Ministry of presence

We learned about presence being a ministry in our formation training. I remember Paul, our Program Director, saying more than once that we’d need to learn to be okay with just being and not always doing. For most Americans this is not an easy task. We focus on productivity, accomplishments, or to simply put it – getting things done.

Looking back to mid-November, it started getting difficult for us to be content “just being present.” Our daily life was becoming a bit more routine; we spend quite a bit of time at the 2 preschools we work with and attended various meetings at church. In our spare time, we typically play with the neighborhood children or the children who come to the church property on the weekends for tilitonse (Sunday School, but on Saturday’s—all morning!) Life was beginning to feel “smooth.” [Read more…]

Little blessings

Our daily life is becoming more of a routine. We are adjusting to regular power outages ranging from 2 – 8 hours every few days. About two weeks ago the pump for the bore hole, where we get all of the water for our house, broke. It took just over a week to repair. Conveniences make life easier but they aren’t always necessary or available here in Malawi. For a short period of time we drew water from the neighbor’s outdoor spigot for essential water needs until the pump was fixed. [Read more…]

Yes means no

What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ The boy answered, ‘I will not.’ But later he had a change of heart and went. The father went to the other son and said the same thing. This boy answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?…” Matthew 21:28-31 [Read more…]

Eyes of faith

For over 18 months now Rafael and I have been living in Perú as Comboni Lay Missionaries. Some people consider this a strange or brave thing to have chosen to do. To us, we are ordinary people doing small things, attempting to live out our faith and baptismal call in solidarity with a marginalized community in the slum of El Porvenir, on the outskirts of the city of Trujillo, Perú. In the short time I have been here, I have met many individuals who I look to as models of ordinary people living their faith in small but extraordinary ways, whose actions alone show me what it means to have complete trust and reliance upon God. [Read more…]

Happy Fasika!

Tracy with some students from the Comboni high school.

I know that most of the world celebrated Easter in early April, but here in Ethiopia we just celebrated Fasika, or Easter, on May 5. Holy week was very busy here – everyone in the Orthodox and Catholic churches attends all of the services from Thursday through the Easter Vigil. For the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians their Easter Vigil lasted until about 3 a.m. and then people were allowed to break the strict fast they had been on for 50 days. For the previous 7 weeks all goats, chickens and cows had been safe, but there was a huge slaughter for Easter Sunday and massive amounts of meat were served and consumed. [Read more…]

Return to mission

During our preparation time back in Chicago in 2009, a wise missionary, the dear Sr. Madge, told us that Mission is “to help others to see the seeds of God in their lives, how God is already acting within them.” As Maggie and I begin this part two of our missionary service, I have been reflecting much in these first days back in Ethiopia on my need to reflect – especially on why I am here, what I am doing each day, and what is mission. [Read more…]

Living out our dream

Emily and I are slowly but surely adjusting to life here in Peru. We are truly blessed to have such a privilege where we can uproot ourselves and have an amazing experience of being lay missionaries in Peru, South America. Many people have told us that it is amazing we have chosen to “suspend” our lives so that we can “give” to others less fortunate. The truth is we feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to be living in Peru. [Read more…]

The desert

To me as a Catholic, Lent is a time to reflect and pray just as Jesus did in the desert 40 days before His death. It is a time for self-reflection and to gently strip away some of the things that separate us from God to create a more intimate relationship. As I recently heard one of the Comboni Fathers here in Trujillo say, in prayer and in fasting we have to look at our intentions. Fasting during lent is not about prayer and fasting with the intention, for example, of losing weight, but whatever it is that we do, no matter how big or small, we must do it with the intention of it bringing us closer to God.

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Filled with small graces

My first Christmas in Ethiopia has been filled with small graces. In truth, I had been feeling melancholy for most of the month of December. Christmas in Ethiopia is celebrated on January 7 not December 25. But more significant to me is that Christmas is considered a minor feast in Ethiopia. There are no special traditions, decorations or even special hymns for Christmas. So I had really been praying to just get through December.

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Retreating in Malawi

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to lead a retreat for our Catholic student group at the college. We decided to center the retreat on one of our favorite themes: Theology of the Body. Theology of the Body is based on a series of lectures given by Blessed John Paul II at his Wednesday Papal Audiences. Through these lectures he developed a beautiful theology of how our bodies reveal to us the truth of God’s intimate relationship with us. We in turn are able to imitate God’s loving relationship in how we relate to and share our love with others.

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