Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Go, You Are Sent!



Intake 2015 concluded with the Commissioning Mass at St. Theresa of the Child Jesus in Abbeville, LA.  

This is the same church that sent forth
Frank and Genie Summers decades ago.


The church flooded with tears of joy and eager anticipation as we officially became Catholic Missionaries - Thank you Jesus!! 

We all celebrated with music, dancing and of course some jambalaya.  


 
FMC operates under the authority of the Catholic church.  Missionaries are sent with the blessings of bishops here in the States and are received with the blessings of bishops abroad.  

While home for Christmas we were honored to meet with Bishop Reiss of the Archdiocese of Detroit.  


The Holy Spirit jumbled our plans a bit to allow us to be together on the Feast of the Holy Family. His Excellency shared a beautiful prayer of encouragement; that we're able to model the Holy Family in our mission in Peru.  We were blessed by the opportunity to venerate a 1st class relic of Saint John Paul II.

As our time together wrapped up, Bishop Reiss surprised us with some gifts.  He had exactly six rosaries left which he received personally from Pope Francis. 


He also shared the blessed holy cards that the pope gave him to pass out.  The backside shows the papal coat of arms and motto: "Miserando atque eligendo" which translates to lowly but chosen. This perfectly reflects our humble gratitude at being called to missions.

Having received our bishop's blessing on the Feast of the Holy Family we feel ready to go where we have been sent - Peru!!!!
 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

More Pictures of Rancho Visits in Mexico

"Hey, I know you're busy, 
but can you please go grab the camera?"  

While we were walking around the rancho inviting folks
to the chapel for prayer.
It was tough to remember to stop and take pictures at the ranchos. It seemed like our ministry required every bit of our attention from the minute we arrived to the time we left hours later.  


A home at the rancho we visited one night.
Often times, when we did remember to take a photo, the lighting was poor, the lens was dirty from the dust in the desert or somebody bumped the camera. We chose the best pictures we had for the newsletter, but we wanted to share some of the others - despite their poor quality.

A big, beautiful missionary chapel at the rancho.
Thank you Jesus!!


As a group, we led a powerful night of prayer at this particular rancho - praise be to God!! 


Several missionaries, including Karen, gave testimonies of their own faith journeys. 



Joseph Summers, the director of FMC, gave a captivating talk on the Feast of Christ the King.  It was inspiring to see how well he connected with them and related the gospel to their lives.  They were laughing, crying and praising the Lord together in a way that we hope to duplicate some day.  

Joseph invited the locals to give testimonies.  A 14 year old came forward to share: 

He recalled the missionaries that "came through" 
periodically when "he was a kid". 
He loved being invited to the chapel with his mom 
to pray, learn about Jesus and sing songs about love. 
When he was 12, his life hit rock bottom. 
He was involved with a gang, had dropped out of school and 
was addicted to drugs. He overdosed and ended up in the hospital. 
His "friends" ran. His parents were furious. The neighbors were scared. 
Laying in the hospital bed, he felt that 
the only person that loved him was Jesus. 
He wept as he recalled the joy he felt when 
"the missionaries would come through". 
More than anything, he desired that joy once again. 
When he got out of the hospital he completely changed his life. 
He spent his time reading the Bible instead of hanging out with his gang. 
He craved the Eucharist instead of drugs. 
He fell head over heels in love with Jesus 
and wanted everyone else to love Him too. 
Since then, this boy is committed to bringing others 
into a personal relationship with Our Lord and Savior.

As he finished his testimony I found myself deep in thought...praise God for Team Carmody.  I thank every one of you for making it possible for us to say "yes" to this call to missions.  I thank you for helping us to plant seeds that the Holy Spirit will water.  I thank you for making it possible for us to bring people (like this boy) what they need more than anything else - Jesus Christ!


After the testimonies, Chris and several missionary brothers rocked the house with Spanish praise and worship songs. 


We ended the night by praying over anybody that asked for intersession.  The people were eager because of all the miracles they've witnessed.  In our training we learned about the strong faith of the poor.  They have nothing else, so they "have to" rely on God, who definitely rewards their faithfulness!



As people were leaving we passed out comfort crosses to any that hadn't received one. They were incredibly grateful!!




This picture captures one man's excitement in such a beautiful way.  We were able to give him a crucifix for his home AND a rosary- both of which he longed for but had never had.  

Thanks again Team Carmody for all you're doing to bring the love of Christ to the nations!


  

Desert Day is a Must for Team Carmody

Decades ago, when Frank and Genie Summers (the founders of Family Missions Company) left their life here in the United States to become full-time foreign missionaries they didn't know exactly what to do.  There was no manual to follow or even others to learn from.  However, they did know one thing - they wanted to emulate Jesus as best they could in all things.  This desire to live like Christ shaped their lives one decision at a time.

Photo of the hill country in Jerusalem.  This shows
the type of deserted area that Jesus may have gone to pray.

Mark 1:35 gives us insight into Jesus' prayer life: "...He left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed."  In the Bible there are multiple examples of Jesus seeking private time in isolated places to pray.  

Frank and Genie concluded that they should be doing this as well.  They began a weekly "Desert Day" tradition, whereby they went to deserted places, for extended periods of time, to read scripture and pray.  This tradition has survived the decades and continues to be a vital part of Family Missions Company today.

Michael reading his Bible during Desert Day in Mexico.
In Mexico we actually got to go into the desert, like Jesus, and spend time alone in prayer.  Reading scripture completely uninterrupted quickly became a favorite part of our routine.

This private time of prayer, away from the distractions of life, has been incredibly powerful for our family.  We look forward to our Desert Days in Peru and encourage you to carve out time in your weekly schedule for isolated prayer. 

Field Training in Mexico...Thank You Jesus!

The mountain in the background was our challenge for the day.
At lunch, as we scooped up our last bit of rice and beans, Michael asked, "Hey guys, could we go mountain climbing today during our free time?"  Chris and I exchanged a quick glance that said, "Why not?" and began making plans. 

We'd have to leave soon.  The closest mountain was a decent size, we didn't know where exactly to begin since the mountain was surrounded by people's private ranches, and free-time only lasted a few hours... 


This is a picture from atop the mountain.  We could see the dirt road
we came in on.  
From there our van looked REALLY small parked
by the rancher's barn, 
which meant we'd climbed REALLY high.
Can you see our van?
We headed out of town on a small dirt road and ended up at someone's ranch.  The owner smiled and welcomed us with a greeting we didn't understand.  We pointed at the mountain and acted out "hiking" as if we were playing charades.  He laughed and agreed, so we set out.  



Our friend Shelbey carefully choosing her next move.

Although we've hiked many mountains as a family, navigating through a vertical cactus labyrinth was something new.  


We eagerly ascended singing songs of praise to Our Almighty God who gave us such a majestic world to enjoy!






Periodically, as we boosted kids up over large boulders surrounded by intimidating vegetation, we considered the challenge of the descent.  However, the excitement of reaching the top washed the apprehension away and propelled us upward.  The kids led the way and chose the least cluttered route.  




Inch by inch we found our way to the peek, which was glorious...


The Carmodys along with our missionary friends - Shelbey, Mariam and Michael.

Despite our crunched schedule, we spent time atop the mountain reading scripture and praying. Standing so close to heaven (elevation = 6,000ft) we felt especially open to the Lord's voice. Among the many things we've learned during our training, we've learned to always make time for prayer..Thank you Jesus!!!





We had a brief tutorial on climbing down a (steep) mountain, which is significantly different than climbing up... especially when the route is cluttered with painful obstacles.  We mentally prepared ourselves for falling into at least six cactus each and decided it would be a blessing if we encountered less. We talked about redemptive suffering and the importance of offering up our hardships for others. We've been taught to praise the Lord for all the difficulties we face because we know they are opportunities to grow in faith and dependence on Our Loving Father.  This was such a practical application of all we've learned...who would have guessed?  

Thank you Jesus for this unexpected field training. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Team Carmody is Going Where?





Get ready Peru... 
Here we come!!

It seems like we've said it 1,000 times..."FMC is currently sending families to China, India, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Haiti and the Philippines. We won't know where they're sending us until our training."  Although it seems like we've been waiting "forever" to find out, it's hard to believe that we finally know!!


As of January, San Hilarion will earn the title of "home".  San Hilarion is a medium-size town in the northern region of Peru, east of the Andes Mountains. It has about 3,500 people.


San Hilarion sits directly on the Huallaga River as shown above.  We've been told that it is in the "high jungle", which means there is a little bit of space between us and the creatures of the Amazon.  The surrounding villages are deep in the jungle so I'm guessing we'll experience that as we venture out for ministry.

You can locate San Hilarion on Google maps at https://goo.gl/maps/SDEsmsw2ddt
There are some street view photos that show exactly what the town is like.

The soon-to-be missionaries shortly after learning our Peruvian placements!

Our family is not going to Peru alone. In January another new missionary family as well as three singles will be moving to towns/villages nearby.  Our Intake group will join those currently serving in Peru: two families, a group of men and a group of woman. 





The Schmidt family is currently living in Caspizapa, a village about 10 minutes away from San Hilarion. They will be our mentors this first year. They're helping us secure housing, sign-up at language school, etc.



We don't know the specifics of our assignment or what types of ministries we'll be involved with, but as soon as we find out we'll post an update!!  Go Team Carmody!! 

Luz Y Colon - 3 Day Mission in Mexico

Each morning after prayer we received the day's agenda during announcements. Usually the activities included time for study, prayer, service work, home visits, etc.  Monday, November 16th was very different.  We learned that we'd be hosting a 3-day mission at Luz Y Colon, a nearby rancho, starting that night and we had only a few hours to prepare.  Come Holy Spirit!!!



The kids spent the afternoon making no-bake cookies. When we went to people's homes to invite them, we said (in Spanish), "Here's something sweet.  Come to the chapel for something sweeter!"  It worked, praise God!!  The chapel was full.



The Holy Spirit told Chris to begin the retreat by explaining the kerygma with pictures.  This was a little crazy because before our training began we'd never even heard the word "kerygma". (Just in case you've forgotten, the kerygma is the bare-bones story of our salvation through Jesus Christ.)  After Chris' captivating intro, a team member gave a talk on God's love and emphasized how much sweeter it is than no-bake cookies.  They loved it all!



During the talks, we played Spanish Church Bingo (Loteria) with the 20+ kids that came. This was another awesome inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  The game boards that we rushed to make that afternoon included squares for Bible, prayer, crown of thorns, the Eucharist, etc. We gave away chili pepper & tamarind lollipops (a local favorite). This is a picture of the kids playing Loteria altogether.



We wrapped up with Spanish praise and worship and then prayed over those asking for intercession.

When preparing for session #2 (the very next day) the Holy Spirit worked through the kids. He inspired them to buy a soccer ball so they could play "football" with the Mexican kids in an old, nearby horse stockade.  It was a HUGE success and they all had a blast!! The missionary kids blessed the kids at the rancho by leaving the soccer ball as a gift when we left.  God works in so many different ways!



Chris took his sax the second night to join in on "Alabare", "Baja El Rio" and some other Spanish praise and worship songs, which they LOVED!  Thank you Jesus for sending Chris this beautiful gift which allows him to share his talents with the world. The second night's teachings were on sin and how Jesus has redeemed us.  We wrapped up with prayer for all those asking for intercessions.


Our talks on night three focused on repentance and belief as well as growth and transformation in Christ.  Part of our message was how to live out Jesus' love.  To make our love (and yours too) more tangible we provided each household with much-needed food, household supplies and personal hygiene items.  To emphasize the importance of supporting one another and living as a community in faith, we wrapped up the mission with a potluck style dinner.  (Sorry, we were so busy we didn't take any pictures of the supplies or the dinner.  It was too hectic.)
 




We saw a big change in the people over the three day period. The first day they were pretty glum and very reserved.  By the end of the third day, there were smiles galore and warm hugs all around.



As we were preparing to leave, one kid kept asking "Cuando, cuando?".  We weren't sure what that meant.  Our hearts ached when we learned that he was asking when we would be coming back.  We've been told that the hardest part of missions is leaving those we meet.


After leaving the rancho we continued praying for all those we met.  During prayer, the Holy Spirit spoke loud and clear: they needed crucifixes to remind them that Jesus is the one that opened the gates of heaven for us.  It's Jesus that has saved us from the damnation we all deserve.  It's Jesus that has saved each and every one of us from our sinful selves.

We bought 17 crucifixes and took them to Luz Y Colon the following Sunday.  Thanks to the VERY generous support we've received from all of you, we were able to bless each household with a beautiful image of Our Lord and Savior.  I wish I could say that they were speechless with gratitude because we don't speak Spanish yet, but it was quite the opposite.  They talked and talked about how thankful they were... Even though we didn't understand anything they were saying, we smiled and nodded just like we were taught. Here is a picture of a couple of the happy recipients of the crucifixes.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Team Carmody Arrives in Mexico

After 18 hours of travel and a miraculous border crossing (we’ll tell you more about that in another blog post), we arrived in General Cepeda, Mexico.  Shouts of joy and songs of praise and thanksgiving filled the air as this next phase of our training came to life before our very eyes. 



FMC owns a historical adobe home on the town square directly across from the church and next to city hall.  These buildings are all over 300 years old and are so beautiful.  Within the adobe walls there are two common plazas, a dining room and several small bedrooms.  This is the one our family gets to call home while we’re here.




We ventured out into town and found the cement slide, which is a favorite pastime for the locals.  This quickly became our favorite spot too.


Our missionary friends helped us compose a basic greeting in Spanish which allows us to offer people wooden crosses when the Spirit inspires us.  Thanks be to God, many have already been blessed by these simple gifts. 



A large part of the ministry here is at the ranchos.  We went to one earlier this week and will go to another tonight.  When we arrive, we visit people in their homes to bring them Jesus' love along with clothing, food and other necessities. 






We invite the people to the rancho chapel for praise and worship.  Here’s a photo of Chris’s debut performance in Mexico as he played “Alabare”. 






We’ve gone on home visits and are learning how to minister to those that come to the door for help.  In addition to the ministry work we’ve begun, we’re also continuing our studies.




Our first week here in Mexico has been glorious…even though there have been some minor adjustments…



Thank you for your continued prayers and support.  
Go TEAM CARMODY!!!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Musical Miracle

The alarm announced the start of another day, so I rolled out of bed for my routine rosary walk.  It's tough to rise early, but I'm always glad when I do.  The rosary is an incredibly powerful form of prayer for me because I'm able to enter into such a deep state of meditation.  Praise God that my Guardian Angel also rises early and walks with me. 




A few weeks ago, I left the house intending to pray the rosary as I strolled along a beautiful nearby road.  I looked forward to welcoming the day as the sun rose over the bayou.  

At the end of the gravel driveway I realized the Holy Spirit had a different plan.  I felt a strong prompting to go left down the curved paved road, instead of to the right toward my original destination.
 The Holy Spirit spoke and I obeyed; not just at this decision point, but along my whole walk...even down a dead end road that I was unfamiliar with.  

Usually, after the 3rd decade, I turn around and head home figuring I'm half way.  Not this day.  When I stopped, the Holy Spirit insisted I continue walking.  This defied reason.  The further I went, the further I had to walk back.  When I reached home I needed to get myself ready, make breakfast and have everyone out the door by 8am...regardless, I obeyed and continued walking and praying.  

 
I came to a home that was noticeably nicer than the others.  I found myself lost in thought about wealth, possessions, attachments and how all that impacts our relationship with Jesus. As I rounded the bend I saw a HUGE pile of trash next to the road, behind the house where the yard meets the forest.  



Amidst the trash was a saxophone inside a case which was sitting open.  Did I mention that Chris had been wishing he'd brought his saxophone to Louisiana?  Did I mention that we had recently realized that if Chris wanted a saxophone, then we needed to pray for a saxophone?  After all, we knew that if the Lord wants Chris to bless people with his incredible gift of music, then the Lord would provide a horn....we weren't sure exactly how this would come to be, but we were sure it was possible.  

As I approached the pile of trash, I saw the proof that this was indeed a gift from God.  On the edge of the case was written "Chris".

I scooped up the sax and headed home.


When Chris heard the story and saw the horn he was in disbelief.  It all seemed surreal. Although finding a saxophone is amazing, it needed a lot of work which we didn't have the money for.

The Holy Spirit assured me that we'd be led to the person who would fix it for free.  Low and behold, that Sunday we went to Mass in a neighboring community with a friend.  The Knights of Columbus were hosting coffee/doughnuts.  We reached out to the brother Knights and asked if anyone knew of a horn repairman. Immediately a man offered up the services of his best friend from high school who is known as the #1 horn repairman in the area.  We took his contact information and followed the Lord's lead.

At Lafayette Music we asked for Raymond Goodrich, just as we were instructed by the brother Knight.  We shared the miraculous story of the saxophone's discovery, as well as the Holy Spirit's assurance that we'd find someone to fix it.




Last Thursday we picked up the horn, which had been restored to excellent condition...free of charge. Thank  you Raymond Goodrich.  All praise be to God!!



Just hours ago, Chris got to play the saxophone for our Friday night praise and worship.  He rocked the house - all for the glory of God!  

PS - I went by the house today to take a picture of the garbage pile (for this blog post).  It's all been hauled away, lest a few remnants. I believe that the Holy Spirit knew that I needed to go down that road on that day to find Chris' saxophone because it would be gone shortly after...truly amazing!!!