Well after waiting all of May I finally made it to FOCUS New Staff Training at Ave Maria University in sunny, humid Florida. After being here for one day I can already tell that the next five weeks are going to be one hell of a ride.
First of all, I haven’t been on a plane since high school so I honestly was pretty excited just to be able to fly on down to Fort Myers Airport. My flights went by pretty fast despite having a three and a half hour layover in Minneapolis. No complaints either, all together a smooth journey. After landing in Fort Myers I met up with a group of FOCUS peeps and we all shared a taxi ride to Ave Maria. The university is definitely breathtaking with sprawling green lawns, buildings with beautiful architecture and a serene atmosphere. The thing that sticks out the most has to be the Oratory though. It sits at the center of campus. It’s architecture is amazing and the inside is absolutely beautiful.
After checking in and getting paperwork, and room assignments out of the way I finally got to unpack and relax because traveling was exhausting. My group got there a little late and missed Adoration with the rest of staff but afterwards there was a bub block party for everyone to enjoy. The town surrounding the campus is really cool albeit a tad eerie. I’m definitely not used to walking into an ice cream shop and seeing a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary sitting on the counter. But therein lies the beauty of Ave Maria, the shops, the town, the school all together kind of feels like a Catholic Disney Land and it’s awesome.
After some much needed sleep, today was filled with good times. Having mass in the Oratory was wonderful, I just can’t get over how amazing the architecture of the place is and I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time there. Following mass we all got to enjoy a carnival filled with games, food and ways to beat the Florida heat. I even got to meet and personally shake the hand of Curtis Martin, the founder of FOCUS. It was so amazing getting to meet all these fellow Catholics and fellow future missionaries. It’s hard to describe how it feels to be together with almost 400 different people from all over the country who might not have a lot in common but share the same faith and share the same goals.
Met a lot of great people during the day and at dinner and then got to meet and spend some time with the seven other great guys in my small group. I’m really looking forward to getting to know all these great new people while we prepare ourselves to serve as FOCUS missionaries on whatever campus we get placed at. So it looks like the next five weeks are going to be awesome but also stressful. I’m still freaking out a bit about fundraising and as fun as the next few weeks are going to be its’also going to be a lot of work. I know I’m going to need a lot of prayer and support to get through it but I’m looking forward to it. Thankfully I have the support of everyone else here along with my CSU buddies.
The real work starts tomorrow and I’m nervous but so excited to start classes and get started with training. Keep looking for updates and keep me and everyone here in your thoughts and prayers! And yes I have already seen some alligators but I’m still looking out for panthers and the leprosy-carrying armadillos.