Can you say, “M.I.A.”?

Sorry world. I have been especially bad at blogging as of late. I will, as I feel I have the right to, blame it on the weather. When it’s colder than cold you can blame pretty much anything on the weather. I hope you remember that one time I said the weather wasn’t that bad anymore because I now officially renege that statement. I blame my momentary lapse of sanity on the evening of January 27th on, yes, you guessed it, the weather.

Anyway, February has been molto busy and blogging (as well as one of my fave activities–reading) has taken a back seat. As with probably around 98% of bloggers I will try to get back into blogging and post more regularly. There’s this thing going around where bloggers post everyday for 7 days. I thought about joining in the fun, but it turns out I thought too long and it’s already half way over!* (Procrastination wins again!) Instead of playing that game I’ll more-likely play the game where I don’t post for 7 days…times 7.

I know this post updated you on a whole lot of nothing. But something I must tell you is that on Monday afternoon I returned from a trip to New Orleans. It. Was. The. Best. Why? Many reasons–maybe I’ll write a whole post about it** but I’ll give you the top five for now:

1) The FOCUS team at Tulane was so welcoming, fun and hospitable that I almost died–in a good way, of course!
2) The weather. Oh, FOCUS, please please send me to the South next year! We had a good laugh that as Laura, Claire and Hannah drove me to the airport at 5 am it was actually, literally 85 degrees warmer in New Orleans than Fargo.***  Sunshine and walking leisurely outside was just so, so great. Even the rain. The rain was fun.
3) New Orleans, the city. I’m a little obsessed with it. I could drive, nay, ride in a car being driven around all day. The houses are something else. It was Carnival (a.k.a. Mardi Gras season). We went to a parade. The food was so great. The city. Loved it!
4) Big Sam’s Funky Nation
5) Camellias Grill (or, more appropriately, the workers there)
Non New Orleans related but really funny comment: Today as BLT (that is, Beloved Leader of the Team, a.k.a. Bryan) and I were walking to the Union he said, “I think the earth should give up winter for Lent.” Can I get an “Amen”?

 

*Maybe I’ll create anarchy and post everyday for 6 days as soon as the 7 days is over…or something like that.

**Let’s be honest, that day may never come. To satiate your wonderings about a weekend in New Orleans check out Claire’s post about the fun that was had!

***Okay, actually literally 85 degrees warmer when you factor in the windchill.  But, close enough.

The Beatitudes and Our Life

Today’s post features a guest writer.  You may know him as Jorge but most just call him Pope Francis.  I don’t know if you’ve heard, but he’s kind of a big deal.  That I could even get ahold of him to write a guest post…just kidding

The following is a reflection from Pope Francis that I received recently in my email via the Vatican Information Service.  I receive an email every couple of days that tells me what Papa Francis has been up to: what he’s said, who he has appointed to different positions, which Bishops are retiring, etc.  I highly recommend you follow this link and sign up.  Though I don’t always set aside the time to read through them, whenever I have read them I’ve been really encouraged.  I find I’m keeping up with what the Pope is saying from the source himself (instead of the media making it seem like he says whatever they want him to say).  Anyway, I digress…if you have a few minutes read this, or even some of it!

MESSAGE FOR 29TH WORLD YOUTH DAY

Vatican City, 6 February 2014 (VIS) – We publish below the full text of the message the Holy Father has sent to the young people preparing for the 29th World Youth Day 2014, which will take as its theme: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.

“Dear Young Friends,

How vividly I recall the remarkable meeting we had in Rio de Janeiro for the Twenty-eighth World Youth Day. It was a great celebration of faith and fellowship! The wonderful people of Brazil welcomed us with open arms, like the statue of Christ the Redeemer which looks down from the hill of Corcovado over the magnificent expanse of Copacabana beach. There, on the seashore, Jesus renewed his call to each one of us to become his missionary disciples. May we perceive this call as the most important thing in our lives and share this gift with others, those near and far, even to the distant geographical and existential peripheries of our world.

The next stop on our intercontinental youth pilgrimage will be in Krakow in 2016. As a way of accompanying our journey together, for the next three years I would like to reflect with you on the Beatitudes found in the Gospel of Saint Matthew. This year we will begin by reflecting on the first Beatitude: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’. For 2015 I suggest: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God’. Then, in 2016, our theme will be: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’.

1. The revolutionary power of the Beatitudes

It is always a joyful experience for us to read and reflect on the Beatitudes! Jesus proclaimed them in his first great sermon, preached on the shore of the sea of Galilee. There was a very large crowd, so Jesus went up on the mountain to teach his disciples. That is why it is known as ‘the Sermon on the Mount’. In the Bible, the mountain is regarded as a place where God reveals himself. Jesus, by preaching on the mount, reveals himself to be a divine teacher, a new Moses. What does he tell us? He shows us the way to life, the way that he himself has taken. Jesus himself is the way, and he proposes this way as the path to true happiness. Throughout his life, from his birth in the stable in Bethlehem until his death on the cross and his resurrection, Jesus embodied the Beatitudes. All the promises of God’s Kingdom were fulfilled in him.

In proclaiming the Beatitudes, Jesus asks us to follow him and to travel with him along the path of love, the path that alone leads to eternal life. It is not an easy journey, yet the Lord promises us his grace and he never abandons us. We face so many challenges in life: poverty, distress, humiliation, the struggle for justice, persecutions, the difficulty of daily conversion, the effort to remain faithful to our call to holiness, and many others. But if we open the door to Jesus and allow him to be part of our lives, if we share our joys and sorrows with him, then we will experience the peace and joy that only God, who is infinite love, can give.

The Beatitudes of Jesus are new and revolutionary. They present a model of happiness contrary to what is usually communicated by the media and by the prevailing wisdom. A worldly way of thinking finds it scandalous that God became one of us and died on a cross! According to the logic of this world, those whom Jesus proclaimed blessed are regarded as useless, ‘losers’. What is glorified is success at any cost, affluence, the arrogance of power and self-affirmation at the expense of others.

Jesus challenges us, young friends, to take seriously his approach to life and to decide which path is right for us and leads to true joy. This is the great challenge of faith. Jesus was not afraid to ask his disciples if they truly wanted to follow him or if they preferred to take another path. Simon Peter had the courage to reply: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’. If you too are able to say ‘yes’ to Jesus, your lives will become both meaningful and fruitful.

2. The courage to be happy

What does it mean to be ‘blessed’ (makarioi in Greek)? To be blessed means to be happy. Tell me: Do you really want to be happy? In an age when we are constantly being enticed by vain and empty illusions of happiness, we risk settling for less and ‘thinking small’ when it come to the meaning of life. Think big instead! Open your hearts! As Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati once said, ‘To live without faith, to have no heritage to uphold, to fail to struggle constantly to defend the truth: this is not living. It is scraping by. We should never just scrape by, but really live’ (Letter to I. Bonini, 27 February 1925). In his homily on the day of Piergiorgio Frassati’s beatification (20 May 1990), John Paul II called him ‘a man of the Beatitudes’ (AAS 82 [1990], 1518).

If you are really open to the deepest aspirations of your hearts, you will realize that you possess an unquenchable thirst for happiness, and this will allow you to expose and reject the ‘low cost’ offers and approaches all around you. When we look only for success, pleasure and possessions, and we turn these into idols, we may well have moments of exhilaration, an illusory sense of satisfaction, but ultimately we become enslaved, never satisfied, always looking for more. It is a tragic thing to see a young person who ‘has everything’, but is weary and weak.

Saint John, writing to young people, told them: ‘You are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one’. oung people who choose Christ are strong: they are fed by his word and they do not need to ‘stuff themselves’ with other things! Have the courage to swim against the tide. Have the courage to be truly happy! Say no to an ephemeral, superficial and throwaway culture, a culture that assumes that you are incapable of taking on responsibility and facing the great challenges of life!

3. Blessed are the poor in spirit…

The first Beatitude, our theme for the next World Youth Day, says that the poor in spirit are blessed for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. At a time when so many people are suffering as a result of the financial crisis, it might seem strange to link poverty and happiness. How can we consider poverty a blessing?

First of all, let us try to understand what it means to be ‘poor in spirit’. When the Son of God became man, he chose the path of poverty and self-emptying. As Saint Paul said in his letter to the Philippians: ‘Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in human likeness’. Jesus is God who strips himself of his glory. Here we see God’s choice to be poor: he was rich and yet he became poor in order to enrich us through his poverty. His is the mystery we contemplate in the crib when we see the Son of God lying in a manger, and later on the cross, where his self-emptying reaches its culmination.

The Greek adjective ptochos (poor) does not have a purely material meaning. It means ‘a beggar’, and it should be seen as linked to the Jewish notion of the anawim, ‘God’s poor’. It suggests lowliness, a sense of one’s limitations and existential poverty. The anawim trust in the Lord, and they know that they can count on him.

As Saint Therese of the Child Jesus clearly saw, by his incarnation Jesus came among us as a poor beggar, asking for our love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that ‘man is a beggar before God’ and that prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst and our own thirst.

Saint Francis of Assisi understood perfectly the secret of the Beatitude of the poor in spirit. Indeed, when Jesus spoke to him through the leper and from the crucifix, Francis recognized both God’s grandeur and his own lowliness. In his prayer, the Poor Man of Assisi would spend hours asking the Lord: ‘Who are you?’ ‘Who am I?’ He renounced an affluent and carefree life in order to marry ‘Lady Poverty’, to imitate Jesus and to follow the Gospel to the letter. Francis lived in imitation of Christ in his poverty and in love for the poor – for him the two were inextricably linked – like two sides of one coin.

You might ask me, then: What can we do, specifically, to make poverty in spirit a way of life, a real part of our own lives? I will reply by saying three things.

First of all, try to be free with regard to material things. The Lord calls us to a Gospel lifestyle marked by sobriety, by a refusal to yield to the culture of consumerism. This means being concerned with the essentials and learning to do without all those unneeded extras which hem us in. Let us learn to be detached from possessiveness and from the idolatry of money and lavish spending. Let us put Jesus first. He can free us from the kinds of idol-worship which enslave us. Put your trust in God, dear young friends! He knows and loves us, and he never forgets us. Just as he provides for the lilies of the field, so he will make sure that we lack nothing. If we are to come through the financial crisis, we must be also ready to change our lifestyle and avoid so much wastefulness. Just as we need the courage to be happy, we also need the courage to live simply.

Second, if we are to live by this Beatitude, all of us need to experience a conversion in the way we see the poor. We have to care for them and be sensitive to their spiritual and material needs. To you young people I especially entrust the task of restoring solidarity to the heart of human culture. Faced with old and new forms of poverty – unemployment, migration and addictions of various kinds – we have the duty to be alert and thoughtful, avoiding the temptation to remain indifferent. We have to remember all those who feel unloved, who have no hope for the future and who have given up on life out of discouragement, disappointment or fear. We have to learn to be on the side of the poor, and not just indulge in rhetoric about the poor! Let us go out to meet them, look into their eyes and listen to them. The poor provide us with a concrete opportunity to encounter Christ himself, and to touch his suffering flesh.

However – and this is my third point – the poor are not just people to whom we can give something. They have much to offer us and to teach us. How much we have to learn from the wisdom of the poor! Think about it: several hundred years ago a saint, Benedict Joseph Labre, who lived on the streets of Rome from the alms he received, became a spiritual guide to all sorts of people, including nobles and prelates. In a very real way, the poor are our teachers. They show us that people’s value is not measured by their possessions or how much money they have in the bank. A poor person, a person lacking material possessions, always maintains his or her dignity. The poor can teach us much about humility and trust in God. In the parable of the pharisee and the tax-collector, Jesus holds the tax-collector up as a model because of his humility and his acknowledgement that he is a sinner. The widow who gave her last two coins to the temple treasury is an example of the generosity of all those who have next to nothing and yet give away everything they have.

4. … for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

The central theme of the Gospel is the kingdom of God. Jesus is the kingdom of God in person; he is Immanuel, God-with-us. And it is in the human heart that the kingdom, God’s sovereignty, takes root and grows. The kingdom is at once both gift and promise. It has already been given to us in Jesus, but it has yet to be realised in its fullness. That is why we pray to the Father each day: ‘Thy kingdom come’.

There is a close connection between poverty and evangelisation, between the theme of the last World Youth Day – ‘Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations!’ – and the theme for this year: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’. The Lord wants a poor Church which evangelises the poor. When Jesus sent the Twelve out on mission, he said to them: ‘Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the labourers deserve their food’. Evangelical poverty is a basic condition for spreading the kingdom of God. The most beautiful and spontaneous expressions of joy which I have seen during my life were by poor people who had little to hold onto. Evangelisation in our time will only take place as the result of contagious joy.

We have seen, then, that the Beatitude of the poor in spirit shapes our relationship with God, with material goods and with the poor. With the example and words of Jesus before us, we realize how much we need to be converted, so that the logic of being more will prevail over that of having more! The saints can best help us to understand the profound meaning of the Beatitudes. So the canonization of John Paul II, to be celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter, will be an event marked by immense joy. He will be the great patron of the World Youth Days which he inaugurated and always supported. In the communion of saints he will continue to be a father and friend to all of you.

This month of April marks the thirtieth anniversary of the entrustment of the Jubilee Cross of the Redemption to the young. That symbolic act by John Paul II was the beginning of the great youth pilgrimage which has since crossed the five continents. The Pope’s words on that Easter Sunday in 1984 remain memorable: ‘My dear young people, at the conclusion of the Holy Year, I entrust to you the sign of this Jubilee Year: the cross of Christ! Carry it throughout the world as a symbol of the love of the Lord Jesus for humanity, and proclaim to everyone that it is only in Christ, who died and rose from the dead, that salvation and redemption are to be found’.

Dear friends, the Magnificat, the Canticle of Mary, poor in spirit, is also the song of everyone who lives by the Beatitudes. The joy of the Gospel arises from a heart which, in its poverty, rejoices and marvels at the works of God, like the heart of Our Lady, whom all generations call ‘blessed’. May Mary, Mother of the poor and Star of the new evangelisation help us to live the Gospel, to embody the Beatitudes in our lives, and to have the courage always to be happy.”

I Was Wrong…

Ladies and Gentleman, I’m not a genius and I make mistakes.  Whew.  So good to get that out in the open so I don’t have to hide the truth anymore.  If you click on this link you’ll be directed to a post I wrote recently–you know, where I said I don’t hate the cold anymore.  Look at the “bonus” reason…scroll down…yep, number 6.  The one where I said I don’t get sick here because the cold kills everything (good and bad).  I was wrong.

We’re approaching week four of 2nd semester.  Get this:
Week 1-  TJ’s sick
Week 2- Kelsey’s sick
Week 3- Bryan’s sick
Week 4- I think we know…

I’m starting to feel a little yucky, if you will.  So I’m off to bed hoping to get plenty of sleep so maybe I will feel less yucky tomorrow! 🙂

But, I should let you know we just finished bisonCatholic week.  It’s a week of on-campus events to promote Catholicism in a positive light.  It went quite well, if I may say so.

More on that later but, for now, it’s off to bed to dream of next year (you know, the next Super Bowl…where our favorite team wins…The Packers. Duh.)

14 More Reasons Why You Should Become a FOCUS Missionary in 2014

So, you may have seen Chris’s post floating around the web with 14 pretty darn fantastic reasons why you should become a FOCUS missionary in 2014.  Since there is a plethora of reasons–way more than 14–why you should become a FOCUS missionary, I thought I could offer 14 more* because, why not?

Now, I know what some of you skeptics are thinking: Chris is a missionary; you are too, Jane.  You’ve both already “drank the FOCUS juice” so to speak so you obviously just want to brainwash us into thinking we should be missionaries (just like every other missionary I know who’s trying to convince me to join FOCUS staff).  

Well, of course in true Jane-fashion, I have a response to that: First, get over yourself.  (Just kidding…)  Second, would you want a list from an engineer of reasons why you should become a cosmetologist?  No, that’s silly.  You’d want a list of why you should become a cosmetologist…from a cosmetologist.  So, here’s your list of why to be a missionary…from a missionary.  Finally, I officially declare you ought not listen to those people who haven’t ever been a missionary tell you that us missionaries are crazy and you should never be a missionary… 🙂    

Without further ado I present:
14 More Reasons Why You Should Become a FOCUS Missionary in 2014

1. Say “good-bye” to that awkward mold you’ve been placed into and skip town.
It became known at my last job that I was one of the best people to go to when the copy machine broke or you needed to figure out how something logistically could work.  Maybe I don’t always want to press buttons on the copy machine until it starts working–you could do that too, you know!  Also, I was the “one who hates hugs.”  (Because used to hate hugs.)  How do you convince everyone who’s worked with you for a couple years that you don’t actually hate hugs that much anymore?  Answer: You don’t.  You pack your bags and skip town to a new exotic locale.

2. It’s the best job ever.
I can’t tell you enough times that being a missionary is the. best. job. ever.   I give you “Exhibit A” from a tweet I tweeted a couple weeks ago.  All the comments underneath are from, you guessed it, other missionaries who agree with me!

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3. MPD (a.k.a. Mission Partner Development…a.k.a. fundraising your salary) isn’t that bad.  In fact it’s pretty enjoyable.
A lot of people are held back from missionary work because the thought of fundraising your salary is too daunting. Yesterday a couple of Sisters from the School Sisters of Christ the King  were visiting campus and asked what the most surprising part of being a missionary has been.  My reply was, “Fundraising.  It’s crazy how easy it ended up being.”  I went on to discuss that, yes, I did have to work hard, but the Lord totally provided (surprise there, He did it again)!  It’s also a huge blessing and joy to share the mission of FOCUS with friends and family.  All this talk about fundraising leads me to point 4…

4. Want a raise? Okay, get one.**
So you can’t possibly be a missionary because you have a boatload of school loans and could never pay them back.  Or, you couldn’t do it because you’re just graduating and already married with a baby on the way.  If you need to raise an extra $1000 a month for all your ridiculously huge student loans, then you can!  Just go out and find more people to share the mission with and ask them to join your support team.  (I dare you to find me another job that allows that.  Imagine walking into your bosses office at your first “grown-up” job and asking for a raise right off the bat so you can afford your school loans.)

5. Attain mad-crazy skillz for future employment.
I give you some questions from the future (your first job interview after your time with FOCUS):
1) So, tell me about when you’ve had to be self-motivated in your work.  –Oh, if I wanted to get paid I had to find people to support me.
2) Do you have any experience in managing people? –Yeah, I had a “discipleship chain” which looked a bit like a family tree that I was in charge of–I had to make sure messages were communicated and making sure everything was copacetic in my “chain.”
3) Okay, do you have any sales experience?  –A little…Every week my teammates and I would go out on campus and walk up to random strangers and start conversations and try and get them to accept Jesus as the center of their lives and join a Bible study.
4) Good, how about public speaking? –Yeah, I mean I helped lead a few retreats and every month we had a gathering for everyone who was a student leader on campus and I had the opportunity to speak to a group of 50-100 a few times every year.
Need I go on?  I could.

6. Three words: New. Staff. Training.
Before I became a missionary I heard a lot of complaints from current missionaries about how much they didn’t like summer training.  What on earth were they talking about!?  Sure, it was exhausting and a lot of work.  But, it’s also the best training for young people in the New Evangelization in the U.S.  (or, more probably, the world).  And, it’s in Florida.  There’s a waterpark ON CAMPUS.  If you live anywhere near me (or, I suppose right now, anywhere in the U.S. besides Florida or the very bottom of the map) the thought of those hurricanes, heat and alligators in the canal behind the dorms is pretty. darn. appealing. right now.  I loved summer training and can hardly wait to go back!

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Your waterpark awaits!
(Pic from campavemaria.com.)

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Here’s my “college” (or small group) from New Staff Training!

7. You always have a place to stay.
So there’s a missionary from Philidelphia who’s serving in Missouri and she came up to North Dakota for a wedding last weekend.  When she went to visit some people in Grand Forks, she stayed with the missionaries.  Let me tell you… that’s not an uncommon occurrence!  (It doesn’t even matter if you know the missionaries you want to crash with!)

8.  The rest of your life can be totally purpose driven.
So we’re supposed to make disciples our whole lives.  After 2 summers (as well as continued formation and growth throughout 2 school years) of some of the best training in the business of Gospel sharing and making disciples you will know what you’re doing!  You won’t have to go Grad School, Law School, the workforce, etc. and be totally lost.  You’ll know just how to build a Bible study and lead your coworkers/classmates closer to Jesus.  It’s refreshing knowing what you’re doing.***

9. You can pretend you’re an expert blogger even though your mom is the only one who reads your blog.
I think it would be cool to have a blog that thousands of people check everyday to see what sort of wisdom you’ve posted that can inspire them.  That’s not what this blog is.  It’s more a way to keep in contact with my family and any mission partners and friends interested.  But, sometimes for fun I pretend that’s what this is!

10. You get to serve on a team.
You don’t go to summer training with hundreds of other missionaries and then get sent off somewhere by yourself to try and be a missionary.  Having a team for support is a good thing!  FOCUS also has other forms of accountability and encouragement–for example, everyone on staff has a mentor or accountability partner that they talk to every-other-week.  So, you’re not left alone on this fun, though frequently challenging, mission.

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Here’s my team. Team fun: Pictures with Santa.

11. Jesus probably wants you to.
Enough said there.  How could you say, “No, thanks.” to Jesus?

12. Live the adventure. Trust the way.
That’s the recruitment slogan for FOCUS.  Don’t you want an adventure to live?  I wanted an adventure, that’s why I became a missionary.  Last year, a missionary said to me that so many people want to be a missionary (or work for the Church) after graduation because they want to “give back.”  And, while that’s good, the reason people should want to be missionaries is because it’s a great adventure.  Now I know from personal experience, it is!

13. Infinite wedding invites…who doesn’t love a good party?
Join FOCUS staff and your friends will grow exponentially.  Between ages 24-26 the number of weddings you’re invited to grows from only-your-cousins-weddings to your-old-friends-from-high-school and maybe some college friends.  You just start getting older so you know more people getting married.  But, then you become a missionary.  Not only do you meet a ton of people who are also missionaries****, you go to a campus and form close friendships with a bunch of students on campus.  Let’s just say every day in FOCUS is a day closer to many more epic weddings.

14.There is no juice.
Yeah, can you believe it?  There isn’t actually any “juice” they make you drink to love the mission of FOCUS.  I realized that during our last class at New Staff Training last July.  The speaker was talking about staff retention (among other things) and my friend Mary leaned over and wrote, “Where else would we go?” on my notebook.  She meant, “We have the best job ever.  Why would we leave FOCUS?  I can’t imagine another place I’d rather work!”  So, happily there is no juice, just a bunch of young Catholics on fire to share their faith with students all over America!

Now that you’ve read the list, head to the website to apply!

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*If you read Chris’s list and cross-check you may, admittedly, find some some doubles (or almost doubles).  If you think that’s a copout because I couldn’t come up with 14 unique reasons to become a mish, you’re wrong.  Challenge me to it and I can give you plenty more unique reasons.  I just thought some of his reasons were so legit they were worth mentioning again.

**All the “raise” business is, of course, within reason.  There are salary caps and the like.  But, FOCUS does a good job of teaching responsibility with money (Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover is actually on the first-year reading list)!  I don’t mean to imply that FOCUS encourages greediness or selfishness with money…cause, of course, they don’t!

***Obviously there will be challenges in navigating a new situation like Med School or your new job.  But, let’s just say you’re better trained than a large majority of other young Christians who want to share their faith with their classmates/coworkers.

****Don’t worry, if you become a missionary you’re not obligated to invite the hundreds of other missionaries to your wedding.  But, you will certainly develop close friendships with plenty of other missionaries that you’ll want to invite to your wedding!

Mark My Words: I’m Beginning To Like The Cold.

So, to catch up those of you who haven’t been outside in days, don’t watch the news, haven’t been on Facebook in forever or haven’t sent your carrier pigeon outside only for it to never return because it froze to death…it is really darn cold outside.

This is, quite frankly, what everyone's been saying.

This is, quite frankly, what everyone all over the world (err…midwest) has been saying lately.

It’s been said that this is Fargo’s worst winter in 15 years.* Word on the globally-warmed-street is that prior to the onset of the polar bear’s greatest problem 15-or-so years-ago all Fargo winters were like this.  Let’s just say that whether or not you believe global warming is a thing, we can ALL agree to agree that you wouldn’t want to be living in Fargo back then.  (Did they even have electricity here back in the early 90s?)  I kid.

But anyway, believe it or not, the arctic temperatures are starting to grow on me.  Yes, I still sometimes say a naughty word when I turn that corner by the Administrative Building on my way to the union and enter the “wind tunnel” that rivals the wind tunnels on State Street and East Campus Mall in Madison.  Yes, last week I said to Bryan and TJ, “I don’t believe people actually willingly choose to live in Fargo.”  Yes, I spend as little time outside as possible.  But, the cold.  It’s finally okay.  Here’s the top 5 reasons why I’ve changed my outlook from hatred to toleration to a little bit of affection:

1) Solidarity, sista!
I think the fact that my beloved Wisconsin is feeling the arctic chills that I’ve been “enjoying” consistently since early December has comforted me.  Dear friends and family in Wisconsin, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for suffering with me.

2) Winning the “mental game”…and hope for sunnier days!
You know how you walk somewhere during weather that makes you think you definitely got frostbite on your nose…and probably your ears too?  But, then, 2-3 hours later you thaw and you give yourself that pep-talk: “Okay. It wasn’t that bad.  I can walk home…orrrrr I’ll just change my plans and stay at the Newman Center/Union/etc. until tomorrow when I have to be back there.”  Well, you have to leave.  Unions close.  Our office’s heat gets turned way down.  People want you to go home sometimes to, you know, shower and put clean clothes on and stuff.

Anyway, when you build up the courage to trek back to that sweet little white house you live in and you make it home for the night knowing you will not have to leave for (insert number of) hours!!!  As you can imagine all those pep talks, all those days you’re certain you’ll wind up passed out halfway home because it’s just too cold to take another step, all that time you spend adding up the minimum number of seconds you have to be outside that day… Well, it makes you stronger.  Everyday you survive is more confidence in that little brain of yours that you can, just maybe, do it again.  Plus, everyday survived is one day closer to that sweet relief named April. Or May.

3) Those sweet kids here in Fargs.
I may or may not offend some Badgers with this one.  Now, let it be known that I spend a good chunk of time on weather.com comparing temperatures between Fargo, Wisconsin Rapids, Madison and Singapore.  It’s usually a bit colder and windier here (discluding SingSing where’s its just around 100 degrees warmer everyday).  I’ve also realized that I’m the. only. one. here. who. complains. about. the. weather.  Before reading on, bear in mind that those in Madison are, generally, more outspoken and opinionated than the sweet NoDak dwellers.  But, I’ve got to tell you, lots of people on my Facebook that go to school in the great Dairy State are whining just like me:  “Why do we have school?”  “We’re all going to literally die.”  “I can’t believe they haven’t canceled school.  I’m not going to my classes.”  “Yeah, make me go outside.  I’d like to see you try.”  Anyway, for some reason no one does that here.  They’re all like, “Oh, you postponed the talent show until tomorrow night because of the frigid temperatures?  Well, I’ll stop by the Newman Center tonight anyway, even though I could safely stay in my cosy house the rest of the night.”  Or there’s that student I saw who I saw as I was approaching the union that said, “Isn’t it just great out here!”  Now, she was a little sarcastic, but was certainly not whining and I think she might have even been enjoying the weather.  Oh, and I found out when I arrived at the union that the day before she had a fever of 103 and, you know, has bronchitis.  What. The. Heck.  Anyway, they all seem to like it here (or at least aren’t vocally or Facebook-ily stating their pure hatred of the weather) so I thought I could give it a try.  Thanks to all those whiners in Madison for helping me realize this…it wasn’t until your complaints that I realized I wasn’t hearing any from the people who live here…and I was probably annoying the crap out of everyone here! 🙂

4) I know I’m alive
Last year, one of my current teammates (who was placed here in Fargo last year) decided to walk the 10 (15?) minutes home when it was -20 degrees…without a hat.  Don’t worry T.J., I won’t tell anyone it was you.  Anyway, he said he did it because he wanted to really know what it was like to be cold.  While I (or anyone, probably) wouldn’t condone his behavior, it’s kind of nice to be that cold because you just know you’re alive.

5) I’m not made for this world
The best reason I came up with for beginning to enjoy this weather is that it reminds me that I’m made for heaven.  Obviously these severe temperatures are a result of the fall (my opinion…not dogma).  I don’t believe the All-Loving God that our Creator is would willingly subject people to this brutality in the Garden of Eden.  So, when I’m outside I just replay one simple sentence in my head while I take purposeful and eager steps toward my destination: Someday I will be in heaven and will never have to suffer negative temperatures again. 

***BONUS NUMBER 6***
6) I haven’t been sick in
forever.
Usually I’m pretty consistently sick.  You know, a cold every month.  But, I haven’t been sick since September.  I attribute that solely to the fact that nothing–not even germs or bacteria or whatever else might make you sick–can survive in Fargo.**

I’d like to wrap this post up with a toast:

To Canada and everyone from the pre-turn-the-thermostat-up-to-70-whenever-you-want days, I commend you for somehow surviving.  My hat is tipped to thee.

 

 

*How official is that information?  Well, the volunteer coordinator at the Great Plains Food Bank that I went to with a bunch of students on Saturday to work at told us this info.  She is a young twenty-something who moved to Fargo in May after living most of her life in some tropic location…Florida, I think?  Anyway, you can trust my source…she has sooo much experience with Fargo winters.  (Actually, after she said that, many native Fargoans (Fargoians? Fargans? Fargonites?…) corroborated.

**Yes, I know that’s not exactly science.  In fact, all of my teammates have been sick in the past week and a half.  Here’s hoping that if I just believe hard enough the cold will continue to kill anything that threatens my health.

People Be Cray Here!

And by that title I mean people are going crazy here!

The temps hit 30 degrees and jackets are staying on the coat rack while people hit the town.

I’m not even kidding.  BLT (Beloved Leader of the Team) decided to skip the coat.  He regretted it on the way into the restaurant for brunch after Mass.  For some reason (Kelsey’s boyfriend explained it, but I didn’t listen) the warmest part of the day here is the early morning.  It gets colder around noon.  Weird.

This afternoon, I went to Hornbacher’s (grocery store) and there was a woman wearing a short sleeve t-shirt.  What?!  She’s cray!

I do have to admit I wore a spring coat instead of my it’s-twenty-below-wool-coat.  It was refreshing.

I’m off to make a carrot cake for Kelsey’s birthday, which is tomorrow!

If I Die Young…EDIT

**CHECK THE BOTTOM OF THE POST FOR AN 8:00PM EDIT (originally posted at 2:30pm)!**

…bury me in satin, lay me down on a bed of roses.  (Sorry sidetracked…)

But, there’s a chance I may die young.  Apparently if I do anything tomorrow:

1526274_1453018591593310_609851439_n

You’ll notice, of course, the part highlighted in gray that says, “THIS WILL BE A LIFE THREATENING BLIZZARD…” Followed immediately by, “TRAVEL ON THURSDAY WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE AT TIMES.”

I mean, I know that blizzards are bad to travel in.  But, really…  I feel like the National Weather Service pointing out that it will be “impossible” to travel will make ever 17-year-old boy hop in his car and prove the NWS wrong.*

Also, the kicker?  Hoping Bryan would contradict my thoughts, I asked him if he thinks we’ll have a snow day tomorrow.**  He thinks probably not.  My thoughts were confirmed and now I look like this:

Photo on 1-15-14 at 1.42 PM #2

sad.

But, I still have hope. #hereshopingforasnowday

On a more important note, don’t forget to pray for those who have nowhere warm to stay during this hellish-cold winter!  And, do what you can to help them find shelter, food, etc!  After all, sheltering the homeless is a spiritual work of mercy!  Check out this site to find a place that’s maybe looking for volunteers.  Or, you can always find a food pantry, Dorothy Day House***, pregnancy help center, etc. to spend some time at this winter making sure the corporal needs of those less fortunate than you are met!

Also, don’t worry, mom, I have to plans of taking the Avenger (my car) out of the garage.  I won’t defy the NWS’s requests.

———————-

*Maybe that won’t happen in North Dakota…I think most 17-year old boys here are “on the straight and narrow” as they say.  But, back where I come from…

**Not that I need a snow day.  After all, we just started working for the semester yesterday, but there’s just something about a snow day…

***Shoutout to the Dorothy Day House.  If anyone at NDSU is looking to get involved there, contact Kelsey because she’s looking into volunteering there!  (Or, shoot me a message and I’ll pass it onto Kelsey.)

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UPDATE:

I just finished Bible study and it ended with me all like this:

Photo on 1-15-14 at 8.00 PM #2

Right after Bible study ended Jenna announced: “NDSU campus will be closed all day Thursday.”  My dreams came true: Bryan was wrong AND there’s a snow day tomorrow!  (Just kidding that one of my dreams is for Bryan to be wrong!)  So, if the blizzard is as bad as the NWS threatens, we’ll have a movie day with whoever is brave enough (or lives close enough to walk).  If it’s a false alarm, maybe we’ll go sledding!  Here’s to endless possibilities and staying up late because it’s a snow day!