Saturday, August 27, 2011

The end of Outreach Week is only the beginning!

Filled pews for the first Sunday morning Mass!
Ahhhh. This may be perhaps my first Saturday of college (or at least living the college lifestyle) where I have not needed to either study, work, meet up with someone for coffee or spend time preparing for one thing or another. WOW. My day began as follows: woke up nice and early, went to the church to get to morning Mass only to find out that this week's is canceled due to a wedding and then coming back to have a delicious breakfast with Jenne and Sarah and hang out with them. You could say that for me, this is bliss.

The epic team "jump photo"
This past week was a whirlwind and a total blast. I had no idea how tired I was until Thursday night when I went to bed at 10 pm and woke up at 8, still needing more sleep! I suppose that means we were working pretty hard all week, 'eh? Working hard entails the following (and basically, these are all of the things I always wanted to do in Madison but did not have enough time to do them all): handing out freezie pops to students and asking them to take surveys-luckily all of the days we did this were really hot and sunny so more people were likely to take the survey, playing volleyball, ultimate frisbee and capture the flag at night, enjoying a barbeque after Sunday evening mass, having an ice cream social and then the culminating event on Friday--the 90's night. It was so different to have absolutely no excuse not to be completely bold and "out there" when grabbing students on their way to class and pestering them on their way out of the memorial union to take our surveys. I mean heck, this is my actual job! I still cannot believe it. Every single day due to either something that Jenne says, a joke that Fr. Cheney makes or a snide comment uttered by Tim I am made more and more aware that I was seriously born to come to NDSU as a missionary. It's a bit ridiculous.

Jenne with some of our rockstar leaders
On Wednesday night I re-learned how much I absolutely love ultimate frisbee! I haven't played since the good old days of SPHS and man have I been missing out! It delights me to know that I still have all sorts of opportunities to do these kinds of things with other young people who want to do them as well! As all of us missionaries have been around the Newman Center (or as Fr. Cheney likes to call it, "The Center for the Revitalization of the Divine Indwelling") seemingly 24/7, I have also been introduced to and have gotten to know most of the wonderful student leaders! They have incredible courage and zeal for souls and truly make me want to become a better missionary. Most of them have been involved with FOCUS and in discipleship much longer than I have personally, so it is even more clear that I need to be here not to teach but to learn. Watching the students be fearless in inviting strangers to events, asking their peers to take surveys and inviting freshmen to Mass has been very inspirational and such a blessing. I'm excited for them to be student missionaries reaching out to people in their classes, dorms, sororities, fraternities and friend groups!

Aerial view of Detroit Lakes
As an aside, yesterday was a wonderful day. After heading home to take a nap around 1:30 I received a phone call just as I was pulling into our lot from none other than Fr. Cheney himself. He called to inquire if I would like to go for an airplane ride! He actually has an airplane and his pilot's license, which is AWESOME! I instantly regained all of the strength I thought I needed a nap to obtain, and Jenne and I got to go up in Father's Bonanza for a ride to Detroit Lakes and back! Flat Fargo looks much prettier from up above when you can actually see the patchwork quilt of the landscape and all of the lakes in Minnesota. Later, and after the packed 5:15 daily Mass, he treated the female missionaries to dinner at Applebee's with a side of laughs. Tonight we're having Lucas and Becca (our teammate and his wife) over to treat them to dinner and we will see what next week has in store for us!

Much love and many prayers,
Kelsey Marie
Jenne and I holding our two youngest team members! Dominic and Caleb

Friday, August 19, 2011

North Dakota: Discover the Spirit!

South entrance to campus. So pretty!
After only six days of unofficial residence in Fargo, North Dakota, I absolutely love it! From the first time I saw a North Dakota license plate proudly proclaiming "Discover the Spirit" and that it is the "Peace Garden State" due to the fact that the International Peace Garden shares territory in both North Dakota and Manitoba, I knew I would love this place. It is true that I was ready to move out of Madison and on to a different path of my life, so I think this is exactly that.
As I have spent personal time with many of the readers in this audience over the post-training summer, I think a few simple words will sum it all up nicely: family time, beautiful weddings and much joy, and as always busy, busy, busy. It seems as there just may never be a dull moment in the life of Kelsey Kaufman! And in all honestly, that is exactly how I seem to thrive. After being in Fargo for only six days my teammate Jenne and I have been running around from one place to the next--running trips back and forth from the store to pick up essentials, purchasing a table and putting it together (although we've currently only got the four chairs assembled), sitting in team meetings with Tim and Lucas (our team director and other male missionary), spending a couple short days out in Hope at our friend's farm for a team retreat, getting new tires put on the Taurus, meeting Lee Ann at OfficeMax and having outreach materials printed, hanging out with Fr. Cheney and getting accustomed to his sense of humor as well as the Newman Center at NDSU, moving major furniture, kitchenware and other goodies from the old female missionary house to our new apartment and of course today's 8-hour evangelization workshop for the returning student leaders!
Jenne and I enjoying the evening in Hope, ND.
Whew! Deep breath! Looking back on the week I will rate it at ten out of ten. I absolutely adore Fargo and the people here, and as Jenne has noticed and been reminded by me often, it is pretty obvious. For those of you who know me well, I enjoy traveling and being new places, trying new things and the whole bit. Well, this entire experience with FOCUS will be exactly that for however long I choose to do this, I just get to talk to students about Christ! After meeting a healthy helping of the student leaders (a.k.a. students that lead the FOCUS Bible studies on campus) and having full energy from 7 am until past 10 pm, I am even more convinced that FOCUS truly is my calling for the next few years.

NDSU Newman Center Chapel

To sum up my feelings about my current state of life as of now, I'd have to say everything is totally great. To be exactly where God wants you to be and have that align with where you want to be feels absolutely incredible. I will admit, however, this peace and comfort still feels new and unusual. After spending all four years of college wondering just what the heck I would do after graduation took such a toll on me, and now to experience this calm, relaxed joy with no anxiety whatsoever is such a blessing! Another cool thing that I have slowly been realizing throughout my young FOCUS life: I have not been nervous at all. Not once! From the application to the interview and from being at summer training and coming back home to fully fund raise my salary, never once have I been anxious or felt uneasy about this. From the moment I decided to do FOCUS it was very clear that this is the path that God chose for me and that He will provide! He would not call me do to something I could not handle or was not ready for, and I am so grateful. I firmly believe this is a testament to God's faithfulness and ability to know what all of His children need and when they need it.
The real country roads.

I was reminded of this lesson as I sat down to eat lunch today with the student leaders and was talking with one of the seniors. He asked me if I was a first year missionary and I was honored! To think that I might actually be compared to the level of the Carrie Wagner's and Gina Zaccagnini's (two wonderful missionaries I knew well at Madison) was such a compliment! What struck me the most was his surprise at my lack of nervousness when speaking in front of the group, which is something that usually causes me great anxiety! This was just another example that I truly am meant to be here in Fargo as a FOCUS missionary in 2011.

Pumping a stranger's gas
Wearing a stranger's ha
Bright and early tomorrow morning will come the day I've been waiting for since day one: freshman move-in at the dorms! The missionaries as well as the student leaders are able to help the freshmen move in, meet them and talk with their families, hopefully revealing to them a better part of campus and getting to know them. After hearing an entire day's worth of talks from our students about the dire necessity of outreach during the first two weeks of school really got me re-jived up to go and meet some students! Along with that was the photo scavenger hunt that we did as an activity today in the afternoon. We had to go ask strangers to do the most random things! And I never even had a problem with it! Hugging fast food employees, tackling NDSU football players, running with joggers, shaking a police officer's hand, helping strangers pump gas, making sand angels at the volleyball courts with strangers (5 points!), and wearing stranger's hats were just a few examples, among sitting with families at a restaurant and weeding strangers' gardens! If that didn't get you out of your comfort zone I'm not sure what would, but let's just say that after today I have no problem going up to students on campus and asking them to play volleyball with us or to join a Bible study, and I don't think the students do either. 
Getting an entire tour group to salute while standing on one leg
Drinking a giant cup of coffee, with a stranger
Kubischta farm, location of our retreat! L-O-V-E.

I'm so excited for the coming few weeks of outreach and meeting students! I will do my best to stay up-to-date but will definitely keep you all in my prayers. If you ever have any intentions I'm only an email away. God bless you!

With love,
Kelsey Marie