Tuesday, May 29, 2012

NST, Round 2!

Well, this dream has officially become a reality and I'm here in Champaign, Illinois for another round of New Staff Training (NST)!

We completed two full days of classes and so far I've successfully taken one nap, gone for two runs, and have been spending ample time catching up with all of my beautiful friends that I have missed so dearly over the past year!

I'm surprised by some things:

1) How quickly I can forget people's names, even those that I was quite familiar with last year and have been staring at all year on a missionary map on our fridge! A bit humiliating, I'll admit, but also kind of hysterical when I find myself actually pulling out the "Oh HEY you!" card that I joke about far too often.

2) People remember that I wasn't at the Student Leadership Summit out in Baltimore in January when the NDSU team stayed in Fargo for bisonCatholic Week. I know this isn't what it's about, but I feel loved and truly cherished by so many of these friends, some of whom I hardly got a chance to know last summer!

3) I'm a different person this year than I was last year, and I'm okay with it. Prior to coming I was mildly freaking out about how much growth and purification has gone on in my life and my heart this year and I just wasn't ready to open up about some things. Turns out, it's actually not so bad!

4) I don't feel pressured to go and stay out late and have been getting to bed earlier than I have almost all year, it's a beautiful thing.

5) How many of my 2nd year friends are going to be team directors. It's an awesome testimony to the caliber of leadership FOCUS is blessed with and I'm so excited for all of them! Truly inspiring.

6) Lastly, my phone is pooping out on me and not that any time is a convenient time for your phone to stop working, but I was just at home for a solid week and could have moseyed into US Cellular to make an exchange had I known. Darnski.

All in all I'm really excited about this year's NST! I've got a lot to learn about what it means being a second-year missionary here and setting examples for the first-year missionaries, but the Lord is leading me, and I'm in the college of St. Cecilia! She's got a ballin' story and is an amazing example of purity of heart, mind and body and I have a feeling she'll be teaching me a thing or two this summer as well!

I'll write more later, God bless!
Kelsey Marie

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

You know you're a GB Packer when...

...the first 15 minutes of the 10 o'clock news feature Donald Driver winning Dancing With the Stars. And not a minute less.

The same man that does this:

 also excels at this:

Now THAT is what I'm talking about!

And now for Driver to help lead the Packers to a Super Bowl win this coming season! 

Woop woop! It's moments like these that remind me just how deep my Cheesehead roots run.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

I'm a little SOREy I didn't train harder...

Josie and I, all smiles pre-race
As some of you may know I've been half-heartedly training for the Fargo Half Marathon that just took place here in Fargo yesterday. Josie, one of my disciples and closest friends is an avid runner and didn't have to try too hard to get me to sign up back in February and join her on race day. One of the biggest blessings of the semester for me has been morning runs many times (although probably still not enough to be fully ready...) each week with Josie and exploring a good chunk of north Fargo on foot--and even some of south Fargo as well!

We decided to have a little extra fun with the race so we whipped up some matching t-shirts, bought some extra loud matching shorts and even matched right up to the sparkly headbands! We had Fr. Cheney in mind when we wrote, "I pass you, you owe me a dollar," on the back of our shirts because that's Father's promise for the annual Newman Center Bike Race (you pass Fr. Cheney, he pays you a dollar. And he pays up too, I've seen it!).

So close to the finish, I had one thing on my mind (the bathroom).
As the title of my post indicates, I'm sitting down the day after the race and to be quite honest, my legs just straight up hurt. Our goal was to finish in under two hours, and at each mile marker when I checked my watch we were keeping perfectly on pace with healthy nine-minute miles! At each one we were a little more surprised to see the pace constancy than the last, especially after mile 8 when I think both of us were feeling pretty much kaput (Def: broken and useless, no longer effective). Josie's positive energy definitely kept me going and we sprinted--or at least it felt like we were sprinting--right down the home stretch and crossed the finish line looking like this... or maybe it was more like this.

We zigzagged our way through the Fargodome and out into open air ASAP, took a few post-race photos and then we zoomed over to the Breen family home to help out with her younger brother, Sam's, Eagle Scout and graduation party! I think that day truly earns a Fargo "uff-da!" and we're already planning for next year, soreness and all.

Lastly, one of the best parts of the run (after the warm-up prayer, which was a great way to start off an event with thousands of people) are the medals they gave each of the finishers. Proudly stated on the band is not a quote from a famous athlete or a "Congratulations! You didn't die!" but rather a line straight out of the scriptures:
Managing some victory smiles post-race

"Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." 

A quote applicable to all of us every day of our lives, Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that each day is a preparation of the life to come, and our eternal home--Heaven--and we need to persevere through the tougher times, run with endurance and keep our eyes fixed on Christ!

I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon (somewhat begrudgingly), but duty calls and I'm off to keep training for another year in the mission fields! 

Peace and God bless!
Kelsey Marie

Thursday, May 17, 2012

To do: Tackle Year 1 of FOCUS. Check.

Next up: tackle another five-week session of New Staff Training (NST) in Champaign, Illinois! It's funny to think back to where I was a year ago -- probably happily smiling at customers in Metcalfe's Market, riding the old bike around downtown Madison trying to stir up trouble, or something like that. And now here I sit, in the St. Paul Newman Center in Fargo, North Dakota on a beautiful summer day, having a pretty clear picture of what's in store for me when I go to NST and not so nervous to jump into the unknown abyss of the U of I campus. What a blessing!
Fr. Cheney blessing Tim and Maria's engagement

Flying with Fr. Cheney for Jenne's last time!
This all means that my first year as a FOCUS missionary is officially over and I'm revving up for another exciting year as the only returning missionary to this campus. I certainly did not imagine that! With Lucas' help reservations for Fall Outreach are already made and it's weird to think that I'll be the only one who knows what this campus is like, and that I can't look across our office and see Tim watching funny YouTube videos or reading up on Canon Law, Lucas checking the latest news, or even look to my right and see Jenne looking adorable in her pearls.

Okay, now I'm getting a little sentimental, but truth be told, change has always been a hard thing for me to handle. I guess this is just good practice for oh, say, the rest of my life.

Caleb being super cute and Lucas being a great dad.
NDSU's finals officially finished last Friday, but I have the privilege of spending some extra time in Fargo. The large majority of the students are already gone, Jenne moved out on Saturday, and I have a big, empty apartment all to myself. Luckily the excitement has not dwindled and I've been spending ample time with friends, riding my bike, swimming in our apartment complex's pool for the first time, napping in the park with Josie and Steph, finishing up my newsletters (about that 15th of the month deadline...), crocheting and reading up as much as I can on relationships, seeing as I'm no longer on a dating fast! Weird. I'm not sure that I actually am excited about that, but let's be real, I'm a 23-year-old girl who desires to pursue her vocation more than almost anything else, and it's been quite the roller coaster of a year for me! With a lot of spiritual direction, conversations with Jenne, prayer and talking with other women, I've learned a lot about relationships this year, much more than I ever have in the past. The idea of actually having a relationship terrifies me, but I'm praying that the Lord will continually prepare me for His perfect timing, and that I'm never too stuck in my ways to learn something new, especially in this department! Lord knows I got lots to learn!

Enough of Kelsey's emotional life already. Wow, you'd think I was, a woman or something, with all these emotions just oozing out of me. Hmm, ironic. I just wanted to give a quick update with where I'm at and what I'm up to now. Currently I'm in the midst of cleaning out my apartment, moving our furniture into the basement of our apartment for next year, throwing/giving things away (which might be one of my favorite things to do, just ask Josie and Steph who were lucky enough to get half my kitchen the other night) and finishing up other odds 'n ends tasks that need to get done before I head home next Monday.

I appreciate any prayers for safe travels and please know that you are always in mine as well!

God bless you!
Kelsey Marie

Friday, May 4, 2012

The banquet went off without a hitch!

I just have to give a quick update:  I'm so excited about the end of the year banquet we just hosted for our students!! Jenne planned and coordinated the whole thing and it literally went off without a hitch. John LaBarbara with FOCUS came and gave a great speech on evangelization in the real world and I think our student missionaries are even more excited now than they were before tonight.

Oh, and did I mention that there are currently 106 student missionaries?!?! We started the year with 58! It was such a blessing to be at the banquet tonight with their parents and for them to see what their sons and daughters are doing to leave a legacy during their collegiate experience. Not many parents get to see this side of things!

I would write more, but I'll save that for a later date. However, if you would like to see a picture slideshow we put together to sum up the year, here it is. Enjoy!

Kelsey Marie