"It is you, dear young people, who must show that faith is a personal decision which involves your whole life."
-Pope John Paul II

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Brownies and Bible studies and....banana smoothies! Oh my!

Ok, so the banana smoothie was a bit of a stretch, but I couldn't think of any other alliterations... :)

This past week has been good. Still busy and pretty crazy, but definitely good. We still haven't quite gotten a rhythm down to our schedule (whenever I say "we," I probably mean my teammate Melissa and I). Hopefully getting our Bible studies scheduled will make next week a little more "normal." I put normal in quotes, because I don't know that there will ever be a completely typical day as a campus missionary, but I guess we'll just have to see! :)

Last weekend was our second Mass on campus. FGCU doesn't have a chapel, so we have the service in a meeting room in the Student Union. It's a little interesting sometimes, but I'm glad that we are able to have Mass on campus. One big challenge is that Mass is Sunday nights at 9:00, and the building is supposed to close at 10, so we're supposed to be cleaned up and out by 10. Riiiiight.... Last year they were able to get the closing time changed to 10:30, so hopefully that will be the case again this year. We don't want to cause trouble, we just want to praise Jesus! :) Apparently a lot of the students go hang out at a restaurant after Mass a lot of the time, so we'll have to do that tomorrow.

Monday was the first Devo Dinner of the year. Devo Dinner is the Newman Club's weekly Monday night dinner. They have free food, play some games sometimes, and have discussions or talks. (For anyone with UE Newman connections...I felt right at home having Newman dinners on Monday nights!) The only thing is, again, we don't have a space on campus, so Devo just happens in a common area. We had to share the area with the Tennis Club—because it was raining and they couldn't play out on the courts, they'd decided to come in and play ping pong...I guess that would be table tennis. It was a little crazy, but we still got to play a good "get to know you" game. I learned a lot of names that I hopefully won't forget!!

After dinner I went on a Wal-Mart run with one of the students. Can you believe that the nearest WalMart to campus is 20 minutes away?? And the Target that is a mile away from campus isn't 24 hours... Crazy. I mean, I know I'm not exactly in a college town, but the university does have 12,000 students.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday all looked more or less similar. Daily Mass and prayer in the morning. (I don't think I've mentioned that yet, have I? That's an everyday thing, and a really important part of our ministry. It's hard to feed people if you aren't being fed yourself!) Lunch with a student or two or four. (And a Jamba Juice smoothie—with banana in it—with a student...gotta get that in there!) Back to the house in the afternoon to do administrative work—it's really built up in the past few weeks! In the evenings, we had Bible study intro meetings. The idea was to get together all the women who said they were interested in joining a Bible study, have them get to know us and each other better, and figure out times when they could meet on a consistent weekly basis.

Good idea, right? It seemed like it, and I think it was good, but we didn't have a very good turnout. So that means lots more follow up phone calls this weekend. Personal invitation really does make a difference, so hopefully all of the voicemails that I've left in the past week and a half are making some sort of impact! The meetings that we did have went really well, despite the low attendance. We also talked to quite a few people who are interested in Bible study, but couldn't make any of the meetings last week. (Sorority rush takes up a LOT of people's time...) So hopefully we'll have good turnout to our Bible studies that are starting up next week. And even if we don't, I know that God will put the people there that need to be there, and we've got the whole semester to grow and add more students!

Remember the cookie handout we did last week? The same group came together this week in the freshman dorms and baked brownies to hand out to people! It was a lot of fun again. And as hard as we tried to remember to bring everything, we still forgot lots of stuff. Measuring cups? Who needs them? Mixing bowl? That's what that big cooking pot is for... :) But at least we had pans and oven mitts this time! The group is now Facebook official, and one of our friends is working on making it an official registered student organization so we can get money from the school to bake things to hand out! This group has been—and I'm sure it will continue to be—an awesome way to get to know more students and to share life with them and to witness Christ's love to them! And we get to eat dessert while we're doing it!

I actually remembered to document that evening, so here's a look:

I'd bring you a brownie if I could....but we gave them all away!

Sunday, 29 August 2010


Hello everyone! I'm sorry it's taken so long for me to get a blog up and running, but here it is! It's been a busy three weeks, that's for sure. It's hard to believe I've been in Florida for that long, and at the same time, it seems like I've been here much longer than that!

Because FGCU (Florida Gulf Coast University, in Fort Myers) is a new FOCUS campus, for my teammate Melissa and I, the first few weeks have really been just figuring out the campus, and the area, and our living situation. (We didn't have water for the first two days we were here, it took another few days for us to be able to get past the gate of our subdivision without it being an issue, and we FINALLY got our wireless internet up and running today—oh, make that yesterday...it's getting late!) We've been hanging out with Newman Club members (Newman is the existing Catholic student club on campus) and meeting as many students on campus as we can. Making connections early in the semester is key, and it can be a challenge to do if you haven't even completely moved into your house yet...

Speaking of our house, though... Melissa and I have been blessed with a house to live in that was bought for us by the Diocese of Venice. In all honesty, I didn't really ever in my life expect to live in a house this nice, much less right after I graduated from college....and even much less as a missionary! We moved in to a fully furnished house, right down to towels in the closet. As I said, such a blessing!

I've uploaded a video tour of the house:

(Just in case that decides to be finicky, though, here's the link on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCfbAfBSPjE)

~ ~ ~ ~

Let me give you a little glimpse of what the past week or so on campus has looked like:

Last weekend we did just about all of the freshman Week of Welcome events that we could, including a photo scavenger hunt around campus, casino night, and a pep rally of sorts for athletics. (We even got free t-shirts...they say class of 2014, but hey, I'm not complaining!) We met some pretty awesome freshman there, and were able to tell some of our new friends (who we found out were Catholic) about Mass on campus.

Monday we spent the morning trying to sort out some logistical stuff on campus (parking, whether or not we'd be able to get campus ID's, that sort of thing). We sat down with two girls for lunch, and had a good conversation with them. Hopefully we'll all be going to the gym together this week to do some sort of fitness class together!

Later that night, Melissa and I decided we were going to just go into one of the freshmen dorm kitchens and start baking a bunch of cookies and handing them out to people. It was awesome! Actually, it didn't start out that way, because we forgot to bring cookie sheets or oven mitts, we just had cookie dough and an oven. So we called up a few of our new friends, and scraped together something to bake on, a t-shirt to use as an oven mitt, and even some cups and milk to go with the cookies. We ended up meeting SO many people (apparently you could smell cookies all throughout the dorm and people would wander in, and who can resist a free cookie??). We've actually made plans to make this a weekly event. It's facebook official and everything! :) It's amazing how God can use a few boxes of cookie mix to set up that many divine appointments, though. It will be great to see what happens throughout the year with that group!

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we had tables set up on campus to get the word out about FOCUS and Newman Club. We had a really awesome response (and it didn't hurt that we had a raffle going on for some pretty sweet prizes...), but it was great to get to meet even more students, and tell people about Mass on campus, Bible studies, conference, and other events that we'll have going on throughout the year.

This weekend has been trying to play catch-up (and not doing too great of a job...) with all of the things that we hadn't had time to do around the house for the rest of the week. We've also been following up with people who were interested in joining a Bible study. This coming week we will be meeting with people and trying to set up times when we'll actually be meeting for study on a weekly basis. (We made a little time for ourselves, too...the beach is only 20 minutes away....)

I'll be glad when we've got everything set and things will start to get a little more "normal." (I'm pretty sure that "normal" won't ever really be a good way to describe this lifestyle...it's intense, and there's a lot of stuff that comes up that you just can't plan for. But it's been GREAT so far!)

Well, I'm sure there's a lot more that I can tell you about, but it will have to wait.

If you would pray for me though, I'll give you a short list!
•Pray that I use my time wisely, prioritizing the things that need to get done right away, and leaving less important things for later.
•Pray for the students at FGCU, ones that we've talked to already, and ones that we haven't yet talked to, but that God will put in our path later. Pray that they are able to see themselves as unique and special, and loved as a son or daughter of the Father.
•"...and also for me, that speech may be given me to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador, so that I may have the courage to speak as I must." (Ephesians 6:19-20) And that I continue to grow closer to Christ so that I can in turn draw others to Him, too!

If there is anything that I can pray for you, please let me know! I'd love to do that for you!

I'll leave you with a photo I took from my backyard at sunset today. The clouds here have been beautiful just about every day (even though it's rained just about every day...)

God is good!