This is why we do what we do. (Guest Post: Julie Bushaw)

I had the awesome opportunity to tag along on an NAU hiking trip to Sedona, AZ with around 60 other students.

Taking a break from cliff jumping, rock climbing, and swimming I was able to sit down with a girl named Bre.  She started explaining to me that she was applying to go to school for a year to earn a degree in life-long ministry.  She felt God’s call to apply and hopefully be able to do His work in impoverished countries.

I was excited to meet another missionary and started to explain the work I do with FOCUS.  She asked me a lot of questions about the mission and my Catholic faith and finally thanked me for the work we were doing.  She ended by saying that she hasn’t met many Catholics who actually practice their faith.

I told her that is exactly why I do the work I do, and exactly why FOCUS exists.

I was so thankful to have met her and have the opportunity to reflect on the reason the Lord has called me to this mission.

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Julie is a first year FOCUS missionary from Grand Forks, North Dakota. She graduated with her degree in Elementary Education from the University of South Dakota. 

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Running for your Life

Last night the Newman hosted an event filled with praise and worship, adoration, fellowship and pie. When Josh came home and I asked him how it was he told me about an incredible guy he met named Guor.

Here is an article about Guor’s life:
http://www.nj.com/olympics/index.ssf/2012/08/london_olympics_guor_marial_is.html

He is in Flagstaff training for the summer. He told Josh more about his story: about how he was evangelized in North Sudan, while living with his uncle. Now, in his very different life outside of Sudan, his faith continues to be important to him.

Pretty cool.

Welcome to College, lets go hiking!

Welcoming students here in Flagstaff is a whole new ballgame compared to any college I’ve been to or served at.

So far our team has collaborated with the Newman Center to host some incredible events to welcome new and old students to Flagstaff. These are great opportunities to create friendships and to grow in relationship with students who may not be seeking out the church on campus. But, who wouldn’t be up for a hike in some lava tubes?

Here are some events we have hosted or will host this week:

  • Campus-wide game of Fugitive (about 200 students showed up)
  • Hike through the lava tubes (a cave like structure)
  • Hiking with the Bishop
  • Turn around trip to California Six Flag’s amusement park Magic Mountain
  • Dunk contest on the courts outside the Newman
  • Ice cream social
  • Barbecues after Sunday Masses
  • Hike to Mount Humphrey

Anyone else wondering why you didn’t choose to attend NAU. At least for your freshman year? (Cause I know I am.)

Here are a few pictures from these first few weeks:

Meet our team! (Father Matt, Josh, Me and G, Julie, Mirna and Matthew)

The Newman Staff Retreat/Kickoff Meetings were at a beautiful camp near Morman Lake and the mountains!

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Students preparing to enter the lava tubes. (Photo credit: Aaron Wilson)Image

One of the post mass barbecues. (Photo credit: Erika Strom)

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Students and missionaries at the Student Activities Fair. (Photo Credit: Erika Strom)

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Sending Love and Hope from FLAG.

This is the Life…in Flagstaff

Well we finally got internet, more than a week later than promised, but we’re connected now.

In the last three weeks we’ve officially relocated to a place where hummingbirds float outside, the altitude makes cookies flat and one beer feel like three, and every time we look north we are staring at postcard worthy mountains.

Flagstaff is like the lesson learned after a time of suffering. By that I’m referring to the drive. It was long, and a lot of desert. Then, just when you start to wonder if you are on a perpetual tour of purgatory, trees appear and the air cools. Josh and I were immediately convinced that we would like it here.

Despite my loathing of the moving process, and thanks to Josh’s helpful parents, we got settled quickly. I think it felt like home within the first few days.

I will post pictures soon. Promise.

This week is Welcome week for students at NAU. So, needless to say, Fall Outreach has begun and our family is going to be busy meeting new students during these next few weeks. In fact, Josh is out right now playing a campus-wide game of Fugitive (which I gather is like Cops and Robbers). This is an effort to introduce students to the Missionaries and student leaders. There will be about two hundred students gathering at the Newman to play.

Wish I could be there, but motherhood calls (aka a glass of wine and a few taped episodes of the Big Bang Theory). Pretty great. Though, I will admit, there will probably be posts soon about the difficulties of adjusting to a less than full time position.

I also promise to give updates on Georgie. Ah. He is the best.

Sending love from Flag.

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(photo credit: arizonaforvisitors.com)

This is Convicting

Here is a video of a gentleman that we had the privilege to work with this year. His story is similar to many that we were able to work with at the University of South Dakota. My teammates put some videos of our students together, and I’m so glad they did. When I’m not on campus, it reminds me that our work does not only touch lives, but changes lives.

This fundraising is worth it. This big move to Arizona is worth it. I’ll let Greg (in the video) tell you why.

(There are more videos of other students on this YouTube Channel: usdnewmanfocus)

So, I (thought I) had a bad day

To be totally blunt, I’m not in the mood to update this blog. By the time I sit down at the end of the day I have become unenthused, ungrateful and frankly kind of dramatic. I’ve really been focusing on the difficulties involved in a summer of fundraising, rather than the blessings.

Some nights I convince myself that everyone disproves of our family’s choice to continue in our mission work with FOCUS. Other nights I’m just so certain that the people I’ve called that day (to ask for financial support) have a dart board with my picture on it hanging right by their phone (as if many people really have wall mounted phones anymore). Of course, I know these scenes are all lies the devil places in my tired brain, but instead of acknowledging that fact, and turning to Jesus, I’ve been picking up the remote. Rather let CNN or HGTV distract me then give God ten minutes to hold me. (You know, because seeing some people obsess over their lack of granite countertops and others wonder why our country has so many problems, is so uplifting.)

Dumb, I know. But, hey, I’m just being honest.

What’s so infuriating to me is that I can’t make sense of how I could end my days spent with my spirited husband and beautiful charmer of a son with a “woe is me” attitude. The whole situation feels quite illogical.

So, I’m going back to a basic suggestion from a friend and mentor of mine: End my day by writing out ten very specific things I’m grateful for from the day.

I don’t have to explain why this helps. It’s fairly obvious why somewhat forcing myself to write down gifts I’ve been given today changes my inner conversation with God. My side of the conversation transforms from seriously God, give me a freaking break to (in my case) a silent and humble mental wow followed by an embarrassed smile.

I guess I forgot about that eye doctor and his wife who bent over backwards to encourage us the other night, or those hundreds of families who support what we do, and that husband of mine who brought home those sandals I’ve been eyeing, and of course that healthy kid who looks like me and smiles like his father.

Funny how reality is less depressing then we are tempted to think.

Praise God.

Why We Are Saying Goodbye, Again

Yesterday was the end of FOCUS New Staff Training, and this morning held the last of this year’s final goodbyes.

I’m really bad at goodbyes. Any of my college friends could tell you how terrible I am at expressing any kind of sorrow during a “so long.” It’s usually because I don’t experience much pain in the moment of a goodbye. I know I’ll miss that friend, of course I will, but it doesn’t hit me then.

Well…to be honest, it hit me this morning.

I don’t to say mean that I finally had a teary departure, because I didn’t. However, at 6 am this morning, I felt the weight of saying goodbye more than usual. Desi, my disciple from last year (and Georgie’s babysitter this summer) crawled into bed to wake me up before she left. For some reason my heart broke for all the people I love. It was like I was back in my dorm at Benedictine when my friend and disciple Marga was packing her things. Man, how hard that good bye was. Then, I remembered Allie and Hollyn, Abby, Marnee and Liz. Even those I was going to see in a few days (My family, Josh’s family, Sara, Brittany and Em) came to mind as I realized I would be leaving them shortly too.

Thankfully this sorrow was soon followed by conviction. This is what heaven will be for. In heaven we can stay. We can be all together. Now, now we have to go. We are called to go out.

“To the extent that we nourish ourselves on Christ and are in love with him, we feel within us the incentive to bring others to him: Indeed, we cannot keep the joy of the faith to ourselves; we must pass it on.”
– Pope Benedict XVI, Papal Address to Rome Diocesan Congress, June 23, 2006

To all I just left, will leave, or have left in the past: I love you dearly, and I hope to spend eternity with you. We just can’t be together now because we have to bring Jesus to others.

(Desi and Georgie)

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(Me and Marnee. She was my mentor who has now left her family and friends to become a Servadora in Washington D.C.)

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This is Meaningful: Dorm Living (with a baby)

We have been living in a dorm for 5 weeks with a baby.

I wonder what all the reactions to that statement were.

FOCUS has their training at the University of Illinois in Champaign. There is a big and beautiful Catholic Newman Center that hosts us with housing, food, a chapel and some classrooms. It’s pretty incredible.

Besides the building, the atmosphere is also incredible. The first week we were here, around 300 missionaries and their families joined together for an all staff retreat. After that, around 250 remained. I think training must be at least a little bit like a soldier rejoining his fellow comrades after a battle. We have all been through experiences only other missionaries can really understand: battling exhaustion, learning humility, raising our support, growing in prayer, rejoicing in conversion. The list goes on and on. We share our battle wounds and triumphs over a drink at the pub right down Sixth Street.

Training always reaffirms how much I love working as a missionary with FOCUS.

(below is a picture from a daily mass at training)

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Now, however, it’s the last week, and it’s time to go.

A dorm is nice in college. However, not having a kitchen of my own and a carpeted floor for Georgie is not ideal. The schedule is rigorous too. By now, I just want to go swimming all Sunday and end my day on my own living room floor with my son and my husband.

I don’t say these things to complain. Only to paint a picture of what this mission means to me. As a mom and a missionary, I have to sacrifice a lot of comfort at times. It really stinks some days. BUT those are the days when I forget what the sacrifices are for. Those are the days when having to eat cafeteria food seems like a meaningless and unpleasant experience. I think most of what we are doing with evangelization can be like this when I forget what we’re doing it for.

When I remember, when I spend time in prayer, these experiences are transformed. I feel privileged to place Georgie’s food on top of the microwave instead of a pantry…for the kingdom, for our students, for our culture. And, knowing I’m paler than my friends, since I haven’t laid out yet this summer, well, I’m offering that up for the women I worked with last year. Even my vanity has allowed some meaningful sacrifices here and there.

I know this applies to any mom working for the good of her family too. I’m learning to make sure I eliminate meaningless from my inward vocabulary to prepare for my silent days at home with G Man.

Pray for me that I won’t let Week 6 in a dorm be a meaningless case of missionary senioritis.

This is our Life

Meet my family.

We are young and married with a now nearly 8 month old. We survive on love from our family, friends, mission partners (supporters) and Christ. As our lives have increased in difficulty, our capacity to love and experience joy has increased even more. Thank God.

We are Catholic Missionaries with FOCUS. This is a big part of who we are. We are committed to introducing the people we come in contact with to Jesus. We spent our first year and a half of marriage up in Vermillion, South Dakota at the University of South Dakota. I wanted to cry when I found out I was assigned there. I also wanted to cry when I had to leave the amazing students we shared our lives with. In August, we will be moving to Flagstaff, Arizona to continue our mission there at Northern Arizona University.

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