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mission remains mission.

mission remains mission.

The other day at work, I had a moment, if you will, when I thought to myself, literally, “dang. my mission totally looks different!” Let me explain.

 
Last Sunday, I had the great opportunity to Skype with Sr. Terezinha – my partner in crime, the Cabrini Sister that pretty much molded me to be the best missionary that I can be, given my circumstances of human weakness and frailty. Of course, she would always remind me, “Catalan, don’t look to me as an example. Look to Mother Cabrini. Wait, no – look to Jesus. Mother Cabrini would NOT like that.” When I think of missionary, really, I think of Sr. Terezinha. She brain-dumped so much wisdom and past experience from her over 50+ years in mission all over the world, to me, and I could not be more grateful for the ways she has influenced my life…so much, that still, I can hear her voice speaking to me, even though she’s in the Philippines! Such a gift it was, to be able to serve with her as my companion on our walk to Emmaus on the streets of Baguio-Benguet for the past two years.

Given that situation, it made me reflect on my mission experience (these moments tend to happen every day and pretty much every blog entry – thanks for listening) – what it is that I did, and spent my time doing during my two-year mission assignment in Baguio City at Save Our School Children Foundation, Inc. (SOSCFI). When people ask me what I did, I start to talk about my work in pastoral ministry – teaching the sacraments…preparing children for First Communion and teens for Confirmation, getting parents ready for Baptism and Marriage, going in and out of the schools teaching the students about how much Jesus loves them, how to serve others which in turn, will shape their communities and eventually the world :), jail ministry, facilitating the arts program…there was lots of work that I spent time doing, working alongside the people.

“Go where the people are.” That was one of our mottos.

/well…/

Now, I find myself back in an office. Yes, still collaborating with the community…with students, staff, and faculty, but the way in which I journey through my mission is different now. Looks and feels different, that’s for sure. For the past few weeks, I have loaded my brain with knowledge of HTML, how to handle different social media accounts, started training myself on website jargon and how-tos, and started to put together marketing plans for my work. Digging up my knowledge from my two years working for NAM, I started organizing myself and putting together different plans to increase the amount of activity at our hub for social justice. How can I spread the importance of service and gratitude?

Using my sales and marketing experience and discipline from my two years in business has served me well. Though I am working in an office (which I never really thought I would end up doing after working on the streets doing mission work), something feels different. Reflecting on it, I realized, I love the work I am doing right now – my intentions are no longer selling marketing ads (coupons!) to top grossing consumer packaged goods products, but rather, I am now marketing community service opportunities, assisting students in learning more about Catholic Social Teaching, providing meaningful experiences for students to think and act, locally and globally.

I realized, no, I may not be out there with the people, walking up and down the hills, journeying from town to town, jumping on and off jeepneys, asking the people where so and so lives, but my heart and intention remains…just in a different context: connect others with opportunities and assist in offering these experiences for horizons to broaden and worldviews to expand.

Yes, I have so much more of the world to see, but what it is that I have already experienced, what it is that I have seen, it is now my responsibility to share those discoveries with others. My mission was/is never meant for me to trek alone, and that mission was/is never meant to remain solely in my heart…but to be lived out and integrated…no matter where I go.

While I may be situated out of an office – I know my spirit is out there dancing and wandering the streets of the Philippines, making its way in and out of the communities. And I’m doing exactly what I should be doing at this point: living out my mission the best way that I can – because only I can do that.

Called to do the best I could, in the situation I am in, with the people I am surrounded by – it’s a good life. It’s all perspective. Though I am living in an entirely different context in every which way than what I have been used to for the past two years, one thing is for certain: I am called to be here.

And that,
is enough for me.

completely thankful

completely thankful

we are now on our way back to new york, and after our lovely time of celebrating thanksgiving with sr. grace, and sr. mary lou, michelle, mary and i were stuffed with turkey, stuffing, lots and lots of delicious desserts, yummy bread, and probably the best sweet potato dish that i had! oh soo good! there were lots and lots of marshmallows on it, and they were crunch on the top after they were cooked in the oven. oh so tasty!

it was wonderful to sleep for 12 hours every day we were there, and it was very much needed. it was awesome to have a beautiful thanksgiving celebration – intimate, not loud, very family-like, and have a inspiring prayer service that sr. christine marie prepared on gratefulness.

one of the highlights is that i am reading the return of the prodigal son by henri nouwen, and i found that as i was sharing that with sr. grace, she actually leads workshops on that book, and she told me that she had some prints of the actual painting which is also on the cover of the book…5 minutes later, she came down with one for me, mary and michelle! i LOVED it!! so excited to have one! so that will be added to my collection of inspiration. 🙂 anyway, the book is amazing, and it is already changing the way that i view things – particularly on trust and gratitude. how important gratitude is, no matter what is going on…it is so important! 🙂 oh soo good!

robin, a cabrini lay missionary, just picked up me, mary and michelle, took us to a yummy nifty fifty diner, and now we are on the megabus, going back to new york. the sister moves tomorrow, so we are going to go out tonight, and then i will go with her to drop her off at the airport tomorrow! crazy…how time moves. for real.

it has just been such a good thanksgiving celebration – really and truly. my heart has been moved while reflecting on the past few months, but especially just in every moment, i wish you could experience the great feelings i feel – any given time, they are, awe, inspiration, wonder, desire, gratefulness…just really good tihngs. of course, it is challenging, and missing family and familiarity is a common feeling, but at the same time, i know that where i am at, i am meant to be there. i know that how i feel, is natural, and it’s me, and it makes sense.

i am so thankful for where i have been, and for everyone who has led me to where i am now. every day has been a blessing, and i pray that i may continue to see this beauty all around me. even in the hard times, they are moments for growth, and moments for renewal. every day is a new day, and it is good. life.is.good.

lean on me

lean on me

…after waiting about an hour and a half, mary, michelle and i finally got on our megabus trek…and we are on our way to philly! woohoo! yup, goin’ out to see sr. grace and sr. mary lou…we love it! 🙂

coming back from new jersey this past weekend, only to repack and get ready for a thanksgiving holiday in philly. gotta love the travelling! tonight was stressful, not gonna lie. it was a situation where people were shoving, people were annoyed, and while we were trying to exert the strongest bits of patience, at the same time, it was quite unfortunate when there was no real system of how things were to run. and THAT was unfortunate and frustrating.

yesterday i had my meeting with my spiritual director, and it was wonderful! i told her about my past week’s experience with the exercises, and i told her some of the revelations i had…a revelation, a vision, just good moments. moments where i felt very close to the Spirit…such beautiful and blessed graces to receive, and so thankful to have received them. that’s for sure. and…drum roll please…i started my 19th annotation yesterday! i got my first scripture passages and exercises, and learned the first week’s theme…sin in the world. yeah, not so much warm and fuzzy anymore, but what better time, than now…right when it’s advent, to prepare the way? so excited! yay!

my mom sent us zucchini bread and crabs and empanadas. i love receiving packages! yay! 🙂 happy thanksgiving everyone! there is much to be thankful for!! 🙂 more updates to come.

life is good. smile lots, and love big.

phil 4:13

phil 4:13

The past three days, I had spent my time in malverne, Philadelphia (I don’t even know if that’s necessarily how you spell it!) As Cabrini Mission Corps, we were invited to the annual assembly, held by the missionary sisters of the sacred heart of jesus. Haha yeah, you like the long title? Well, for short, you can call them MSCs, or Cabrini Sisters. That usually gets the point and understanding across!

In a nutshell, my weekend was spirit-filled. Filled with the goodness of the spirit in the talks given by the speakers, in the reflections and discussions, in the one-on-one conversations with the men and women heading up their individual ministries, and most certainly in the unifying under the charism of Mother Cabrini. I can not begin to explain to you how great it was to sit at tables with such experience, and zest, and boldness – through the sisters and through other lay missionaries. These people have fully dedicated their lives to the missions set up by Mother Cabrini and to the mission that Jesus had paved for them. In the spirit of disponbilita, or, going wherever you are needed, just wow. There was so much in that room. It is a spirit of putting yourself last, trusting in the Lord, and relying on God’s strength to get you to where it is He wants you to go. Being guided by Mother Cabrini, the patroness of the immigrants, it is not surprising that many of the sisters receive proper documentation (travelling from country to country) with such remarkably fast turn around times!

Something that was really made apparent to me this weekend, truly, is the boldness and steadfast ways of Mother Cabrini. With any challenges she was faced with, boldly she went, believing and trusting in the ways of the Lord, knowing that while she was faced with resistance, there is a God that was bigger and there was a world full of missions waiting to be embarked upon. And so she went. And a hundred plus years later, these sisters are still at it…in Swaziland, in baguio city, Philippines, in Australia…all over the world. Talk about going wherever you are needed!

Another aspect that I would like to share is with the spirit of discernment. It is a common theme that has been resounding itself in my mind, heart, and soul, for the past months, and of course, this weekend, as I continue to explore the ways that God is working in my life. Discernment is making decisions, rooted in prayer – prayerfully making decisions – inviting God into those decisions, listening to ourselves, listening to our hearts. In essence, while it involves ourselves, it is also a surrendering process to God and His dreams for us. The key is – be ok with not getting clear cut answers when we want them, but trusting in the guidance of the spirit. We learned that with discernment, it’s always a choice between two goods…of course if there is an option that is poignantly bad, that is already thrown out and ruled out. With discernment, it involves deciding between two good things. The importance of reflection and trust in ourselves was really made apparent to me today. What is life-giving to me? Where will that fulfillment come from?

Tonight was especially blessed with the opening liturgy for the 19th annotation of the ignatian spiritual exercises that I began a week ago. Me and mary gathered at my spiritual director’s house, and we shared a mass in her living room, with about 10 other people, also going through the exercises, including their spiritual directors. Wow, such a beautiful mass, and so happy we got to make it back to new york ontime to attend. They pretty much waited for mary and I to get there, and then began the liturgy. It was such a blessing to share that space with great community. To be surrounded by others walking the same journey, with the same purpose of wanting to learn more about our personal relationships with God – community is so precious. It was in that room today, that I felt the Holy Spirit really moving within me. That is where my joy comes, and that is where the hyperness comes from too, I think. I get excited really easily, especially when it comes to talks about spirituality, and hearing about how the Spirit is moving in other people’s lives. It just makes God so real, and it is through people that God really makes himself known to me. oh, so good! I feel so affirmed, and so blessed to be called upon to join in this mission of spreading God’s love to other people. And with everything that is to come, may I be open. God is, indeed, a God of surprises!

My brother, my sister, I pray for you, and you pray for me. yay! Thank you for coming on this journey with me.

pick a flower

pick a flower

so there we have it…crystal was totally getting cabin fever, or convent fever, so as a result, i was like, girl, we need to get out. all i’ve been doing is eating, sleeping, and helping the nuns pack…and repeat. therefore, crystal had to get active or something. boom. so here we go…

we hopstopped how to get to the st. john neumann shrine. success! got there, after taking a bus for an hour, then we picked up a pamphlet and saw that there is a shrine of the miraculous medal and ironically enough, mondays are the big days at the shrine with many services held throughout the day full of novenas and benedictions.

sooo what do i do? call a friend and have girl get me directions. YUP. so we did it, then we made a friend on the subway who helped fill in some of the holes in the directions that michelle had tried to transcribe from the directions we got…then, we got there!! woohoo! so it only took a bus, to a subway, to a bus to get there…we were SO happy! it was such a sigh of relief, i mean, really, i definitely had my doubts!

so then we hung out there for a good chunk of time, and awesomely enough, made it there ontime for the 5pm service! yup. totally read that they had a service at 5pm, checked my watch and it was 4:56pm. PERFECTO. mary totally wanted us there. woohoo! so it was successful! then on our way home, we just did the reverse root…minor change is that on the last bus we took home, of course the trolley totally just straight up STOPPED. YUP. so we had to get off, and get on the one in back of us. haha totally made me nervous, but we got there nonetheless.

we walked home like 5 blocks, and had a delicious dinner and talked with sister ruth for a bit. what a great day it was! too bad i’m super tired, and dirty and sweaty. sooo worth it though! woohoo! yay for spontaneity, and for a girl who does NOT do public transportation, i would say i did pretty well. 🙂