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Weakness

This summer I spent six golden weeks in middle-of-nowhere Dahlonega, GA at LifeTeen’s summer camp Hidden Lake, and it wrecked my life. As has every mass since. At camp we woke up exhausted and went to bed exhausted, and we did everything as a community (including peeing our pants (if you didn’t pee your pants at every dance party was it really a dance party?) ) That part was exhausting too. Community is hard, people. But it’s more than hard, and that’s what I learned this summer. That “hard” is just a tiny part of life with Christ. In fact it becomes so minuscule that it becomes sweet, because the amount of love and grace and fruit that comes from “hard” makes you ardently desire sacrifice and desire to give in those particular ways, small and big, in order to be made soft.
At this camp I was given the opportunity every weekday morning to wake up early for either a holy half hour or a holy whole hour. I didn’t always choose the whole, because sleep was scarce, but when I did it was fruitful. And when I didn’t it was also fruitful, because Jesus was there both ways. (🔥) Then the community would pray morning prayer and each day the schedule was different after that. When there were campers, we went straight to breakfast to see our people and hang out with them the rest of the day until the missionaries met again as a community late that night. Y’all. Waking up was so hard, but I honestly wouldn’t have wanted to serve any other way. And what made it sweeter was on the way to the chapel teens were showing up to confession. They were waking up the same time as us, walking down the road to face their weakness on a grassy knoll in the middle of nowhere Georgia with a priest they’d never met. That’s Jesus winning y’all. I saw Jesus in these teens every day. And I saw Jesus doing so much work in every single person who stepped foot on camp property, from the mailman to the food delivery truck drivers to the bus drivers to the chaperones to the teens to the summer missionaries. He just wants to move and love. And it’s so obvious, and literally all that people did was pray and ask. That’s it. (#Jesusincreaseourdesire)

Like seriously. I am the worst summer missionary. I am so bad at so many things, and I failed so many times in so many ways. And I am so weak. But in all that, this summer I was able to see how much I needed a Savior, and that knowledge allowed my heart to let Jesus be who He is. Just by asking. He is no longer just a friend, to me, He is a Savior, a compassionate Father… This was so slowly revealed to me this summer, but it all peaked when I was kneeling on a mountain at mass at the end of camp, looking at myself in hatred and disgust and just being really mean to myself. Amidst all of that, Jesus spoke to me and He said this: “Emma. Your weaknesses do not discount you from my love.” Jot that down. Because he did not say to me that I am perfect and wonderful and amazing, He said he loved me. He did not lie to me or deceive me, but He said He loved me. Y’all… We just always think we need to be more. We need to be better at praying, more disciplined, more. But really, we just need more Jesus. Which means we need to be weaker.

Jesus Christ died and walked with us and suffered with us, and that’s a freaking big deal. But that is not the end of the story! The end of the story is that HE ROSE. And that is the part of history that we get to live into, that Jesus conquered death and sin. And the glory of that is that NOTHING can separate us from His love, He has shown us that. He is still here and He promised to send His spirit to dwell with us, that means He walks with us and that’s flipping cool. You know that gospel where the disciples are fishing, and they aren’t catching anything, but then Jesus says, hey throw the net in the exact same spot, and they do and they catch TONS of fish? (John 21) The disciples were doing an ordinary task, and it was only successful and fruitful and fulfilling when they did what Jesus told them to do. That was the difference. They did it with Jesus. He is here, and He is alive. And we are chosen and we are loved. And I am so grateful for the simple genius of LifeTeen missions and the yeses of each person who served with me, from summer staff, to those who cooked for us (and loved us so well!!), to those full time missionaries who led us so well. Thank you for trusting me, and loving Jesus, and being the best at building a good community.
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The Mobile Mission in Missouri!!!

We love retreats! And we love putting them on for teenagers! So when we were asked to help out with the Spirit Alive Youth Conference in Wentzville, Missouri we were ecstatic! This was a bit different for us because we weren’t putting the retreat on ourselves, instead we were working with a team of other people who had been organizing this conference for several years now – and we were happy to help! So 9 of us (about half of our team), embarked on what would be the longest distance yet for us to travel for a retreat. 600 miles later (one-way) and after 12 hours in our beautiful blue bus (a trip that would normally take 9 hours in a car), we had arrive and were eagerly looking forward to an amazing weekend with over 100 teens for the conference! Overall, the trip and the conference were both a huge success! Through this trip, God showed us a glimpse of what He has in store for our future as a ministry – and we are more than ready to rise to the occasion and serve!

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“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said; “send me!” ”  – Isaiah 6:8
“He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” ”  – Matthew 4:19

 

 

 

We’ll let the rest of the story be told by several of our team members. First, our newest member…

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Bethany Hughes… First fact about Missouri: it is a lot colder than Georgia weather. I was not expecting it to be cold and stay cold ALL day, plus they had a constant wind (brrr). Despite the cold, Missouri is sooo beautiful. We had perfect timing and were able to be there when the leaves were changing and falling (I could sit and watch leaves for days…it’s one of my favorite hobbies). An amazing thing in Missouri was to see a Catholic church almost every 2 miles. Quite different from what us southerners are used to, with there being maybe one per city.

IMG_20151018_105055812Trips are always exciting. I love the planning, organization, details, and the adventure of the actual trip. The Missouri trip was a bit different for me. I wasn’t in control; I didn’t know all the details or the organization. I didn’t know I would be able to go until two weeks before the trip. The scariest part of going to Missouri was knowing that I was getting ready to embark on a twelve hour bus ride with seven complete strangers (no big deal right!?!). Well that was going to change soon. There is no better way to bond with your new team members than on an twelve hour bus ride (even though a majority of the time was spent sleeping). I will save you all from the boring details and just tell you about the awesomeness.

The exciting points of the trip for me was making pb&j’s on a moving bus (that was a challenge!), jam sessions, games, and getting to talk and know IMG_20151015_141351129my fellow teammates. What was even more awesome was being able to lead the team in my favorite form of prayer – the rosary. On our way to Wentzville we made a pit stop in St. Louis, where God gave us the opportunity to visit the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. The Basilica is the largest and most beautiful church I have had the opportunity to visit. Along with just being able to see the splendor of the church, we were given the grace and honor of going to the back to see their relics. What a true honor it was to be in the same room as a piece of the original cross. I mean can you imagine? Being in the same place as a piece of the cross that our Lord was actually crucified on. What a humbling experience. After our stop at the Basilica we made our way downtown. We went to hand out the pb&j sandwiches that we had made on the trip up, which proved to be a little harder than we thought when we didn’t find that many hungry people on the streets. But God works in wonderful ways and we finally found ourselves in front of a homeless shelter and were able to give a group of men the sandwiches and fruit that we had left. We we were able to talk to and witness to our brothers in Christ there, and even signed one man’s arm cast and prayed with him.

Our next stop was Wentzville, Missouri where the conference was being held. Here I just want to thank our amazing host family who opened their homes and hearts to us! At the actual retreat I helped with a bit of everything, wherever they needed me. I also got to get out of my comfort zone and lead a small group. Small groups is one of my weaknesses…I always feel inadequate in helping lead/teach others about following and living their faith. Through this trip God was able “gird my loins” by renewing my trust in my capabilities through the Holy Spirit.

It was such a blessing that God put the Mobile Mission in my life, I am so joyful to be the newest member of the team…well I should say family. God revealed to me piece by piece throughout the weekend how He plans on using my life for His glory. How He can work through me to show everyone that they are adequate enough, that God created them in His image for a purpose.

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Evan Glowzinski… This was a beautiful and blessed opportunity for all of us. To leave our home state and travel to help with a retreat in a location none of us have ever been to. We traveled as missionaries sleeping on a bus, and literally living on what could be considered the 8th sacrament for youth ministers: coffee. Traveling together strengthened bonds of friendships and even started a few others. For me, going through the ups and downs that always seem to happen before a retreat is always made more beautiful when surrounded by those you love and serve with. One of the highlights for me, outside of the retreat, was getting to visit the Cathedral Basilica of St Louis. This was the first time I was able to see a church this beautiful and to have it be a pilgrimage before the retreat truly helped set the tone of service for me.

Tony Roberts… First of all, the Mobile Mission bus was a perfect road trip vehicle…20151015_143454everyone had a spot to sleep and a nice window view. We made peanut butter sandwiches in the bus to hand out in St. Louis and we visited the Cathedral Basilica and saw all the beautiful art and relics. This was a truly impactful visit, even though it was just a stop in our way to the conference. The hospitality in Missouri was amazing, and I loved seeing all the Catholic churches on every corner. The conference was held at a church built in the 1800’s with a beautiful altar. Traveling halfway across the country to help with a conference we’d never been to – we didn’t know what to expect, but the teens attending were very excited to be there and all the volunteers and other speakers were great. The highlight of the trip for me would be Saturday night adoration when the priest walked around the whole room with the monstrance, stopping in front of each and every person there.

Check out more pictures from our trip!