As we closed our time in Rome the Lord really tested our trust and showed us that we are on His time, not our own. He continued to place beautiful people in our path to reveal a little more of Himself to us and that they might pray for us as we head to Russia. We are constantly reminded that this is not about us but about the Lord and the people we encounter. Our last day in Rome we missed a train back to St. Peter’s square that put us in a tight squeeze to make our 7:00 train to Vienna. A little out of breath, dragging our bags behind us, and working up quite a sweat, we made our train which took us to Austria and we have been in Gaming now for four days.
While in Gaming we have again been incredibly blessed by the support we received from the families here, the teachers, and the LCI (Language and Catechetical Institute) Program. Jennifer Healy has helped us in structuring our retreat here by providing opportunities to learn about Russian culture, the Theology of Mission, and the Russian language. We are making our way through a New Evangelization series by Fr. Robert Baron as well and are taking Russian lessons with a LCI student, Olga, who has been very patient with us to say the least.
All of these opportunities to learn and to prepare for mission have gotten us extremely excited for our time in Russia. As we sat with Olga today practicing our Russian, the excitement we felt when we could spell out the words she was saying was comparable to the excitement a child feels when they successfully riding their bike for the first time. The Lord has mercifully multiplied our efforts to prepare for this mission and continues to fill us up this week. The children here in Gaming have also been a huge blessing as they bring so much joy to our time here and make us eager to meet the children in Magadan.
Along with these consolations, a theme from our time in Gaming so far has been a reality check. We have begun to realize what the Lord is asking of us this summer and it has been very humbling. As members of Regina Angelorum, “we realize that the fight against satan’s powers cannot be taken alone” (taken from the Regina Angelorum covenant). This is why God in His goodness has given us the gift of each other. Please continue to keep us in your prayers and pray for an outpouring of humility and faithfulness into our hearts this summer. Everyday we are each in a battle for our souls and the souls of those we love. In six days we leave to battle for the souls of our brothers and sisters in Russia. Please join us in prayer and in the Eucharist as we follow our Lady into battle of simply being Catholic- of fighting the good fight of faith! You all continue to be in our prayers.
Your Russia Mission Team
Yesterday was incredibly blessed to say the least. The Lord has again and again reminded us of the need to be humble and the need to love and recognize the personhood of all those we encounter.
Just minutes after leaving Father Michael, we ran into a Swiss Guard friend, Simon, and had incredible conversations with him discussing our faith,humility, and of the need for the joy of the gospel that our Holy Father has asked of us. Simon reminded us of the need for humility and to be vessels of the Lord as he spoke of getting attention from people as a Swiss guard and realizing that it is not him who gets attention but his uniform. In the same way, especially heading into mission, we are humbled to remember that any love and attention we get from those we serve ultimately belongs to our Lord. Any goodness people see in us is simply a reflection of our God.
As we get closer to mission, please pray for our humility and that we may realize our smallness, seeing all people and experiences through the eyes of our Lord. This mission would not be possible without your prayers, and be assured of ours for you.
Today was an early morning as Katalyn, Theresa, and I woke up for the Papal audience. The birds greeted us as we walked to the bus stop and we made our way to St. Peter's square. Although we were a little too close for comfort to many strangers, it was a blessing to come together with all of our brothers and sisters to see our Holy Father.
We then spent lunch at the PNAC (Pontifical North American College) with some of Katalyn's friends Deacon Mike Conway and seminarian Adam Potter where we received a free lunch (score!) and had the opportunity to talk about our faith and our mission with faith-filled men who are sacrificing their lives to serve Mother Church.
Theresa, Katalyn, and I have all agreed and said multiple times today how incredibly blessed we are! The Lord has been incredibly generous to us already by showering us with beauty in so many ways. From the beauty of Rome, to the sincere love that pours out from our Holy Father, to spending time in prayer at the Franciscans of Atonement convent, to the company of holy, faithful men, to God Himself- we have been incredibly blessed and yes, a bit spoiled by The Lord today.
As we sit in the O'Hare airport in Chicago, Katalyn and I (Hannah) cannot believe that we are actually leaving for the Russia mission today. Our other third, Theresa Weisbrod, just left from JFK airport and we are close behind. So far looking to what lies ahead, there seems to be one consensus among the three of us: we have no idea why we are going but we are so confident and peaceful that this is exactly where the Lord is calling us.