Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Some Exciting News!

Dear Family and Friends,
Happy 2014!  I am excited to share with you all an endeavor I'm undertaking in March (2 weeks from today).  

It all began about 6 months ago when we had a visiting priest, Fr. Emmanuel, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.   He is in the Diocese of Kole at St. Clare of Assisi Parish in the middle of the jungle in the DRC with 22,000 parishioners in 32 villages.  He and his two assistants say Mass in each village about every 2 or 3 months, which means that his parishioners experience the Sacraments approximately 4 times per year!  They live without electricity or running water nor any of the modern conveniences we take for granted each day.  Yet, they are filled with joy. 
I've been discerning a visit to the DRC ever since I met Father Emmanuel.  It was just something that I felt like the Lord was calling me to do.  Take a risk, leap into the Love and the joy of the African people in this small part of the Congo.  I presented my idea to Father and he eagerly responded with contacts both here in the US and in the Congo to help me get there.  So over the past 6 months I've been figuring out how to get a visa, find reasonable airfare, and settle the crazy thoughts in my head regarding travel safety.
All is coming together and I have my visa in hand and my plane ticket purchased to leave on March 5th (Ash Wednesday) and return on March 28th. It will take me four flights and a long vehicle ride to travel to Father's village (he really does live in the middle of nowhere)! I will then spend about 2 weeks getting to know the people of his parish. 
My return home will be via Rome beginning on March 24th.  The opportunity presented itself to spend some time in the Holy City upon my return giving thanks, so I jumped on just a slight ticket increase and friends who can provide simple accommodations for those nights.
Why am I doing this?  That's an excellent question that I've been working through since the first thoughts of this trip.  When I first wrote about this in my journal my reasons (in stream of consciousness form) were the following.

My Experience With Father Emmanuel: "I was the one to pick him up at the bus station and I believe my life was changed by the conversation I had in the car ride to his host family's house."

Regarding Something Being Different In Me after being in Brazil for World Youth Day: "I don't mean dramatically changed to the point where I am going to sell my stuff, leave everything, and begin mission work; but as I type that, it doesn't seem like the most terrible idea.  I think I mean an even more radical change than that - what if I had my life in perspective all the time?  How could I do that?  What do I even mean by that?"
Doing Mission Work:  "I've been on mission trips before, here and abroad.  In the US, I did service work in Pittsburgh, Tennessee, and Charlotte.  I've seen some poor Americans.  Abroad, I have done mission work in Brazil (outside of Sao Paulo) and Nicaragua (near Managua).  The poor I encountered there were much different than those in the US.  But they are still different than the people that Fr. Emmanuel serves in the Congo."
Wanting My Life To Mean Something:  "I want my life to mean something ... I don't want to just go along focusing on how life can serve me.  I'm restless with my state in life, maybe even a little in my job - I love the hours, the freedom it gives my weekends, I've even found ways to occupy myself on Sunday evenings.  All that and I'm not sure I'm making any difference, any contribution to the world, any improvement to the world.  Maybe this job can be a means to an end - it can be the financial funding to what I do that makes a difference, a contribution, a change to the world."
As I write this I can imagine what you are thinking and want to say to me, "Katie, you're life means something.  You've done many things for the community and for me."  But I feel I’m being called to more. I want to make a real difference in this world.  I want to win souls. 
I want to have a joy so deep in my heart that is radiates from my being and others can't help but notice it. When I met Father Emmanuel, he had this joy.  He was excited about life.  I want some of that joy, deep down in my soul.  It may not make a ton of sense, but the Lord is calling and I am responding.
I am asking you for a favor, too. Going to the Congo is going to be an amazing and difficult experience for me.  I'll be living without electricity and indoor plumbing for a at least 2 of the weeks I'm away in Father's Village of Mukumary outside of Lodja.  There's always a risk of contracting a disease when traveling to the 3rd world – particularly yellow fever and malaria.  I'm taking all necessary precautions, but the risk still exists.  So, I'm asking for your time: just 2 or 3 minutes each day to pray with and for me.  I would love to take your prayer intentions with me on my journey, bringing them to the people of the Congo, offering up the small sufferings I have for you, and I would appreciate nothing more than if you committed to pray for me. 
Each year on my birthday I contemplate what journeys I've taken in my life, what I've done for the Lord, how I've served others, and my experiences in general.  This year on my 29th birthday, I'll be in the Congo, 7,256 miles from home contemplating where God has placed me, his purpose for my life, His Will in the Divine Plan for Salvation.  I know that my role is small, seemingly insignificant; however, maybe I will have an impact on just one soul - maybe just my own soul.
If my words have inspired you in any way to give to Father's community, I would ask that you let me know.  I am planning to take an extra 'checked bag' with me that will have small items they need in their village (Father has requested pens, pencils, T-Shirts, reading glasses, and juice powder for the villagers) or if you would like to contribute to their parish mission financially you can send a check to me and I will make one large wire transfer to his bank in the Congo upon my return.  Any funds contributed will go directly toward their mission, not my trip - the Lord has provided for my journey.

We are all part of something greater, something bigger than just ourselves and our community.  We are all part of this great human family.  I hope you, my family and friends, will come with me to visit the members of our family in the Congo.
If you are around Charlotte, I would ask that you consider joining me for Mass on March 5th at 8:30am at St. Thomas Aquinas.  The intention is for my journey and is right before I go to the airport.
I thank you for your prayers most of all and can't wait to share this journey!  Also thank you for reading through this, I know that it is long, but wanted to convey all of my thoughts.

2 comments:

  1. Awesome Katie!! How do I donate to Father's parish mission? God bless you! Cindy

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  2. Praying for your trip and your experience. God Bless!!

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