John the Baptist

Today is the Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist.  He is a great Saint for us to look to as he is always pointing us towards Jesus.*  There was a beautiful quote during morning prayer** today that I thought I’d share.

The friend of the bridegroom, who waits and listens for his return, rejoices when he hears his voice: so now my joy is complete.

I pray that each of you may have that joy that John the Baptist certainly experienced in His encounters with Christ–from the time he met Jesus in the womb (Luke 1:44) until, most certainly, his unfortunate death at the hands of King Herod.  He was steadfast in his faith until the end; not afraid to preach the truth.  I am finding that I am quite frequently hearing the voice of the bridegroom since I’ve been in Fargo and have been blessed with great joy.  It is truly an honor to serve the Lord as a missionary.

*Fun fact, in many painting that have John the Baptist and Jesus, John will actually be portrayed as pointing his hand toward Jesus to direct the eyes of the viewer to Our Lord.

**Morning prayer is part of the Liturgy of the Hours.  That is a series of prayers said at various times throughout the day by many members of the Church throughout the world.  Many religious orders wake in the middle of the night to pray them!  They are a series of psalms recited (sometimes chanted) by two choirs of people.  We pray morning prayer together as a team each morning to begin our holy hour.


The Go-To Fall Outreach Hairstyle

Fall Outreach: noun. \ˈfȯl au̇t-ˈrēch\ The time of year when missionaries don’t shower as often as some might desire and when few hours of sleep are had by said missionary.

It’s that time of year.  Though I wasn’t a missionary for the past two years, I did get to participate in the lack of sleep that is fall outreach.  My first year at St. Paul’s in Madison fall outreach was terribly crazy and I hardly slept.  Last year, I took better care of myself and made sleep more of a priority.  This year, I’m doing alright.  Our outreach is in full-swing here.  We’ve handed out so many freezes on campus and met tons of students!  Tomorrow evening we trek to Minnesota (just the other side of Moorhead–about 30 minute drive) for a weekend of camping with all of our new friends!  It should be totally fun!

So, the hairstyle–I’m sure you’re curious.  The go-to during fall outreach for any (maybe every?) female missionary has got to be the side braid.  It’s quick and easy!  You literally can’t go wrong.  Having long hair stinks…unless there’s a way you can (in under 5 minutes) take sopping-wet-just-out-of-the-shower-hair and have it look like you took time to “do your hair”.  There is…it’s the side braid.  I’ve been rocking it for a few days now.

It’s also nice because the side braid works well if you shower in the morning or the previous night.  You never know when the best time will be to shower during fall outreach.  It’s been in the high-90s this whole week so it’s a challenge to figure out when the most appropriate shower time might be.  You don’t want to crawl into your bed after you’ve been out playing volleyball all evening, but you also know you’re going to wake up feeling gross and sweaty cause your apartment is so warm*.  The good news is that the when-do-I-shower-to-reamain-the-least-over-heated-the-longest debate is the hardest decision I have to make these days!  I spend my time reaching out to students, helping my disciples get their Bible studies off the ground, handing out freezes and planning camping trips (and praying too, of course)!  I literally** have the best job, ever!

Here I am rocking the frizzy-90-degree-weather-side-braid and the crazy, tired eyes which are an essential part of the fall outreach look!

Here I am rocking the frizzy-90-degree-weather-side-braid and the crazy, tired eyes which are an essential part of the fall outreach look!

*Unfortunately we don’t have AC in our apartment.  But, we figure it’s Fargo, North Dakota and we’ll need it for, what, one week of the year.  That week just happens to be this week.  At least we have working heaters!

**See definition number 2 here.  The newest definition of “literally” is all the rage on my team.  I, like many awesome people my age, overuse the word literally.  When we say it, we want to emphasize how serious we are, “I literally died laughing”, “That was literally the coolest thing I’ve ever seen”…  Some people on my team are outraged at dearest Merriam and Webster.  I, for one, think it was literally the greatest idea ever to add that second definition! 🙂

Freshman Boy, Meet Freshman Girl

Tonight was the NDSU Block Party complete with cotton candy, popcorn, a huge dance party, and the bungee-cord-bouncy-house-game-thing (see picture–what on earth might that actually be called?)




Bryan, Kelsey and I took some students and went with the intention of striking up conversations with some new freshmen.  And, it proved to be a fruitful evening.  I met two ladies from 10 miles south of the Canadian Border (and, don’t worry, I told them all about how I’m a convict!).  They are going to meet up with me tomorrow when a whole bunch of the student missionaries (and FOCUS missionaries) head to the NDSU street dance to do a bunch of swing dancing.  Kelsey met a couple of girls who are going to join her Bible study.  Bryan maid some friends and so did some of the students.  Also, I met a girl who is going to be in the Bible study I’m “inheriting” from Cari–the missionary I’m replacing.

The evening was, as I said before, fruitful–for more reasons than meeting students.  I learned how freshmen boys meet freshman girls.  It. Was. The. Funniest. Thing. I’ve. Ever. Witnessed. (Literally.)  Two stories:

Story One–“Just ask her what’s up!”

Setting the Scene: Street dance; not on the dance floor
Characters: Boy 1, Boy 2, Boy 3, Girls 1-3
Scene 1:  Boys 1 & 2 walk over near the girls but are facing the opposite direction than the girls.  Boy 1 says to Boy 2, “Just turn around and say, “Hey, what’s up?”  Boy 2 shakes in his boots.  No action for at least 2 minutes.

Intermission: The spectator (me…and company) thinks they have given up.  So sad to see young love so close to happening, but alas we continue dancing the night away.

(5 minutes lapse)

Scene 2: The spectator turns around and, to her surprise, Boy 1 & 2 left only to find Boy 3.  You’ve got to be kidding!  The spectator misses exactly how it happens, but some Boy got the courage to turn around and say, “Hey, what’s up?”  And, the rest is history.  Young love wins again!

The best part?  I snapped a pic:


If only I knew them so I could show them this at their wedding someday. (It’s the group with the guy in the bright shirt–Boy 3.)


Story Two–“Here’s my heart…just for you!”

Scene: Street dance; right next to the dance floor
Characters: Breakdancing Boy (BB), Wingman, Uninterested Freshman Girl (UFG)

Only Scene:  BB approaches UFG with a little something hidden behind his back–and, of course, Wingman is next to BB.  BB says to UFG, while presenting her with his secret gift, “Here’s my heart, I’m giving it to you.”  The secret gift is a heart he made out of something…maybe it was a cotton candy stick, maybe it was pipe cleaners, perhaps construction paper…who knows!?  But, can you believe it?  He gives away his “heart” without even knowing the girls name!!!!   Anyway, totally awkward freshmen conversation ensues for 10 minutes until UFG saunters off to be with her friends.

The Aftermath/Sequel:  One might think BB was heartbroken–or as the case may be, heartless, since UFG has just frolicked away with his “heart”.  But, don’t worry.  He rebounds.  It turns out Wingman is ever-faithful sticking right next to BB through the thick and the thin.  BB–whose name is Breakdancing Boy, remember–proceeds to show off his moves to the crowd for the next hour.  He was a pretty good dancer.  In fact, if I may quote one of the students with us, “What he lacks in height, he makes up in dance moves.”


BB and UFG pose for a pic–actually they’re not posing this is live. And, you can’t see the heart that UFG is holding because, well, this is a creeper shot. They have no clue I’m taking it and you can’t just keep taking pictures of strangers–that’s weird. So, this is what we’re left with to remember Story 2.

If there are any freshmen boys out their reading this, it seems Story 1 might be the better method for introducing yourself to the girl of your dreams.  Save the cheesy/slightly creeper pick up lines for…well, never!

Just Livin’ the Life of a Convict (in Canada)!

I spent the first two days in Fargo singing the National Anthem of our neighbors to the north!  At Camp Onaway–the summer camp I went to as a kiddo and have volunteered at every year since high school–I have a couple of fellow leader friends who sing this song…a. lot.  I think Rachel might secretly be Canadian and just not telling us.  So, let’s say I was familiar with the little ditty, “O Canada”!  And, when I found out we were for sure going to Canada, I couldn’t help but set my patriotism aside for a moment and sing the anthem of Canada.  You see, I’ve always wanted to go there because living in Wisconsin we’re just so close.

Our story really starts at the border where we were suspected felons and detained by Canadian border patrol.  I was driving my Avenger with good ol’ Wisconsin plates.*  Mr. not-the-kindest-border-patrol-officer-I-have-ever-met began asking us the rigmarole of questions that he must ask.  He finally approached the inevitable “weapons” question.  I have been warned by a friend and fellow missionary who serves at South Dakota State University to bring a knife because Bryan (our Team Director) was bringing us somewhere where we wouldn’t get cell service.  She said it sounded sketchy.  Well, I decided to live on the wild-side and forgo the knife.  I was ready to exclaim, “No, we don’t have weapons!” I wanted to shout that as soon as he began the question.  But, then he went into a laundry list of specific weapons we couldn’t bring into the country–you know, large knives, mace, pepper spray, etc.  I maybe smirked and assured him we didn’t have any of those weapons.  Then, he asks if we have large chunks of cash in the car–I kindly interjected and spoke for all of us assuming no one was carrying boatloads of money.  He proceeds to ask specifically if any of us have greater than $10,000 in cash.  I giggle.  Anyway, the questions continue until he invites us to pull over and go inside where we will be further questioned.

We bring our passports and the yellow slip of paper inside which Mr. not-the-kindest-border-patrol-officer-I-have-ever-met gave us.  (I should add the yellow paper which Mr. Officer had written on was the first Canadian thing I touched on Canadian soil, in case you cared!)  We step up, together, to the desk where Mr. nicer-than-the-last Officer was awaiting us.  He asks us more questions, like “Why are you going to Winnipeg?”  We said to site see–later we saw a map of Manitoba and realized we should have said, “Where else would we actually want to go?”–and he then asked us the big question.  He says, “I am going to run your passports through the U.S.’s criminal database.  If there is any reason you think your name might appear in that, please stay up here.  Otherwise you can have a seat and I will call you when I’m done.”  There was 1.5 seconds when I thought, “Woah, it’s about to get real.”  I was 110% certain that someone would end up staying up there–my money was on TJ.  But, after the most intense 1.5 seconds of my life we all turn around and walk away.

We had some time to kill well Mr. nicer-than-the-last Officer was running our cred (a.k.a. the street word for “credentials”).  In that time I looked at some ancient Canadian artifacts and used the Canadian bathroom–because I could.  Finally, we’re called back to the desk.  Returning to the desk was a little bit like your dentist appointment.  You wait the whole time to find out at the very end if you do, indeed, have more cavities.  The Canadian Border Patrol made us sweat it out for 15 minutes to see if we did, indeed, have a criminal history we were unaware of.  But, can you say VICTORY!  We were cleared to go on our way.

We returned to the car and started the trek to Winnipeg.  We stopped at, ironically, one of the most American restaurants ever–A&W–and got some lunch-ola.  Then we finally made it to the Marlborough hotel in downtown.

The only thing on all of our minds was a nap.  And, dear friend, that is the only thing on my mind right now.  We moved the freshmen into the dorms today (more on that later) and I am Exhausted (with a capital “E” if you didn’t notice).  I am going to quick jump in my bed for a bit before going to Mass tonight where Father will introduce the missionaries and peer ministers.  So, please continue to offer some prayers for the success of our Outreach in the next couple weeks especially.  I will fill you in on more of our Canadian adventures at a later date.

*I think the Wisconsin plates are actually what did us in.  Or, he didn’t believe us when I told him we were all Catholic missionaries.  Who knows?

This One Goes Out to Grandma Gina

So, I just got back from our Student Missionary Retreat!  It. Was. Awesome.  The retreat was a really great time for the student missionaries to connect and catch-up before the big Outreach begins!  The team at NDSU hasn’t done anything like this before and it proved to be a very blessed and fun time.

As for me…imagine meeting 40 new people all at once and trying to remember their names, who’s dating whom, who’s engaged to whom*, who will be in my discipleship chain (see below for an explanation of that), and everything else.  I can just see those introverts out there cringing at the thought of this.  It was hard, but by the end of the two days I think I know most of the girls and maybe 1/3 of the guys.  When we got home, Kelsey quizzed me–she pointed to a name and I had to tell her what they looked like/who they were!

Anyway, the part for Grandma Gina.  So, back in the day (three years ago) a good friend, Gina was my discipler (I met with her weekly to pray and grow as disciples of Jesus) and she was my Bible study leader with these great girls:


The ladies of St. Faustina’s Bible study!

So, Gina came to Madison for her 3rd year as a FOCUS missionary.  She also happened to have a “big-girl” job for a bit after college so she was OLD by the time she got to Madison.  (Okay, I think she was 27…)  Anyway, we called her Grandma Gina to tease her.  At the retreat a girl said, in passing, “She’s my grandma.”  She was looking at me!!!!  I wanted to exclaim, “WHAT ON EARTH DO YOU MEAN…I’M NOT NEARLY AS OLD AS GRANDMA GINA!!!”  But, instead, I calmly asked a bystander, “What did she mean?”  And the reply cleared things up.  “She said you’re her grandma.  You disciple her discipler so that means you’re her grandma.” (See diagram).  And, I was relieved….they don’t think I’m a grandma yet! 🙂

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Here’s the ever-famous discipleship chain.

So, the best part of all of this is a little realization I actually had back in February or March after I accepted a position with FOCUS.  If I stay in FOCUS for three years, I will be older than Gina was her third year–I will officially be Grandma Jane.  So, here’s to you Grandma Gina–I hope it didn’t stink too badly to be called “grandma” all year!

**Nota Bene** Before everyone stresses out, I must clarify.  We are all actually disciples of Jesus.  That’s what FOCUS is all about.  Helping people grow in relationship with Jesus as His disciples.  We do what Jesus did with His disciples–we meet and share life with the women in our chain so we can model prayer and good Christian virtue to them.  So, though I may talk about “my disciples” I actually mean Jesus’ disciples.  It just becomes too ridiculously confusing if I start explaining she’s-Jesus’-disciple-but-in-my-discipleship-chain-so-kind-of-my-disciple-granddaughter-etc. 

*Dang! People get engaged and married young here.  There’s a lot of students who get married after their junior year.  It’s strange, but fun!

LeeAnn and Goodbye to the Morgue (printer)

I’ve got to tell you about LeeAnn.

Today we went team freezie shopping (bought about 1300), flyer printing, and ice cream eating.  This post is about the flyer printing.*

First we went to a local printing place.  Upon entering the room I felt like I had just entered a morgue.  It was cold, had linoleum floors, and felt totally sterile.  There were no dead bodies–as far as I could tell.  (Also, it wasn’t actually creepy as I would imagine a morgue would be.)  Anyway, we were sailing speedily along the struggle boat at that place.  Somehow the colors on our poster were inverted and it was printing all ghost-like.

So, after that ship sank Kelsey decided to call LeeAnn.  She works at OfficeMax.  Kelsey only knows her from her visits to OfficeMax in the previous two years when she would get her newsletters printed there.**  But she was sure LeeAnn could solve the problem.

The boys dropped Kelsey and me off so we could multitask.  The plan: We get the flyers printed; they buy hundreds of freezes.  We head into the store and are greeted by…NOT LeeAnn.  Horrifying.  I was so excited to meet this woman of whom I had heard so much over the course of the last three minutes.

So, a gentleman begins to try and solve our inverted-color problem.  He fails.  And fails again.  But, he kept trying.  I think it might be possible that he has a little Michael Jordan-esk determination running through his veins.   Upon attempt three or four LeeAnn makes her triumphal return onto the store floor.  I gasp in anticipation as I meet her.  She immediately kicks the aforementioned gentleman out of his chair so she can help us.  She’s hilarious.  She struggles to help us and calls in back up (in the form of a graphic design college student who works with Photoshop as if it’s easier than Paint).  And…SUCCESS!  We get one printed in an appropriate color (after many “poopy” tries).  But, our success is soon halted by a road bump.  But trusty LeeAnn finally works her magic and we get 25 beautiful posters printed.


Poster number one–green and not ghost-like!

The best part is the strings that LeeAnn pulled for us.  Kelsey mentioned she no longer gets her newsletters printed at OfficeMax because they are way more expensive than the morgue-printer.  Kelsey tells her the price from the morgue and LeeAnn exclaims, “Wow. That’s a good deal!”  She then tells us she can price match if we get an invoice from the morgue.  She also said she’ll hang it up in the back and file a copy away too–in case she isn’t working when we go in for printing; that way all the other employees will know to give us the bomb-diggity deal!  She was, needless to say, a hoot!

And, when I was a bit sad that my adventures for the day (or maybe even month) with LeeAnn were over, I struck gold!  It turns out we need a flyer for the pancake breakfast.  Can you say “win!”?  I quickly threw together a poster so I could get back over to the OfficeMax before it closed!***  So, posters are printed and ready to be dropped off at ResLife tomorrow so they can be hung in the dorms before the sweet little Freshmen arrive on Saturday morning!


Pancake Poster–yum yum to free food!

An update for the rest of the weekend:
-Tomorrow we have an overnight retreat with all of our student missionaries (those who are in discipleship and lead Bible studies).  I’m giving a talk on prayer and the universal call to holiness–prayers for that are appreciated!
-Saturday morning I receive my first official NDSU t-shirt when we help the freshmen move into the dorms
-Sunday we have pancakes and brunch after the 10am Mass (this is what poster #2 was for)
-We have “Buckluck” ($1 meal for students) after evening Mass on Sunday
-Sunday night is the block party (an NDSU event that we’re going to go to in order to meet new friends)!

It’s going to be a busy next couple of weeks but I sure am excited!

*The freezies are for fall outreach when, next week, we hand them out to students on campus when they stop by our bisonCatholic table.  The ice cream was made with liquid nitrogen.  Quite the experience–it was so exotic I felt like I was living on the wild side when I watched the nitrogen being poured into the creamy mixture and float away in puffy, cold, gaseous clouds.

**Get excited for my first newsletter in October.  Want to receive it?  Just send me your contact info!

***In good news this week, I drove back from the Mall to my apartment without the help of Peggy (short for Pegasus) my GPS (or any humans actings as my personal GPS).  It may be the only place I could successfully get to by myself, but it was a giant victory in my book!

I’m alive and well!

Hey all!
I made it to Fargo on Saturday afternoon.  Mom, dad and little Emmie helped me move in and get settled into my cute little apartment.  We went out to eat at this fantastic restaurant.  (Shout out to Doolittles and to my teammate/roommate for the great suggestion.)  After supper we went to Target to buy me a laundry basket, some Rubbermaids for my crafts and a fan–cause it was stinkin’ hot in my apartment.

On Sunday we went to Mass at the Newman Center followed by breakfast at a cute little Fargo diner.  

When we got back to my apartment and my dad hung some tennis balls in my garage.  Why?  Because it’s a pretty small garage and i don’t have the smallest car in the world.  So, I back into the garage until I hit the tennis ball and then I’m good–the garage door can shut and the back door leading to the path to our house can open.  It’s a win-win-win situation!

Just thought I’d throw out a quick update before I go make some supper (and by that I mean heat up the leftovers from our Family Dinner (aka the team and Father) on Sunday night)!

Stay tuned for an update about our team-offsite…IN CANADA!!!!