Greetings my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ,
I’m still in awe that just the other morning, my team and I played beach volleyball, outside, in the sun and in t-shirts while the rest of my family is bundling up in parkas and ski pants up North just to keep from getting frostbite! Dallas is surely treating us well! Not only are we appreciating the warm Dallas weather, but the community is growing on us more and more and we’re really going to miss it once we leave to go back home for Christmas; some of us to the snow, others to the beach or across the ocean. We’ve seen Christ revealing Himself so much and in so many ways in this beautiful parish. We are more than grateful to be here with these people and this church. We love spending time with them, whether it be by talking over some coffee or throwing a frisbee. We’ve also been so blessed with amazing testimonies and faith stories that we were able to witness.
God has been so generous with the people He has placed in our lives. People who inspire us to be holier, to be more docile to the Holy Spirit and to always follow His lead. He has introduced us to people who show us the importance of the different aspects of our faith. An example of this would be of an amazing young adult that one of our teammates encountered not too long ago. A young woman who had been meeting up with one of our teammates had a powerful renewal of faith. After five years of abstaining from the sacrament of reconciliation, they had decided to go to confession together. The NET missionary had been praying that St. Padre Pio would intercede for them so that the priest would have a gift in hearing confession by staying positive. After the confession, the young woman had expressed gratitude to God for a great confession and putting this teammate of ours in her life. This young woman showed us the beauty within confession and the freedom it gives us. This is only one of the many blessings God has poured into our lives since the beginning of NET.
In mid-November, we had the opportunity to help at a weekend high school retreat at The Pines, a beautiful outdoor Catholic camp two hours away from our parish. The theme was “ABBA, FATHER,” a theme that you can never go wrong with! Many of our youth from our faith night had joined us to encounter Jesus Christ in a different light. We had an awesome time performing skits and kayaking and zip lining, but the most important and meaningful time was on Saturday evening when we celebrated the Mass and then had Adoration with praise and worship. The Holy Spirit was truly alive in the room that night. He was present in a special way to many of the youth there, and you could see the beauty of faith in that moment. The next day, there was a difference in all of them and the fire of God had started a spark in the life of the high schoolers. This was especially seen in one of the youth who was placed in one of the NET missionary’s small groups. In the beginning, she explained to their group the suffering and the sadness she was experiencing within her home life. Throughout the times of small group and the free time, she would continue to mention her stress and anxiety, fear of the future, and difficulty in seeing God as a Father. The night we had the Mass and Adoration, she was very open with the Lord. The morning after, during small group, she shared that she now felt a great peace and nearness of God instead of feeling anxious and restless. Her whole demeanor had changed from worried to calm. She was interested in getting more involved with her faith and she wanted to join the parish’s youth group. What an amazing change in just one weekend! God is truly good. Even those who hadn’t necessarily felt anything extraordinary that Saturday night were now wanting to know Christ more and to deepen their relationship with Him. Our team also felt a difference after leaving, like the fire in our hearts had just experienced the Holy Spirit’s breath once again.
This Thanksgiving, we were very privileged to spend the holiday with our priest’s family. It was exciting for our international team members who experienced their first American Thanksgiving! We got to know our youngest priest very well and to meet his parents, their generous and loving neighbors, his grandfather, and his brother, sister-in-law, and their baby boy. Spending time with this devout family and being able to witness their love for Christ was life-giving. After eating a full load of turkey, green bean casserole, delicious chocolate fudge and much more, we watched the afternoon football game; and, of course, the Cowboys won. We also had the chance to see the beauty of a Texas autumn, the bright colors of the falling leaves and faint smell of the morning dew. I woke up early the morning after Thanksgiving and saw the masterpiece God had painted: a beautiful bright orange and pink morning sunrise with ripple of clouds. I could only imagine how amazingly beautiful the colors in heaven would be and how my eyes have only seen a glimpse of heaven’s loveliness. God shows us His beauty in many ways, and this was absolutely one of His most artistic reminders.
While we had the chance to have these amazing experiences in Texas, in two weeks we’ll be heading home. We’ll see our parents, our siblings, and friends. We’ll be in a familiar town with familiar faces and foods. We’ll be celebrating the birth of Christ Jesus our King with gatherings, decorations, meals, Mass, and gifts. And even though we might not be physically in our little town of Richardson with this community and our teammates, we will certainly be with them in spirit, through the Eucharist and Jesus Christ. Our ministry might be on hold for a few weeks but once we come back, watch out! Our love for God is certainly not on hold and our fire for Him will be growing like crazy during this Christmas season! During these first few months we’ve been flourishing and learning through tears and laughter, through good and hard, and we wouldn’t change a thing, knowing this is God’s plan for us. We continue to strive for goodness, even with the forces of evil pushing against us. Lucky for us though, we’ve got God on our side. So, like I said, watch out! We’re not finished with our ministry and God is certainly not finished with us.
You are always kept in our prayers. May God bless you in a special way this Christmas season,