Sorry for not writing for so long! To be honest I didn’t feel like there was enough stuff to write about for a while and then of course I just got lazy. But now I have tons of stuff to talk about! Some big things have been going on down here. Four weeks have flown by. Just to note, I may get a little bit emotional later on. And I need to get some things off my chest first.
To be honest, just the other night it really hit me how amazing it is to be here. I mean, it’s a tough thing to put into words but I’ve been feeling very humble lately. Sometimes it’s almost too much and I have to ask myself if I’m REALLY deserving of all the wonderful people and things that have come into my life recently. Being a missionary is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and lately I’ve felt like a failure. Plans not working out, ideas not coming together and of course my terrible luck with raising support. If you look at the numbers I’m not getting much done at all. However, the smallest things make it all worth it. It’s the conversations and connections that I’ve had and made with the students here that fill me up with joy. I’ll touch more on that in a little while. But really, it’s the students and seeing how Jesus is working in their hearts that makes this job all worthwhile.
I guess the first thing I should talk about is our recruitment event. Recruitment is an important part of our job because hey, we need more missionaries to go to more campuses, to reach more students. We decided to have a little dessert and cocktail party. Get all fancy, have a few drinks and talk about the mission. We invited all the seniors we knew and I made a pretty badass rum punch. The turnout wasn’t super amazing but it was still a lot of fun and we did get to talk about FOCUS and other things to a bunch of students. I spoke about what it was like working at CBS and trying to stay a good Catholic. Overall I think it went pretty well. Though for our next recruitment I thing we should invite everyone that might be interested in missionary work and not just the seniors.
Now after that party we hosted a Just Dance party. If you’ever played Just Dance for Wii, you know how much fun and what a work out it is. The team and I decided that we needed to have more “just for fun” events so this was our first idea. We set up the game to play through a projector on a big screen. We all had such a great time trying to keep up with each other. Corinne is definitely the best at the game but it was fun for all. The leftover alcohol didn’t hurt either.
Another awesome event that happened recently was Father Mike Gaitley’s visit to Ave Maria. Father Mike is a really amazing preist and author. He’s the guy who wrote the book about Marian Consecration, 33 Days To Morning Glory, which the team and I read last semester. Actually a lot of the students on campus have read it/are in the process of reading it. It’s a really amazing book and If you’re interested in learning more about Mother Mary then I definitely suggest it. He gave a really amazing talk and then afterwards stuck around to chat with people and sign autographs, which I of course got. He also gave Melia, Corinne and I a special blessing for the work we do here on campus. It was really awesome.
I guess you could say that things are fully back in the swing of things. It’s been a slow start but everything finally feels like it’s back in the groove. It also feels like we finally know what we’re doing….sort of. Mish life is a constant learning experience but at least this semester we don’t have to get used to the campus anymore and we already know the people that we want to reach out to. However, as used to being here as I am, God is still constantly surprising me. I should know by now that I should never have any expectations because I’ll just end up throwing them out the window.
The first example of this is the Spring Retreat. Corinne, Melia and I went with around 100 students to Lake Placid (Florida not New York) for the annual spring retreat. Now I went in having super low expectations because I honestly was not a fan of the fall retreat. Just the fact that this retreat would be off campus already made it better. Lake Placid was absolutely beautiful. We stayed at this campsite where we stayed in cabins. I was the group leader for my cabin so I would lead discussion after the talks with my guys. I thought it was a great retreat and I had a great time. I thought all of the students who gave talks did such a great job and I’m really proud of them. On the second day there was this huge four hour time block for free time which I was a bit skeptical of but in the end that was probably one of the best parts. Students went kayaking, canoeing, played soccer, frisbee, football, volleyball and just hung out. I realized that there really isn’t a lot of time for students to just relax and hangout on campus. It’s so academically and goal driven that students are constantly working or thinking about working or resting so they can do more work later. A weekend where they had the chance to relax and not think about homework but rather focus on each other and Jesus was just what they needed
I even got to spend some time getting to know some students that I haven’t had the chance to spend time with yet. During adoration my mind kept drifting to the candles. I thought about how a tiny candle or match flame – even though it’s hot and burning to the touch- can be so easily blown out. It’s just like our love and passion for God and the faith. It can burn bright and warm but can be easily extinguished if not protected. So what do you do when you strike a match? You guard it with your other hand to shield it from the wind. We have to protect our fire because there are times when it’s small and fragile. We have to feed it so it grows and burns bigger and brighter until nothing can put it out. Like I said, retreat was an overall great time and I’m already excited for next year.
Speaking of next year, our Director of Collegiate Outreach came to visit last week. Basically he’s my boss’ boss. Tyler comes to visit every few months to see how things are going. We love when he comes because he’s very genuine and kind and always has great advice and vision for us. This time I was a little scared of my meeting with him because I feel like he was gonna have a talk with me about my poor fundraising. But of course to my surprise, we barely talked about fundraising at all! We talked about how life was here, how things are going in my bible students and discipleships and about next year. I told him I for sure want to be here at Ave next year. Fingers Crossed!
The last event I have to talk about is another one that surprised me. It’s called Dorm Wars and it was just this past weekend. It’s exactly what it sounds like. The 6 dorms competed against each other to see who came out on top. I was skeptical of this as well since we had something like it at CSU but everyone thought it was pretty lame and didn’t participate. I thought that’s how it was going to be here but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I wasn’t really even planning on participating either. I was just going to go out to watch and cheer on my dorm. The first thing that struck me was how seriously everyone was taking it. People were going all out when putting together their costumes. Every hall had a theme and my hall was American Soldiers. it surprised me how pumped up and into it that all the students were. You would have thought it was the Olympics with how much energy there was. I myself got caught up in the energy and was right in there with my residents fighting for that trophy. Events included Relay races, trivia, synchronized swimming, tug of war and more. It was fierce competition but in the end we came out on top. That’s Right, St. Sebastian Hall for the win. We are the champions.
Thinking about it now, I guess it goes back to what I said before about students not really having enough time to just hang out and have fun here with all the academics they have to deal with. It doesn’t help that we’re in the middle of nowhere so there’s not much to do when there IS free time unless you have a car and are willing to drive at least 40 minutes. So again I had to throw my expectations out the window and I’m already looking forward to Dorm Wars next year.
Excuse me while I get a little emotional here to close out this post. Remember at the beginning when I said I’ve been realizing just how amazing it is to be here? Well it’s even more to that. Prayer has always been difficult for me just because I’m easily distracted and it’s tough for me to quiet my mind. Jesus most reveals himself to me in my relationships with others. Every day our lives are filled with random encounters, glances and interactions with our fellow human beings. Many of those encounters seem meaningless and coincidental and are forgotten the second they’re over. But when I have a truly meaningful encounter, conversation, or even few words with someone, I can see Jesus’ hand in it. When someone comes into your life who teaches you something about life in general, there;s obvious divine design in that relationship. Looking back on my life, it’s filled with so many amazing amazing people who have helped me grow as a person and as a man of Christ. To quote Les Miserable, “To Love Someone Is To See The Face of God.” God has blessed me with wonderful friends and relationships in the past and the same is true here at Ave. I’ve grown so much in the past few months and I can see just how much God loves me with how many amazing conversations, friendships and fellowships I’ve had and formed.
So the next time things aren’t going your way or meeting your expectations and you feel that God isn’t answering your prayers, try and remember that he’s already blessed you more than you think. He’s given you the gifts of all the friends and family that you love and that love you.Thank you God For all you’ve given me and I can’t wait to see what comes next!