“Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew to win over Jews; to those under the law I became like one under the law-though I myself am not under the law-to win over those under the law…To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.” -1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NAB)

The first 2 months of the second half of the year is over and done…wow.

It’s been 7 months since we left our homes, families, friends, and lives to spread God’s love through the Catholic faith to people all over the United States. We’ve come from all different backgrounds, yet God has brought us together, Team 16, to Naples, Florida to do His work. We have had some wonderful adventures so far; some have been good, some bad, some awkward, and some completely hilarious.

Sometimes, all it takes is one word, one smile, one small conversation to change someone’s life or to show someone God’s love.

One thing that we have learned being on a first-year parish team is that we really have to meet youth where they are at and we gotta do some of the things they do in order to relate well to them. What we have been doing in the modern world is what Paul did nearly 2000 years ago, though it may look different to us. We have the opportunity to eat lunch with middle and high schoolers each week, we put on video game nights, movie nights, and sports events to minister to the guys. For the girls, Disney princess movies, chocolate, ice cream, and social time are all well accepted by the youth. Now I’m sure what Paul did back in the day wasn’t the same, but how looks very similar. We become like the youth so that we can relate to them, but aren’t in essence, one of them.

On a different note, we were recently able to help lead a lock-in retreat for around 50 confirmation students at our parish. We knew many of the students who attended and also knew how tough some of them were to reach. The first night went well and in general we could tell that the students were having a pretty good time. The second day, however, proved to be a challenge when there were a handful of schedule changes, communication errors, and last minute complications.  It was a struggle and the team was slightly discouraged after the unfortunate chain of events, but about a week later we got a small thank you letter from a middle schooler who attended the retreat. Here is what it read:

“Dear NET team, Thank you for an awesome retreat! I really enjoyed the concert and I also connected with the Lord during prayer. Thanks so much.”

It may not have been much, but it was just what we needed to know that God worked through the retreat for at least the one student. Looking forward, we only have around 10 weeks left of ministry on NET. Many of us are tempted to think that we haven’t done enough, that if only we did this or that more people would’ve been brought closer to Christ. Those thoughts can weigh down on us and keep us from ministering to our full potential in the future. There is no time for us to take it easy or let ourselves be bogged down by these thoughts. Sometimes, all it takes is one word, one smile, one small conversation to change someone’s life or to show someone God’s love.

For all of those reading this; keep going.

You will never truly know all that you have done in being Christ to others in the small ways. You are doing great. Keep striving to be a better version of yourself and keep trying to love God more and more each day. Don’t let fear of the future or what other people think of you dictate who you are. You’re doing great!

Learn more about NET Parish Teams here!

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