It's been just over 2 weeks now that I have been in Wisconsin, marking the beginning of my 9 months of youth ministry volunteer service through SPIRITUS. I could probably write a book about everything that has happened thus far and we haven't even gotten into the ministry work yet! I've wanted to post something on here for a while now but the busy training schedule has tired me out so much that at the end of the day writing is the last thing I want to do haha. Let me just give a quick overview of my program and such before I get into anything else. I am working in a team of 15 people (6 returners) to help the Catholic youth of Wisconsin become closer to their faith through retreats, youth ministry, and bible studies. There are 9 girls and 6 guys. From within this group we've been divided into 2 other teams; one that will stay in the main location of Menasha at the Mount Tabor Center and the second will be in Green Bay. I was chosen to been in the GB team. There's a slightly better description to the right of what we'll be doing as well as a link to SPIRITUS' website/blog. Right now we are going through training to learn the retreats, youth ministry, and the basics of living in community and working with youth. I know that was kind of a lame description but I'll get into it more in later posts.
There are many topics/revelations I could talk about but one that seems to have come up the most over these past 2 weeks is the question of "Am I really called to be here?" Since this type of service and living is such a big change for most of us this question has undoubtedly passed through each of our minds once if not multiple times. My mind was actually consumed by this question the days leading up to my departure to WI as well as the first few after I arrived. My family and friends and memories of Stonehill life were really holding me back from being excited about this new adventure. However, the biggest contributor was my self doubt. I had almost zero confidence in myself because I felt as though I lacked so much necessary incite and knowledge surrounding the Catholic faith. Once I arrived, in my eyes, this doubt was only confirmed. I saw how much everyone else knew, even if it was just a simple prayer that I'd never heard of, and compared myself to them immediately. I was going down a self-destructive path and instead of turning to the One I knew would always be there I turned inward or to a few people from home. How hypocritical of me to ignore Jesus in my troubling times when I accepted this position because I want to spread the news that He is someone who you should ALWAYS turn to because he will ALWAYS be there for you.
While I felt alone in these feelings of doubt at first, I quickly came to realize many others were struggling as well. This goes to show you how deceptive judgments can be. Whether the struggle is not knowing all the prayers, feeling homesick, doubting your ability to connect with the youth, or anything else, that question of "Is this really my calling" finds a way to sneak in there. These doubts and many others are going to sneak in our minds countless times over these next 9 months, especially because we are doing God's work. As one of my teammates said, the Devil hates what we are doing and is going to try extremely hard to stop us, especially through attacking our relationships. This was brought up after one of our teammates came to the decision that this was not his calling and that he was going to leave the program. It was particularly hard to see him go because he was going to be on the GB team with me and I saw so much potential in him. Many others saw this in him as well. This just goes to show that we may not always be able to see our purpose or usefulness in certain situations but that doesn't mean we don't have one. With that being said, I respect my teammate's decision and pray that he finds his true calling.
As the rest of the team and I embark on this journey and continue to battle these doubts we must remember that we aren't here randomly. Some of my teammates joke about how often we are thanked for "saying yes" to SPIRITUS as well as to God's call (hence the title of my blog). God called each one of us here for a purpose. He wants to use us to do His work and He will equip us with the necessary gifts to do just that. If we truly believe what we are going to be preaching then we will place our faith in the hands of Jesus Christ despite the number of times we doubt or feel discouraged.
Through the wise words of a fortune cookie I got on the day I arrived here "Discover The Power Within Yourself." With God's help I hope to do just that over these next 9 months. :)
I know many of you reading this may not be used to me being so open about my faith. This is something I have struggled with for my whole life and will continue to struggle with throughout this year. I hope that you continue to read and are interested in my experiences and thoughts even if you aren't religious yourself. You all have a special place in my heart and sharing this side of myself is something I think I have been longing to do without knowing exactly how to go about it. On that note, feel free to comment or talk to me privately if you have any questions about anything I bring up in my posts!
Miss you all & God bless!