Hello from Team 3! We are writing from Phelen, California, in the Diocese of San Bernadino. It has been such a blessing to be here in Southern California. We have been here for just over two weeks, starting our California adventure in Marysville up in the Diocese of Sacramento, before heading down to Rancho Cucamonga, and all across the Diocese of San Bernadino over the past few weeks. Besides the sunshine and beautiful nature we have had the joy of seeing, we have also had the joy of witnessing so many young hearts turning to Jesus Christ.
We have had a busy few weeks, with a lot of long days and early starts. Again, we have been running many school day retreats. One retreat which was especially impactful was a retreat in Yuma, within the Diocese of Tucson. We hosted a retreat for the 8th grade class, of a Catholic school run by Carmelite Sisters. The theme of the retreat was “Strength and Beauty,” which means that for part of the retreat the young people separate for gender-specific talks. The youth on the retreat were so open to everything that we wanted to share with them, and very open when talking about their faith. We held a retreat sharing session towards the end of the retreat where the youth can come up to the front and share how the retreat has impacted them. A huge amount of the young people were willing to come forward and simply share how the retreat had moved them closer to Jesus, and it was very beautiful to witness!
Another blessing that we have had these past few weeks has been being able to spend some time with Bridgette, Michelle and Clinton’s families. In Bridgette’s home town, we hosted three retreats. It was wonderful, especially for her, to be able to run a retreat for youth that she knew! As a team we have been able to join all three of their families for some time, whether it was lunch, dinner or simply a rest stop on a long drive.
We actually began the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday service at Clinton’s parish in Turlock, California. This time of Lent has been a really great time of sacrifice and prayer for us as a team so far. The past few weeks we have spent a fair amount of time in the Mojave Desert, and the barrenness of the desert in parts has really allowed us to reflect on the time that Jesus spent in the desert for 40 days and nights. Jesus sacrificed so much, even then in His life. To reflect on the song “Blessed Be Your Name,” and especially the line “When I’m found in the desert place, blessed be your name,” we can realize that we must praise Jesus, and let Him into our lives in the most bare and barren parts of our lives. We have made various sacrifices individually for Lent, some being only taking cold showers, no beverages apart from water, no make-up, and for one of the guys – giving up his beard for Lent! And we are all working in some way to give more, whether it is driving the van more often, complaining less, extended personal prayer time – Holiness is definitely calling us this Lent.
Please continue to pray for us, especially this holy time of Lent, and to bless our travels. Make sure to check out our pictures!
Love and prayers,