Thursday, June 16, 2011

Not just for FOCUS!

In the past two weeks we have been learning how as FOCUS missionaries we will be living out the mission of the Church, which in essence is evangelization. Something I never knew until summer training was that in fact it has been the mission of the Church from the very beginning! She exists in order to evangelize, "so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me" (John 17:21). Isn't this great news?! If you'd like to read a short article published just this week about Pope Benedict XVI's opinion on the Church's role in evangelization click here! Notice how everything comes from a heart that loves. I've definitely been learning the importance of not just doing things to make me come across as a better person, but that truly every action needs to be a movement from the heart, out of love for another person, whether or not someone else is watching. This is what Christians need to work on above all else--cloaking ourselves in love and desiring the good of the other people in our lives!

If you would like to read a more beautifully stated version of the real reason why I will be a FOCUS missionary, please read the following statement from Blessed John Paul II's encyclical, Redemptoris Missio:

Our times are both momentous and fascinating. While on the one hand people seem to be pursuing material prosperity and to be sinking ever deeper into consumerism and materialism, on the other hand we are witnessing a desperate search for meaning, the need for an inner life, and a desire to learn new forms and methods of meditation and prayer. Not only in cultures with strong religious elements, but also in secularized societies, the spiritual dimension of life is being sought after as an antidote to dehumanization. This phenomenon-the so-called "religious revival"-is not without ambiguity, but it also represents an opportunity. The Church has an immense spiritual patrimony to offer humankind, a heritage in Christ, who called himself "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn 14:6): it is the Christian path to meeting God, to prayer, to asceticism, and to the search for life's meaning.
That sums up my call to FOCUS in a nutshell! It is no longer my job to sit by and watch people struggle and search when truly "our hearts are restless until they rest in you, oh Lord" (St. Augustine's Confessions). Like I said, watch out North Dakota, here I come! Please keep sending your prayers, I'm sending all of mine your ways as well!

With love,

p.s. Today they showed us this sweet video that summed up the Gospel in four minutes... pretty incredible.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My new FOCUS family!

Introducing to you the 2011-2012 FOCUS missionaries!! Good luck finding yours truly!! (Helpful tip: click on the picture to see a bigger version. I'm in the left middle in the fourth-ish row and you can find me with one of my defining features... none other but the famous side pony).

Friday, June 3, 2011

Answered prayers left and right!

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord."
                                 Jeremiah 29:11-14
Well if this passage doesn't sum up my first week (or even just today) at NST I honestly don't know what could do a better job. Did you read it closely? Read it again. God will provide exactly what I need, so long as I pray to Him and ask for His help. Always, from the beginning of time, God has had this in His plans for me, Kelsey Marie Kaufman! Talk about hope and having trust in God's promise!

The week has been an absolute whirlwind. And it is exactly the whirlwind I am meant to be in. There are over 300 missionaries for the upcoming year (not all of them are first- and second-years therefore not needing to be present at training the entire time) and literally, probably about 98% of them are material for becoming lifelong friends. No joke. Even among all of the conferences and retreats I have been on in the past I have never been to something particularly aimed at the best leaders and best leaders only.

We are divided up into colleges named after different saints and I am in the college of St. Catherine of Siena... wooo doggie. She's definitely been interceding for us because crazy "coincidences" continue happening around every corner and it's almost freaking me out a little (but actually not at all). All of the colleges have a brother or sister college (depending on whichever is opposite, for example we have a brother college) and apparently one of the rules is that the brother colleges have to ask their sister colleges if we will be their sister college (even though it's assigned anyway). Tonight our brother college surprised us by having some tables set up after mass and brought down pizza bagel bites with mac n cheese while dressed up in throwback 80's attire and whatever else they could scrounge up at the nearest thrift store. In the middle of dinner they stood up in the middle of the cafeteria and just BELTED out their own FOCUS rendition of The Lion King's, "The Circle of Life". Not only did they have the attention of all 250+ people in the cafeteria, but the three guys who chanted the background part were saying, "pink pajamas penguins on the bottom" because one of them used to mistakenly think those were the actual words! It was hilarious, and after listening to the song again I can totally see how he'd be confused!
 All the guys here are total gems and it's so freeing to know that the relationships formed with them have one common root: striving to live out the Gospel while learning to love Jesus more every day. It also helps to know that as first-years none of us can date because we signed a contract prohibiting ourselves from any romantic activity for the first year on staff, known as the legendary "dating fast." So guys, I guess that's to say the cat's out of the bag, and try to contain your disappointment: I will be single and not dating for the next year. Bring. it. ON. In all seriousness though, the first-years have enough on their plate in terms of personal growth that will take place this year, and throwing a budding relationship with another first-year missionary on top would probably be a recipe for disaster.

In other news, and the news that many of you have been waiting for... I got my placement tonight for next year!!!!! And better yet, I'm genuinely excited about a place that gets even more snow than Wisconsin--North Dakota! I'll be serving a missionary at North Dakota State University (NDSU.. I have a feeling this acronym will be a little too difficult for me, I've already called it UWNS-obviously it would be in the UW system, UNSD...etc) in Fargo, ND! I already checked and apparently there are at least 10 nearby Culver's locations so all in all, I'll be set!
I met three of my four teammates, Jenne, Sarah and Lucas, and they are just great. All I can say is that watch out North Dakota, because Kelsey Kaufman is comin' atcha! I went out with Sarah (left) and Jenne (right) in our matching bison Catholic tee's to a favorite hotspot just down the street: Cocomero. It is an incredible FroYo (frozen yogurt, duh Kelsey...) place where there are multiple flavors of yogurt and lots of toppings and you just help yourself and then pay $.47/oz! It's kind of an ice cream addicts' version of heaven on earth.

Alright, I am up way past my bedtime and have a full day of classes again tomorrow! All of you are you in my prayers and I hope that I am in yours-I definitely need 'em!

Kelsey Marie