Hello friends, family members, and anyone who finds themselves stumbling upon a soon-to-be-missionary's blog! For the first post, although there is (and always will be) so many things I'd love to tell all of you, I first want to share with you what exactly it is I will be doing for the next (at least) two years and why I chose this path.. seeing as I was more than content with working at Metcalfe's Market for the time being and loving every second of it.
First of all, I will be serving as a Catholic missionary for an organization called FOCUS (The Fellowship of Catholic University Students... I do have a knack for acronyms!) and tomorrow officially begins NST (New Staff Training) which is described on their website as "1/3 boot camp, 1/3 grad school and 1/3 retreat." You could say I am pretty stoked. In all honesty I'm not yet 100% positive of all the minor details that my position will entail but I promise to keep you updated as I learn and grow more.
I just finished up a four-year BA (...Bachelor of Arts...) at the University of Wisconsin with a degree in International Studies and I have known for a few years that I wanted to do some type of two-year service as soon as I finished up. I never imagined my life taking this route but now I couldn't be more excited! As for my story in choosing FOCUS (or rather having it chosen for me) here is the long-winded version:
I was totally set on going abroad, preferably to Latin America, speaking Spanish and "really" helping people (working in an orphanage, building shelters, homes, living and working with the homeless, etc). At the time I had been living in Santiago, Chile and realized that the culture and people were some things I desired to carry with me for as long as I could while still being able to serve. I stumbled upon a booklet for the CVN (Christian Volunteer Network) after Alpha Omega at St. Paul's one night and thought it was providential I was there and that this was the one-way ticket I needed to determining my future. Boy was I wrong.
Not long before this I had signed up for the FOCUS conference which would be in January with the intention of getting some good insights, growing spiritually and spending some time over winter break with all of my wonderful friends at St. Paul's in St. Paul, Minnesota. My winter break was set up perfectly: first I went to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl and then went straight to St. Paul to spend some time with a few of my closest friends and would go straight to the three-day conference and come back home. I spent an entire day with Molly reading through all of the organizations, writing down the names, determining what I did and did not desire and got more excited to speak spanish and travel abroad than ever. Then Friday rolled around. I had my monster, color coordinated list in tow and met up with all my friends at the hotel for the conference. People had been asking me if I was considering FOCUS and my response was always this: "Listen, I'll do anything but FOCUS. If God wants me to be a missionary He's going to have to make that pretty clear because that is the last thing I want to do. FOCUS is great and all, but someone else can be the missionary--not me."
And make it clear He did.
The talks throughout the weekend were great; I learned and grew a lot, exactly my desires and intentions for being there. That is, until Sunday rolled around. Curtis Martin, the founder of FOCUS, gave an incredible talk about the importance of sharing faith with college students and the impact it can have on the rest of society. That sentence does not do his talk any justice whatsoever, but let's just say it was quite remarkable and I was deeply impacted. After his talk, all 2,000+ of us transitioned to celebrating the Mass and Fr. Mike Schmitz gave a homily that would forever change my life. I have listened to it many times over (because he streams all of his sermons as Podcasts on iTunes...praise God) and each time I hear what he said I remember the way the Lord was working in my heart the very first time I heard it.
He explained the bystander effect and its history and the more he explained it the more my eyes and heart were being opened and pulled apart. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the bystander effect it received its name after an incident that took place in 1964. A young woman named Kitty Genovese was walking home from work and was stabbed by a man that she knew and even tried escaping multiple times as she cried for help. Despite the 38 witnesses, not one person called the police until 30 minutes later and it was far too late. Many researchers ran psychological and social tests on this and termed it the bystander effect which means that the more people (or witnesses) there are, the less likely any one of them will do something.
You can only guess where my heart went from here.
I knew that I could no longer "stick to my guns" and simply let someone else do what God had secretly been preparing me to do for the last two years. After hearing this I spent an hour in Adoration with the Blessed Sacrament and it was made very clear that I was meant to apply for FOCUS. After applying I was granted the interview, it went better than I could have ever imagined and within two days I received a call-back asking me to join the FOCUS staff! I really have no idea what is in store for my life, both spiritual and physical, my heart or my mind for the next couple of years, but cannot wait for the adventure! I hope to be in touch with all of you and feel free to check this periodically and read about my latest stories. I'll do my best to keep you entertained with photos, anecdotes and life lessons I learn along the way!
Many blessings, prayers and much love,