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)


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



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)


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.