Saturday, June 30, 2012

It's over already?!

Yes, that fateful day has arrived. This year's much-anticipated New Staff Training has officially ended after some intense spiritual and personal formation, many great memories, shared laughs and newly formed friendships. I know that I myself had an amazing time and right when I feel like I'm getting the hang of this, it's all over! I distinctly remember feeling this same way last year, too. (Have I mentioned before that I don't deal well with change and transitions?)

I know a few things for certain: 1) I am so blessed to be a missionary. Recently I was talking with another mish (missionary...abbreviated) and realized that if I wouldn't have answered this call to FOCUS, the number of people I know would be far fewer! As in, over 500 people fewer, with missionaries and NDSU students combined! What the heck?! That's insane. 2) God is good to us, so so good. It's so encouraging to see the amazing things he's doing through all of us all over the country, and hearing other missionaries' stories this summer really pumped me up to go back to Fargo and get back at it! And 3) I'm not just tired, I'm exhausted. I think it's a sign that I really need to start working on saying yes and no to people more prudently. I've improved at recognizing opportunities to say no, and sometimes I feel like taking 20-30 minutes alone each day is enough, but I just don't that that's gonna cut it in high-emotional and high-relational situations like this! And just because I recognize the situation does not mean that I respond as I ought. You could say I'm guilty of not taking the best care of myself all the time. I l-o-v-e quality time with my friends, but when I can't have quality time with Jesus because I'm so tired from expending my energy everywhere else, there's probably an issue there.

Conveniently, pertaining to my self-inflicted truth number three, tonight at 7:30 pm begins an eight-day Ignatian silent retreat. I remember hearing about it last year and thinking to myself, "wow Kelsey, that is exactly what you need." And then when the sign-ups came around near the end of the school-year I chickened out, thinking I didn't have the time for it, until a wonderful Fr. Kevin Dyer sent me a message telling me to really consider giving it a shot. It's as if he read my mind because although I hadn't signed up, I still really wanted to, I just didn't have somebody to say, "DO IT." So, I signed up and have been looking forward to it ever since.

And you know, it's so funny how this whole "FOCUS" situation works out, I'm still asking myself how I feel about it. Wonder what I mean? Here's how one ends up in a current situation similar to mine, along with the other 350 missionaries (and that doesn't even include all of those who came and left staff before us!):
All on the same interview weekend and still great friends! I love these girls!!
  1. Answer the call (a.k.a., apply). This is pretty straightforward. Jesus Christ worked his way into the depths of your soul and wrapped himself so intricately around it and has now given you the urge to "go make disciples of all nations." Through prayerful discernment you understand that he's calling you to be a missionary, and you think it might be with FOCUS.
  2. Interview weekend. This is really where your adventure as a missionary begins, whether you get hired or not (since we're all called to evangelize, by virtue of our baptism...). You meet other Christ-centered people, hear their stories during their five-minute testimony about how Jesus Christ changed their life and why they want to change others'. Common side-effects of interview weekends include but are not limited to: being filled with joy and/or excitement about a potential call to this ministry, making friends that you actually keep in touch with, and falling more in love with the mission. (It also doesn't hurt that you get to have great meals, stay in a nice hotel and get toted around from place to place without having to really lift a finger. Thanks, FOCUS HQ for picking up the tab.)
  3. New Staff Training. After receiving the external call that yes, you should be a missionary with FOCUS, you prepare yourself for five weeks and probably don't know what exactly to expect. You begin gathering names, addresses and phone numbers for potential mission partners, and when the time comes you show up in the heart of the Midwest--Champaign, Illinois. You pull up to the front doors of the St. John's Catholic Newman Center and are greeted by a healthy number of other missionaries who just cannot wait to help you get in and get settled (and for you to move your car so other people arriving can park on the street). You watch as the second-years and above reunite with their friends, many of whom they haven't seen in a year, and ask yourself, "will that be me next year??" You're whizzed through a registration line and confusedly make your way to get your things to your room, probably with the help of one or two other people. If you have roommates you meet and analyze them, knowing that Jesus Christ was the one who brought you both here. After unpacking your few belongings and making a home out of your dorm room you get ready for the next five weeks. You're rushed from place to place, holy hour to class, class to lunch, lunch to MPD and MPD to Mass, Mass to dinner with your colleges, dinner to formation, recreation or more MPD. On the nights you're feeling up to it after all that, you can hit up Murphy's and grab a beer, or another favorite, Cocomero for some frozen yogurt. Throughout the course of the five weeks you're emotionally, spiritually and intellectually filled up, so much so that it begins oozing out of you and after settling in with a few good friends, they're ripped away from you and everybody rushes off to their respective homelands. That's the part with which someone like me, who loves relationships and quality time, has the biggest bone to pick. You meet tons of great people who you literally feel like you've known your whole life, begin sharing life with and loving the crap out of them, and then whoosh! gone. Gone like Elvis and his mom. 
  4. MPD (Mission Partner Development). That's right, you get to go home and work, work, work. Phone-calling, meeting up with people and trying to raise a salary that will provide for your needs for the following year! And you have a little over a month to do it. If you don't do this, you can't do #5. There's some motivation.
  5. Campus. The time has finally arrived where you can no longer just talk about going all the way to North Dakota, Florida, Arizona or Vermont--you actually go. This could arguably be where the real adventure begins, but take my position as you will with the beginning being the very application process. Being on campus involves too much to put in here, and seeing as I've only experienced one campus I'm a bit biased as to how smoothly it can actually and does go. I'll leave the rest up to the imagination for now, but as a first-year missionary you certainly get pushed, pulled and stretched in ways you didn't know were physically possible. Before long the last weekend of May rolls around and you know you get to go back to NST and start all over again, reuniting with old friends and making new ones. What a roller-coaster.
Have I mentioned how much I love being a FOCUS missionary? It's a lot. And for those of you who don't know me very well, when I love something a lot, I want err'body to love it with me, ergo, blog post. I'm off to my last social meal before the silence falls! I won't be using the internet or my phone for the next week so if you need to contact me leave me a message and I'll call you back on July 8th! Please pray for me and that I can be open to any graces the Lord desires to shower upon me! Thank you, and God bless,
Kelsey Marie


  1. They need to make a little thingy so I can give you a "thumbs up" symbol on this entry :) Only one more week!!!!!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Kels :)
    Hope the retreat is wonderful!
    Can't wait to hear about it.

    love you.