Hello from New Orleans, Louisiana! Since our Christmas break our team went to the diocese of Marquette in Michigan. Then we took 3 days to drive down to Louisiana. Many of us had beignets (delicious French pastries) here for the first time. We also are experiencing weather over 30 degrees which hasn’t happened in a long time. So we are loving it here!

A big theme that keeps coming up since returning to the road in our team is accepting God’s will joyfully. One way we’ve been challenged is having 3 retreats cancelled due to weather in a little over a week. Many of us were frustrated by this. We spent a day in New Orleans with our host families because of a cancelled retreat, and even though it was very fun it also felt like we weren’t doing our job fully. But at the end of the day our lively 75 year old host mom named Kathy gave some of the girls on our team a piece of wisdom.

“Today wasn’t what we planned but it was still good. I got to play 4 square and card games and see you guys so excited about the city. I felt like God was telling me that I can still be young. I can still play and have fun.”

Even if the most significant thing our team does is have some fun with an elderly lady, God is still pleased with us! We can do His will just by being present to the people and circumstances He places before us. It is so freeing knowing that! Learning that we can say yes to the Lord, even when we don’t have a retreat that day, opens up the doors to the beauty He wants to show us.

After a retreat in Evart, Michigan a guy named Dominic shared, “It gave me open arms to God”. This summarizes the idea our team is learning. Just like we ask the youth we meet to embrace God, He is asking us to embrace Him. He wants us to embrace His love and mercy, and with it the trials He wills for us to have. God is challenging us to welcome Him into our hearts just as fully as the youth we meet. Our goal is to do that with “open arms”.

Our team has been blessed with some pretty amazing host families. We have witnessed how they each uniquely live out the call to sacrifice in order to do God’s will. One host mom had four sisters who lived with her family who all had special needs. Our host mom had a quiet but very beautiful joy about her. She talked about what her typical day looked like; it was obvious that much of it was centered around taking care of her sisters. Then she said that she wouldn’t change the life that God had given her because she knew the only way she could find peace was in saying yes to Him.

How wonderful is it that we can listen to the Lord no matter our age, our circumstances, or how different each of our lives look like? Our team has been given a gift to see such amazing examples of this everyday.

May Christ be with you in everything you do today!

Team 8 (Sophie, Chris, Alexandra, Leslie, Marty, Amanda, Joseph, Emma, Brendan, and Grace)

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