by Grace Wilde
Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions. (Luke 12)
Have you ever been to the store? There is extravagant stuff everywhere, welcome signs, craft ideas, then you spot a beautiful dress. You already have millions of dresses but this one is just unique. So you buy it. This simple act sounds normal, but it is not. Buying extra things is the feeding of the brain with material stuff not the educational, spiritual, and foundation of life kind of stuff. This is not silly, not crazy, this is consumption.
Adam and Eve - Consumption brought sin into the world!
Where did consumption start? Believe it or not consumption brought sin into the world.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 3)
You see Eve was tempted by the devil with a sneaky trick. The trick of consumption. She was first asked what the tree was about. She told him. The devil states that God is wrong. He convinced her that the fruit actually was a mystical, delicious, powerful fruit that made you more powerful than God. She ate it and gave it to Adam, but it didn’t make her happy. It made her as miserable beyond miserable. In this simple act, she brought sin into the world. The devil tries to do the same thing today. He tempts us into his lies of consumption.
Earth - Consumption brought sin into the world and may end it!
Let’s say a new computer comes out. Every one in a city hears about it. Many people already have a computer, but this one is even better. So, everyone buys it. So, all of the old computers fill up a dump. This is a example of how something may seem awesome, but it trickles back to a dump. Think, 1.5 tons of trash are wasted a year per person. Now, there is billions of people in the world. So, the whole world wastes 1,110,000 tons a year. How much would change if we didn’t over consume?
Joy - Not the joy of things
Let's say you have a chocolate bar and you eat it. Does this give you joy? That joy will only last for a minute. The same thing happens with a phone. What is real joy? Real joy is the joy that can stick to us for days; the joy that will last forever. The answer of this desire is Jesus. Jesus is the joy that sticks to you for eternity, not the material possessions of this world. Jesus fills me with joy everyday in receiving the sacraments, spending time with my family, singing praise and worship songs, caring for the poor, reflecting on His word during desert day, praying at adoration, attending Mass, and observing his creation (grass, trees, flowers, mountains, dirt, air, stars, the moon, the blue sky, snow, rain, the sun).
Each encounter with Jesus fills us with joy, with that deep joy which only God can give. - Pope Francis
When we open our Christmas presents on Christmas day let us remember that the real present and the real joy is Jesus. So, let us go out this Christmas to love one another and not things.
You weren't created just to consume resources, you were put on this Earth to make a contribution. - Mother Teresa
by Grace Wilde
Thanksgiving in General Cepeda is fun. We invited everyone we met in General Cepeda to a gigantic feast that we serve. The feast was delicious. But, afterwards I was very tired.
To prepare for the feast, they put 5 turkeys in the pila to defrost. (The pila is an empty fountain where we brush our teeth.) On Thanksgiving, we worked all morning on cooking and setting up. We worked on the decorations. We set up little bobble head turkeys at each of the tables. We also wrapped up silverware in napkins. We made a poster that said all the things we are thankful for in Spanish. We also helped peel potatoes - enough to fill a bag that was bigger than Chi Yu!
When the people arrived there were two shifts, so once you were done eating you took over someone else’s job. There was a greeter who greeted people and counted how many people came. By the end, around 250 people had been fed. Then they were seaters. That was our job. We were supposed to lead people to empty seats in the mission house. Then there were people who served drink, food, and dessert.
When it was time for us to eat, the food was delicious. But, my favorite food was the desserts. There were chocolate cake and brownies. There were also pumpkin muffins!!! I had a pumpkin muffin and it was delicious. It had chocolate chips and raisins in it!!
Thanksgiving was really fun and General Cepeda was awesome. I was very sad when we had to leave, but, I look forward to Costa Rica.
by Grace Wilde
For if I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! (1 Cor 9:16)
You all know by now that we are becoming missionaries. We are all so excited, but, many of you may ask, have we thought through this? By the time we leave we will have discerned for 1 year. Yes, even us kids have discerned. But still what do us kids think about this? Why did we choose to be missionaries for Christ? Here is how I got to this conclusion.
Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to be a missionary and love God and others. The first book I ever remember reading was the Bible. I kept on saying I wanted to be a nun. But, I thought kids could not do the job of a religious nun. Little did I know that they could with their family.
My mom kept on telling me about the refugees and the other afflictions of the world today. She kept on saying we should pray for them. I wanted to help them. It was hard to think of those struggles in the world today and not wanting to help them. As Mother Teresa said
Soon, we just had to do something so we decided to fulfill the dream we had had for ages, to adopt. We started the adoption process as many people do. We started looking for a baby girl who fit our abilities. We were surprised in the end to have chosen a little boy named Hong Yu Chen. We had seen he needed a home for long time and were surprised that God had chosen him. We finish a lot of paperwork and got him June 11, 2016. We named him Chi Yu and he is a joy in our home today. I love him very much. But, we were still missing something.
Like the Good Samaritan, may we not be ashamed of touching the wounds of those who suffer, but try to heal them with concrete acts of love. - Pope Francis
We like many people wanted to keep on adopting, but, God had other plans.
Then we found it! One day my mom Googled family missions and found FMC. We signed up for a short term mission. Then, exploring the website she saw that it was full time as well. I knew this was our call and we started discerning.
Why did we choose to be missionaries for Christ?
God called me to be a missionary. I loved God and his people from the beginning. I can’t bear to see and hear the suffering of them. So I go out in the world from now on to help them like the first disciples at Jesus’ command. God may still call me to be a nun when I grow up. For now I am happy just as I am, as a Missionary for Christ.
by Grace, Brecklyn, and Alex Wilde
While we were on our mission trip in the Philippines, we helped in a village called Isla. Isla is a beautiful little farming village where the people spoke Vasayan. The houses are made of braided bamboo. Some of the people ate a simple meal such as rice. The roads are made of dirt, so when it would rain, it would get very muddy and slippery. Two days before the Bible study started, our friend Irene, from Isla, invited us to teach the kids from Isla a song for the children’s ministry. We decided the song should be a VeggieTales song called “I’ve got shoes”. The lyrics to the song are:
“I’ve got shoes, you've got shoes, all of God’s children’s got shoes!
When I get to Heaven gonna put on my shoes,
I’m gonna walk all over God’s Heaven, Heaven, Heaven!
Everybody’s talking ‘bout, Heaven, I’m going there, Heaven, Heaven, Yeah!"
We ran in the rain to a big pavilion by a church for the Isla Bible study. It was very muddy from the rain, and dark so it was hard to get there. This is what the pavilion looked like: There were wooden rooms with a space for doors, benches all around the edges and at the back of the benches were short walls. After a while more people came. Irene said that not as many people would come because it is so hard to get there in the rain.
We started dancing and singing to some fun Christian songs. One of the songs was called: “I wanna be a sheep ba ba ba ba”. Another song was called “This little light of mine”. Everyone was dancing and singing together. Some of the kids, including us, were running around in circles, while everyone else ran around us. The kids were then assigned to go to a separate pavilion with two nursing students, and Irene and her husband, Ricky. That was were the children’s ministry would be.
It started with us teaching the kids the VeggieTales song called “I’ve Got Shoes.” We taught all the kids how to act it out with movements. After that, we told them the story of Jonah and the whale. Irene's husband acted it out. Everyone laughed when Jonah,got eaten by the whale. He covered his head with a towel when he pretended to get eaten by the whale. Everybody was saying “Whaale, whaale.”
Afterwards, we asked them questions about the story. Some of the questions were “How long was Jonah in the whale?” and “What did Jonah say to the people?” Next, we sang another song called “The Banana Boat Song.” After that, we asked them if they wanted the next story to be David and Goliath, or Noah. Everyone said Noah, except two kids. One of them said David, and one of them said Goliath. But even though mostly everyone wanted Noah, Irene decided that the story should be David and Goliath. Alex acted out David and Ricky acted out Goliath. Then we asked some questions about David and Goliath.
Then Irene gave out bread to the kids as a special snack. Some of the bread had spices. Some of them were plain, but the best ones were the ones filled with cream. Everyone loved them.
The best part about it all was when we gave some of our own stuffed animals to the kids as a present. Our friend, King, got Snoopy Small, which was a small snoopy that had a shirt on. His sister, Princess was given a stuffed animal Ballerina, and our friend Drizzle got Moosy, a puppet moose. King did not want his stuffed animal, so he traded his stuffed animal for Spotty, a dog with spots and bows on her ears. Princess got Ballerina bear, and she carried it everywhere she went. Everyone loved their stuffed animals.
When we were finished, everyone ran back to the big pavilion and played the attack of the stuffed animals. Alex asked one of the kids what he named his stuffed animal that was a Texas Tech monkey, and he said that it's name was Walla. King and his cousin taught us a handshake that was really cool.
And then we went back with our friends to Canossa. But, our friend Lolei had not come to the bible study, so we gave her our big Snoopy, (it was already like she was owning it because she loved to play with it!) She loved Snoopy so much, that when we gave Snoopy to her, she asked us “It’s mine? Really?!”
Giving our stuffed animals to people fills us up with unexplainable joy. It is the virtue Joy that just stuck to all of us. Joy is one of the best virtues ever, and it seemed to stick to us for the rest of the week, it seemed to never come off. The Joy helped us through the rest of the week to do the impossible.
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 Jason and Jessica Wilde
Today, we learned from Chi Yu’s geneticist that he does indeed have Duane’s Radial Ray Syndrome, a flipping of one of his genetic indicators that typically causes limb differences, problems with eye muscles, pancreas and kidney issues, and in some cases, heart defects. While this official diagnosis wasn’t really a surprise to us since he has most of the symptoms, it was the doctor’s follow-up questions that caused us to step back.
To start with, his specific genetic variant is slightly different from the typical case. The doctor was particularly curious about this difference and said it may be due to the lack of cases from Asian backgrounds in the genetic database. She then asked if we would consent to his case being used as the subject for a medical paper. Naturally my response was “Sure, why not if this could help someone.”
While waiting on the doctor, I received this text from my eldest daughter, Grace.
While seemingly unrelated, I thought it was a good quote and wanted to post it on Facebook. But like a good investigator, I did my research and looked up the quote. It comes from Saint John Paul’s mass at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC in 1979, where he spoke at length on the sanctity of human life and family.
“When Chi Yu decides to have kids, it will be a ‘flip of the coin’ chance of his child having this same condition”, I was told. The doctor casually explained all of his ‘options’. He could do selective in vitro fertilization. They could test the embryos for this before implanting them in his wife’s womb. Or, they could do amniocentesis to test for this condition after the baby is conceived…and then what? Lastly, almost as an offhand comment, he could do nothing about it and flip the coin.
We chose a child with a special need. His special need is just one small part of the amazing person Chi Yu is. It doesn’t make him less. It doesn’t make him unworthy of life. When his wife falls in love with him, I pray that she falls in love with everything about him, including his disability. It is a part of him as a human being.
And then I think back to the medical paper. Would it be used to help predict this condition and be a reason for a mother to abort her child? Or how could you choose which embryo gets to continue living based on an indicator for a physical disability? Why would this kind of discrimination be any different from racial, religious, gender, or poverty discrimination? These are all equivalently an attack on life.
The interjection of a random text from my daughter had a purpose. At first it seemed unrelated, but after researching the context and praying about it, her text was a gift of wisdom in that dark moment. God’s Word through a Saint’s intercession is timeless. The issues that Saint John Paul spoke against almost 40 years ago - racism, discrimination, attacks on the dignity of life, poverty, and acts of selfishness like exclusion and natural resource squandering are still prevalent today. And, as pro-life supporters, we can’t pick pieces - all are equally important.
Given these thoughts, we can’t in good faith allow Chi’s results to be used for this paper. What do you think?
(All quotes above from Saint John Paul’s mass at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC in 1979.)
by Grace Wilde
We were walking through the flower markets to a museum in Bangkok, Thailand. The flowers were beautiful. They were colorful and were braided into wreaths, table toppings, and ropes. Everything was quiet as we wove through the streets. Then we turned onto a crowded street full of kids dancing and playing. It was children's day! There was free ice cream, toys, and medicine. There was a band playing and everyone was smiling. We were practically covered with stuff. We each had a bag filled with stuff. Then my Dad checked the time, we needed to get on a plane soon. We started walking to the airport as it started to rain. As we are walking by a bridge I see a mom and her baby huddled on a mat with nothing but the mat, a cup, and each other. I stopped and thought how much I had, and how much they had. I gave my bag to the mom, and Mom and Dad did the same. As we walked away, I looked back to see the little boy smiling at his new toys. We had more toys than we needed and saw God in the Mom and her boy and gave away our riches and made ourselves poor. But, do you have to be poor or rich to love God in others? This question can be explained slowly through the course of time.
The Kings of Israel are thought of as powerful and rich. They loved the Lord. This was true, but, they let riches and power substituted their love for the Lord.
King Saul thought that he was powerful and could make the sacrifice just as good as the prophet Samuel. So, Israel lost the battle because of Saul’s desire for power. Saul was very angry and upset for the rest of his kingship. Then, David became King and coveted a soldier’s wife. She said she was married, but David still wanted her. He intentionally used his power to kill her husband and take the lady as he wife. Then, came Solomon. Solomon’s wives led him to worship false idols of gold and priceless metals. He was led away from God and let the riches block him from worshiping God.
Can you love God while you are rich if you make yourself poor? Yes, it takes a lot of perseverance to continue to give, but, it is possible. For example, St. Margaret of Scotland was a queen, with many riches and powers. She stayed a queen all her life and the power and riches never overpowered her. How did she do this? She put the needs of others before her own. For example, every day before she ate, she would hand feed some of the orphans with her golden spoon. Whenever she went out into the town she would give away everything on her and come back almost naked. That is how she became a Saint.
Not everyone has the time and patience though to love the Lord while being rich. Many people give away everything and make themselves poor so it will be easier to love God. For example, St Ignatius of Loyola was the son of a rich duke and became a knight for the king. When he decided to spend more time loving God, he saw that it is harder to love God with so many possessions in the way of Him. So he sold all of his belongings and made himself poor and ragged so he could love God. When he did that he could appreciate what God had given him as a blessing. Today, nuns, priests, missionaries, and many more people do the same.
Do you have to be poor to love God? Yes, it is impossible to love when you are rich. Like the kings of Israel, when they were rich, power and riches blocked God from their view. Like St. Margaret and St. Ignatius of Loyola, the rich must focus and give all they have to God and other people.
But woe to you who are rich,
But, when you are poor it is easy to love because you can appreciate what God has given you as a blessing from Him. You can find all the little beauties in the world. You share what you have so that others can enjoy it. Then go out and love God and people. Throw aside all of your riches and power and serve God and others.
by Grace Wilde
We all love our Lady of Guadalupe. A bush of roses miraculously appeared in the middle of winter! A picture of Mary appeared out of nowhere on Juan’s cloak! But why did Mary come to Mexico? How were the apparitions effective? Why did she pick the miracle of flowers coming out of winter? What were some of the reasons that our Lady choose Juan? There are so many more questions asked about our Lady of Guadalupe. Every detail means something to us. Every detail is a secret waiting to be discovered. But to tell all the secrets, that would turn this into a book, so let's just go over a few.
Mary came to Mexico for a very important reason. During that time most of the people in Mexico were Aztec. Aztecs were Native Americans who practiced human sacrifices. 12 years before, Hernan Cortes and the Spanish had conquered the Aztecs. After many battles and capturing the Aztec king Montezuma, Cortes and his men forcefully tore down every Aztec temple and turned them into churches. This made the Aztecs mad and most of them stuck to their religion even more than before. For the next decade missionaries worked hard to convert Mexico. But, baptisms were rare, until Our Lady came to Mexico.
The question that many people ask about Our Lady of Guadalupe is, ”why did Mary come to Juan?” One reason she chose him might be because Juan was not a Catholic from birth but an Aztec convert. So when he became a Catholic, he could understand the culture of both Spain and Mexico. So, he could talk and act with any culture in Mexico in their own language.
Mary came dressed in a special way. First of all, Mary always comes dressed as the culture in the area. So she dressed like a native princess. But, her appearance was more than that. She had stars on her dress and was standing on the moon, These were old Aztec symbols of power. This shows us that she is as powerful as the stars and the moon, but she is not God.
Our Lady of Guadalupe spoke in a special way as well. She spoke as a mother would to a child. She spoke in the native Aztec language. When Cortez conquered Mexico he forced much of the Aztec people to speak Spanish and Latin. The only people who would speak the Aztec language were, Moms who probably taught their children to keep their native Aztec language by speaking it to them. Another way Mary spoke like a mother is by calling Juan “my son.” So Mary showed us that she is the mother of all people and of the whole world.
Mary picked the miracle of flowers coming out of winter as a special sign. It resembled good things coming out of hard things. Winter is a very hard time especially for farmers like Juan. Then all of the sudden at the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe a rose bush sprouts. A rose bush is a joyous, happy sign of spring that was coming out of something bad like winter. Mexico was in a hard time, just like that.
After our Lady came to Juan a church was built on the spot she had appeared. But, did she keep her intention of converting the Aztecs? In ten years thousands of Aztecs were Baptized. In one hundred years, human sacrifices were not seen in Mexico, and most of Mexico was converted.
I celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe by going to my church where they have a Mariachi band, a play during mass about her, then a procession when we take flowers to a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. After Mass we have cookies and Mexican hot chocolate. It is very fun. This year we went and I was an altar server. I was not supposed to be an altar server on that day. I was just called up because there were not enough altar servers. But, before altar servers were called up to serve I had a feeling that I was needed to be an altar server. Then I was called up, I was amazed.
In conclusion, Our Lady of Guadalupe came to show that she came for the conversion of Mexico. She shows us that she is powerful but not God, loving, and the mother of the world. Here is a poem I wrote on Our Lady of Guadalupe,
My Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, you have shown us your secrets.
Loving Virgin, you have shown your love for everyone.
Powerful Lady, you have shown us your power.
Mother of the world be a mother to us.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for us.
Saints of the States by Dan Lynch
by Grace Wilde
You read the bible at least once a week. The Bible starts at the beginning of the earth. But where does it end? It never ends, because the bible is still being written. Why? Well there are many proofs of this.
The first proof is that the people who wrote some of the books probably just intended them to be records or letters of things that happened. In time those records and letters were read and gave a spiritual feeling that enlightened people. There are things like this today. Think of Pope Francis’s Laudato Si. People read it, are enlightened and really understand how it can change their life. It won’t be put in the Bible. But, Laudato Si will enlighten many people just as the Bible is a book of enlightenment.
Another way we can prove this is that from the beginning of the Bible God has had plans. He planned a perfect everlasting life in the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve. God’s plan was destroyed with sin so he made plans for a Savior. Through the middle of the
Old Testament, God planned that someone would lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Even today the Lord has plans. He has plans for us to go to Heaven, because the Bible is a book of promises.
The third and final proof is simple; God has never and never will abandon us.
Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
If God had abandoned us as soon as we sinned, the bible would be two pages long. So as long as he loves us, which is forever, the Bible is still being written. The Bible is a picture of God's everlasting love.
We know for sure that the Bible is still being written. But, how can we write in it? We can write in it through acts of mercy as Pope Francis writes,
The Pope says that you must read the Bible over and over. We should write in it with mercy and love because the Bible is the book of the mercy of God. By giving to the poor, you can show His mercy and love. You can also love the orphans. Lastly, Pope Francis said that we should ask our Lord for help to become a writer of the Bible.
We have seen that the Bible is still being written. Through the books people have written, through the promises of God, and through the everlasting promise that He would never abandon us, we can tell that the Bible is still being written. Through all of the Bible now and until the end of the earth, the bible shows all the LOVE He has for us. We can give back his love, by praying, attending sacraments and acting with Mercy to write the next book in the Bible. But I think the most important thing is, the Bible is still being written, so write it!
by Jason, Grace, Brecklyn, and Alex
In this year of mercy, we have been searching for ways to serve God’s people through personal involvement. It’s not that we couldn’t go bring a few boxes of Huggies or Cheerios to the Life Center at our church, it’s that we felt like there was something more we could do...something that would help us feel more in tune with those in need of mercy...to pop our bubble of contentedness and let us change ourselves.
We had been giving out “Mother Teresa bags” to people on the street corners for over a year now. But, it was time to go a step farther. And so, when a coworker asked for donations for hygiene kits for the homeless, I asked how we could help in person. I decided to take Grace, Brecklyn, and Alex with me, with the intent that they would help out with the kits, and hopefully be able to help distribute them in one of the homeless communities in Austin. As this was a pretty daunting undertaking for a Dad and his 3 babies, I’d like to let everyone hear how the kids felt about the entire experience.
I’ll have to admit - I was a little nervous taking the kids to downtown Austin and throwing them right into the community service fire. In fact, as I stopped by Wal-Mart to pick up some soap for the kits, my mind was already thinking of ways out. It took a bit of courage to set those thoughts aside and type the address into my GPS.
Preparing the bags
(Grace): We prepared the bags. First, we unwrapped the the multi-packages of soap and shampoo/conditioner and lotion. Then I waited for a while until everybody came in. And then I started filling a few bags by going around the table in circles, picking things up and putting them in the bag. They also had little cards in the bags that told about the importance of water. Then, they said we had to do an assembly line. I started by putting toothpaste in the bags, but then I noticed another person doing the same job, and I saw that Brecklyn and Alex needed help bringing the finished bags to the pile. And so, I did that. There were about 30 people making bags. They worked hard. Half of them had just come from a party in the hall and they saw that there was a need for help, and so they helped.
As we finished up, there was a lull while everyone organized and prayed for growth, strength, and safety. The organizers explained how we needed to stay in groups for safety, and that there would be drug use. My Dad anxiety went crazy at this point. Our kids were the youngest in the group, and something in my mind told me that I just needed to slip out the back and go home. But, I knew this was not God talking...it was my own fear that keeps me from serving God.
Stop 1: ARCH
ARCH (Austin Resource Center for the Homeless) is a large facility in downtown Austin that serves as a first services and shelter center for Austin’s homeless. We basically set up shop on the front steps.
(Brecklyn): We gave water to the homeless. And we packaged soap and things that you wash with. We gave the things that we packaged up to the homeless too. It was hot. Very hot. One person had a big brown dog. Whenever someone came toward it, the dog stood up. At the first place there were more people. The homeless people were all sitting there. Their clothes were worn out. We gave them crackers. Most of the time they were talking to other people helping with us. When we gave water, they said “Thank you” and they were happy.
(Grace): After (we) filled the bags, everyone got out of their church clothes and we started giving the homeless the supplies. It made me feel happy that we were doing something, but it also made me sad that they were in such conditions. There was trash everywhere, especially under the bridge. And it was very hot. When we handed the bags to the people, they would say “Thank you”, or “Beautiful”.- Grace
(Alex): My favorite part was the music that we all sang together. Some of the homeless people sang with us. I heard Amazing Grace and If You’re Happy and You Know It. One verse in If You’re Happy was to say Amen. We sang half of the time, and in the spots between songs, we gave water bottles and bags. And I was sad about all of the people.
As the crowd subsided, we were to move to another location down the road - under an overpass bridge, and away from the heavily protected shelter. Once again, my mind was racing - something was telling me that we have seen enough for the kids, and that this was a perfect opportunity to excuse ourselves. But, as we prayed, I was again told by God to stay the course. My prayer was being answered.
Stop 2: Bridge
(Brecklyn): At the second place, we were underneath a bridge. I couldn’t get to most of the homeless people because most of them were near the bridge’s poles and we were in the parking lot under the bridge. I am happy that I helped the people that I could. It wasn’t scary.
(Alex): There were two spots where we went. We went to the homeless shelter, then we went under a bridge. And I noticed that there was this same sign that I saw that said “Tickets may hurt, but crashes kill”. This is the same sign that I see all the time when I go on the bridge to get to the doctor’s office. But I never noticed that there were actually poor people living under that bridge.
I never noticed that there were actually poor people living under that bridge.
As we drove home, I had a hard time speaking to the kids about their experiences. My heart ached for the lives that we had just touched. That there could be such despair and pain just one block over from the famed 6th street, and that we literally drive over these lives every time we pass through - I think Alex pretty much hit the nail on the head. I now realize that it was Satan trying to convince me to leave at just the right opportunities, that I had nearly let fear prevent our kids from seeing and touching these precious lives, just like he did to Jesus in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11).
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.