One sunny weekend, a few months ago, my husband, my daughter, and I went out for a walk on a local trail. On our way back to our car, we were caught up in a conversation when a pair of Mormon missionaries rode up to us on their bikes and pulled over to talk to us about Jesus. I was perfectly fine with sending them on their way; after all - they were coming across the combined experience of a Catholic school teacher and a youth minister/director of faith formation with a bachelor's in theology - they weren't about to convert our beliefs. My husband, however, was eager to engage them in a conversation about their faith and theology - dead set on evangelizing the evangelizers. We delved into a conversation about Scripture (whipping out bibles less than five minutes into the conversation), the words of Christ, the Sacraments, the Trinity, the history of our various faiths, and so much more. As the missionaries mounted their bikes, Anthony challenged them to really think about the topics we'd discussed and pray on them. We parted ways, and it wasn't long before Anthony and I began discussing (1) how much the Catholic Church needs to evangelize in that manner - boldly talking to people about Jesus and (2) how invigorating it was to do something that we are both passionate about together. In that single conversation, we were able to share the faith and build on each other's strengths and it was exhilarating. Something was awakened deep in our souls and we longed for more. In a way, it was our own little road to Emmaus - our hearts were on fire as we walked and the Scriptures were opened. We left the trail that day, excited, as though we were coming upon a great invitation to something more, knowing that Christ was beckoning us to listen closely and follow Him to wherever it would lead us. We started praying about what this new found fire meant for our lives. We had an idea - one that occurred to both of us nearly immediately - but it seemed crazy. How could we jump into such a radical change of lifestyle? Like we always do when faced with moments of great significance or trial, we prayed a novena. We started with The Novena of Surrender to the Will of God. (SO good!) Feeling at peace, but confident that God was leading us to keep praying about this seemingly outrageous (though increasingly exciting) idea, we started another nine day novena - this time to the saint who has been our greatest intercessor: St. Thérèse. I literally cannot begin to tell you how much dear St. Thérèse has interceded in our life - from our dating, our engagement, our marriage, even for our daughter who bears her name - she continues to guide us through the thick and thin of life. After all nine days had passed, and we had finished the novena, we agreed: the flames of desire welling up within us had only grown. We had to take the next step. Christ was calling us forth, beckoning us out onto the water. We both met with our spiritual directors, and having passed the final test of approval, we decided to pursue our decision - to become FOCUS Missionaries! But deciding to apply was only the first step, we still had to be accepted. The next few weeks were spent pouring over and preparing our applications. When we finally finished, we hit submit and waited. Having barely made the deadline for the very last scheduled interview weekend of the year, we felt overjoyed when we were both offered an interview! We had made it, and we were thrilled. The interview weekend was intense - three days of business attire, meet and greets, and interviews - all while wrangling an 11 month old was no easy task. I'm just going to go ahead and credit St. Thérèse for our little girl's amazing behavior. One of my favorite moments with her during that weekend was in adoration. Anthony and I knelt in the back as she played on the floor. All at once, she stood up, ran toward the monstrance and waved "Hi!" to Jesus with great joy and childlike simplicity. It made this Catholic mama so happy. The interview weekend, though a marathon of events for a small family, was beautiful. We felt welcomed into this amazing family of other people who, like us, are passionate about the Catholic faith, passionate about bringing Jesus and the Sacraments to a world so desperately in need of Him. We were surrounded by people who see the need for a ministry like FOCUS. We left on fire. As we left, we were told it would be about two weeks until we got a call that would inform us if we had been accepted to be missionaries or not. The days seemed to crawl as we excitedly answered every. single. phone. call. in eager anticipation of what might come. We waited... and waited... and waited... Then came the call - we've been accepted to be FOCUS missionaries! SO NOW WHAT? Next up is New Staff Training (NST - which was SUPER confusing to me during the interview weekend because I kept thinking they were talking about non-stress tests that you get while pregnant...) is at Ave Maria University in Florida for five weeks from the end of May to the beginning of July. While there, we will receive our campus assignment. From training we'll return to Colorado, pack up whatever we can and move to whichever town our campus assignment is in (and yes, of course, our daughter is coming with for ALL of the fun!). FOCUS asks for a minimum two-year commitment, so this will be our life for at least the next two years. We'll be fundraising our entire salary as we ask for partners to join us in our mission to reach souls on college campuses across America. So now it is time to step out of the boat, leave the life we've known and built in Colorado and go where He calls us. Your prayers are, as always, much appreciated!
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