After being separated for a whole two weeks, the team took flight from Pittsburgh, New York and Chicago and made it to our destination of Vienna this past Monday. We were picked up at the airport by a very generous professor, and headed to beautiful Gaming where we spent the week surrounded by majestic mountains and the beautiful Kartause community. It was the perfect place to be strengthened and filled up for our summer in Russia. We spent the week having daily holy hours as a team, taking Russian lessons from Arena, an LCI student, watching Fr. Robert Barron's talks on the New Evangelization, and were able to go to daily Mass thanks to the generosity of Jennifer Healy, who drove us each morning this week to a little town called Gresten where we enjoyed the Mass in German. We also spent some much needed time on the “fun court” playing soccer with the Kartause kids and have the bruises to prove it. All of these gifts we received this week were our “food for the journey” as we head into the Russia mission.
Many of the families invited us into their homes for meals throughout the week, which we happily accepted. Through the support of the LCI program we heard many talks throughout the week to prepare us for mission- a talk on mission by Meghan Schofield, a talk on teaching ESL (english as a second language) by Teresa Hess, and a talk on doing mission work in Russia as well as teaching children by Bobette Huzovich. We also had the blessing of observing Jennifer Healy teach English to her LCI students from this semester. Suffice to say, we feel much more prepared than we did last year going into the mission. As we look forward to Russia, we cannot wait to meet and serve the people of Magadan. We are on a mission for souls. Our goal is to help bring home our brothers and sisters to our heavenly Father, and spending the week in Gaming reminded us of that.
Whether it was greeting people in the grocery store, playing with the Kartause kids, soaking up the wisdom of their parents, seeing friendly faces at Mass, or spending time as a team, we encountered souls who inspired and loved us and who enkindled our hearts for mission. Someone who shared this missionary heart was little JoJo Huzovich who was crying after Mass because he said he wanted to go to Russia with us. Even this was a reminder of how much we should desire to go on this mission, of what a gift it is to serve the Lord and His Church in this way. It is humbling to say the least. As Meghan and Bobette put it in their talks this week, “Christ has gone before us to prepare the way. He has already started the work and we are participating in it.”
As we leave Gaming and those who have lovingly nick-named us “the Russians”, we head to our cultural excursion with Fr. Michael in St. Petersburg. Please continue to pray for us and this mission. Know that all of you who have supported us in your prayers, words, and donations are in our prayers.
The Russia Mission Team