You probably (maybe?) know that for the past six weeks I have been in Illinois.
Have you ever wondered, 'what exactly does it take to train someone to be a FOCUS Missionary?'
Haha, I didn't think so. But I'm going to tell you anyways.
Among the missionaries, there is incredible excitement and hype surrounding our arrival to Champaign Illinois to begin NST. Everyone gets excited to see the friends they spent every waking moment with the previous summer and to hear about the work that God is doing on different campuses through our students! It is a time of great joy and anticipation.
This summer, I was just as excited as everyone else to reunite with my fellow missionaries. As I got into the groove of our strict schedule at NST, I experienced a tremendous amount of spiritual warfare. A "plague" (24 hour stomach bug... AWFUL) was going around, and I was blessed enough to avoid it, but the devil was prowling about like a lion, and his presence was felt by most, if not all, of the missionaries. Last summer, one of the Salesian sisters who has the gift to see spirits said that she'd NEVER seen so many evil spirits in one place. Woah. God must want to use us in radical ways if satan is so scared of us!
After a brief identity crisis and a lot of alone time, eventually I learned to deal with the daily battles through prayer and fasting. That's when the fun began, and looking back, I really do miss it. Every year it will get crazier as we hire more and more laborers to go into the harvest of the college campuses across the country, but we all have the same mission, sent by God, and for that reason, we are family.
In my last post, I mentioned how I need routine. Let me tell you just how scheduled our routine was at NST.
1. Holy hours- Because there are so many missionaries, we can't all fit in the chapel at the same time to pray our holy hour each day, so there were two groups who alternated times. One group prayed HH at 8am on Mondays and Wednesdays, and at 6pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the other group was the opposite. (We all prayed a guided meditation together during holy hour on Fridays at 8am.)
2. Classes- 9:30 to 12:30 and 3:00 to 5:00, everyday. Honestly, I spent more time in class at NST than I did when I was in college for the last three semesters! Fortunately, most of our classes were fascinating and were taught by the best of the best in Catholic Theology, Philosophy, Social Teaching, and Culture. We are blessed abundantly in this area.
3. Mass- 5:15, everyday!
4. Evening Activities- Tuesday, College Night, Wednesday, Rec Night, all the rest of the nights, MPD (fundraising). These activities were typically from 8 to 10ish.
5. Dinners- Once a week, each college would have dinner with their brother or sister college. It was always hectic and lots of fun. (The college system, based off of the Collegiate Program at Oxford University, ensures formation on various levels, not just academic, and in our case spiritual, but helps us to become well-rounded missionaries by living, working, and playing together.)
6. Weekends- you never know what you're going to get during the weekend at NST. One weekend you may be driving 22 hours for awedding in Alabama, and the next you may enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the quad with some adult beverages and your book of choice, while even the next you may be floating down a river in an inner tube or dancing the night away at a L'Angelus Concert or an Etiquette Dinner.
7. The Best Part- without a doubt- the people! NST is a fantastic time to meet some of the best people you will ever know. Everyone is so committed to holiness and serving our Lord through the Great Commission.
I AM SO BLESSED!
St. Therese of Lisieux, Patroness of Missions, pray for us!