Saturday, December 17, 2011

Home Sweet Home

I woke up this morning expecting to see another drab, and weary December morning when I looked out the kitchen windows, was taken aback and saw this...

After jumping up and down in a fit of joy I realized that not everybody gets excited about the first real snowfall...especially dad, who already had the driveway shoveled and cars cleaned off by 9 am. 

Maybe we'll have a white Christmas after all? 

Here's to hoping! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Like Music to My Ears...

An exciting first Bison game with a great group!
Not only did I get to witness the Bison beat the Lehigh Mountain Hawks this past Saturday but on Sunday I attended Handel's Messiah, performed by some extremely talented musicians and choir students at NDSU. I've never really gone to this kind of thing before, but I can attest to the fact that it might be one of my new favorites, which is kind of funny, because just the night before a group of us girls were talking about what our "dream dates" would be (yeah yeah, I know, dating fast, but, whatever!) and seeing an orchestra and choir perform did not cross my mind in the slightest. However, after broadening my horizons on Sunday I would certainly be excited to go and do this again.

Anywho, while enjoying the sweet sounds of Kuhnau's Magnificat and Handel's Messiah as they caressed my eardrums, I got to thinking... 

What does the Bison winning a football game have to do with Handel's Messiah? Does it really matter? Hmmm...

Something that has really blown me away for roughly the last year and a half (and some of you may know this) is the interdependence (definition: being mutually reliant on each other) of not only our families, not only Christians, not only our society, but the entire world that we live in! Seriously, sometimes when I go to different sporting events, Mass, the grocery store or even just get into conversations that I understand nothing about (this usually includes with engineers, mathematicians, philosophers and musicians) I just have to sit back and ponder the incredible body of Christ, and how we all do have a role in it. There is not one person on this earth who does not have an important role (I apologize for the double negative), whether they believe in the saving power of Jesus Christ or have no faith in God whatsoever, each person plays a vital role.

Holy smokes!! And that double exclaimed statement is not an over-exaggeration--just think about it: We all have oodles of different talents, specialties and things that make us "tick," and for what reason? I instantly think of  1Corinthians 12:14-26, talking about being different parts of the body, yet how all are necessary. I thought of all the different fans at the Bison game on Saturday, and then the seemingly different crowd at the orchestral performance on Sunday and all of the participants. Not only the players and coaches in Saturday's game or the performers and conductor in Sunday's concert were what made those shows spectacular--there were tons of other people on the sidelines, the Gold Star Marching Band, people in the score booths, techies taking care of lights and sound, etc. All of these people were necessary in order for the spectators to enjoy what they saw, not a person was left out and it's just really neat.

NDSU FOCUS team says you should love Jesus. Convincing?
In essence, the transition from being amongst tons of fans to an older--and I'd dare say more sophisticated--crowd on the next day was an awesome experience and semi rocked my world.

Also, in other great news our goal at NDSU for the end of this school year is to have 89 students in discipleship. The semester technically isn't over yet, but certainly on its last legs, and the student missionaries are still sharing the Gospel and asking people into discipleship as they take their final exams! There are already 16 new student missionaries in discipleship this semester alone, making our 89 goal extremely attainable before next semester even begins! Holy spiritual multiplication!

Talk about the harvest being abundant (Luke 10:2)... man alive.

Only a few days left until I hit the road for Wisco! Ma and Pa Kaufman, here I come!

Kelsey Marie

Friday, December 9, 2011

Student Testimony

One of the wonderful women in my discipleship chain, Britni, has been growing so much this semester, and now the fruits are truly shining through. I asked her to write up a little testimony of her recent exciting news: a young woman in her Bible study is now in discipleship! It's really exciting because as missionaries we realized that the mission of FOCUS is:

"To know Christ Jesus and to fulfill the Great Commission by first living and then communicating the fullness of faith within the Family of God, the Church"

....nowhere in there does it say that the mission of FOCUS is to lead as many Bible studies as possible. Rather, we genuinely try to win people to Jesus Christ, build them up in effective discipleships and then send them out to do the same with others. Britni is starting to really grasp this concept and here's a brief testimony that she shared with me:

This is my first semester leading a bible study and from the start I had a steady, solid group of girls coming. Immediately, I began to think "Wow, Jesus and I are going to make a bunch of really great disciples out of this group!" As the semester continued, no girl stood out to me. No one was laid on my heart during prayer for that specific thing but I continued to pray about it. As the semester began to wind down, I almost started to panic wondering what was going to happen with these girls. I felt like I had failed them and Jesus because that is the "goal" is to make disciples of all nations and I could not do it. Dang... Finally, there were a couple girls I had in mind but none of them were quite there yet. So I continued to pray and be patient. I knew that prayer was the only thing that could ease my restless mind. Then, as I was ready to talk to a couple girls after our last bible study of the semester, none of them were there...weird. I was bummed at the beginning but it just opened up the door for the beautiful Bobbi Jo. This young woman came to study almost every week and was always very quiet but I knew she took everything to heart. Because these other girls were NOT there it opened up the floor and my eyes to Bobbi. She didn't say a lot but what she did say I took to heart. I knew she was the answer to my prayers!

After bible study, I got home and texted her asking if we could talk, she said she would love to and she actually needed to talk to me too. Cool! We went to lunch, I asked Bobbi Jo into discipleship and she said yes! It was the most beautiful thing! I almost cried (because I was so happy and excited!) and then she really just blew me away. Bobbi proceeded to tell me that she started meeting with a girl in her dorm to pray together every night. HOW GREAT! She also told me that recently she had been praying for guidance so she was excited that I wanted to do absolutely anything for her to help her get to know the person of Jesus Christ even better. Essentially, we answered each other's prayers. 

Now that my friends, that is what spiritual multiplication looks like: Not only to make disciples of all nations, but to raise up disciples that raise up disciples. And that is why I'm a FOCUS missionary!!

Oh, and in other great news: four new girls said yes to discipleship with Jesus and I this coming semester, the two that I was working with will be "launched" and/or leaving Fargo and I think that what's in store for NDSU FOCUS will look much differently than it ever has! I'll keep you posted!

Also, I can already taste the Spotted Cow... Wisco here I come!! Less than one week away and I'm SO EXCITED to watch the Rose Bowl on the 'rents' HD big screen! Wooop! Let's go RED!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Check out this video!

 Two of our students, Matthew Kurtz and Matthew Byers made an awesome video promoting bisonCatholic. Check it out!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What's all that white stuff everywhere?

We love Jesus thiiiis much! Out West in Medora, ND.
Oh, wait, PSYCH! It did snow twice this past week, but both times all the fluffy stuff covering the trees, grass and sidewalks was gone before the day's end. Darn. The blizzard we were predicted to receive yesterday never arrived, but I suppose that's just fine. In due time I'm sure there will be much more than we all, including me, bargained for.

I also realized that I start every post with a weather update. Many apologies to those of you who really don't care what the weather is like in Fargo. For those of you-which, might I add is the majority-that find out I'm in Nor'Dakota and laugh because you think it's year-round winter, it seemed fitting to begin each post updating you that in fact winter has not actually hit yet, contrary to popular belief. You wouldn't believe it but one I thing I love more than most is breaking stereotypes, nearly as much as I love fitting them, but that's enough about that.

It seems like lately I've been learning in overdrive what it means to be a FOCUS missionary. If you have any amount of curiosity, let me fill you in: there is no specified regimen for this job position, no curriculum and every person, situation or opportunity that presents itself to us is never something that we ourselves actually find. Rather, every time I meet a new student seeking the Truth, have an amazing conversation with one of the girls I disciple, present the Gospel to someone and actually witness their heart be opened to a relationship with Jesus Christ or leave Bible study geeking out because of the visible transformation taking place in these women, it is important to remember that each of these is nothing more than a gift.

With all of these things being gifts, the last few weeks have been a constant Christmas morning. Our team realized that we need to be presenting the Gospel to everybody. Not only to our Bible studies or to our disciples, but everyone. And we weren't doing it. All of our hearts broke equally when the question was put on the table of whether or not our disciples knew and could present the Gospel to someone and we could not answer with a confident "yes." Of course we desire that the students be built up and learn the lifelong mission of evangelization, but in all reality we desire much more that each person develops and maintains a lasting relationship with the One who really makes this happen--Jesus Christ.

The last few weeks of swapping stories with the other missionaries about Gospel presentations in discipleship and even to our Bible studies has been very inspiring and I think that really the whole point of presenting the Gospel to someone is not only for their sake, but for your own as well. Whenever I'm about to start I get a few nervous butterflies (and I still haven't quite figured out why) and as soon as the question is posed, "Do you desire to make Jesus Christ the center of your life?" and they respond with a definite "yes" my love for God and for souls increases just a little more.

Now I ask you, do you know the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I don't mean the four books in the Bible, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I mean the actual reason for our being and what life is all about.  There are four basic points:
  1. We were created to be in a relationship with God.
  2. That relationship is broken because of sin and God's people are separated from Him (a.k.a. Adam and Eve ate of the apple in the garden way back in Genesis).
  3. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to restore that relationship and bring us back to Him (John 3:16)
  4. We are called to respond (Be baptized with the water of the Holy Spirit, go to confession to repent of and turn away from our sins and receive the Eucharist in a state of grace --John 6:53).
We have been sharing this a lot lately, and we actually just had our second "Monthly Mountain" for all of the student missionaries on Friday and talked heavily about this issue. A couple of students gave brief testimonies and shared with everyone why presenting the Gospel is so important and it was very humbling to hear from students what we, as missionaries, should be teaching them. Overall, the transformation taking place among the student missionaries by being more directly presented with the Gospel and inviting others to discipleship is incredible. In fact, while speaking of gifts, the Lord handed me a pretty neat one this week: a disciple on the women's basketball team. If you happen to remember in my last post when I asked for prayers for Katie Birkel, a senior on the women's basketball team who recently tore her ACL and is out for the season, thank you for your prayers! She had surgery last week and the healing (both physical and mental!) is already taking place. I sat down with her on Friday, presented the Gospel and invited her into discipleship and she responded with an excited yes. She's looking forward to not only walking towards the Lord herself, but inviting others to as well.

That's just one small story among many, and thank you so much for your prayers for the missionaries and the students here at NDSU, the transformation is definitely taking place!

Please also keep these in your prayers:
  • Our VarsityCatholic movement (working with all of the athletes)
  • FOCUS Greek (Jenne just took 8 students to Nashville a couple weeks ago for the conference and had a great time!)
  • A mission trip (that I was approved to be director of!) over Spring break--location is TBD, please keep that in your prayers)
Thank you so much for your prayers and support, God bless!
Kelsey Marie

Thursday, November 3, 2011

By golly, she's done it again!

"Done what again?" You may ask yourself.

Well, to answer your question, nothing in particular, but I had you going for a second, didn't I?

I do have another "first" to tack onto my "first time doing (fill in the blank)" list, however! For the first time ever I planned a FOCUS regional gathering!
It's not really that big of a deal, but for me it took me back to the days of SPK4, a pretty intensive weekend retreat I co-lead my junior year of college. The beauty about this weekend was that rather than having every minute of each day planned (LITERALLY), there just had to be some basics (such as breakfast, lunch and dinner) and the group was free to explore Fargo to their heart's content. For any missionaries reading: If you ever plan a regional gathering and need places to stay, I highly recommend putting advertisements in church bulletins so that the local families can get involved with the mission in some way, even if they already support a missionary. I randomly assigned people to different houses and the families were so generous! It was a great way for the missionaries to hang out and see a little more of Fargo while sleeping in beds or on couches, rather than sleeping bags on the floor, and it merited a great response from many of them.

The wonderful Colorado Great North 2011-2012 region!
Overall, I think that all 38 missionaries that attended had a great weekend and I heard from multiple people that it was relaxing and a wonderful release! So two words can sum up my relatively sleepless weekend: mission accomplished. The stuffed french toast with warm apples and a side of bacon that Sarah, Carrie and I prepared turned out great and started Saturday off with a bang. The highlight of the weekend was praying a Holy Hour with all of the missionaries followed by Mass at noon with Fr. Cheney. He gave a rockstar homily and it was fun having everybody here on our turf, especially the missionaries in Madison.

In other news, the starting guard for the Lady Bison ballers, Katie Birkel, is one of the girls in my Wednesday night study and she recently tore her ACL! This is her senior year but since it's early enough in the season she's able to redshirt and now will come back for another season. Please keep her and the team in your prayers-she's a really great girl and is having surgery on Monday so pray for positive results.

All Saints Day Party... I was St. Juan Diego
When I stationed myself in Omaha last weekend to visit Molly and Ben, they hooked me on a game that I never thought I would find myself playing: Settlers of Catan. Oh my goodness. Have you ever played Settlers? I highly recommend this game over many others, especially Monopoly. For those of you who have never experienced, Settlers is kind of like Monopoly, minus the never-endingness (you definitely know what I mean) and rather than buying properties with fake money of every color of the rainbow and selfishly hoarding as many as you can, you trade sheep, wheat, wood, oar and bricks and never want to have too many in your hand at once lest you roll a seven and have to get rid of half of them. Luckily I already found a group who plays pretty frequently up here in Fargo!

Last Thursday our FOCUS team had lunch with the Cru interns (Campus Crusade for Christ) so we could get to know one another and share stories about our efforts so far this year at NDSU (which are essentially the same--transform university campuses for Jesus Christ through small group Bible studies and discipleships). I really clicked with one of the girls and she randomly busted out how much she loves playing Settlers and I actually freaked out and maybe choked a little on my slice of 'za. She invited me over that same night and I got to play with her and her hardcore Settlers-playing friends. They even made up their own rules to cover those "questionable moves" that are always left out by the official game rules. I'm already looking forward to the next time I can play!

If you can't tell I definitely go through phases. I'm still certainly in my LOTR phase, but since it's been already nearly a month since we watched the movies, the details are becoming less clear and I'm moving on to the here and now...a.k.a. Settlers of Catan. I guess this is my favorite thing of the month until the next thing comes along!

Please keep our team in your prayers as we continue fortifying the campus for Jesus Christ, especially in our efforts of sharing the Gospel.

You all remain in my prayers as well!

Kelsey Marie

Friday, October 21, 2011

The First Frosty Morning

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! It's 6:30 am and my alarm sounds. I turn it off and realize I fell asleep with my lamp on. Dang, I absolutely hate wasting energy. I groggily reach over to pull the chain switching my lamp into "off" mode, only to hear a most unpleasant "crunch." What the heck? My less-than-a-year old pair of glasses is now in pieces underneath me. CRAP! I roll out of bed in my half-alert morning stupor, rush to get ready and go out to my car to find the windows frosted over. The first frost, I thought. I don't think I'm ready for this. Most fortunately NeedToBreathe's latest CD was popped into the Taurus' compact disc player so I decided to cool off (literally) from being upset about the wasted energy, broken glasses and icy car and be consoled by the sweet sounds now filling my cold car as I waited for it to defrost.

And then I found five dollars.

I just thought I'd share that absolutely pointless story with you for two reasons. First and foremost, for your pity and a potential "Oh no!" which I especially crave. Second, I promised I'd make known, especially for those of you living in warmer areas of the country, when Fargo received it's first frost. Hopefully the events of the first snowfall prove to be as entertaining as this lovely Thursday morning. For those of you who don't understand the "and then I found five dollars" reference, oftentimes when telling a story the teller (or perhaps someone in the audience, depending on how courteous they are) will realize just how pointless the story was for anybody but the teller, and throw in that line to "make the story better" even though it really doesn't. It's basically just a way of saying, "Wow, what a pointless story."
Procession with Jesus through campus

The last few weeks have been quite a blur and even included visiting my wonderful family and a few friends back home in wonderful Wisconsin! I will say that the drive from the Twin Cities to Madison is especially beautiful at this time of year and the red, orange and gold trees made for a seemingly quick drive back. A highlight of the month however, is probably the Eucharistic procession that the NDSU Newman Center did on October 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. We consecrated the entire NDSU campus and all of its past, present and future students, faculty and staff to Jesus through Mary as we processed with the Blessed Sacrament with about 90 students and community members around campus. It was quite the experience.

My discipleship chain!
This past weekend certainly earns a high ranking on my scale as well. On Friday night we had our first Monthly Mountain, a.k.a. student missionary night. We split up into each of our discipleship chains, went out to eat--ours went to a super fun place called the Drunken Noodle... don't worry, it's a good, clean time and no alcoholic drinking was engaged in on this evening! After getting our fill we stumbled back to the Newman Center to hear one of the hands-down best talks on prayer I've ever heard (and I certainly haven't heard 'em all, but I've heard quite a few so far in my day!) given by one of NDSU's peer ministers, Thomas.

Something that the missionaries have noticed since day one of the school year is that our student leaders are not praying as they ought, or at all. To be a Bible study leader and be a person who brings Christ to the people in their studies, classes, apartments, dorm rooms, etc, it is so important that they come and spend time with Him, especially since there is exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (Eucharistic Adoration) all day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. To be in discipleship, which all of these student leaders are, it is expected that they pray for at least 20 minutes each day. In all reality, that's nothin', and a few of the busiest students spend over an hour in the chapel some days. Plus, I can give a personal testimony to beginning every day with a Holy Hour and still working two jobs, taking five classes, leading a Bible Study, having time for friends and roommates, and doing a myriad of other things that filled my time at the UW the past few years. So, after Thomas spoke, give my testimony I did and hold back a bit of harsh criticism I did not. I will admit, I've heard from a few of the students that this was exactly the "kick in the pants" that they needed. We've already seen more students in the chapel at any given hour of the day and I'm so excited to see the fruits that will occur on the campus, in Bible studies and in discipleships.

This weekend I'm headed to "the good life" to visit my bestie in Omaha! Pray for safe travels and I'll update you all soon!

In Him,
Kelsey Marie

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's a Great Day to be Alive...

About 3/4 of our fellow walkers for life
Yes, I am not only referencing the wonderfully tuned Travis Tritt song, but also just the fact in and of itself--each day we are given is a great day to be alive. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to participate in the Fargo diocese annual "Walk With Christ for Life," where the Bishop (in this case it wasn't because he happened to be in the Holy Land, no big deal) processes with the Eucharist and a large group of people to North Dakota's only abortion clinic, located in downtown Fargo. It really was an amazing experience to walk with hundreds of people from the community, pray Rosaries there and back, and of course have the Blessed Sacrament leading the way with a myriad of altar servers, priests and other religious. Incredible. One of the reasons I loved it so much was that the streets were blocked, we had portable speakers hooked up for the Rosaries, readings and prayers, and seeing the people that we walked by just stare at us, wondering what the heck we were up to. Something that the great Msgr. Goering said when he gave just a few short words encouraging all of us to stay strong for life was that, "God can accomplish anything and will put an end to abortion." It's as simple as that. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the idea that it seems impossible to put an end to something so prominent in our world today, but God can and all he asks is that we have faith in that and truly believe it. So, here's to kicking off my restricting boots of unbelief and adopting a new outlook: faith and trust in the fact that with God all things truly are possible (Mt. 19:26)

Tim, our heroic TD walking for life
Also, this past week was, as usual, really great. Great is such a lame word to describe how unbelievably much I love being a FOCUS missionary, and I use it all the time. Here's to kicking that habit and starting to use more exciting synonyms! So what I really meant to say was that this week was totally out of this world! (These might be over-exaggerations, but just roll with it) With the student missionaries and the Bible studies we are going to have a men's and women's night each month in place of (or in addition to, depending on which night your study is held) the usual Bible study for that week.  Last week we invited all the women over to visit us in our cozy little apartment on Broadway to hang out, have some fellowship and of course give this girl an opportunity to try her hand at baking something new. We had a pretty decent turnout and it was cool to meet some of the freshmen in Bible studies that I probably wouldn't have been able to meet for a while otherwise. Also, some of the School Sisters of Christ the King showed up and added to our topic of discussion: modesty. Jamie and Katie, two girls from the Bison basketball team, were the only two girls from all three of my studies that showed up, but it was well worth it. We played some wii and had serious bonding time over some EPIC fail cookies Jenne and I made.

Women's night = Great success!
Dream. Boat.
Also, I've done just as much play as I have work. For example: Jenne, Sarah and I watched all of the extended versions of LOTR (Lord of the Rings; my first viewings and not only am I in love with the movies but Legolas as well... basically a dream, but it's okay because I'm on a dating fast, and he's a fictional elf so that's gotta be okay, right? Right). Also, we played Apples to Apples in my Thursday night study and we all laughed a lot, which was great, er, I mean, top-notch... And the only green adjective card I ended up with was the word 'lovable.' How convenient. In A2A (my own abbreviation for the game, feel free to be impressed), each person takes turns flipping over a green card and then all the other people have to lay a red card with some sort of noun on it. The flipper looks at all of them and then chooses their favorite one--whether because of irony, humor or just because it fit best--and the person who won gets to keep that green card and the person with the most at the end wins. There's a little trick that apparently at the end of the game each person should be able to look at the green cards he or she collected and discover that those describe them best. And the only word I got was lovable. Awwwww. Ha, I'm just kidding, but when there were words like crazy, magical, intense, and disgusting played, I'd gladly take lovable any day.

As a few last remarks, last week was also Bison homecoming week and the Husker's Big Ten debut as they got destroyed by the Badgers! This created the makings for quite the friendly environment in our own apartment as Jenne is a born and raised Husker whereas I'm a born and raised Badger. Not bad. Luckily, Jenne and I continued bonding over the reading out loud of Heaven is For Real, which is super adorable and I highly recommend. And it's finally beginning to look like fall. Yay.

To all of you who support me with your prayers and financial support, many thanks and I'm praying for you! God bless you!
Kelsey Marie