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This past week I had the opportunity to be a Eucharist minister for the year 8 and 9 classes at Mass along with Katrina. I always find it a privilege to be the one to give Jesus to others. It’s a humbling experience if it’s taken seriously. This experience was nothing but humble but more of frustrating and disappointing. As the youth were coming up many of them had no idea what to do. Confused as to whether to ask for a blessing or receive “the body of Christ”. A couple were laughing as they lined up, talking and possibly mocking what was going on. Some said “Yes please” as a response or “cheers” when I offered the Bread. I remember specifically one guy actually grabbing the host out of my hand when I held it up to his face. You have no idea the anger that was going through my entire body during this time. I was the last Eucharist minister left because although they might not have been confirmed or believed, I made sure that they said an “Amen” if they were going to consume this Holy Sacrament. I wasn’t messing around this time and they knew that. It’s so disheartening to work at a Catholic high school with many of them not practicing their faith and having respect for other peoples faith. Even Father Stephen was disappointed. These youth need to know the truth. It’s up to us, the ones that actually believe and know Jesus Christ to tell them and show them! If they aren’t getting it from their family or teachers, they need to be hearing it from their peers. Australia especially needs young, courageous, faithful, authentic, ministers to bring the Light into the Darkness of these hearts.
I feel like God isn’t done with me traveling just yet. I don’t know why but I do. But maybe I’m confusing my thoughts with what He wants for me. I really feel that I’m called to be somewhere after my NET year is over. I feel that I’m not done meeting new people and hearing people’s stories. I’m not done professing my faith and helping others out. I need to be somewhere, I don’t know where though. He hasn’t revealed that yet. It could be perhaps back at home in my own city who knows. I’m open to His calling though. Wherever He wants me to go, whoever He wants me to see and whatever He wants me to feel, I’m open.
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You know when stubbornness or pride take place in life and you’re stuck in the middle of choosing between getting past it or holding onto it? I felt like that during praise and worship tonight. Hands in the pocket, bopping my body and humming the music. I can tell you I was investing but I can also tell you I wasn’t fully investing. Part of me was holding back because I wasn’t “feeling” it. I wasn’t “feeling” like praising, “feeling” like surrendering or “feeling” like me? Part of me was telling me to get over myself and praise Him during this tough time but the other half was being stubborn. A battle within which was happening during prayer. So for a couple of songs, I continued to battle. Then something came over me and I pushed through and gave into His mercy. I let go of the anger, resentment and everything else I was holding onto and praised. It felt so good. I smiled. I laughed. Is it that simple? Is God’s love that simple? Is God’s graces that simple? Is He that simple? What if He is. What if the entire time we over complicate His love.? We over think everything that He is doing within us and for us. We choose, we fight and do anything to not Believe. I do it too. I know it’s probably easier to give into His love but I still refuse. I still put myself before Him at times. I don’t even know where I’m getting at with this. Basically, I need to get over myself during the tough times and pray for God’s graces to get me through it. I need to stop by stubborn and holding onto the pride that I have and let go of it. Choose God during the times I don’t want to. Choose praise. Choose love. Choose live.
Today has been hectic. Things have been catching up to me and stressing me out. I honestly wish I could freeze time and I can just sit. SIT. We had a open team praise and worship at the church today with old peeps and 3 of our youth. We’ve praised with them a couple time before and it’s been amazing. Hands in the air of different generations, proclaiming their love through their words and being a witness to life in front of me. We always get affirmed from the old people that they’ve been praying for something like this to happen. Prayers are answered. As we were praying though, something in me wasn’t giving in. Something was troubling my heart. Something didn’t want to surrender in this time of worship. I couldn’t do it and was holding back. I’ll talk about that in my next post. After prayer ended, I did my peace hugs and said my good byes. As I told my team that I was going to leave early because I needed to get out, get some fresh air. Walked home, filled up my water bottle, grabbed my laptop, stickers, camera and some paint. Made my way to the local train station where I am currently sitting gazing at empty cattle trains under the street lights. Can’t really pin point why I enjoy coming here but it brings me peace. Shiz, two stray dogs came trotting at me and now my heart is racing! Far out, I don’t like dogs. Anyways back to my peace haha. Getting some fresh air feels good for the time being but I hope it can fill me up until I get back to reality.
There are days like today where I don’t want to wake up. That I’d rather give up. I’m too exhausted to finish the race. There’s so much going on with me trying to figure out what’s happening next year while trying to do ministry here in Emerald. There’s no time for me to sit, relax and not think about anything. At this moment in life, everything is happening at once. I need a break but I can’t have one. I need some answers but He’s not giving me none. It’s super frustrating and it’s tiring me out. If it’s not one thing it’s another. Thing is I can’t take a day off whenever I need it because tomorrow we have ministry in the morning. It’s never ending. The moments where I feel like crap, I still have to push through for the greater Glory. I have to put on that mask that I don’t necessarily like to put on because I don’t want to hinder our ministry with the youth. It’s difficult being a minister 24/7. You can’t take a break because if you’re not ministering to the youth, you’re ministering to your team. So what happens when I’m at this point where I can’t move forward? God’s grace saves the day.
During our last AWAKEN group that night, we had a discussion of how we have grown this year whether it be with family, friends or personally. We also talked about faith and what do from here on as we leave Emerald. Some youth were scared as they depended on us a lot for their faith and support. Others felt they were ready and prepared to take on their own faith and live it out. A mixture of feelings was throughout the room but one feeling that I felt was this is only the beginning for them. At least 7 or 8 of these youth are on fire for God. They’re willing to put themselves out there through their actions and facebook status’s. They’re willing to gather after mass to go for a maccas run together to get a praise and worship sesh once a month. They even made a facebook page called “Stand Firm” for any young people of faith to be real and find support within the other young people in Emerald. There’s something that’s going to explode but I have no idea what it is. But I believe with all my heart and soul that they can do this. That they can make this work. That they can make change happen next year within the church and school. I see change. My hope and prayer is that they push through the feelings, challenges and everything else that will come their way in order to bring Glory to Him. Too stoked for what God has planned for these youth next year.
It was such a bittersweet moment on Saturday and Sunday. As we gathered as many youth as we can to help out with readings, music and other things. Most of them all sat in front of the pews during mass to represent the amount of youth there at church. Although I was expecting more people to show up to our last youth mass, I reckon the ones that did were the ones we were closest with. The community surprised us as they made us sit down in front of the alter as they thanked us with gifts and kind words by a couple of the youth that I can now call brothers and sisters. The girls on my team were tearing up while I had the biggest genuine smile on my face. One of the yr 5 kids from our younger youth group ended their speech with “God is Good!” as everyone replied in “All the Time!” Now that right there did it for me. I can’t believe how close we’ve gotten to this community this year. How close we’ve gotten to these youth. Emerald is my home. These people that I see, are my family. It hasn’t truly hit me yet but I’m going to miss them a whole lot. Far out. I can’t do this.
I’m sort of speechless as to what to write at the moment. I want to talk about young adults group that took place tonight but no words come to mind to explain…I’m happy. I wish you can see what’s happening here in Emerald. We had about 8 young adults from school show up and our discussion was on prayer. Many of them shared their own experiences with the group. Some you could tell were nervous to talk but still did it. We ended the night with praise and worship. These kids have never really been introduced to any type of praise and worship. Tonight was probably a couple’s first time with this type of prayer. How beautiful it was to see them investing and trying to get into it. Some of our IGnITE kids were there who started encouraging the others and had their hands in the air unashamedly. You have no idea how big this is. How much God is working through these youth. Miracles are being happened at the moment. Ah man. Things are good. I hope and pray they continue with this as we leave in two weeks.
Being single and a missionary on NET which means (no dating), I’ve thought more than a few time of dating. Opposite effect haha. But really though about dating, pure dating and the purpose of dating. As a young Catholic guy, I would want a healthy relationship. A relationship where I wouldn’t get caught up in lust, attraction, jealously or whatever. A healthy Christian relationship where we support one another, pray for one another and lead each other to be better holy people in this world. But doesn’t that sound boring?! Limiting yourself on the physical sexual activities or not having “fun”. Sure, it means no sex, watching where and how far you go. But I forget about the bigger picture that’s being presented here because I want the pleasure and satisfaction now. Can’t wait till I’m married, that’s ages away! But all that waiting is for a purpose and that anticipating will not fail me but happily excite me. I don’t want to get caught up in lust because I know that feeling. That feeling feels good, real good but I know how damaging it is. I want to strive for a pure relationship so I know that feeling of waiting for everything that we wanted to do with one another was worth it. I know it’s going to difficult. Probably one of the most difficult things I will ever encounter. It won’t be easy but what will make it easier is that somebody that has the same mindset and belief. I need someone that wants a pure relationship just as much as I do and will work on it with me so that we may do this whole “dating” “relationship” thing the way God intended to be.
Is it normal to feel that way? To be honest I can’t wait to see my friends, family and spend countless hours catching up over American food. I can close my eyes and picture it from my bedroom. I’ve realize over this year how blessed I am to have the people that I have in my life. I’m beyond blessed and I wish I could tell everyone individually how much they mean to me. But that’s not what I’m scared of. I’m scared of going back into reality. The real world. The world that tells me that I’m 22 years old with no degree, no job, and no girlfriend. I don’t have a plan of action. My plan relies on His plan and people don’t understand that at times. I don’t want to live a life of mediocrity. I want to live a life of adventure. Life where I can only hold on to faith. A life where I can hear different stories and meet different people. A life worth living ya know? That’s what I’m scared of. Not knowing what the future hold for me and being content with whatever God has planned for me.
One of the hardest things to do as a man is to admit when you’re wrong. For all the women that are reading this, if you have a guy come up to you saying he’s sorry for whatever he has done and apologizing full heartedly, just know it takes a lot of guts, courage and humility to do that. It’s not easy. Couple of days ago, things weren’t going so good. I felt personalities were clashing, visions were not focused and patience was absent. I didn’t handle myself well at all. I was short, rude and had this bitterness in my mood. Which was taken out on a person. At the time, I was like whatever. It’s just one of those days. Everyone has one. I didn’t do anything wrong, we weren’t just clicking and we talked about that. It was all said and done. But there was still something inside of me that felt I should apologize. Although it was done, I felt wrong, felt bad. Even though during that heated time, I didn’t think I was in the wrong. I was right for the way I acted. But that’s not being a man. A man admits when he is wrong and asks for forgiveness. I came into this year wanting to be challenged but never thought I actually challenge myself. I want to be a better person when I leave NET. To do that, I must seek the ways I need to grow. This was one way I needed to grow and know that it will benefit me if I do overcome. If I learn to suck up my pride and admit when I’m wrong, hopefully it’ll help me with my future relationships when the situation pops up. That’s what I did. I prayed before hand to send me some humility and admitted I was wrong for my behavior even though partially I didn’t think it was wrong. After that conversation, both moods were changed, friendship was reunited and things were good again. It’s was worth it.
Earlier this year we I and Odyn went lapping around Emerald with some of our kids from youth group. Lapping is basically driving a car around the town, windows down, music blasting and maybe challenging someone to a friendly race? Haha Never raced but did all of the above. The music that was playing was some good secular music. You know that good beat, bopping of the head, get crunk type of music. When that was done, I texted one of the boys, the next time we go lapping together, we’ll be blasting Jesus music and screaming Jesus out the windows. Months and months later and after going to IGNITE where lives were changed; I told the same kid “Remember earlier this year I said the next time we go lapping, we’d blast Jesus music?” He remembered. Challenged was accepted. The team and this one mate went through the city blaring “One Way” on the stereo system! He even started screaming out the window to random people “Jesus Loves You!” and “I love Jesus, what of it!” He was going nuts! It was great. It was not only great that He was having fun doing this but it was great to see how far he’s come. I mean, that’s the stuff I’d do back home with only a few good homies that have my back and have a passion for Christ. I’ve only known this guy for about 10 months and He’s going berserk in the car doing the Jesus thing.
There’s few moments in life where I’m there, sitting or standing, eyes closed, thoughts through the mind running and tears from my eyes start pouring. I call that “the God is soo Good” moment. I love it when they come but they don’t come as frequently as I would like them to. I guess that means they mean more when they do come. But this moment happened at the IGNITE conference which we took 8 youth from Emerald. Now 8 youth sounds like a small amount. Don’t get me wrong it is, but let’s put it into perspective. Emerald is a small country town. If you’ve never lived in a country anything, they are real laid back and carefree. There’s only 1 Catholic church with 2 other denominations around the block. When it comes to activities for youth, the church is dead. There’s 1 Catholic high school we work with that hardly has any practicing Catholic students or teachers. Talking about faith, God and anything spiritual is a no go amongst this society of young. I mean it’s spoken but not outspoken. Get the picture? Now how does 8 youth sound? Praise God. Working up to this event of IGNITE there were many prayers being said, some tears being shed and doubts of His will being questioned. I cannot stress much organizing went in this event. Things after things were going wrong for us. No transportation. Not enough money. Permission form mix ups. No chaperones. In the end, it all worked out though. We made it. God made it happen. The first day when we rocked up, the staff gathered before the start of the conference to pray it up. About 50 people gathered in front of the big stage and Pat Keady lead worship. As he lead, I closed my eyes, started bopping to the music, hands began to clap then moved from clapping to placing them above on my head as if I just sprinted a 100 m dash then trying to catch my breath. A shortness of breath took place and my heart was running, it was gone. Tears started to flow first on my face, then nose then ground, my hands weren’t quick enough to catch them all. Yeap, it was the “the God is soo Good” moment. I couldn’t believe we made it. I couldn’t believe this was happening. A dream for my team come true. I was filled completely with Happiness. That happiness that only Jesus can bring me. That happiness that I spent years searching for and found it within Him. Those are the moments I won’t forget.
Every Friday the vinnies group goes down to the nearby river to help feed the poor, homeless and backpackers. It’s a beautiful thing that they do and I’ve been blessed to help out a few times. The first time I managed to help out, I was shocked in how many young people there were. Ages from 18-25 I reckon. Most of them just traveling through, looking for work and finding there way (I’m not quite sure). But last Friday I met this guy from New Zealand. Didn’t catch his name but we started to talk a bit about what he was doing. He told me that there wasn’t any work in NZ so he came back to Emerald for his old job at the petrol station. Within minutes, he was hired. He talked about the different places he’s been to, traveling around exploring the world. Later in that conversation, found out he was 21 years old with a degree in hospitality. Blew my mind to find out how young he was. A year younger than I, already with a major and traveling around. Running into young travelers such as that dude, somewhat inspires me to live on the edge. To travel while we’re young and explore what we can. What a sick as story to tell your friends and children the places you’ve been to and the people you’ve met. I would love to do that. I’m sorta am doing that! But I would love to continue this journey. Only thing that holds me back is the world telling me to go back to school, get a degree, start your career, make money and find a wife etc. I respect that, I do. If there was a way I could do both things at once, I reckon I’d run at that chance. It’s tricky. It’s risky. Maybe I should go back to uni, find my career then explore later. Or volunteer my self with another year, see different places now then work on my studies later. Decisions. SUCK.
I want to go back home a changed person. A changed person not in a way that family cannot recognize me but in a way that I’ve matured in my behavior and in my faith. It would be a shame in my mind giving up a year of my life and not changing even a tad bit. Thing is, I don’t think I’ll ever know if I’ve changed or not. How can I tell? I guess that’s for my family to decide when I’m back at home. But I do hope besides preaching the Good News that I’ve grown up a bit within this year.
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