I know that I say this a lot but man has it been busy. These past two weeks have flown by and yet SO much has happened. In addition to the regular mish life of Bible Studies and mentorship, we’ve had a bunch of events and holidays to keep us busy. First of these would be my birthday.
Yes, I’m officially 23 here. Blink 182 says that “nobody likes you when you’re 23” but I mean so far it’s been great. And my birthday weekend really was fantastic. My birthday was Saturday the 25th of October. That Friday the university had a trip to Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights. My teammate, Jason and I were lucky enough to get to be chaperons for the trip! Anyone who knows me can tell you that I love scary stuff: horror movies, haunted houses etc. The trip definitely did not disappoint. Halloween Horror Nights consisted of the whole park being decked out in spooky Halloween stuff and like eight different haunted houses people could go to in addition to all the rides and shops.
I was looking most forward to “The Walking Dead” haunted house since I’m a huge fan of the show and it was so good. Despite the hour and a half wait time. Lots of great fan service and some good scares. We also went to two other haunted houses which were equally well done. One of my favorite things about the park however was checking out The Simpsons themed area. The Simpsons is one of my all time favorite shows and I’m sad we didn’t discover the area until near closing time. But hey now I have a reason to go back and explore again! I had to grab me some Simpsons souvenirs so I got a Homer hat and a Duff Beer glass. Lots of other cool stuff there like the Simpson Ride, Transformers Ride and the Despicable Me attraction. Overall just so much stuff to do there I can’t wait to go back.
Now since Universal is in Orlando which is three hours away from Ave Maria, and we didn’t leave the park until around 2 a.m. that meant we got back to campus around 6 a.m. on my actual birthday. Took a good long nap and then got up around 11:30. The plan was to head to the beach for the day to relax and that’s just what I did. With all the hustle and bustle and stress of mish life, for my actual birthday I really just wanted to sit and do nothing relaxing on the beach with a beer in my hand. Luckily I had some good friends come and join me. It was really nice just lying on the sand and listening to the waves with some good friends. Of course we also did all the fun beach things like build a sand castle, bury somebody, play volleyball etc. Overall it was just what I needed and I had so much fun.
After the beach Jason and I had a Halloween party to attend that evening. You all know how much I love Halloween so I was really excited to get dressed up and go to the party. It was a Disney themed Halloween party so I went as the one and only Aladdin. It was definitely the most revealing custom I’ve ever worn and it was tough trying to stay modest in that purple vest. However, the party was tons of fun. It was thrown by Jason Poratta, who is the Residence Director for the dorm I live in, and his fiance. Super awesome couple and good friends. We all had tons of fun and it’s always great to spend some time with other college grads. Overall the actual day of my birthday was lots of fun and relaxing. I even got sung happy birthday and blew out some candles. I’ve made some really great friends here and I’m thankful for every one of them.
On Sunday I spent the day recovering since honestly I was still exhausted from the Universal Trip. Then that evening the team and I along with Jason, Leah and Greg (another great college grad friend we’ve made here) all went to a nice dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in Naples. That place is one of my favorite restaurants. Love the food, love the enviornment and LOVE the cheesecake. It was a very lovely evening spent with good friends and good food. A great end to my birthday weekend. While I really did miss celebrating with my family and friends back home, I had a wonderful birthday and I’m truly blessed.
Next up was Halloween, pretty much my favorite holiday. Here at Ave there was a Sadie Hawkins Dance the night of. Unfortunately nobody asked me….#datingfast #foreveralone. But that didn’t stop me from getting dressed up and going! This year I brought back one of my favorite costumes which was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I painted one side of my face all scary and did my hair all crazy so I pretty much looked like Two-Face. Also bought a lab coat that I covered with blood and burns on one side. I forgot to take a picture but I think you get the picture. Overall I was super proud of how it turned out. Honestly there were so many great costumes at the dance including the Hobbits from Lord of the Rings, The Clue Characters, Emmet and WyldStyle from he Lego Movie and more! The dance itself was lots of fun. They played great music and everyone had a great time. Check out my facebook album for more pictures from the dance.
Of course the next day was All Saints Day which is the day the Church celebrates and honors all the Saints known and unknown. The University Held a big feast for students and faculty and topped it all off with a concert. At the concert there few a bunch of great student artist who performed. Once again I cannot get over how musically talented the students here at Ave are. The headliner however was this band called Scythian. I’ve never heard of them before but apparently they’re really popular here. They’re some kind of Irish, Folk, Gypsy band. I mean they sounded great but not my kind of music. However it look like everyone was having a really great time.
And I guess that brings us to today. To update you on how missionary life is going, things are pretty well. It has hit me lately why I’ve found it so challenging to be here. I really don’t feel the sense of community and fellowship here at Ave Maria that I did at Colorado State. Which is weird considering how small this school is. You’d think everyone would be friends with everyone but honestly I don’t feel it. Back at CSU the people involved with FOCUS were so on fire for Christ and so into going deeper into their faith. And there were SO MANY of us! With this being a Catholic university I figured that everyone here would be on fire for living out their faith and going deeper into it. But I don’t see it at all and it’s been quite baffling. Why is it that students at a state school are more involved with their faith than students at a private Catholic School? I was praying about it and it came to me that it seems like the students here care about their faith the same way they care about breathing. They KNOW it’s important but they don’t actually think about it when they’re doing it and realizing how essential to life it is.
That combined with missing my friends and family has made for a rough couple of days but I know that there’s hope. The students I’m working with are absolutely wonderful and I love all the guys in my study. I really do love it here and there is so much potential. Just got to keep working hard and praying hard and I know Jesus will do great things because he already is. I also bought my plane ticket home fro Christmas break! December 11th! Can’t wait to get back and see my family and friends and I’m also looking super forward to SEEK in January!! Lots to do and still super busy all the time. Prayers are much appreciated for me and my students and the team! This week consists of the Fall Retreat! Stay posted for my next update all about how that goes! God Bless!