Not going to lie, the past two weeks have been pretty rough. I bought you saw the title of this post and thought I would be talking about dancing and fun and stuff. Well the truth is I called it funky town because the team and I have been going through a bit of a funk….and yes I wanted to be a little misleading. When I started this blog I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just an online diary for me where I would write all about my problems and complain. So that’s not what I’m going to do but I do want to mention some of struggles we’ve been encountering to see if anyone out there in the cyber audience might have some suggestions. I mean nobody said mish life would be easy so I’m not complaining.
So last weekend was the fall retreat. It just so happened that it fell on the same weekend that FOCUS’ Southeast regional gathering in South Carolina was to take place. A regional gathering is basically a short vacation for all the missionaries in the region so we can recharge our batteries and see friends we haven’t seen in a while. Now we mishes here at Ave had the option of going to regional gathering or staying here for the retreat. All four of us decided that we would stay for the retreat because we felt it would be good for us to be there. In all honesty, I really wished I had gone to regional gathering. Not saying that the retreat wasn’t great, I just feel like I wasn’t really of much use.
It definitely was a different retreat experience than I’m used to. It was a lot of praise and worship and adoration. Which is great but I’m used to having more talks with more time for small group discussion and fellowship. For the retreat two Franciscan Friars flew in from New York to spend the weekend with us. Honestly the talks they gave were the best part of the retreat for me. One on suffering and one on love. Also, University President Towey gave a great witness about his meeting Mother Teresa and how his experiences in Calcutta changed his life. One thing that stuck out in his talk was that a lot of people can be catechized and sacramentalized but not evangelized. They can know all the fancy doctrine and theology of the church but end up going through the motions of Catholicism. Doing things out of the pride of trying to be a “good catholic” instead of out of love and charity for Jesus.
It’s definitely something that I feel is prevalent here on this campus. The retreat really made me realize that It’s hard for me to relate to a lot of students here. I don’t come from a very devout catholic household, I didn’t grow up having a great knowledge of the faith, I didn’t go to Catholic School, I wasn’t home schooled, I’ve never taken a theology class and the list goes on. I felt like it’s hard to see what I have to offer students here. I have all these experiences that I’m not sure students here can identify with. So that did get me down a little bit.
The whole team has actually been struggling a little bit with that notion. We’ve been working really hard but we haven’t been seeing a lot of results. Not a lot of people come to our events, our Bible studies, our workshops. It’s hard to evangelize on a campus that feels like they already are evangelized basically. I mean I also feel that a lot of it is that we’re in the final stretch to Winter break and we’re all just started to feel a little burnt out. We had a good talk about it in our meeting this week and I also had a really great conversation with my mentor about it. One thing that I wanted to share with you all that’s made me feel better is that we need to remember that we can’t focus and get caught up on expectations. It’s not about our expectations, FOCUS’ expectations, the campus’ expectations. It’s about Jesus’ expectations. And what does He expect of us? To love one another and to love Him.
Actually today at Mass the Gospel reading was the parable of the talents. Basically it’s about recognizing the gifts or “talents” that God gives us and using them to give back to him. It made me think about how I need to figure out what my gifts are and how I can use them to better serve the students here on campus. The team and I have decided to try and be a lot more intentional with our work with the students. Make sure that we’re doing our best to love them and not just be here as missionaries but as friends. That being said I want to make it clear that I really REALLY do love it here. I absolutely love the students I am working with and I am definitely blessed and thankful to be here. As hard as it is like I said before, nobody said mish life was going to be easy. We always have great conversation in my Bible studies and I did have a huge turnout last week that was a little overwhelming but wonderful. Love all my guys.
This week was a little more laid back with not a ton of events going on during the week. For team fun time we went to the movies and saw Big Hero 6 Wednesday night. It was absolutely fantastic. So funny and endearing and everybody needs to go see it. Really a clever twist on superhero movies and I loved Disney’s take on Japanese culture. Also Fall Out Boy recorded a song for it called “Immortals” which totally rocks. On Friday was a concert here on campus featuring Christian Music artists Bellarive and Audrey Assad. You all know that I’m not a big fan of Christian music but I still went to check it out. Overall it was a really great show. Audrey has a really amazing voice and I was actually impressed. The stage was set up at the little amphitheater by the student union and it looked really great and sounded great. Everyone seemed to have a great time.
Saturday was the last home football game which, more importantly to me because I don’t like football, was the last tailgate! Definitely made sure to be there to hangout, drink a few beers and eat some cheeseburgers with friends. Just to add to the fun there was a good old fashioned color fight. Basically everyone ran around throwing colored powder at each other. Sounds crazy but it was actually a lot of fun. Took forever to get the green off me though. After the tailgate i went back to my room and passed out for a good long nap. I didn’t realize how tired I was and pretty much just spent the rest of Saturday being lazy and watching movies and reading which was good because I think I needed a day like that.
And here we are now and it’s Sunday afternoon and I have no plans for the rest of the day. Oh I forgot to mention that I finally bought my plane ticket back home for Christmas break!! December 11th! Can’t wait!! I also bought my plane ticket to Nashville for the FOCUS National Conference coming up the first week of January. Also can’t wait for that and everyone should try to go because it’s going to be amazing! I really do miss my family and friends. I’m not going home for Thanksgiving so I still have I while to go before I get to see them all. Please continue to pray for me and the team that we get out of our funk and for all the students here! This week is Country Night at the University stables and the Students For Life Gala so expect some updates about that!