Two years ago, on Wednesday, January 25, 2012, our family walked into Our Lady of the Bayous Retreat Center for Family Missions Company's Wednesday night "Mission Formation". There were two reasons for our hour long trip to Abbeville:
- to check out the facilities for a youth retreat that our parish would be hosting soon
- to find out why Family Missions Company was coming up so much in our recent lives
When we walked through the doors, I immediately fell in love with the place and the people we met. I had no idea what God’s plans were for me or for our family, but I knew I was right where He wanted me to be at that moment. I knew that He had indeed called us there for something more than to book a retreat center. I knew that my heart felt at home there which was crazy because I have never liked new places or crowds especially crowds of new people!
That night at Mission Formation, FMC was sending off a family and two single girls to the Philippines. I was in awe of this family of four, which included one toddler and one infant. They were leaving behind their families, their friends, their jobs, their HOME---everything they knew and loved. And in a small corner of my heart, I was jealous.
At the end of the night, we laid hands on them and prayed over them. We prayed not only for them, but for the people of Malaybalay that they were being sent to. I had no idea where the Philippines was and couldn’t even repeat the word "Malaybalay" correctly if my life depended on it. But I knew that my heart was somehow connected to both now, so I became a missionary stalker!
For months, I read everything these missionaries wrote on their blogs and stalked their Facebook pages too. My heart grew more and more in love with the Philippines and the people of Malaybalay. I laughed at all the stories of their mishaps wondering if I would actually be laughing if it were me on the other side. I cried at all the stories of poverty they shared. I rejoiced with them after reading all the conversion stories. My heart yearned to be there in Malaybalay with these missionaries. Little did I know what God had planned for my family.
After almost two years of attending “Mission Formation” and going on two short term trips to Mexico , our family joined In-take 2013 and were commissioned as a full time missionary family in December. Then on January 22, 2014, almost two years to the date from our first Mission Formation, I found myself in awe once again. This time our family was one of the families standing in the middle of that room at Our Lady of the Bayou Retreat Center. We were the ones surrounded by family, friends, and strangers praying for our trip to the other side of the world, for our first mission in the Philippines, and for the people of Malaybalay that we were being sent to minister to.