Wednesday, July 25, 2007

You Are Loved

So much has happened since I last updated. I hope I expressed my deep emotions for Roger the Defensive Driving course instructor…I think I have. (I draft on word because I can’t get on the internet in my room…I pull the whole copy and paste business)

This installment of the recap of my journey is going to really long, but totally exciting. So much has happened and I am on the brink of so many exciting things to happen. My question, where do I begin?

I think I will begin with my announcements….tomorrow, Thursday July 19, 2007 is a day to mark down as one of the best days of my life….I will be embarking upon mankind. Yes, after 2 weeks of being formed in my spiritual bubble at Queen of the Family Retreat Center, I will be escaping the premises to take a trip to the amazing, the wonderful, the Mecca of consumers all across the U.S.—yes I am describing the one, the only, my haven, Target (I really hope you have said Tarje as if I am speaking to you in French, or it is not as exciting). Jesus has been blessing me left and right this week. Target is merely the icing on the cake. But first, allow me to explain my sick obsession with Target. While I was still a resident of Colerain, I would make my visit to Target at least 3 times a week. I just enjoyed looking around. Walking up and down the aisles de-stresses me. It’s totally sick and twisted, I realize. But I have been really yearning to just venture down the aisles marked in red, searching, imagining, picking up and putting down….and tomorrow at last my day has come! I actually told my Spiritual Guide yesterday that I was really missing it, and after announcing the dress code for the YFE (which is in less than a week! Eeeeeeee!) me and many others going through the realization that no we did not own a black skirt or multiple white shirts, a Target run had to be put on the agenda. What a sweet surprise.

The other ways Jesus has touched my heart this week…..

  • ECYD workshops instead of classes
  • Cinnamon rolls at breakfast
  • Ice cream sitting in the dish room—we all got to finish it out of this huge box—but see, you have to imagine this. 45+ young women swarming like bees to honey, spoon in hand, willing to sacrifice people’s eyes for chocolate…hilarious, totally unlady like and oh so freaking delicious after I was raving chocolate all day. Thank you Jesus.
  • On the day I am craving pizza, my favorite food on this planet, I sit down for lunch and what is put in front of me, none other than steaming fresh pizza
  • That night, we had French fries and real salad for dinner (by real salad I mean romaine lettuce. Yum!)
  • Adoration….I got to sing to Jesus and it was amazing.
  • New jeans in the smallest size I have ever bought in my entire life

So that’s been my little gifts from Jesus. I am so spoiled.

Now for the meat of this “installment”. As promised a recap from Missions. Let’s just say that I was not aware that I have potential to be as flexible as God proved that I am. He’s kinda sneaky.

Now lets talk about this quickly—I am told we are going to the ghetto. I was reminded that I was going to the ghetto about 27,000 times in one sentence. So I’m prepping myself for Over the Rhine, right? Like I am expecting to get shot. No big thang. I exercised my new favorite prayer, “Lord, give me the grace to be a saint, the stamina to be a missionary and the courage to die a martyr” and hopped in my car for a day of Missions.

Well, much to my surprise, we arrive to a parish in an area equivalent to College Hill. Laughter burst from me (charitable laughter). The other girls I was with were FREAKING OUT. Like ridiculously freaking out. One told me she was scared for my safety because I didn’t see the danger in the situation. At this point I am choking on my laughter as I mutter a “thanks for the concern”, but want to let out, “do you realize I want to me Mother Teresa. I want to be in Calcutta, with the poorest of the poor, in probably one of the more dangerous countries to be in right now” but, out of charity and prudence, I left it there. Hysterical. I’m laughing right now thinking about it. Mom, dad—thank you for nurturing my love for all people even in “dangerous” situations.

Allow me to explain Missions to those of you who don’t know what Missions are. Missions are when a group of missionaries go door to door and talk to people, inviting them to church, confession, etc and then invite the children to a mini-camp for the afternoon. Can you understand why I flipped when I heard this is what I would have to do? But Mary gave me the graces to suck it up and just do it. By the end of the weekend, I actually enjoyed it. There are 2 amazing stories I have to share, but first I have to say that I love little boys. I want to somehow upload pictures onto this page (I don’t how, and of course I did not take any of the pictures. Everyone else did. I had my camera, but I was just too busy living.) but there is the cutest picture of me and my little boy fan club. Adorable. This weekend God confirmed my vocation of motherhood and told me to take a deep breath because there are going to be a lot of little boys and all of my hair might be gone by the time they are grown, but there are procedures for that, right? J

Anyway, my stories…the first day as I was wondering the streets with my team member, I approached a homeless man aimlessly pacing the sidewalk. Confident, I walk right up to him, my partner Arlene dragging behind me, “Maria is this a good idea?” My response, “Of course it is! We are here for Jesus. If we die, we go straight to heaven!” I felt like MT. I know she was with me in this encounter. The eyes I looked into were the eyes of Jesus—gentle, curious—I immediately fell in love with stammering Leo. Despite the fact that I could barely understand what he was saying, we managed to get to the common understanding that he would be attending Mass on Sunday with me. Perfect! 1 soul! YEA! From Leo, I proceed to give a group of the nicest drug dealers I have ever met Rosaries. We even prayed a decade on their “corner”. Isn’t God funny? It was hilarious, because Arlene and I didn’t know they were drug dealers until we went to the next door and they told us. After this little adventure, we had the kids camp, and then came back home to debrief and get ready for Saturday.

As we were talking that night, I was discouraged to not have an amazing story to share and being typically selfish and being about “me”. God kinda put me in my place this weekend. Saturday, my group went to this house of Malaysian immigrants. Only one of them, a younger woman, spoke English. Our theme for the day was Mary, so that was our mission, to really share our love of Mary, whatever. So we start talking to this woman, and you could just see the desire fro truth in her eyes. Luke’s Gospel came to mind and the Annunciation, so we get it out and read it with her. Low and behold, her name is Mary and she has always wanted to know where it came from—all her mother told her was a Priest delivered her, and so she gave her a “Catholic” name. I gave her the Bible and assured her that Mary was with her in a special way—her whole face changed as my attitude toward Missions changed. God revealed to me in this encounter that He has called me to be a missionary since I was born. My idea of what that would entail (saving the starving children in Africa) and His invitation to be a co-worker and live my day to day life as a missionary in every single circumstance are both necessary and equally important. After that day, I can proudly say I am a missionary, but I am still asking for the grace and for the courage, but I think that is a process and a prayer that will be a part of the rest of my life.

And this brings me to Sunday. I miss parish Mass! You never know what you got until you don’t got it any more. Mary, unfortunately did not come, but I’m praying that mustard seeds were planted and will harvest. However, Leo did come. I saw him from above (their music director had a family emergency, so I sang and pulled one of our team members to play the piano), left the choir and went to sit with him. He was so excited! I gave him a huge hug, and lets just say that having the Good Samaritan as the Gospel was amazing. During that weekend, I was given the opportunity to be the Good Samaritan…what a privilege! This is funny—I know Jesus smiled. I asked Leo if he was Catholic, if he knew what the Eucharist was, etc. and he stuttered, “yes, yea” whatever. So I go with him up to Communion, whatever, I’m walking back and when I get to the pew he is still holding the host and says, “so I eat this?” all that is going through my mind is “Glory said to make sure they didn’t get Communion if they weren’t Catholic” and then there was peace. “Yes” I replied. I know Jesus was welcomed into Leo’s heart that day. It was actually simplistically beautiful. My quote to conclude Missions is one from our founder, Nuestro Padre. He says,

“Love gives an eternal value to our words and deeds.”

I came home exhausted, I couldn’t even dribble the ball down the court while we played basketball. People aren’t kidding when they say apostolates suck energy from places you didn’t even know you have it stored.

Ok, its Thursday. I fell asleep while writing last night….today was possibly the best day since we got here—most definitely the best outing. Lets just say that the Super Target we visited today will never be the same. 45 girls burst through the doors with a time constraint. Talk about pressure. Now I don’t know if I explained the reason for the Target run….for the YFE we have a dress code that no one brought with. So now, we all have the same black skirt and the same 3 white shirts. Awesome. But oh my goodness, I don’t think I have ever been so excited to see or be in a Target. And that as only the beginning of the day—so if you can possibly imagine, it only got so much better.

We then went to a park to play sports have lunch and go kayaking. I can’t help but burst into giggles just thinking about what happened. But before I go into the story, it has taken me 4 tries to finish this. I will not give in until it is finished tonight!

Okay so we are kayaking, I’m self-proclaiming myself Pocahontas, I had braids and everything, quite appropriate. The day couldn’t be more perfect, blue skies, sun shining…. So my French-Canadian friend and another girl are trying to catch up to me to splash me. Now I am going to shar a piece of information about myself to you—I absolutely 100% detest with a big burning passion to get wet while wearing clothes and underwear. I can’t begin to explain how much this irks me. So, as I’m sure you can imagine, I am hauling you know what down this lake to escape those two. Well on the way back around the riverbend, after they had given up, they decided to try again. This time, I am just laughing so hard, and at one point as I am trying to glide away, I look back, a bit too fervently, and TIP MYSELF. Shocked, I could do nothing but laugh. When I went to turn over my kayak, it was filled with water, so I had to call over two more kayaks, one with one of my favorite consecrated, Glory who is sometimes hyper-responsible. (but thank God there is one in the group). After what seemed hours and the use of muscles I didn’t know I had, we finally got the kayak flipped, which left me to get in. hahahaha. I literally, flipped over the side like a fish out of water. Curled up in the kayak, a single kayak, I add, Arianne, the mischievous French-Canadain is out of her kayak and wants to get in with me. As she tries to get in the kayak flips again. We are dying in the water, completely useless and suddenly, the sky turns black. I’m talking night here people. I thought the stars were gonna come out of hiding. Glory is freaking out, “GET IN YOUR BOAT. GET IN YOUR BOAT” which is not helping the situation whatsoever, I start laughing, Jan—it was a show, if you will. J eventually, as the waves (where did those even come from?) begin to dance to the shore, I flop again into the kayak in one of my more gracefully moments of my life and try to turn around for the dock. I’m not strong enough to fight the waves, and I am STILL laughing hysterically. All of a sudden, the lifeguards come out perched on their little motor boat saying into a megaphone ,”EVERYONE OUT OF THE WATER! EVACUATE THE AREA IMMEDIATELY!” I am already significantly far away from the others going my own little way toward a rocky shoreline, significantly from the beach the lifeguars were herding us to. In that moment, I decide to just go with the flow (hahaha) and stop paddling and trust that God would lead me to the rock—so I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. I was finally washed ashore, got out of the kayak, pulled it onto the grass and 2 girls came running after me to help me carry the kayak to the beach. While I am walking back, Arianne sees me, comes running toward me yelling, “I thought you died!” Glory sees me and begins to laugh a “Maria I should want to kill you, yet I am slightly jealous you got to live that adventure not me” laugh (she’s a thrill seeker) and then says, “we just told the lifeguards to go find you because we thought you were gone!”

And then we got pizza donated to us.

It was then dubbed the best outing ever. How awesome? And I haven’t been able to tell that story with a straight face since it happened, which was Thursday and it is Sunday.

There has been so much going on this week—I played basketball on our team against the Consecrated (huge deal) and knocked over our special guest, Monica Traveno, who is the head of the head if the consecrated women, like she works side by side with Nuestro Padre..whoops. My 5th grade aggression came back Dad, proud? HahaJ we lost, but they have a 6th player…JC.

Today was Co-Worker Appreciation day—and it was fabulous—we did nothing all day! And we were allowed to run to Starbucks for sports—yes I have been investing in a lot of running and have high aspirations to run a 5K at Christmas. I’ll have to see, and then next year the Flying Pig Half marathon? Seems like a nice goal. 2 days until we leave for the YFE and I can’t tell you the excitement buzzing through here. Aunt Meg got to yfe.org and click on the guest speakers I think and check out Eduardo and then google the movie trailer for Bella. Like do it right now—I will be meeting him in a few days, falling in love and getting married. I don’t think you will be at all disappointed in my choice. As one of the other Consecrated has said with such wisdom, “you have already given your 50% by falling in love with him at first sight. Now all he has to do is put in his 50%. Easy.” Mary Maher, how I love your logic!

Lets see what else…..God is still daily telling me to shut up and be still and know He is God regularly in prayer…..and to continue to form my will….But I know without one doubt in my mind that this is where I should be, and if I wasn’t, tonight confirmed it yet once again—Mom you will so appreciate this.

The Consecrated made us a powerpoint with pictures from The Passion of Christ (which I have still not seen and might be counted as a mortal sin here…whoops) and Mom my song, “You Are Loved” by Josh Groban was the song that played through it. I cried like I did Christmas Eve when I head it for the first time. He loves me—and He would do it all over again just for me. I am now trying to ease His pain and lighten the load of the cross my completely giving Him my life this year.

If you’re having a bad day, meditate on this as your personal message from Jesus—

You Are Loved

(Josh Groban—I have decided Jesus totally sings like him. If you have never heard him, buy, borrow—just get your hands on his music!)

Don’t give up

It’s just the weight of the world

When your heart’s heavy I

I will lift it for you

Don’t give up

Because you want to be heard

If silence keep you I

I will break it for you

Everybody wants to be understood

Well I can hear you

Everybody wants to be loved

Don’t give up

BECAUSE YOU ARE LOVED

Don’t give up

It’s just the hurt that you hide

When you’re lost inside

I will be there to find you

Don’t give up

Because you want to burn bright

If darkness blinds you

I will shine to guide you

Everybody wants to be understood

Well I can hear you

Everybody wants to be loved

Don’t give up

BECAUSE YOU ARE LOVED

Don’t give up

It’s just the weight of the world

Don’t give up

Everyone needs to be heard

YOU ARE LOVED

Jesus loves you.

I miss you and am praying for you.

Until after the YFE! (expect am exciting love story)

3 comments:

Mike Jorgensen said...

Hey Maria, not that I needed to read your blog to tell that you have a lot to say ;) (only kidding). I just restarted my blog if you have time to check it you should stop over there and say hey.

p.s. I noticed you didn't get rid of facebook (or at least not yet) so hopefully we'll keep in touch.

Mike Jorgensen
http://mikespeak.net

aunt meg said...

honey i love to read about your adventure you are ahoot and i find myself laughing one minute and crying the next...you are truly being blessed as we are blessed by having you...looking forward to reading the next installment and am looking forward to Bella...love you

Dad said...

Maria, Love to hear about your exciting adventure. Way to go with your basketball skills. I can't wait to hear the YFE stories. Love you and miss you. Dad