Three and a half years ago, if you would have told me I would fly five hours solo, over 3,000 miles away from home, go on mission with absolutely no one I knew, and survive without one single anxiety attack… I probably would have collapsed on the floor and started balling my eyes out from pure gratitude. It’s an extremely dramatic thought, but it’s true. I would have been a mess.
Hip hop music, more than any other type of music, has infiltrated the culture of the youth. For your typical 21st century college student, if you grab one of their ear buds out of their ears when they’re walking to class, they’re listening to Drake, Nicki Minaj, Pitbull, and all those other artists from hit radio. As a music genre, hip hop has a powerful influence on youth culture: consider how quickly the phrase “YOLO” caught on after being used in one song (“The Motto” by Drake)! An even more recent example is the phrase “turn down for what.” It sounds fun in the song… but then you realize what they’re truly saying… and then the moral implications of it on real people aren’t fun at all.
I didn’t understand the sort of messiness I was getting myself into until about the sixth week of school. I had just made it through the last week of the Crux and was in the middle of doing Gospel presentations with my students in Bible study. After hearing the regular response of “Uh…sure…I think that I could do that….yeah, I think I could try to make Jesus the center of my life…” for about the tenth time, I finally encountered something different.
As I share with you a glimpse of a day in the life on a mission trip to Africa, I invite you to look at these pictures and read these encounters with new eyes – although no picture can fully capture the spirit of the African people and the joy they exude.
Great new friends. Independence. School spirit. Great parties. A chance to study things that pique my interest. An unforgettable experience. Activities I always wanted to try or never heard of before.
This is what many college freshmen look forward to, and even expect, as they start the college adventure. The movies highlight this, and the college brochures you receive junior and senior year of high school appeal to you with this language. Maybe even friends or family members tell stories that emphasize these things.
What if I told you that, after reading a book about trust—Consoling the Heart of Jesus—I was inspired to drop a $100K job, buy a one-way ticket to Ethiopia and go work with the Missionaries of Charity? What if I told you I heard about FOCUS by stumbling across a video on YouTube? And what if I told you I decided to apply to become a FOCUS Missionary when I saw the recruitment slogan, “Live the Adventure. Trust the Way”?
Why is it sometimes so hard to do the small things? Think: picking up that one piece of trash, replacing the toilet paper roll, taking out the garbage… And isn’t it even harder to do them with love? Yet one woman who spent her life doing the small things with great love ended up changing the world in a huge way. How did she have the mentality to serve in small, loving ways?
If you had told me as a senior in college that my post-college adventures would take me to Malaysia and the Philippines, I would have asked you where the heck Malaysia was—and then smiled politely and asked why the heck you thought I would ever have a reason to go somewhere halfway across the world.
Mission trips. Maybe they sound cliché. Maybe you’ve been there, done that. Maybe you’re thinking, Why travel half-way around the world when there’s plenty enough to worry about in my own backyard? Maybe you’re right—but before you decide for sure, take a minute to read why you should go on a FOCUS mission…
I found myself sitting in the middle of my room, violin in hand, staring at my Manhasset music stand. The stand had become a dear friend over the years, but as I looked at the page that lay on its matte surface, the notes stared mockingly back at me. Rows of the black, daunting dots sat silent on the page. My “creative being” no longer responded to the sweet notation of my favorite composer, Saint-Saëns.
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Since the pontificates of Pope Paul VI and John Paul II, the Roman Catholic Church has been commissioned to engage and embrace the world with God's message of love once more with ‘new methods, new ardor and new expression.’ It has come to be phrased, 'the new evangelization.'
For FOCUS, this means meeting college students across the nation where they are and challenging them to examine the meaning and purpose of their lives. Through personal relationships and friendship, we offer college students the true peace and fulfillment they seek in the good news of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Catholic faith, inviting them to answer His calling in their lives.
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