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