With much anticipation, I arrived to the Kartause on January 28th. As one of the only two missionaries a part of the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Center for Evangelization, it has been easy but difficult finding my place in a whole new country and environment. I had many positive expectations for this program, and I already see that God is allowing me to do something bigger than anything I could have imagined.
The adjustment was comfortable in the sense that I felt like I already knew the directors well and we had constant communication during my time of preparation. I immediately felt welcomed by the Language and Catechetical Institute (LCI) students who seemed excited to have new teachers. I haven’t taught anything other then Summer Vacation Bible Schools, so I was nervous to be thrown into this role already, even if I’m not teaching classes yet. I learned quickly that just by being a native English speaker I was somewhat prepared, but I know there is much to learn. Carol Rose, the other missionary, has some experience in the field so it’s comforting to know we are working together.
Carol Rose and I take a course in teaching English as a Foreign Language, and several other classes: Scripture, Saints and Spirituality, Catechetical Mystogogy, Apologetics, and Evangelization. I worried that I would be overwhelmed with so many classes, but then I reminded myself I am learning for the sake of becoming a better missionary. I have enjoyed the readings, discussion, and the Catholic Culture! I love having conversations with Father Joseph about the beautiful traditions of the Eastern Church. It’s a whole new world for me.
An impressive part of this program is the prayer. Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray at all times,” and without a doubt this happens daily through a joint effort. At 7:30 am we have Morning Prayer. All the classes start and end with prayers. There is daily Mass with the option of going to the Divine Liturgy, Mass prayed in the Byzantine rite. Carol Rose and I both work to set aside time to complete a Holy Hour. On Mondays we have an LCI Holy Hour in the Adoration Chapel and on Tuesday mornings, we have Community Prayer in the Byzantine Chapel with the LCI students and teachers. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the right time for my Holy Hour with the many pilgrimages and travel days, but I’ve succeeded so far. Prayer has to be the fuel for everything, and is essential to complete any mission for the Church.
Eight months ago, I was stuck working two jobs that brought me little joy. I went to Church, volunteered for the High School Youth Group, and was a lector. I found joy and hope in these faith filled moments, but was hungry for something more. I needed the change and God placed a desire to answer the call to help start this program. I can’t explain why this was where he wanted me, and I am just as busy as I was eight months ago, but there is a peace in my heart that wasn’t there before. Real peace comes when we are doing what God demands of us. He gives us the option to do His will or to follow a path separate from Him. I chose His path, despite the challenges that are ahead. Conversion of hearts and teaching a new language are no easy tasks. I have a hope that no matter what happens God wanted Carol Rose and I here to embark on this journey together. Please continue to pray for our time of training, and for our first mission trip to Slovakia from February 25th-March 4th. We continue to pray for all of our sponsors. You guys are a big reason we could say YES to this program.