Home again, home again on steady ground. The epicness that is New Staff Training has finally come to an end. and I’m currently back home in Colorado and for the most part unpacked. The final week of training definitely flew by and it was full of a lot of stress, fun, hugs, fireworks and goodbyes.
As far as classes go, we didn’t really go into anything too in depth. This week was more about wrapping everything up and reviewing what we’ve learned so far. For me this week was about spending as much time as possible with everyone and having fun because the next time we’ll all be together will be at the FOCUS national conference in January. I’ve met so many great people and had so many awesome times while at Ave Maria I actually found myself not wanting training to end. While others we’re excited to get home I kept saying that I didn’t want to leave! Good thing I’ll be back at Ave in August!
So the big things that happened this week; the soccer tournament finals, the commissioning mass and of course Independence Day! Now my team didn’t make it into the semi-finals of the tournament but overall it was awesome playing with everyone and it was a ton of fun cheering on the teams that did. It was great to be able to watch them play on the actual university soccer fields instead of the crappy, muddy practice fields we’d been playing on. Definitely some intense matches with it all coming down to penalty kicks. Lots of congratulations to the winning team. After the games we all hung out, and had some nacho’s to celebrate. Now I didn’t mention this before but every week during soccer we not only played soccer but learned about and practiced a different virtue such as competitive spirit, charity, meekness, courage and indominability. Overall sports is definitely a great way to learn about yourself and build virtue and I’m really thankful for the time playing with the rest of the FOCUS men.
This week also marked the end of our Mission Partner Development training. I definitely feel more equipped to fund my salary and get to campus and I’m, so thankful to all the coaches and Steve Pries for teaching us how to go about getting the funds we need to be missionaries and bring the gospel to our campuses. We celebrated the end of MPD training with some champagne and it was a very nice gesture. We also worked on our plans for fundraising over the summer. MPD… those three letters still spell stress for me but more on that later.
Now the 4th of July was our last day of training. Honestly it didn’t feel like Independence Day because all I could think was that it was the last day of training. We had our last class in which we look over the goals we made at the beginning of training and checked to see how much we’ve grown. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned about so many different topics. Training has helped me grow in my prayer life, my knowledge of the faith, and my virtue. It was such an amazing experience and I’m already stoked for training net summer! After class we headed to the oratory for the Commissioning Mass. The Bishop from the Archdiocese of Venice in Florida came to celebrate mass with us, commission us and bless our mission. It was a really cool experience. All campuses were announced one by one and that school’s missionaries stood up and were recognized. After mass a bunch of us went out and took pictures by/in the fountains.
Now that training was over it was time to celebrate Independence Day! And what better way to do that then to pack a cooler full of beers and head to the beach to watch some fireworks. I’m pretty sure more than half of the missionaries went and hung out at Naples Pier. There sure was a lot of us. It really was a great way to not only celebrate the 4th but to hang out and just be with everyone before we all headed back home the next day. Warm sand, beautiful sunset, sweet fireworks, and wonderful friends. Definitely one of my favorite memories from training.
After it got dark and the fireworks were over we headed back to campus. Good thing I had pretty much packed all my stuff during the day because back at Ave Maria people were still hanging out and saying goodbye. Now anyone who knows me can tell you that I love hugs but I hate goodbyes. It was hard to leave all the amazing friends I had met and shared so many fantastic experiences with over the past five weeks. It was bittersweet for sure but I know in my heart that I’ve made some friends for life and I’m truly grateful for God bringing us all together.
The next day we headed out early for the airport. Said goodbye to my fellow rammies and hopped on my flight home. Now for a little funny story: My suitcase was so loaded down with FOCUS materials (books, pamphlets, cards, business cards) and Ave Maria gear that my suitcase weighed about 65 pounds. Rather than pay the extra $100 bag fee I bought a $40 carry on and shoved 15 pounds of stuff in it. I carried that bag along with my crazy heavy backpack around the Fort Meyers airport, then around the Atlanta airport during my layover and then through Denver International Airport on my way to meet my mom. It wasn’t until then that my mom pointed out that the bag had a secret handle and wheels that I didn’t notice. Here I was lugging that bag all over the place when I could have been wheeling it…story of my life.
Now here I am back home sitting on my bed. I’m so glad to be back with my family and sleeping in my own bed again but I already miss everyone back at training. I do take comfort in the fact that we’ll all keep in touch and I’ll see them again soon. Now the rest of the summer is filled with catching up with friends and MPD but mostly MPD. I still need to raise another $1,000/month by August 23 or I might not be able to go to campus. Now there’s a scary thought. Coming this far only to not be able to fund raise enough to get what I feel God is calling me to. I decaffeinate hit a fundraising wall towards the end of training. I feel like I don’t know enough people to ask. Though I still have some folks to ask I’m worried that I’ll run out of people I can ask. Already got all my family, all my friends, people I graduated with. I love my parents but even they admitted that they don’t have many friends let alone friends that are Catholic and go to church which is who I feel most of the other mishes are getting funding from. So that’s a little anxiety inducing
I normally wouldn’t do a shameless plug like this but here is the link to my personal support page if anyone reading this would be interested in joining me on my mission. Even if all you can afford is $10 a month, every little bit helps and I’ll love you forever. It’s not just sending me money every month. Every penny goes towards helping me share the gospel with students and help them forge a relationship with Jesus Christ. Check it out to read about my story and of course I need prayers too so those are greatly appreciated. And lots and lots of thank you’s to those of you who have agreed to join my support team. Now it’s time to get to work and make that money so I can #getfunded and get my butt back to Ave Maria University come the end of August. Wish me luck and keep me in your prayers!