by Jason Wilde
“Hey, I noticed y’all’s shirts say you’re Catholic Missionaries…”
Not exactly a quote I get every day, but nonetheless, it helps me get past my fear of encountering a stranger. The stranger was a lone fisherman sitting by his pickup truck on a quiet beach in Louisiana. We had walked his way and briefly chatted about the 30 lb fish that he caught moments earlier and then gave to a nearby family sitting on the beach. His bait now wet again and line taut in the waves, he called us over to tell us that he too was Catholic, that a relative of his was a Jesuit missionary who he thought ‘did some good stuff’, and that he liked seeing us walking around the beach with our kids instead of watching TV or something else.
As we talked, I noticed an interesting looking contraption made out of PVC pipe. As I stared at it sitting by his truck, he began explaining how some guys had once caught an 8 foot Bull Shark while standing next to him, waist deep on the sandbar about 100 feet from shore. This terrified the fisherman as he didn’t like that one of the most aggressive sharks was swimming just feet away. And so, he built this PVC contraption which ended up being something like an air-powered potato gun for frozen squid slugs that he tied to his line and then shot beyond the sandbar from the safety of dry land. It really was a genius solution that would have never come about if he wasn’t placed in such an uncomfortable situation.
“Are you an engineer?”, Jessica asked.
The fisher smiled broadly. “No, I’m a Cajun.”
There are two responses to fear - fight or flight. This man could have wrapped up, sold his tackle, and found another way to live, or he could continue to do what he wanted to do in the face of a trial. But in the end, he did something better - he chose to look at the trial as a way to spark something new and better.
One of our conversion moments came in India when we were also placed in an uncomfortable and possibly dangerous situation. But instead of saying that we’ll never travel again, we turned to God, and He told us that we should lean in to our fear, traveling for His purposes.
Sometimes God uses these situations to allow us to revisit our life, step back, and turn to Him for a better answer. It gives us the chance to really depend on His wisdom and providence to rescue us, instead of thinking that we are in control and can work our way out of the predicament. As we begin the Easter season and listen to stories of the early Church from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, we can really understand the uncertainty and fear that was going through the minds of these poor fishermen. Their Rabbi was crucified for His teachings, and they were next if they were caught. But the Risen Jesus changed all of this - He told them to put away their anxiety and do the opposite of what human reason would have suggested. He told them to go and be courageous. With no leader and no home, they boldly stepped out and God rewarded them with miracles of healing, preaching, and conversion. When they were forced out of the city walls, they didn’t scatter but instead camped out and shared everything they had with each other.
One of the biggest dangers of our modern lives is that it is too easy to depend on ourselves, to place our security in the hands of reason, technology and insurance companies instead of in God’s hands. It becomes impossible to see Him working in our lives, and therefore become closer to Him, when we are constantly looking for the human solution to any insecurity. Our Church is not suffering because of lack of religious freedom but because we have freed ourselves from needing God’s help and therefore have lost our witness of a life truly dependent on Him.
In the end, the fisherman’s solution was an inspiration to us...a witness of sorts...that went beyond his worldly needs. It taught us that we too need to give our fears and our plans to God and allow Him to give us the blueprints that we need in our lives.
The old man stayed all night, sleeping in his truck on the beach with his pole and squid cannon. Then as we watched him pack up his tackle and drive away the next morning, I couldn’t help but remember that St. Peter was a fisherman...
by Jason Wilde
I watched the scenery from the back of Padre Carlos' tiny hatchback on our way to Mass at a distant Puebla on a rainy Sunday morning. As we slid through the muddy back roads, I noticed that the scenery was changing. The rough, unfarmed greenery was slowly turning into flat, grassy ranches lands spotted with cattle and an occasional horse. Another 20 minutes later, Padre pulled his car up to a tiny little store and we made our way to the even tinier chapel perched on a hill on the other side of the road. The locals were just starting to arrive by truck and by foot, and I noticed that the men were relatively well dressed compared to other pueblas that we'd visited. Most had clean blue jeans, boots and cowboy hats; they were clearly ranchers.
The Gospel reading that Sunday was about Jesus as the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18). Padre Carlos was a very popular homilist, and he didn't let us down. He started by asking the men standing in the back of the chapel how they called their herds. We listened as each one whistled in his own unique way, and the crowd of about 20 people giggled each time.
"If I could imitate one of you"...(whistling feverishly)..."would I be able to call your cattle?", Padre questioned.
"No!", the cowboys all responded in unison.
"Similarly, then if Jesus is the 'Buen Vaquero', do we listen to His call?" Padre continued.
Everyone laughed and seemed to nod in agreement.
"....or do we also listen to others? Do we listen when strange gods call us - gods of money, drugs, alcohol, gossip, TV, internet...?"
The still silence was deafening.
I keep reflecting back on this homily as we stand on the precipice of another season of lent, trying to decide how we are going to prepare ourselves to receive the Good Shepherd whom we all claim allegiance to. But, we live in a world of gods: gods who are loud and in our faces, gods who all vie for our attention and for our support, gods who want us to follow them, to be like them, to reject all others. And while we might claim to only serve one God, in reality we all struggle with this, and unfortunately, our God is a jealous God. He doesn't like when we listen and follow the calls of those other gods:
Interestingly, when push comes to shove, it seems that the faith claims and institutions of one's political party generally trump those of one's religion.
Lent is a time to remove ourselves from the presence and grasp of those other gods. It is a time to clear away the noise that distracts us from His calling. Usually, this means we must sacrifice something that makes us uncomfortable so that we can feel His healing presence. Every year, I struggle to find 'what I should give up', but in reality, I should be working to free myself from the calls of these gods so that I can hear the angelic whistle of the Good Shepherd.
by Jason and Jessica
This powerful statement and our nation’s motto, though always controversial, seems to be something that we can always turn to in times of need. I mean, what else could give us a greater peace of mind than knowing that our Lord has everything in control, guiding us to our final destination with Him? I know that whenever I have faced a stressful situation, or have been worried about the health of my child, I am completely calm and collected, just falling down and telling God to take control.
Ok, so maybe this last part is a stretch.
One of the many little things that I’ve learned about myself throughout our formation here at Family Missions Company is that I am a control freak. I’ve survived much of my career by always trying to handle everything myself, knowing every answer, every solution, and every possible outcome. In chess terms, I like to always have an ‘end game’ in mind (Jessica still won’t play chess with me for this very reason).
When traveling, I had every logistic travel component planned down to the specific bus stop saved to a Google Doc on my phone, ready to be armed with it when we stepped foot on foreign lands.
But then we let God slip into our lives, and everything went haywire.
As we’ve shared before, Chi Yu’s adoption was anything but predictable. We never really knew what was going on until we received a frantic fax needing our signature before being sent back to China. And we really didn’t fully know his medical situation until at least six months after he had been home with us. But, from the first moment we met Chi Yu, his limb difference was not a disability for him. In fact, his limb difference is his greatest strength. Because of it, he is the most determined and energetic kid we’ve ever met.
But he did have health problems. His pancreas was not working properly resulting in poor growth. To us, this was his greatest need. We knew that it was God's will that Chi Yu was our beloved son. It was God's will that we were becoming missionaries. So we placed our trust in God that he would provide the means to care for Chi Yu in missions. We knew that there is no better place to be than in the center of God's will.
But when the reality of paying for God’s trust hit, it shook us. It turns out that Chi Yu's pancreas medicine costs $1000 per month without medical insurance. We frantically searched for every alternative possible - and still it would cost about $450 per month in Costa Rica. For a missionary family living Gospel poverty, this would use up all our financial resources quickly.
Many suggested that we tried medical insurance. We started with a very promising and morally-oriented Christian healthshare plan, and they denied Chi Yu from the start. Think about that - our orphaned foreign-born son was rejected by an organization that claims the same book that says “He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing.” (Deut 10:18)
Now don’t get me wrong - I am not downplaying the role or importance of any kind of insurance as a safety net for many people. But, I am concerned when it replaces the trust that we should be placing in our Savior, or when it replaces the standards of charity that we are called to live by as Christian witnesses. Many of the now successful insurance companies were at one time just an organization of brothers who decided to care for the least of them when times were tough. But somewhere along the way to modern day maturity, they have instead become financial contracts of trust and safety that we have all learned to depend on religiously (most literally) to replace the trust in God and our neighbor. I can’t help but think that placing the phrase “In God We Trust” on the very dollar bill used to buy insurance is a powerful image of this idolatry.
For three months, we prayed for a miracle. We prayed that God would provide the medicine at a low cost or do the impossible - heal him completely. We knew this was God's mission not ours so we knew He had a plan for us to care for our son and to go on mission. We just had to trust Him, which was extremely hard. To be honest, the complete trust wasn’t there - we also kept worrying and working on our own solution in the background.
(Jessica): Over our Christmas break, we took Chi Yu to his gastro doctor for his regular exam and she was pleased by his growth. When I asked her to order a test to see if his pancreas had started producing the missing enzymes, she hesitantly reordered it but wasn't very optimistic of any change due to his birth defect.
Later that week, we were at the movies when a trailer for The Miracle Season caught my attention. My heart leapt for joy at the hope that this would be our family's season of miracles. Then my flawed human nature set in and I started to doubt. Would we be able to care for Chi Yu in missions? Or would we have to go home, find Jason a job and rebuy everything we had given away? My heart sank. Were our dreams of being Jesus's hands in the world serving the poor coming to an end?
After the movie, I turned on my phone and saw a voicemail from his gastro doctor. His pancreas was now functioning normal, and now we could wean him off his medicine! God had completely healed him!
What is impossible for human beings is possible for God. (Luke 18:27)
We can’t but think that this was yet another lesson for us in this season of formation - that true faith and trust in God leaves us free to do so much more for His glory during our limited time in the flesh.
“Do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore. All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides.
Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Luke 12:22~34)
by Jason and Jessica
Eight years ago, we remember thinking that our study days were over. We probably had the (wrong) assumption that enduring over four combined decades of classrooms and earning five degrees allowed us to say that we knew everything that we needed to live our lives together.
As usual, God proves us wrong.
It has been 3 weeks since we arrived at Big Woods, Louisiana, and we have been spending a lot of this time learning about our faith and how it applies to us as missionary disciples. Every day, we spend time in prayer, praise and worship followed by studies of Acts of the Apostles, Mission of the Redeemer, teaching workshops, and Sí Señor classes. Sí Señor covers a multitude of topics specifically about missions including Serving the Poor, The Call to Holiness, and Arrival on the Mission Field. This week, Grace has even decided to opt out of the kids ministry and is now participating in all of the mission formation classes with us. Next week, she will be delivering her own Kerygma in our teaching workshop.
After lunch as a community, we have time to work on chores and the kids work on their homeschool assignments. Jason spends his afternoons fixing up a missionary house.
Thursday is our service day. Our assigned ministry is visiting a nursing home. We pray a rosary in the lunchroom and then visit as many rooms as we can before lunch. It is such a blessing for us to be able to meet, pray, and talk with the residents. Chi Yu’s exciting personality is a natural ice breaker, allowing many to open up and tell us about their own children. One beautiful lady couldn’t speak, but her face lit up when she saw Chi Yu. She pulled up her blanket and revealed her feet which were formed as uniquely and beautifully as Chi Yu’s hands. You could see the joy on her face to be around him and to share that cross with him.
Saturday is our work day, desert day and Lord’s Day dinner. We work on cleaning the community or on the various projects around our community. Grace joins Jason on Saturdays to help with the house. This is followed by desert day, two hours of quiet prayer in the fields around the mission house. It is a time of reflection, study and prayer. In the evening we dress up fancy, break bread as a community and celebrate our Lord’s Day in fellowship. The Lord’s Day dinner follows a traditional feast day celebration, which always began at sundown on the night before. We light candles, bless the bread, share it and give prayers of thanksgiving. Then we bless and share sparkling grape juice. Afterwards is a time for fellowship.
As for the kids, Brecklyn has formed a band called the Ukeladies. It consists of Brecklyn, Libby (one of the girls that lives below us in our house) and a wonderful single missionary named Rachel. They have performed several times now, and it is a joy to not only see her pick up another instrument but to get in front of the entire mission community to play. Alex is in little boy heaven with all of the new kids to play with. Chi Yu has made friends with all the missionary girls. His favorite is Shayna; he calls her China. Grace has fallen deeper in love with Jesus and is eager to learn all that she can about missions.
by Jason Wilde
Getting a degree.
Finding a wife
Finding a job
Buying a house
Having a kid
Getting a graduate degree
Getting a promotion and a raise
Buying a new car
Opening an investment account
Having another kid (or two)
Becoming a doctor
Buying a bigger car
Finding a bigger house
Losing 40 pounds
Feet in the Sand
Making 6 figures
Paying off the car
Not worrying about money, but thinking about it all the time.
Living the American dream
Then why is it that I sit in our empty bedroom, staring at the air mattress on the floor, feeling happy and at peace?
I had it all, a textbook success story. No worries, Life is Good, Golden Happiness...so why does it feel like such a relief to give it all up?
Tonight we opened our last bottle of wine - a bottle that had quietly sat on the top of our mantle for the past few years as a celebratory goal - a trophy that was to be enjoyed whenever we reached the threshold at which I could retire from my engineering career and...well...do something else. Little did I know that this "something else" would come so soon, and that it would involve literally giving up everything we had thought made us successful (except the kids and wife, of course). Would I have believed if I knew my next employer's benefit plan included eternal success in the form of forgiveness, mercy, and personal sacrifice? And would I believe that I willingly, joyfully, and happily did it all without second guessing myself?
So, here's to my failure in the worldly sense, happily conceded for the least of my brothers.
Here's to constant prayer for someone with an impossible sickness.
Here's to sacrifice so that I can provide clothes for someone else.
Here's to the fear that I must fight in order to welcome the stranger.
Here's to the sickness that I will feel when I see the hungry child suffering.
And sadness when I see the tortured prisoner from the other side of the bars.
For I know that eternal success lies beyond our flesh, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where my treasure is, there also will my heart be. (Mt 6:20-21)
by Jessica Wilde
Last winter, we spent a cold, cloudy day at the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. We visited the shrine, went to mass and walked along the sidewalk through the pastures on the outside of town where the first sightings of the angel and Mary took place. The kids joyfully skipped down the path before kneeling before each statue in prayer.
Afterwards, we went shopping. I found a statue of Our Lady of Fatima with the three shepherd kids kneeling in front. It reminded me of my kids and my hope that Mary was gazing lovingly over them just like she did the shepherd kids and her son, Jesus. The statue was huge! Well, it was huge for backpackers traveling around Europe with 3 kids in tow. It was a little over a foot tall; after the sales lady lovingly boxed it up, Our Lady took up my entire backpack. That night, Jason shook his head as I tried to jam all of my clothes into the other backpacks. But I was determined to bring my Mary home.
My Mary sat on our shelf through Chi Yu's adoption and our first year home with him. Then one day, I received an urgent email from my friend, Christina, asking to borrow a statue of Our Lady of Fatima for the Schoenstatt shrine’s altar for the 100th Anniversary feast day. I instantly felt called to let them borrow my beloved statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Christina’s friend, Garciela, picked up my Mary statue later that night. The next day, my friends texted me pictures of my Mary at the shrine. My heart blossomed with joy at seeing her on the altar surrounded with flowers.
"Our Lady of Fatima look so pleased and beautiful!!!" texted Garciela.
A couple days later, I texted Garciela to plan a time for her to drop off my precious statue. She texted me more beautiful pictures of my Mary on the altar.
Then Garciela sent me this text.
"I am at the Schoenstatt Shrine right now and Fr Jesus is asking if they can keep the image on the altar until Saturday?"
How could I deny Fr Jesus my Mary?
Of course my Mary could stay there another week! But I felt the Holy Spirit pushing me to give more. Before I knew it and with tears streaming down my cheeks, I was gifting my precious statue to the shrine because she was never just my Mary. She is everyone's Mary.
I replied. "This was a special treasure from our pilgrimage to Fatima. But I think Mary likes it there at the shrine. ;-) Please offer her to Father Jesus and ask him to pray for us and our mission to serve the poor."
After sending the text, I remembered my kids kneeling in front of Mary's statue in Fatima. I sobbed and fell to my knees in a puddle of tears. For the first time since adopting Gospel poverty and selling all of our stuff to become missionaries, my heart grieved. I did not want to let my Mary go. Jason pulled me into his arms and told me it was "probably for the best" because she would have likely been broken on our international move anyways. But my heart still hurt.
At that moment, Jason's friend Lucy, with whom he was sharing the news of our call to missions, texted us this message.
"That is so awesome to hear!! I know the Lord is going to multiply everything you are leaving behind. He will never take something away without giving you more back in return. I can't wait to see His power unfold in your & your families life."
My tears dried up as I drew strength from my hope in Jesus.
Later that week, Alex broke my special coffee cup that I wanted to bring with us on our Mission. I had bought it with my Grandma in Montana when I was a little girl. Again, I was sad and upset. In a flash, the hope I had acquired was gone and was replaced with despair. I couldn't believe that I had lost Mary and now this! In my frustration, I grabbed my phone and told Alex to freeze so I could text Jason a picture of Alex with my precious shattered coffee cup.
I was so caught up in my loss that I failed to see the big picture. I checked the photo before I sent it and saw the kids' "Jesus I Trust In You" journal sitting right there above the shattered coffee cup. It was as if Jesus was knocking me over the head saying don't store up treasures here but give it all to me. Trust in Me. Hope in Me. Once again my tears turned to dancing.
We had a garage sale at a friend’s house followed by an end of the year party for our co-op. My friend, Christina, who initially asked to borrow the statue for the shrine was there. She was very sweet and said if Our Lady of Fatima was that sentimental that they would save her for me or my kids. I was tempted to ask her for Mary back right away since my parents could keep her safe at their house. But this was my own selfishness and greed seeping out yet again. I pushed this desire deep inside and refocused on my faith in God's eternal treasures. I needed to put my hope, my trust and my faith in Him.
My Treasure Multiplies
"If you would like a visit from the Pilgrim Mother of Schoenstatt (traveling mother) I will be happy to bring her to you, so she can bring the graces from the Shrine to your home and help during this transition. 🙏" texted Garciela
I told Garciela that I would be honored. The next day Garciela brought the Pilgrim Mother of Schoenstatt over to visit me. We prayed the prayer on the back of the statue. I asked the kids for their prayer intentions. Grace prayed for our mission. Brecklyn prayed for peace in the world. And Alex prayed for us all to go to Heaven. Afterwards, Graciela explained the mission of the Pilgrim Mother of Schoenstatt. She told me the story of Deacon John Pozzobon, who carried the Pilgrim Mother of Schoenstatt over 85,000 miles by foot to visit people in Brazil.
I became a little donkey that went about carrying the Mother. (Deacon John Pozzobon)
I asked her if I could buy a statue at the shrine to share with people on our mission. Before I knew it, she was offering to let us keep this statue. She then started planning our training, commissioning and a blessing by the priest at the Schoenstatt Shrine later this summer.
While in my naiveness I had thought I had "lost" my Mary, God was actually multiplying her role in my life. Now Mary wasn't just a statue on my shelf but my responsibility. In the image of Our Pilgrim Mother, Mary is holding Jesus bringing Him to the world. Therefore, our family was to be her feet bringing Jesus to visit the poor, the sick and the imprisoned just like Mary brought Jesus when she visited her cousin Elizabeth.
We started consecrating ourselves to Mary every day and I realized that she did not belong to me but that I belong to her. I am her daughter and she is my mother. She has always been there for me and always will.
My Queen, my Mother, I give myself entirely to you, and to show my devotion to you, I consecrate to you this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my entire self without reserve. As I am your own, my good Mother, guard me and defend me as your property and possession. Amen
by Jason and Jessica Wilde
One of our family’s favorite movies of all time is Up, an award winning CGI animated film about an old man who suddenly decides that he must follow through on his lifelong goal of an adventure to Venezuela, in a very unconventional way.
In the movie, we meet Carl as a little boy who is scared of his own shadow just as he meets a very charismatic and daring girl, Ellie, who introduces him to a new adventurous world. They grow up reading stories of a famous explorer who shows off the wonders of South America, and from these stories, the young couple dreams of visiting one day. They get married, buy an absolute dump of a house, fix it up into a very charming abode, and then they get jobs at the local zoo - a pretty predictable and typical lifestyle. But they yearn to fulfill their dreams of visiting the picturesque Paradise Falls in South America, and so they set up a change jar, and add to their “Stuff I’m Going to Do” adventure scrapbook. Inevitably, every time the change jar begins to gain some weight, it is smashed open for life’s unexpected detours - a flat tire at first, then a broken leg, and a new roof on the little house. As they grow old together, they eventually fall into a routine and enjoy their lives together, until one day Carl finds their travel dreams again and decides to book flights to Venezuela. As fate would have it, Ellie falls ill and is hospitalized before they can leave, and so the journey never happens.
Every time I see this movie, I think of our own journey and our dreams, and the graces that God gives us to make it all happen. I think of how easy it is to get swept up in everyday life and to stop thinking about our dreams and our real talents to help people. It is too easy to dwell on the risks and put everything off, waiting for some magical day in the future when the stars will align and everything falls into place. It is in these times that we fall prey to the selfish vices which give us the temporary happiness that we all desire. But, you can’t let your dreams always be in the future, and you can’t let your graces serve only yourself. At some point in your life, your dreams have to happen now. Sometimes, this means you need a catalyst, and usually, you have to make a sacrifice.
As we celebrate the one year anniversary of Chi Yu’s ‘gotcha day’ (the day we signed his adoption paperwork in China), we have been reflecting on what exactly brought him into our lives. As we’ve shared before, it wasn’t a single reason, but a cascade of events and rocks that led to our decision to adopt.
The problem with being graced with the love of God is that it seems that you can never do enough - once we suppressed our own personal ambitions and began helping people, we couldn’t stop. Even as we worked and sometimes struggled to help Chi adapt and learn about his new home, we found ourselves still on fire, wanting to help everyone around us and show them the love and grace that God had shown us.
We took the kids to our local homeless shelter to hand out water and hygiene kits. We joined our local refugee services organization after watching the horrible stories of migration due to wars around the world. We advocated for the undocumented families who were stuck in limbo nearby. It truly seemed like a never ending struggle, but it was a struggle that we had to keep fighting because of the infinite grace we were given - a grace that burned like fire inside of us such that the more we helped, the more work we found.
But even this wasn’t enough. We continued to pray every day for an answer - “Where did He really want us to go? What was our next step - or where should we look for it?” Every homily and every tweet from Pope Francis seemed to make us break down and cry for the poor, the homeless, the neglected, the forgotten, and the mistreated. We felt that there was something bigger out there that we were destined for, but it hadn’t yet been revealed to us.
In this movie, the symbolism of dreams and personal desires is thick if you know where to look. Carl faces a dilemma when he is forced to leave the life that he had become so familiar with. This is something he had dreaded all his life, and a court mandated order is exactly the catalyst he needed to literally rip up his entire house and fly it to South America. He refuses to let it go, and so his house provides a vehicle to travel in. The story focuses on the house that he drags along, with all of his personal possessions and memories. He holds on to this house while it slows him down and keeps him from really succeeding or helping others. Along the way, Carl has to throw all of his memories and possessions out of the house in order to keep it afloat, and still it weighs on him while he tries to fight for his dream.
So it is with our own lives. How often are our dreams held back by familiarity and possessions? What would it take for you to give it all up? What if it was necessary to give everything to save your life? To save the life of your child? What about a complete stranger?
In the end, Carl finds that his dream wasn’t just to have an adventure and live a quiet life on the top of a picturesque waterfall, but to help his newfound friends. In a final moment of triumph against his lifelong dream of personal happiness, he has to sacrifice even the house that he so painstakingly dragged across the world. But this sacrifice is what sets him free and allows him to devote his entire self and all of his talents to helping the vulnerable (a dodo family, a friendly talking golden retriever, and a nervous boy scout).
How often do we find ourselves lamenting the problems of the world, and then doing nothing to change it? Can our possessions hold us back, making us selfish about our own safety and greed? Even worse, do we find ourselves like Carl, sitting on the front porch of our own property barking condemnation at anyone who comes within steps of our property line?
I Found It!
Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain, that I can’t control. I want more of you God. I want more of you God.
Our fire burned so strong that when we heard His call, we were ready to act without hesitation. When we found Family Missions Company, an organization that trains and sends out lay missionary families to share the Good News of Jesus and serve the poorest of the world, it was as if we found our lost coin - we rejoiced and held our own party celebrating how we found our joy. It was a joy that no lottery or prize could give us, a joy that is only matched by the little picture of Chi Yu on the adoption list. With a big smile of sheer joy, Jessica shouted “I found it!”
In our hearts, we knew this was the answer to our prayers. This was God’s call for our family and the answer to the burning fire that was consuming our hearts. While we knew this was our path, we still spent the next 8 months prayerfully discerning this call and working through the logistics of a foreign missionary life. Is this really God’s plan for us? How do we live without a salary? Are we ready to sell everything we own? Are the kids ready for this? But every time we asked, God answered affirmatively, telling us to stop worrying, give up everything, and follow Him. We became even more determined after we attended the week long medical mission trip in the Philippines and the Come and See orientation in Louisiana for potential full time missionaries. These hands-on experiences helped finalize our discernment.
The Wilde family has committed ourselves to working for the Lord. We are already in the process of selling everything in preparation for Intake training, which begins in September. We are looking for mission partners, sponsors, and prayer support. If you are interested, please follow us using the link in the sidebar on the right, or directly invest in our mission at our Family Missions Company page (a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization). We will be sending out updates on our mission periodically, including our foreign post location once we are assigned in December.
Praise God and God Bless!
by Grace Wilde
We all love St John Paul II. Many knew what it was like when he was alive, but, others like me have never known what he was like as the pope. He died 12 years ago. A lot has changed since then. But, his message still relates a lot to today's world with refugees, war, peace and dialogue. His message transcends time with its roots in the Bible and its continuation with Pope Francis. Let us look at his message and let it guide us in our everyday life.
War is a fun game right? Never in the world as Pope John Paul II said:
"NO TO WAR"! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity. International law, honest dialogue, solidarity between States, the noble exercise of diplomacy: these are methods worthy of individuals and nations in resolving their differences. “
(Address of his Holiness Pope John Paul II to the Diplomatic Corps, 13 January 2003)
Even today, many people think that war is the only answer to quickly solve a problem. But, war only causes death, hate and unbalance in the world. As Gandhi said, domination is not the answer either.
But if Gandhi says that domination is not the answer to war, then what is? The answer is peace.
"Peace is a value with no frontiers. It is a value that responds to the hopes and aspirations of all people and all nations, of young and old, and of all men and women of goodwill. This is what I proclaim to everyone, and especially to the leaders of the world."
(Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 Jan, 1986)
As Pope John Paul II said “Peace is a value with no frontiers.” There is not an excuse for peace. Peace causes love between enemies so they become friends. Peace causes love for the weaker, so they become rich in spirit. Pope Francis said:
“Many religious traditions contribute by promoting compassion and nonviolence and protecting victims of injustice. For that reason, I emphatically reaffirm that 'no religion is terrorist'" and the name of God can never be "used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war!"
(World Day of Peace Jan. 1 2016)
But if Pope Francis says that “no religion is terrorist” why not welcome all religions into our hearts? John Paul II said this as his Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees in 1996
“Today the trend in migratory movement has been as it were inverted. It is non-Christians, increasingly numerous, who go to countries with a Christian tradition in search of work and better living conditions, and they frequently do so as illegal immigrants and refugees. This causes complex problems which are not easy to solve. For her part, the Church, like the Good Samaritan, feels it her duty to be close to the illegal immigrant and refugee, contemporary icon of the despoiled traveler, beaten and abandoned on side of the road to Jericho (cf. Lk 10:30). She goes towards him, pouring "on his wounds the oil of consolation and the wine of hope" (Roman Missal, Common Preface VII), feeling herself called to be a living sign of Christ, who came that all might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). “
This message was given 21 years ago but, today it's the same. Today “the trend in migratory movement” as John Paul II said is still upside down. Refugees and illegal immigrants come to America searching for a job, and a home. The Bishops are advocating for the immigrants and refugees. In a letter they wrote, mirroring Pope John Paul II,
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as immigrants and refugees sought for a place to live and work hoping for a compassionate human response. Today this history repeats itself; this morning we visited detention centers and respite centers for mothers and their adolescent and minor children traveling with them. These centers are described as places of intolerable and inhumane conditions. There we heard the evangelical call: “Because I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was hungry and you gave me food…” (Mt 25:35-36).”
(Statement of the Bishops “The cry of Christ and voice of the migrant moves us” 2/15/2017)
But what keeps peace and welcoming hearts together? The answer is dialogue. Pope John Paul II said this:
In the spirit of solidarity and with the instruments of dialogue we will learn:
- respect for every human person;
- respect for the true values and cultures of others; respect for the legitimate autonomy and self-determination of others;
- to look beyond ourselves in order to understand and support the good of others;
- to contribute our own resources in social solidarity for the development and growth that come from equity and justice;
- to build the structures that will ensure that social solidarity and dialogue are permanent features of the world we live in.
(Pope John Paul II, World Day of Peace, 1 Jan 1986)
Today we still have problems with dialogue with each other. If someone is different some people do not talk to them. If somebody does not agree with other people, some people will respond with anger, tearing people apart. These instructions that St John Paul II gave us can start a peaceful dialogue between friends and enemies. Even Pope John Paul II teachings mirror the Bible which was written thousands of years ago. Colossians 4:6 says:
“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
The Bible and other sources might have made way for Pope John Paul II, but, Pope John Paul II made way for Pope Francis and the bishops. They did not know it but their words were supporting each other. So, now they can all speak to the world for peace.
Do not be afraid to take a chance on peace, to teach peace, to live peace...Peace will be the last word of history.
St John Paul II pray for us.
by Jessica Wilde
As 2016 comes to a close, I reflect on the tangle of mixed emotions we have experienced this last year. Obviously, we experienced tremendous joy when meeting and getting to know our son. When our kids bonded with him, our hearts overflowed. We experienced joy when seeing other families bring their adopted sons and daughters home. We felt loved by our village as they helped us adjust to life as a family of six. But through this joy, our eyes were opened to the deep sadness and pain that exists in our world.
There are countless kids in orphanages around the world who continue to yearn for not only the basic necessities for life but, most importantly, the love of a family. Kids are abused and neglected. War tears families apart. Hate keeps people from loving their neighbors, both foreign and domestic. Fear keeps many from even trying to help. But, it’s the everyday bullying and hate toward each other that astonished me the most this year.
"It’s been through our following the Lord in growing our family through adoption that we have experienced the most open, challenging and at times hurtful opinions from the world around us. There’s also nothing that makes my heart beat faster than having the world question my family or His call upon our family. I’m learning my response in these moments needs to always be first to refocus, rest in His call and stand…keeping my eyes up." (No Hands But Ours)
I keep my eyes up when I hear...
“He looks like T-Rex.”
“He looks like a deer.”
People have referred to our international adoption as “importing a need”.
“My family has two kids. We choose quality over quantity.”
I’ve been told that I “should hide his arms with long sleeves so nobody would know.”
Others just point and stare and then ignore him when he notices and tries to tells them “Hello”.
Some friends even stopped talking to me when they found out we were adopting internationally.
And the many racist comments…
One lady even put a soup bowl on her head and mocked Chinese farmers right in front of my kids.
I am a lover not a fighter, so these insensitive and hate-filled moments usually leave me tongue tied and heart broken. But, I’m learning to focus on what really matters - what the world thinks of our choice to adopt Chi, or what God thinks? What people think of Chi’s abilities or his potential, or how much God loves him just as he is?
Recently, our priest inspired us to look past the golden Byzantine icon of Mary surrounded by cherubs holding the infant Jesus. He suggested that we instead reflect and relate to her life as a Mother. She was not only criticized for being an unwed Mom but her heart was pierced with a sword every time her son suffered.
How did Mary handle all the hate and sadness in her life? How did she respond when she was ridiculed for being a unwed Mom? How did she endure the pain of watching her son suffered?
The answer is Faith. She had Faith in God and in His plan for her life and her Son’s life. So she stood by his side knowing that her heart would be pierced by the pains and hate her Son would suffer. But her love for Him kept her close to Him so she could help Him as only a Mother can with her presence. Sometimes that’s all a Mom can do. We can’t take away our kid’s pain but we can be there so they don’t have to endure it alone.
So as 2017 begins, I aspire to be more like Mary and put my faith and hope in God’s will. I will help my family learn to respond to all the hate they encounter on a daily basis with love and kindness. I will build up Chi Yu’s self esteem at every opportunity I get. I will teach my family to pray for those who have hurt us. I will continue to walk by my son’s side, and hold his hand through the good and the bad. I will remind him of all the many beautiful moments, and friendships in his life.
I will have him remember...
The beautiful little girl with golden pig tails who grabbed his hand, pulled him onto the dance floor, and became his first friend at church.
His friend, Josef, who is always the first to greet him at our co-op with a happy “ni hao” (Hello in Chinese).
The nurses who smiled at him as he kicked his soccer ball up and down the hall while we waited for his blood draw. They later said that watching his joy was the best part of their day.
The neighbors in our condo who told us that hearing our kids play outside is “like listening to the beautiful sound of birds chirping”.
The many people who stop me just to say that my “family is beautiful.”
Maybe my heart hurts like Mary’s did. And yes, I dread the day when Chi Yu will have enough English to understand all of these mean comments. But I realize that I can’t stop people from being racist or mean. I love Chi Yu so much. He is worth every sword to this Mama’s heart. He is beautifully and wonderfully made. He is my beloved son.
Now, if you’ve read this far, I have a New Year challenge for you. When you see someone who looks, thinks, or acts “different”, instead of staring, judging them, ignoring them, or whispering rude comments behind their backs, simply smile and say hello. It’s amazing how a simple gesture like this can brighten someone’s day.
There is no greater disability in society, than the inability to see a person as more. (Robert M. Hensel)
As for my family, I know He has more wonderful plans for our family in 2017. We just need to continue to listen with a prayer filled heart and not let fear get in our way of being God’s light in the world.
Happy New Year!
by Jason Wilde
“I'll pray for you.”
It's a phrase that is so common now, we don't even think about it.
Got the flu? “I'll pray for you.”
Going to be tested for a rare disease? “I'll pray for you.”
Tough test coming up? “I'll pray for you.”
Job interview? “I'll pray for you.”
In fact, reading through my Facebook feed, it is so common in some threads that it seems like the phrase “I'll pray for you” has just become another way to say “Good luck!”
Taking a weekend trip to your in-laws? “I'll pray for you.”
Feeling really down this week? “I'll pray for you.”
Got in an argument with me? “I'll pray for you.”
Taking all the kids alone for the weekend? “I'll pray for you.”
With all the atrocities in our world, it has even become common to pray for people that we've never met!
Your sister having is a baby? “I'll pray for her.”
Uncle going to rehab again? “I'll pray for him.”
That poor family sleeping at the gas station? “Let's pray for them.”
Babies being aborted? “We pray for them.”
So, let's say you actually *do* remember to stop for a minute and say a quick prayer…
“God, I pray that you could help that family who lost everything in a fire. They deserve better. Amen.”
Is that it? Is that all it takes to pray for someone?
This reminds me of a popular e-mail management style called ‘zero inbox’. The idea is that you keep your e-mail inbox empty at all times by immediately categorizing, tagging, and/or responding to all incoming e-mail as soon as they arrive. Create task (Pray for xx), write message to God (God, please help xx), send, and forget…awesome, now I can worry about the things that I can control, because I have faith and trust in God.
It also makes me think of one of those GodSpeaks billboards on the way to Lubbock:
So, where does this phrase come from? Psalm 55:22 is a popular, catchy verse, but a more insightful source is 1 Peter 5:7 - “Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.” But, in order to understand what this verse means, we must step back and understand the context.
This verse is the conclusion of a passage asking a Christian community to be humble and listen to their appointed Christian leaders and teachers:
So, the passage is about humility, and it says that only in subjection and humility should you give all your problems to Him. Humble yourself, submit yourself, be willing to do what God asks of you, and only then, let go of your problems.
You see, the problem with zero inbox is that, while it allows you to remove all worries and concerns from your mind, it is an “out of sight, out of mind” methodology, meaning that once you click 'Send’, it is immediately purged from memory, no possibility of immediate feedback. It is not an effective two-way communication method. Once you send your prayer, the only way God can respond is by catching your undivided attention again, and by then, you've probably forgotten what question he is answering, resulting in yet another “I'll pray for you.”
Prayer is a time to talk with God...but as in many of society’s problems, we forget that “The secret to talking is listening.” (We bought a zoo). Prayer is not the time for us to ask of God, but for him to ask of us. You can’t just simply ‘give’ your problems to God, because then in your mind, it isn’t your problem anymore, and you have removed the possibility of God directing you to a solution.
So, if any of the GodSpeaks marketing people happen to be reading this, you missed a vital part of the ad...it should say:
A similar problem exists when atheists attack prayer, saying it doesn’t help and doesn’t solve problems. Essentially, they have taken “I’ll pray for you” out of the equation. Now, an atheist could still go help a person in need and be doing His will without even knowing it - this is the beauty of God’s divine mercy. This atheist could be serving God’s people while a self proclaimed Christian has simply ‘prayed’ and moved on. But the problem comes when a person acts without listening to God, and in this way, that person becomes a god helping only those he feels worthy.
So, the next time you promise to pray for God to help your friend who has pneumonia and is dealing with her 2 kids while her husband is on a work trip, try asking God for an answer, and listen. Maybe instead of prayer-mailing someone else’s problem on God and then running off like it’s the weekend, you will hear God’s response, which could very well be “Well, are you going to help?”
There are many problems in our world, and yes, we should pray for every single one of them. But, remember that prayer should invite a response from God that can change us and help us solve the world's problems, one prayer at a time.
On a Mission
Two passionate parents and their four children are excited to bring His Word to everyone in need while living a life of Gospel poverty as missionaries. They invite you to join them on a journey to encounter our global neighbors that Jesus commands us to love through works of charity and service.