I absolutely cannot believe that four weeks have gone past. It feels like we just got here the other day but at the same time when I think about it, so much has happened and we’ve done so much. This past week/weekend was short but busy!
This past week we started learning about Apostolic Formation. Basically the past few weeks we’ve been learning things and tools to help nurture and strengthen our own faith lives, now we’ve started to look at how to teach that to our future students. Apostolic formation is broken down into three areas: Prayer, Mission Strategy and Small Group Leadership. To break that down even more, we’ve been learning about all kinds of stuff from like how to lead and plan bible studies, how to lead a meditation on scripture, how to effectively mentor and support students and tons more. For me I have to say that learning how to better plan out a bible study ant facilitate discussion has been one of my favorite things we’ve learned. I lead a bible study my senior year of college and it’s been a while since then so that class was really helpful. However of course every class has been very informative and I’m learning so many great skills and tools to help me be a better missionary in the fall.
Now in addition to classes and learning we’ve definitely had some fun. On Wednesday there was a karaoke night at the local pub. I didn’t get the chance to sing but it was great to see some semi-talented people get up and sing some awesome 90’s jams. One of the many performers was Joe Hensler, the Vice President of Collegiate Outreach for FOCUS. So basically my boss’ boss’ boss got up and gave a stunning rendition of “Just A Friend.” Joe is a really funny, really great guy and his performance was not only entertaining, it was priceless.
On Thursday was the “FOCUS Missions Fiesta.” In addition to FOCUS regular campus outreach ministry here in the U.S. students and missionaries have the opportunity to do some missionary work abroad through FOCUS Missions. They offer a wide range of summer and spring break trips from Mexico to China to Africa. As part of the Fiesta a few people who have gone on FOCUS mission trips got up and talked about their experiences. My roommate, Mr. Jose Reyes from Arizona, has actually gone on two trips: one to Africa and one to Yucatan. The experiences are life changing and really help people discover the joy that comes with helping others through Christ. I hope to go on a trip eventually, maybe not this year but hopefully my second year with FOCUS. The second part of the Fiesta was exactly that….a Fiesta! Big dance party with alcohol provided. You didn’t have to tell me twice to get me there. You all know how much I love to dance.
On Friday was the “Etiquette Dinner,” so all us missionaries got all dressed up and had a fancy dinner while learning how to eat and behave like proper ladies and gentlemen. Sound a little corny I know, but it was actually a lot of fun and I did learn some useful stuff like how to properly butter your bread and use the multiple forks, knives and sppons that you may find in front of you. It was mostly a blast to get all dressed up and take a bunch of pictures and just be fancy. Oh and did I mention we had some ballroom dance lessons after dinner! So after learning how to Foxtrot (difficult at first but lots of fun) it was time for another dance party. I was still danced out from the Missions Fiesta so I took it easy that night.
Last thing I have to talk about is the amazing Kayak/Canoe Trip bunch of us braved on Sunday. We all head out to the coast then paddled our way to Mound Key Island which was the site of the first Jesuit Mission in Spanish North America. Crazy!! It was about an hour kayak trip and got to give s shout out to my co-captain Steve Ernst who hails from Maryland for working out his triceps and abs with me to get us to the island and back. Once on the island we celebrated Mass in the sweltering heat. Let me tell you, I don’t think I’ve ever sweated more in my life than I did during the time on that island. It was rough but it really helped me imagine what it was like for some of the first missionaries in North America hundreds of years ago. After Mass we ate lunch then set sail back to shore. Overall it was sweaty and exhausting but it was also a lot of fun and a cool experience. Even got to see a manatee!
And that my friends is what I’ve been up to this past week/weekend. Lots of stuff crammed into that time period. Just a quick update on how fundraising is going. I’m so so so thankful to my family and friends that have agreed to support me. You really have no idea how much I appreciate it. It’s been a hard thing for me here at training and I’m truly grateful for every penny that people donate. Time to start making appointes to meet with folks when I get back which is in less than a week (CRAZY) but I am excited to see my family and friends and start getting ready for the fall! Keep us all in your thoughts and prayers! One week of training to go!