I’m back in the Wild and Wonderful state of West Virginia! Courtni and I arrived Monday evening after a long couple days of driving. We are settling into our lovely new house… I will be putting up some photos for you in my next post!
After our Missionary Training week in July, we moved straight into the School of the New Evangelization (SNE) from Aug. 2 – 10. It was incredible! The intention of SNE is an experience of Jesus, not an education in Jesus. Sometimes it is easy for us (me included!) to slip into the mentality that “because I have a lot of information about someone, I know them.” This is not true. Christ doesn’t want us to have simply intellectual knowledge, to give the right answers. Instead, as C.S. Lewis aptly states:
“God doesn’t want something from us, he simply wants us.”
The weekend was prepared as a personal retreat, where we could all take the time to let go of any burdens, anxieties, and weariness. I got to take a group of students to spend Sunday afternoon at the Cathedral of St. Paul. What a beautiful time of restoration and prayer!
Monday morning kicked off our service day of SNE. All 200+ students and missionaries spent the day serving the needs of others throughout the city of St. Paul. I was part of a team that delivered 750 personal care kits to a homeless shelter, emergency food bank, women’s shelter, children’s home, and several churches. When we all got back together, we were exhausted but filled with joy.
Every day of SNE we began with morning prayer at 7:45am and ended with night prayer at 10:15pm. This really allowed us to spend time in conversation with God, prepare for the day well, and direct our attention to the things of the Lord. It also helped to establish a routine of having prayer be an essential part of each day. Tuesday, we got into the ‘school’ part of SNE. The content was divided into 3 sections: Holiness, Communion, and Mission. Each section had 8 talks spread over the next 4 days, and everyone was able to choose what talks they wanted to attend each day. There was also recreation time each afternoon, daily mass before dinner, time to meet with your small group, and special events in the evening, such as Men’s and Women’s Night, an Audrey Assaud concert, a prayer meeting, an open mic night, and a banquet. I had the opportunity to get to know so many wonderful people from all across the country and even a few from Scotland! There’s something powerful about being part of a strong community of young adults that are prepared to help others to meet and experience Jesus the same way we did at SNE! I was also blessed to be able to serve the students in a particular way – I was the Women’s Food Manager again this year and it was just as crazy and fun as last year! I wanted to share this photo because it made me laugh – and it’s a pretty good indicator of what providing breakfast, snacks, and a paper-bag lunch for 115 women looks like. Yep, that’s 26 gallons of milk in my trunk… some of it was for the men though.
If you’re interested in visiting the SPO website, they have an excellent short blog post about SNE 2013. Clicking THIS will take you there! Whew… I wish there was a way to share everything that struck me, amazed me, challenged me, inspired me, etc… there was just so much!!! I’m definitely still processing and absorbing so that I can put into practice the things I heard. My biggest take-away from SNE was from these questions posed to us: “Are you living a life worth imitating? Are you ready to say, follow me, as I follow Christ.?” (ref. 1 Cor. 11:1) In this upcoming year, I’m going to either be leading students toward Christ with my words and actions or away from Him. It’s quite humbling and sobering to think about! I do look forward to the year very much though. I am so excited and hopeful for all the things to come. Our entire team met yesterday to discuss our vision and plans for the fall semester (it took us about 8 hours!) and there are some awesome things in the works! My brain was quite worn out by the evening, so I went outside on my porch to enjoy a book and a glass of wine after dinner… it was great.
I will be spending a lot of time in prayer tomorrow for the students, the upcoming semester, and also for you. Please let me know if you have any prayer needs!
Peace to you all! I’ll catch up with you in a couple weeks!