Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Goodbyes and New Beginnings :)

Hello everyone! This is my last post saying goodbye as a missionary of St. John in Brazil.  The Lord has blessed me with a year of hard work and prayer that I now hold in my heart forever. I thank everyone who helped make this possible.

Saying my goodbyes to my students at my farewell party in the Mary Magdalene house. 
Not an easy thing to do! :(

My kids wrote heartfelt notes on the board. 
Volte Sempre Gaby! Come Back Always!

Our last dinner all together visiting our friend Silmara's new home.

Taking our last picture with my Irma Dulce's students where I gave adult English classes.

And what is happening now?

Well before leaving we invited people from the area to take part of our mission. We showed the video below to give them an idea of what we do. Now you can see it too!


Since our volunteer meeting Sonia has been helping with Arts and Crafts. 

Gabriel, our music teacher, has been travelling on a pilgrimage with his entire family since his brother, Br. John Paul, took his final vows in France last week.  This is a picture of them in Rome. Congratulations Br. John Paul and thank you for giving your life to God in a such a beautiful way.

I want to give a shout out to Fr. Francis Therese for all of his hard work and dedication in the Alto Mission.  I couldn't have done it without him. 

 He recently went to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage with Eagle Eye Ministries. Above are a few highlights to enjoy.  He will be spending the rest of the summer in the States helping out in various Eagle Eye events.

Meanwhile in Brazil Kevin and Kara are giving classes to the kids and giving all they got!

Here are the kids preparing for Pentecost Sunday!

This is a short video I took walking to silent prayer on the day I left. It's special because it was in silent prayer and specifically in this chapel that I learned to give my heart to Him. It's difficult to describe everything that has happened this past year but one thing I know for sure is I tasted the goodness of the Lord and there is no going back now. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

St. John Missions on a roll!

Long time no post! A lot has happened these in these last couple of months.
Let's take a look at a few highlights...

The lovely kids of Alto da Esperan├ža saying HI with Fr. Francis Therese and Br. John Paul, a new added member to the team!

We have incorporated story time and reading traditional folk tales of Brazil. Although it has been a challege at times it is a great way to encourage their imagination and interest in the world of books.

Br. John Paul in art class painting with the kids.

We've also added a class that encourages the kids to problem-solving and building while still having fun! Here we had a project with straws and tape to construct geomotrical shapes.

Luciano and his finished project

In another class sparking their creative thinking by building a castle fort!

Good job team!

Gabriel has returned from his mission trip in Mexico and is helping out again in Alto by teaching music classes and building puzzles with the kids. Thank you Gabriel! We love you!

We had the opportunity to take the kids on a field trip to the Sacred Art Museum of Bahia. By exposing the children to beauty of the Church we hope to open their eyes to a world outside of the favela.

. Unfortunately we couldn't take pictures inside the museum since it is not allowed but here are a couple of picturea from online so you can get an idea :)

Here we are waiting at the eterance of the museum explaining the "Do's and Don'ts" when we are inside.

Taking a walk at the gardens outside of the museum.

The Tridium and Easter

Fr. Francis Therese celebrating the Office of the Passion

Our epic Pascal fire lighting up the Easter candle

Bringing light to the chapel on Easter Vigil waiting for the Resurrection...

He is RISEN! Congratulations Fr. Francis Therese in celebrating your first Easter Mass. 
We are so proud of you!

Hope you enjoyed our latest post. Bye! You'll hear from us soon :)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ash Wednesday and Goodbyes

This past week, the brothers and missionaries took our silent retreat about 30 minutes away in a little town located behind the Church of Bomfim on the bay.  We stayed with a order of sisters who were both gracious hosts and delicious cooks.  The retreat was simple enough. The day was filled with silence and was punctuated throughout with day with our divine office, rosary, mass, adoration, and talks by Bishop, Dom Marcos Eugenio.  It was a cozy retreat center with beautiful trees and a cozy little chapel where we spent hours in meditation and prayer with our Lord and prepared for lent.  It was not always easy . . . but I believe we all grew closer to each other and to Christ through the experience as he revealed Himself to us in the silence of our hearts.  


The time has come for Faith and I to say goodbye to our wonderful Brazilian family!  Although we are both excited to see our families again (though we’re told of snow storms plaguing the United States? Definitely not cool) and explore what God has in store for us in this new chapter in our lives, it is a bittersweet homecoming.  We have met some beautiful people and have been welcomed graciously into their lives and into their communities.

 Faith and I were blessed to have two “farewell” parties, one with the children in alto and one with the brothers.   The party in alto was exactly that . . . a party! So many of our children and their parents and people from the parish came and celebrated with us with music and dance and delicious food.  I have never received such love and saying goodbye was one of the hardest I've experienced yet.  Although the language barrier is still present and I was not able to communicate very much with the people in the time here, I learned on this trip there are many other ways of communicating love and fellowship without using your words. 

Our farewell party with the brothers was a final dinner and also doubled as a belated birthday for faith, whose birthday fell over our silent retreat.  The patio outside was decorated with Christmas lights and Gabi and the brothers prepared dinner for us and they surprised us with a lovely 
(and delicious!) cake.  Faith and I were able to express some of our favorite memories and our gratitude for this unique experience in our lives.

It feels fitting to be returning home at the start of lent . . . today’s gospel spoke of fasting and of the true spirit of prayer and giving alms.  The lessons I have learned at a missionary and as a Catholic I plan to carry with me into this season of repentance and throughout my whole life, hoping to shed away the things that further keep me from loving God as He deserves and serving those around me as a perpetual missionary, even in my home town.  God bless you all and please keep Faith and I in your prayers, and we hope you have a very blessed lent. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Faith and Katie Get Ready to Say Goodbye!

Hello and God Bless! It seems as if we have just arrived but already Katie and I have been in beautiful Brazil for over five months. As we continue to work we remember every now and then that we only have a little over two week left to serve God and those around us in this wonderful mission. Brother Francis Therese spoke to us at our Tuesday meeting about the importance of staying present. As the days slip by each one becomes even more precious. Francis Therese reminded us that we must live each moment of mission as if it is our last and that each day we should attempt to give all that we are and all that we have.  With that in mind, there is still much work to be done! This week I taught my last arts and crafts class. The children made masks for carnival.

The Finished Product! 

(I gave the boy rocket ship stickers to try to make it less girly) 

They loved the project and were very attentive and well organized. We have high standards for the children in the classroom at the Magedelina House. We expect them to be respectful, cooperative and to work hard on the task at hand. The children seem to respond well to our high expectations, and each week I have noticed a slow but gradual improvement. 

The Entrance of Alto

Katie and Gabi and I continue to make stronger connections with the women at Irma Dulce House. We sit in on two classes on Wednesday and Friday mornings. The Teachers Christina, Gina and Dani are all wonderful examples of Christian love. They know all of their students by name and greet each of them with a warm hug and a kind smile. Many of their students live in the Irma Dulce Hospital and have mental and physical handicaps. Their students come in, looking a little uncomfortable or out of place, and within minutes are happy and at ease. Brother Francis Therese has been coordinating with Irma House workers and within the next few months God willing, we will have our bakery up and working and being used by Irma House, as well as aid for members of the Alto community who suffer from alcoholism. In addition, Irma House is looking into having a counselor for the children of the Alto community to speak with.

This is my last opportunity to write a blog post with the Salvador mission. This has truly been a life changing experience. The people here live their lives with eyes ever fixed on Christ. At first I was struck by the amount of time we spent in the chapel on a daily basis (about 3 and a half to 4 hours a day) and wondered  if some of that time should be spent on projects instead. But now that I have seen the impact of this lifestyle I understand clearly that my perspective was flawed. God is our top priority. Above all else we are here to love and serve him and it is because of this conscious decision, to love and serve God, that the work we do here is fruitful. We are all peaceful and joyful on a regular basis, and doors continue to open for us.  In addition to our regular prayer schedule we have now added a Rosary, and things are now going even more smoothly. When Christ is truly the top priority and focus, He takes care of the little human things. Thank you so much for all of your support and God Bless! It has been an honor serving this mission.  As always you are in our prayers! 
-In Christ, Faith 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Water Party!

We are getting desperate for snow, and have taken to even defrosting the refrigerator 
With rumors flying around from the United States about an impending blizzard, Faith and I are enjoying what sun and warmth we can get in our last month!

Chilly snapshots from Pennsylvania! 

 This week we continued our English lessons at the Irma Dulce center working on basic phrases such as “I am happy, sad, hot, cold, tired” and most importantly, “hungry”.  On Wednesday mornings we now participate in a clay/mosaics class and are able to practice Portuguese while meeting people from the Santo Antonio community.  Unfortunately I didn’t snap a photo of our clay creations, but it was probably for the best since my hands were by default covered in clay.
The Irma Dulce Center

Beautiful mass at Santo Antonio

This morning Br. Francis Therese co-celebrated mass at the local parish of Santo Antonio in honor of Irma Dulce.  Many of the co-ordinators and students from the Irma Dulce center were there to celebrate with us a lovely mass.

Speaking of the heat , last Friday we threw a “water party” for the children of alto which consisted of hosing down 20+ kids down with cold water with lots of jumping, screaming, and playing of soccer.  

Best wishes from us in Brazil and were hoping you stay warm wherever you are!