it was still a ton of fun!

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Finally, last night the team and I went out for dinner with a group of students and we enjoyed some goo Mexican food and fellowship. This week is a pretty regular week for us, just the usual mentorships and Bible studies. Like I said above, I feel like things are going super well so far and I’m really excited to see all the amazing things that I think God is going to do on this campus this year. Prayers for me and my team as well as all the students here are always greatly appreciated! God bless and talk to you soon!

 

The Big Mo

As the summer starts to draw to a close I just want to reflect on the time I’ve gotten to spend here at home before things get started back at Ave Maria. This summer at home has been full of fun and surprises but also a lot of stress. So let me try and sum up everything that I’ve been up to the past month or so. Disclaimer: I haven’t taken a lot of pictures this summer so I apologize for the lack of them in this post.

I guess the first thing to talk about is how amazing it’s been to be with my family. I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed home-cooked meals,  hanging out with my brother and sister and being able to tell my parents good-morning and good-night in person.  My family i my biggest supporter and couldn’t do this without them. By the end of Summer Training I was so homesick I couldn’t wait to get back to Colorado. So it’s been super nice being able to relax and spend some time with them. Love you guys and thanks for all you do for me!

On The Tram To The Magic Kingdom!
My Awesome Family!

Speaking of family, I took a trip up to Fort Collins last month to visit everyone I love there.  I was up there for a week to do fundraising and to visit friends and mission partners. It was a great week. I got to see pretty much everyone I wanted to see and I got to eat at all my favorite restaurants up there. Definitely feel like I’ve gained some weight this summer and I’m pretty sure it all started there. Worth it. It was really awesome to get to see everyone. These are people that I haven’t seen since December or longer so we had lots of catching up to do. Thanks to everyone who took the time to share a meal or a drink with me! Wish I could’ve stayed longer but a week was just the right amount of time. Hope me and my waistline get to see you in December Fort Collins!

So for the rest of my time I’ve pretty much just been hanging around the Denver area spending time with my family, hanging out with friends and doing lots and lots of fundraising.

Spending Some TIme With Friends
Spending Some Time With Friends

Now you may be wondering what the title of this post means? The Big Mo? Well “The Big Mo” is a concept dealing with motivation that we learned about at training earlier this summer. Basically when we got home for training we were to try and hit fundraising super hard and keep going strong until we reached our goal. If we hit the ground running and kept the ball rolling it would be easy to stay motivated or “Keep The Big Mo Going.” Does that make sense? The Big Mo = Motivation. So basically all summer I’ve been working hard to keep my Big Mo going. It’s been tough because I had a lot of new support to raise if I wanted to make it back to campus on time. Not going to lie, it was pretty tough. If you’ve been following my blog from the beginning then you know all about how I feel about fundraising and how my experience with is has been so far. Still really difficult for me and I don’t see it getting easier any time soon. It was pretty tough to keep my Big Mo going when it came to MPD but the important thing to remember is that I made it to campus and I’m very thankful to God and to all my amazing donors for that.

All Dressed Up For The Wedding
All Dressed Up For The Wedding

The end of my time home in Colorado was marked by a pretty momentous occasion : the wedding of two of my good friends, Tod and Katie. It was pretty big for me seeing as it was the first wedding I’ve ever been to….ever. I’ve been invited to them in the past for sure but I’ve never been able to attend until now! Let me just say that it was absolutely beautiful. Not going to lie, I cried twice. The ceremony was wonderful and the reception was so much fun. I wish the Masters’ nothing but the best and I miss them already!

Tod and Katie Exchanging Vows
Tod and Katie Exchanging Vows

So as the end of summer break came around I packed up my car and set out for a three day journey from Denver to Ave Maria. It was my first big road trip and I had to do it all by myself but in the end it really wasn’t too bad. My first leg was from Denver to Columbia, Missouri and took about 10 hours.  I had to stay in a hotel for the night because there weren’t any missionaries around to bunk with. The inn I stayed at was a tad sketchy but I made it through the night. Leg two of the trip took me from Columbia all the way to Atlanta, Georgia. Day two definitely took the longest, but probably the most fun. I got to see the big Arch in Saint Louis, MO then drive through Nashville. The highlight however, was definitely stopping in Metropolis, Illinois and getting to see the home of my favorite Superhero. The one and only SUPERMAN!

Metropolis, IL
Metropolis, IL

If you know e then you know that I’m a huge Superman nerd. I had heard of Metropolis, IL but I had on idea that I was going to be passing by it, so when I saw the billboard advertising it, I obviously had to stop. It was SO COOL!! The had a Super Museum with memorabilia fro ever incarnation of Superman,  a huge gift shop and a giant statue of the Man of Steel himself.

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Giant Statue of Superman

And no I didn’t actually buy that hat that I’m wearing in the picture above. I already had that with me. I did however, buy a Superman beach towel and shot glass. I stayed there way too long and threw my whole road trip schedule off but it was totally worth it. After leaving Metropolis I finished driving to Atlanta. There I was able to stay with some friends of mine, the Georgia Tech missionaries. Big thanks to Alex and Jared for housing me for the night. Really good to see them. After spending the morning with the mishes I saddled up for the final leg of the trip which took me through the rest of Georgia and all the way to Southeast Florida. The last hour and a half of the trip was through the scariest rain/thunderstorm I’ve ever seen, even after a year of of living here but I finally arrived in Ave around 8pm.

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Team Ave

I didn’t get to enjoy it for that long though since the next day the team and I left for Reddington Beach for our beginning of the year offsite. I was pretty great to see the new team again after over  month of being apart. I was really excited to start spending some time with them and  getting to know them better. After spending some quality time with them on the beach and casting some vision for the future, I’m can honestly say that I’m SO excited for this year. I love the new team and I think we all get along great and are going to work really well together. After getting back to campus we’ve just been moving everyone into their rooms and getting everything ready for school to start.

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Having Dinner With The Team

And pretty much sums up my summer. Nothing too crazy but still full of busy schedules. It feels great to be back at Ave Maria. I really missed the place, the people and even my dorm room! So to bring back the theme of this post, getting back to campus, seeing some students already and spending time with the team has been really good for The Big Mo. I’m super motivated for this year and I cant wait util all the students get here! Please keep the team and I in your prayers and pray that we all keep The Big Mo Going.

Summer Training: Year 2

Hello my blog readers! Long time no see! First off, let me apologize for not writing in so long. It’s been a crazy month that’s for sure. At first I was planning to blog every week of training like last year, however that obviously didn’t happen. This is mainly due to the fact that every time I had some free time to blog, I was just way too tired. Summer Training this year was a lot more exhausting than last year for many reasons and there wasn’t too much free time to just sit and write. I had planned to blog the minute I got back home but unfortunately my laptop decided to just up and die on me….so now that I have a new computer AND free time, prepare for a super long post on all of training and a little of what I’ve been up to since being back!

Last Day of Training Picture
Last Day of Training Picture

Year two of FOCUS new staff training was quite the adventure. I was a little worried that it would just be the same thing as last year just with less stuff to do being a second year missionary and all. Well I sure was wrong. They completely revamped training this year and overhauled the schedule. A lot of the content was the same, just laid out differently with  more emphasis on certain things over others. Second and third years had larger roles to play. The way training works is that all the first years go to class together, all the second years go to class together, then we’re all split into smaller groups of 7 or 8 called colleges and are named after Saints. College time was time to decompress and go over what we learned in class and just have a consistent group of people we could talk about training and mish life in general about. I loved my college last year and this year there was a lot more time given to colleges which I thought was a great Idea.

All The Guys In The College of St. Damien of Molokai
All The Guys In The College of St. Damien of Molokai

It really gave all of us a time to get to know each other and bond. We ate dinner together, went to mass together and even went and saw Jurassic World together one weekend. By the end of training we were all really good friends. It sounds a little dumb but I really liked being able to share the experiences with the new first years. It really made me feel like a leader.  All the guys in my college, St. Damien of Molokai, are so amazing. I miss them already and I know that they’re all going to be fantastic missionaries and do some great things on their campuses. God Bless you guys!

My Collge At The Etiquette Dinner
My College At The Etiquette Dinner

As a second year, the classes I took this year built upon the things I learned last year. We took classes dealing with the Gospels, Apologetics, Discernment of Spirits, Discipleship and more. One of my favorite things I learned was probably looking at each of the Gospels and seeing where they are similar and where they differ. I could probably write a book trying to talk about all the things we learned. I wont try to go over everything here but just take my word for it that I feel very blessed to have been able to attend such amazing classes taught by some very respectable teachers. Class was also a great time to take fun selfies with friends as evidenced below.

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Steve, Chris and I Enjoying Class

Probably the most exciting/nervous thing about raining this year for e was the fact that I would be meeting my new team! If you’ve been keeping up with my blog or facebook then you now that I will be the only returning missionary to Ave Maria University this year. I was both pumped and terrified at meeting my new team all together for the first time. I couldn’t help but be worried that we wouldn’t all click and I was especially nervous that the first years would hate the idea of serving at Ave. I prayed and prayed for them and I’m so happy to say that I think my new team is absolutely freaking awesome.

The New Team Ave: Anne, Myself, Nick and Maemie.
The New Team Ave on Placement Day: Anne, Myself, Nick and Maemie.

After meeting and then getting to spend some time with my new team, I’m really excite to gt back to campus because I know that the students are going to love them. The new team consists of Team Director Maemie Donnelly from Tennessee, First Year Nick Smith from Alabama, First Year Anne Thelen from North Carolina and then myself. They are each very unique with really amazing stories and I know that we’re going to work together really well. I’m also going to be putting lots of effort into each of us being friends. . So far so good and I can’t wait to see all the wonderful things they’re going to do on campus this year. I can already sense that things this year re going to be lots of fun and filled with he love of Christ. Please join me in praying for them and our team as a whole.

The New Team Ave At The Etiquitte Dinner
The New Team Ave At The Etiquette Dinner

Like I said at the beginning, training this year was so much more exhausting then last year. A lot of it was the schedule changes. We pretty much went from  8 AM to  8PM with a lunch break in the middle. Classes were draining and you just went to bed every night ready to pass out. But as tiring as everything was, we all still made time to have some fun. If I’m being completely honest, the best part of training was getting to spend time with all the amazing friends I’ve made in FOCUS. Mother Teresa once said that she saw and felt the presence of Jesus in the faces of he poor and lowly. As for me, I truly see the love of God and feel the presence of Jesus in the people he’s placed in my life. When you think about it, our everyday lives are filled with meaningless, random encounters with the billions of other human beings on this planet. Making friends isn’t easy when people are constantly entering and leaving your life in the blink of an eye. It has to be divine intervention when people stick around and make a real impact on who you are.

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Hanging Out In My Dorm Room

This past year I’ve meet so many wonderful people through FOCUS. I can say that if it wasn’t for their encouragement and friendship, I don’t know If I would have survived the year. This includes not only my fellow CSU rams (whom I love dearly and always will) but also the friends we’ve made from other campuses. We all come from different walks of life and have different stories but what we do have in common is hat Jesus brought us all together as missionaries at this exact place in time. We build each other up. What good is a bridge without support? I thank God for all the amazing people he’s brought into my life this past year. Looking at all of them, I can’t help but think that God must really love me to bless me with these friends. Brian, Jake, Emma, Sean, Ashlyn, Matt, Steve, Jamie, Jackie, Andrew, Jenna, Sam, Marcus, Dave, Katie, Matthew, Chris, Steve and all the rest.  Love you all.

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Just Few Of The Amazing People I’ve Grown To Love This Past Year

So there you have it I guess. Training was filled with classes, fellowship, beach trips, deep conversations, prayer, good friends and a whole lot of Jesus. While round two may have been more exhausting and draining than last year, looking back I also feel that I appreciated it this year a lot more. It was a time to learn and a time of formation definitely but it was also a time to be able to reconnect and enjoy the company of the friends we’ve made and have missed all year. I also got to make a lot of new friends and I’m again very thankful to God for all of them.

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Having Some Fun At The Beach

To be completely honest I was definitely a little homesick all throughout training. So as much as I loved sending time with everyone at training, I was very excited to come back to Colorado. Since coming back from training I’ve just been working hard at fundraising so I can get back to campus come August. But more on that in my next post. Again so sorry for the late blog post but here you have it. A pretty good overview of Summer Training as a second year. Now I just want to leave you with my favorite quote that I heard while there:

Joy is the inner delight in knowing we are infinitely loved by God

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Visiting Hours

After only three weeks at home, I’m already back at Ave Maria and News Staff Training 2015 is just getting started! Time at home was short but it was good. I got to spend lots of time with my family and some good friends I haven’t seen in a really long time. Not enough time to see everyone I wanted to see or do everything I wanted to do but it was still good to be home for a little while.

I guess the biggest thing that happened while I was home was that I got a new car…..yeah I still have a hard time believe it. I leased a white 2015 Toyota Corolla.  Definitely a big upgrade from my old 1996 Honda. It’s a pretty funny story, I went with my family to the dealership to look actually look at a used corolla and we really weren’t planning on making any deals that day but lo and behold, three hours later I left the dealership in a brand new car.  Still pinching myself haha. It’s definitely the nicest thing I’ve ever called mine. Just barely fits in the budget but I really need to have a car and I’ll just have to work extra hard at fundraising. So I’ve just been enjoying it for the past few weeks before leaving it in the car of my folks while I’m at training.

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Right After Getting My New Car

It was really awesome getting to hang out with all my old high school buddies. You know we’re all at totally different places in our lives and we’re each completely unique but for some reason we all love each other and six years later we’re still like family. Definitely been blessed with these crazy people. We spent some time drinking at bars, seeing movies, eating out and just hanging out a people’s houses. Miss em already and can’t wait to see em when I get back in July.

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Sarah, Andee, Liam, Stormy, Alex and I

Equally amazing was getting to just hang with my family. It was really amazing when they came to visit me in Florida over Spring  Break, but it was great to spend some time at home with them. My little brother, Terrance just finished his first year of college at the University of Northern Colorado and will soon be moving into his first apartment! So proud. My little sister Emily actually just finished sixth grade and is therefore done with elementary school! They had a mini graduation ceremony complete with photo, certificates and student speakers. Really proud of both my siblings and love them lots!

My Parents With Me Sister At Her Continuation Ceremony
My Parents With Me Sister At Her Continuation Ceremony

Speaking of people finishing school, a lot of good friends of mine graduated from Colorado State University this past may so naturally I had to drive up for the graduation party! So good to see people I haven’t seen in months! It’s crazy to think that pretty much all of us have graduated now. Wishing and praying for all the best for all the grads. The only downside was that THAT was the only day i made it up to Fort Collins while I was home. Had a great time but just wasn’t long enough to see everyone I wanted to see and eat everywhere I wanted to eat. But now that I’ve got a car that’ll be one of the first places I’ll be driving to. Hoping to spend a week or so up there after training so look out for me!

Catching Up With Sean & Ben
Catching Up With Sean & Ben

That pretty much sums up all I’ve been up to while at home. After a look day of traveling yesterday complete with delayed flights, mimosas, rental cars, lost bags and driving, I’m back in Ave for New Staff Training 2015. It’s weird to be here as a second year meeting all the new mishes. But it’s also super exciting. Plus I get to hang out with all missionary friends and here how things have been on their campus. I also get to spend some time with my brand new team! Won’t meet the first years till a little later but I’m on the lookout for them. Prayers for me and all the missionaries here over the next five weeks are greatly appreciated! Stay tuned to see what training is like this year and I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures!

 

 

One Year Down

My first year as a FOCUS missionary is officially over and done with. I’m back home in Colorado and enjoying some quality time with my family and friends. Looking back, it’s been a crazy year full of fun, successes, disappointments, surprises, tears, laughs, new friends and lots of Jesus and good times all around.  I mean if you’ve been keeping up with this blog then you know all about all the crazy adventures. With this post I just wanna wrap up the year by reporting on how we spent our last few weeks at Ave.

First thing is the team’s mini vacation up to Tampa for three days for our end of the year off-site. Jason, Corinne, Melia and I took off for some much needed rest and relaxation after a long semester. We stayed at a very nice hotel on Treasure Island. The four of us were looking forward to spending some time off campus and away from students for a few days. We started off our time off by heading to the biggest book store I’ve ever seen. We probably spent a good two hours just browsing the shelves and making our selections. After we left with our purchases we proceeded to head straight to a bar for some drinks and some good food.

Enjoying some drinks on the beach
Enjoying some drinks on the beach

After Mass on Day two we spent a lovely day at the Tampa Zoo. As an added bonus, the Zoo was putting on this really cool Chinese festival of lights thing called “Zoominations.” But that didn’t start until it got dark. So after spending the day looking at Giraffes, Elephants, Penguins, Alligators, Manatees and touching some Stingrays, we headed into Tampa in search of some dinner.

Love Me Some Gators
Love Me Some Gators

We found this really awesome bar called “Fly.” There we had some of the best bar food and drinks I’ve ever had. We also got to enjoy some live jazz music. It was super nice to just relax and enjoy each others company and some good food and drinks. After it got dark we headed back to the Zoo for Zoominations. Now they kind of have something like it back home at the Denver Zoo during Christmas Time but this totally blew it out of the water. I wish I took more photos haha. It was pretty sweet seeing some giant light up Dinosaurs and Chinese Dragons along with all the normal animals.

Heading To Zoominations
Heading To Zoominations

For day three as a special treat after checking out of the hotel we went to Mass in Tampa at the Sacred Heart Cathedral. Absolutely beautiful Church. I mean I think the Ave Maria Oratory is one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen but I do admit that it was nice getting to go to Mass somewhere different for a change.

Inside Sacred Heart
Inside Sacred Heart

After Mass we headed to the Tampa Aquarium. Nothing says fun like looking at fish behind glass…but honestly thought it was pretty cool. We got touch some more stingrays and even some little sharks. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to an Aquarium so it was a really cool thing to do with the last of our time in Tampa. After we finished looking around it was time to head back to Ave.

The Tampa Aquarium
The Tampa Aquarium

Once we got back it was right back to work with out final events of the semester. First off was our final Coffeehouse of the year. I was skeptical of how many people would come with it being the midst of finals study time. However, in the end it was a great turnout and we had some really awesome acts perform. The bugs weren’t super bad and there were barely any technical difficulties. I’m really glad that our last big event of the year turned out so well.

Final Coffeehouse of the year
Final Coffeehouse of the year

A few days after Coffeehouse we held our Student Appreciation Dinner. We invited all of our student leaders and all of those who come to our Bible studies to come share a meal with us. The menu consisted of some amazing pasta and sauce made by Jason, some super fresh salad made by Melia,  and some lovely store bought garlic bread heated up in the oven by me. The food was great but what was better was being able to spend some time with our students before finals got super crazy and everyone got busy. Jason, Melia and I also had the chance to say a few words about our fearless leader, Corinne, since she will be leaving FOCUS. Corinne was a really awesome team director. She was always there with advice when I needed support and was so good at keeping the team in high spirits. She will be missed.

Student Appreciation Dinner
Student Appreciation Dinner

You know who else is going to be missed? Jason and Melia. I am officially the only team member that will be returning to Ave next year. I’m both excited at the idea of 3 totally new teammates and terrified. But I’ll do my best to whip them into shape. And you know WHO ELSE is going to be missed!? All the graduating seniors! I had the chance to sneak into the commencement ceremony to see my favorite seniors walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. Honestly there are some really amazing students leaving Ave this year to move on to bigger and better things. Robby, Alex, Matt, Thomas, Austin, Joey, Ben, Sarah, Kyle, Alvaro and all the rest! i’m so proud of you and thanks for a great year. Can’t wait to see what God has in store for you!

Mr. Robby Tompkins on Graduation Day
Mr. Robby Tompkins on Graduation Day

And that pretty much does it for the last few days at Ave. I Just packed up my bags and headed back to Denver! It’s been super nice being home but I forgot how cold Colorado in May can be and I definitely did not pack enough pants. Oh well. I’ll be back in Florida in three weeks for Summer Training Round Two!! Probably won’t post for a while unless some crazy stuff happens. I’ll pretty much just be spending time with friends, family and shopping for a new car. Prayers for that please! Thanks again for a great year Ave and I can’t wait to see what’s gonna happen next year!