Meet our youngest Oblate Missionaries -- Another one!
I always had a yearning to do mission work. Ever since I was a child, I dreamt of going abroad and helping out in one of those places you always see on T.V. Last year, after completing my diploma in Acupuncture, and while waiting for my licensing results, I thought, “this would be a great time to realize that dream!” But fears of leaving home and getting really homesick worried me. Then a thought crossed my mind: “Is there a mission here at home where I can serve God, but remain close to my family?” So I prayed and asked God for direction. Later on that same week, my good friend Oblate Brother Dan Dionne called and asked if I had some time to help out with some of their OYM retreats. Believing this to be God’s answer to prayer, I hopped onboard and have experienced the many satisfactions, struggles and spiritual growth that come with being a missionary.
Being part of the OYM team is fulfilling in so many ways. One of my favourite parts of being in youth ministry is simply spending time with young people. At first, they are usually wary of me, wondering who I am, why I am in their school, and if I am “cool” enough to talk to. Once I can get past their guards, I get to talk to them, laugh with them and listen to their stories. Simply spending time with them is an encouragement to who they are. With our ministry of presence, I believe that when we do these things, we let them know that they are good and valuable people, and ultimately, that God believes so too.
In addition, I am able to share my god-given talents of music and drama which rewards me two-fold. First, my own talents and abilities to lead the group in song or skit have improved. I am not as hesitant and inhibited as I first was, and I know that when I am giving my all, it is contagious and the youth are more apt to follow. When I get the group singing “Our God is an Awesome God” at the top of their lungs, I feel thrilled with their involvement, and in addition, whether they know it or not, that I am helping them praise God. Second, my mother always told me I would be a singer for God, and I feel that being part of the team enables me to do so. It gives me a way to thank God for my talents by giving them back to him in service.
There are times I feel overwhelmed. Besides full time youth ministry, my life also consists of teaching piano three nights a week, leading two music groups in my home parish, being involved with a service ministry group called the FROG Squad, and making sure I have time for family and friends. I get tired juggling all these responsibilities. In addition, our OYM retreats require a constant pouring out of energy. Often, by the end of the month, I am exhausted. Nonetheless, this challenges me to take better care of myself: to sleep earlier, eat better, and ensure I create boundaries to know when to put my own needs first. I am still not very good at any of these, but I am continually improving.
Another struggle I have is feeling that this ministry is a huge, daunting task. We encounter so many young people. The possibility of getting all of them to say yes to Christ would need nothing short of a miracle. I have gotten discouraged with the ones that do not listen, that will not participate, and that in the end, still do not believe in our amazing God. But then I realize I place too much responsibility and pride in my own work. Putting expectations on these kids to immediately accept Jesus in their lives is unfair! I have to continually remind myself to leave this all up in God’s hands. Less pride with what I do, and more faith that my work will be enhanced where and when He sees fit.
Our catholic faith has come even more alive with my involvement on this team. Needing to share the faith with all these young people forces me to regularly reflect upon what I truly do believe, and what messages God wants me to convey to the youth. As well, every person on the OYM team inspires me to keep living and growing in my faith. I feel so honoured to be able work alongside such amazing, life giving people who continually point every person towards God. Listening to them talk and watching them interact with the youth, I discover many new things about our faith, and also see the old lessons come to life in a new way.
In the meantime, I did end up receiving my acupuncture license. But at the present moment, I am unsure about what the future holds. All I know is that the lessons and experiences of this ministry are invaluable, and they are shaping me into the woman God wants me to be. And as long as I continue to do my work, God will continue to provide the miracle.
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