Dear Missionary partners and friends,
I’m sorry it has been a few weeks since my last blog! The Lord has been doing incredible things in the hearts of the missionaries (of course!) Over the past month, the LT family has traveled to Mexico by car, had Family Missions at CoveCrest, 2 weeks of Christmas break, and are now about to embark on an 8th day silent retreat. I will start with Mexico and the amazing ways the Lord transformed my heart.
It was truly an unbelievable trip. We drove two days to a small town named General Cepeda. We were there for 6 days, and I feel like the Lord worked wonders in my heart. When I was praying into this mission trip and asking God what He wanted me specifically to do during this time for Him, God was saying to me in prayer, “Haylee, you will be serving many people in Mexico. However, when you are serving, don’t do it just because it’s the right thing to do or because it makes you feel good. Serve my people because you see CHRIST in them. Serve them because they are worthy to be served. Serve them because they are simply my precious children. Look into their eyes and see me in them.” So, I went to Mexico with this prayer, and wow did the Lord provide this. Every time I was serving, whether it be at a rancho or at a home visit, I would look deep into the eyes of God’s people and truly see Christ, even if it was sometimes difficult. The morning we would go on home visits where I met a lady 115 years old, a woman who had polio and had lost her legs when she was 4, and a woman who had lost her nose due to a flesh eating disease. And yet, they aspired me to greater holiness. They were some of the most faithful of Christ’s servants I have ever been blessed to be around. These women either prayed the rosary every day or had their homes filled with blessed images of Jesus, Mary, and the Holy Family. During the evenings we would go to the ranchos, very very poor villages around the town we were staying, and we would invite the people house by house to join us in prayer. “Los invitamos a la capilla para oracion si quieres venir.” = “We are inviting you to join us for prayer in the chapel if you would like to come!” We would then go to the chapel and our brothers and sisters would give testimonies, witness talks, and sing praise and worship. I was blown away by the way the Lord blessed me during this time. Whether if it was through the eyes of a small child smiling at me or through the tears of a woman who had needed a new roof for years and was so grateful for our service, God blessed this trip abundantly and really spoke to my heart about what it means to see Christ in EVERYONE. (p.s. Also, we were there during the feast of Our lady of Guadalupe! It was incredible. That night the town of General Cepeda gathered for mass and then we processed around the entire town with the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe singing and praying rosaries. It was incredible!)
After an incredible week, the Life Teen missionaries headed back to Arizona and CoveCrest. The day we got back we had that afternoon to rest, and the next morning was the start of Family Missions. About 11 families came here to join us in our call to be missionary. We would start each day with morning prayer, and then we would gather and make gift baskets or goody bags for the retirement center or for our home visits. Then in the afternoons we would go to either Traces of Tiger, our local retirement center, and sing carols or go to various houses around Tiger and spend time with people who rarely leave their homes. It was incredible to have families join us and to especially see the way the young children had such an incredible impact and brought so much joy to those we visited. Thank you Lord for all your faithful ones who say yes to you and choose to serve you!
I was amazed at how during the Mexico mission God was also preparing my heart for my christmas break at home. I’ve discovered after living here at Covecrest for 4 months that it can be easy to serve those who very obviously are poor in some manner. (sickness, living in poverty, an addiction of some sort, etc.) however, as my dear sister Maria talked about after Mexico, there is a poverty in us all. I’ve discovered it’s much harder to serve those whom you feel have a great life and should “know” how to be a good person. In some way or another, we are all broken, and God is calling us to love everyone as if they are Christ Himself. As I felt God calling me to look into people’s eyes and see Christ in Mexico, He was preparing my heart to do this at home. Unfortunately, family is usually hardest to love. I think there is a part of me that knows they will always be there for me. Also, if they do something that rubs me the wrong way, I’m likely to get more irritated because I expect after knowing someone for 19 years to know what not to do! ) However, this is just not the case. We are all human and all have weakness and brokenness. So in this amazing awareness God blessed me with, I went home with a mission to love, love, love. As St. Therese says, “Love is not a feeling, it’s a choice.” Each morning I can choose to wake up and be grumpy or I can choose to love the way Christ loves. By the end of my two weeks home, I felt so much peace. I knew that God has been calling me to love, and as I responded to this call, He blessed me with so much peace.
And now here I am back at CoveCrest. Starting tonight we will be entering into an 8 day silent retreat being led by Brother John. It is based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius. Please pray for me as I humbly try to know God in a more intimate way and to learn more of His desires for my life. In formation this past week Chris told us to start journaling on our spiritual autobiography. He explained it as this: God has this big story. We are all characters in God’s story. God has given each one of His characters a specific role to fulfill and complete His story. This is what I’ll be reflecting on these next 8 days. How is the Lord calling me specifically, a small character, to fulfill His ultimate story of life?
May God bless you! Thank you so much for your prayers, and I will be praying for you all daily.
“You can never know who you are until you know WHOSE you are.” -Fr. Cederic Pisegna