Saturday, March 21, 2009

3 Weeks until Easter

The planning continues. After the initial influx of planning meetings, things have settled a bit, people know their responsibilities, and meetings are progressing at a quicker pace. Amen, thanks be to God for that!
Every 10 days or so the mission planning team meets to discuss how the prep work is going. We now have a mission schedule, which includes two hours of evangelization every day, time for silent and group prayer, homeless outreach, a one-day youth retreat, a Living Stations of the Cross through the neighborhood, adoration in the Garden with Jesus Thursday night, and a rocking praise session after the Vigil. What a time it will be. I anxiously await the Triduum because I want to see how it will all turn out.
Well, it's time to head home after a good evening of planning the Stations and practicing Triduum music so I must go. Soon I will post some pictures. That way you have something fun to look at instead of all this typing.
Pray for us! As well as everything is progressing, the team is very aware of how the devil is trying to discourage us. The ESM reunion that I wrote about last time, I think, has been cancelled so we are looking for a few good external missionaries to sign up at the last minute. Host families and food provided...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Misc. News from the Past 3 Weeks

Sorry for my absence. So much for updating every weekend. Before I get started summarizing the highlights and funny moments of the past 2-3 weeks, two things. First, if anyone would like to discover more about the Emmanuel Community or its particular style of mission, coming up for the mission would be a great way to see the Community graces in action. All are welcome. Second, while the mission will be held during the Triduum, I’m actually ducking out of Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday to fly back to Denver to see my friend Beth enter the Catholic Church on Easter morning. I plan to stay in town for 3-4 days after Easter to visit everyone, go hiking, and hopefully use up the last 2 tickets on my four pack to Copper Mtn. If any of this interests you or you will be town during that time, we should try to get together.
Now to MN life. I went on a Frassati Society trip to Itasca State Park, which is where the Mississippi River officially begins. It’s the headwaters. We faced temps in the teens during the day and who knows how cold at night. I stayed indoors. I got to walk across a frozen lake and climb into a snow house for the first time. I went snowshoeing with a small group and we laughed and laughed at the experience. One girl had shoes that could have been used by the French fur trappers 200 years ago and that provided lots of enjoyment, especially as we went off trail and climbed up a hill. It’s not easy to do if you don’t have crampons on the bottom of your shoes. After this trip, I now know how to play 500, the card game, so I’m ready to join the Mid-Westerners when I return to Denver.
The weekend after the Itasca trip, the School of St. Paul went on pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in La Crosse, Wisconsin. We only spent the day there, but we did manage to have Mass in the beautiful chapel (the architecture is a blend of Mexican and Roman styles and the side altars are dedicated to modern saints like Gianna, Maria Goretti, and Faustina) and pray the outdoor Stations of the Cross. The lunch in the bus displayed fraternal charity as people shared their chips, drinks, and tortas. On the ride home, we mixed up the people so they had to interview and introduce someone who wasn’t sitting beside them. It afforded many laughs as we overcame the language barrier to interview and share our new found information.
Since the start of Lent, the mission is ever before the mission team in our thinking. The mission is incorporated into our celebration of the Triduum and as of yesterday, we have four weeks until Easter. That makes most of the mission team anxious about our lack of time, but I’m relatively calm. I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but it works for me. Right now we are trying to nail down a mission schedule and people have begun work on the individual services they volunteered to take. It is amazing how much preparation has to go into having good Triduum liturgies, let alone when you add times of evangelization, sharing, and homeless outreach. I sure am learning a lot as I go.
There have been some fun/ridiculous experiences related to living in MN since I last wrote. One cool thing before I start in on the joys of having a car during the MN winter, I went to dinner with a friend at a funky place called the Chatterbox. It’s decorated with furniture from the 70’s, including ugly upholstered couches. The best thing about the restaurant, though, was that you can order board games and video games to play while you are there. We played Battleship (1-1 record) and Super Mario Bros. on the original Nintendo system. It is a unique place, definitely worth checking out.
Now to the snow. We had a major snow day a few weeks ago. It was the first time I saw people getting stuck on snow while driving and needing others’ help to push them out. I experienced this first hand when I parked on the street to go to Mass the morning after the snow. I was so pleased with where I parked because the snow was less than in other places so I thought I wouldn’t get stuck. I probably wouldn’t have until the snowplow drove by and shoved a bunch of snow under and around my car. To make matters worse, when I walked out of the church, I saw men in traffic vests beside my car as they were giving me a ticket for parking in the snowplow route. Get this: there are no signs on the side of the road I parked on saying it was a day plow route. The only way you know is that the other side has signs that say “night plow” so my side was day plow. What a scam to get money from parking tickets! Still, as I ran towards the guys and said, “Oh no, is that a parking ticket?,” I was friendly and laughing at the stupidity of it all so they helped dig me out. With my Cali plates, they could tell I wasn’t from around there so they also gave me advice on how to drive on snow or how to get moving when the tires spin. They didn’t take away the ticket though. Sadness.
Other crazy snow stories. I stopped in on Dr. Reyes’ undergraduate class one morning and on my way there, the sun was out with no sign of snow in the sky. Then one hour after his class as I used a computer in the library, the sky opened up and dumped tons of snow. I was so unprepared. No hat, thin gloves, no hood because I had taken it off that morning thinking I wouldn’t need it for awhile. The five block walk to my car was not fun. I discovered just how slippery snow on top of sidewalk ice can be.
Lastly, a few days ago we had snow and freezing rain. Snow I can handle; freezing rain is less nice. Three of us girls walked to my car after a night mission planning meeting and when we went to open the doors, they wouldn’t open. They had frozen shut. All I could think about was my coworker’s story of someone breaking her car door handle off as she tried to pull a frozen door open. I started working my keys in the gaps to try to dislodge any ice, but it was only Fr. Joseph’s experienced touch that got the door to open. It was unseasonably cold this past week so this type of experience is not common for March, but it begs the question, “Why do people live here?” There have been a lot of first experiences out here related to the weather and I laugh at the novelty, but I don’t know that I would want to do this year in and year out. God bless the hearty northern Mid-Westerners!