800 Bibles in One Month - by Karen

Prior to missions, I didn't understand Hebrews 4:12.  I didn't understand the importance of being in the Word every single day nor did I realize the real impact that Sacred Scripture has on people who are committed to making it a part of their daily routine.  Out of pride and arrogance, I affirmed myself for having a solid working knowledge of Jesus' teachings and felt like an over-achiever if/when I meditated on His word outside of Holy Mass.  During my time of formation at Family Missions Company, I was required to read the bible every single day, which I did out of obedience.  Little by little the Word took hold of my heart and penetrated the depths of my soul.  The gospel of John starts by saying, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  As I immersed myself in scripture, I felt different; I felt God's presence in a new way.  As I read His Word, it started to feel as though He was right there with me - guiding me, consoling me, correcting and encouraging me.  Over the course of these last six years, I have been transformed by the Word of God.  As such, I feel strongly about giving others the opportunity to encounter the Lord through Sacred Scripture.

Last February I wrote a blog about the bible distribution initiative which was kick-started by one of our amazing mission partners: http://www.carmodyfamilyonmissions.com/2021/02/bibles-for-poor-by-karen.html.  In subsequent blogs, we described some of the impactful encounters that we were blessed to have as we began passing out the bibles that people were donating.  

In an effort to give away the hundreds of bibles that were arriving on our doorstep, I developed the habit of carrying a half dozen or so with me and made it a priority to stop and talk with anyone/everyone that seemed like they might possibly be interested in receiving such a gift.  In addition to this daily effort, we often spent dedicated afternoons going door-to-door to share our personal testimonies about the power of sacred scripture and the importance of reading God's Word with anyone willing to listen.  I praise God for anointing our efforts and believe that if even one person benefited from receiving a bible, it was all worth it!

In October we began considering the possibility of leaving Puerto Rico and moving to Costa Rica so that we could serve alongside other FMC missionary families.  As we weighed the pros and cons I felt overwhelmed by the multitude of bibles stacked in the corner, patiently waiting for good homes.  At a rate of 10 per day, it would take us months and months to give away all that was there.  What to do - what to do?  As we brainstormed, there was no shortage of ideas; however, every option left me feeling sad that our encounters with people would be so impersonal.  I felt a sense of obligation to deliver these bibles in a meaningful way, like we had with the first 1300, but how?  Through prayer Jesus helped me to see that although our personal testimonies are valuable, they're not necessary; the Holy Spirit is quite capable of showing up at exactly the right moment to inspire recipients to open up the Word and dive in.  After more prayer, I found comfort in the notion that the Lord's ways are always better than ours, and accepted the idea that our role was to simply get the bibles into the hands of as many people as possible.

On your mark, get set, GO!!!

Step #1: Write a message in the front cover of each bible that indicates that it is a gift from our family and not the Catholic Church at large ~ "Beloved friend, accept this bible as a symbol of love from the Carmody Family.  God bless you!" When the local priest that we were working with originally made this request it seemed like nothing more than a mild inconvenience.  After writing the same message in hundreds and hundreds of bibles I wished that he would have asked for something a bit simpler.

Step #2: Highlight the two verses that the Holy Spirit inspired us to mark and put something in the pages to draw people's attention to those particular verses: holy cards, Spanish Divine Mercy Chaplet cards, our family's business card, prayer cards, etc.  I was super tempted to skip this step because it wasn't necessarily necessary....and it was super duper time-consuming.  However, I couldn't because I was positive that the Holy Spirit wanted us to guide people's attention to these two verses.  Ugghhh.... 

We highlighted the following two passages:

John 8:32 - "The truth will set you free."

Galatians 5:17-25 "The flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other...the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. In contrast, the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control... those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit." 

Step # 3: Separate the rosaries that we'd received (from very, very generous members of Team Carmody) and pair them with the printed instructions (that we also received from our mission partners).  The priest in Aguada felt strongly about people being taught how to use a rosary for contemplative prayer so that they weren't regarded as good luck charms or worn as jewelry.

Step #4: Anna wrote a letter to the recipients that described the value of reading the bible every day.  She also shared her conviction that helping others grow in their faith is absolutely the best way to help them because having a personal relationship with Jesus is more important than anything else in the world.  As such, she explained that we were including two bibles - one for the recipient of the bag to keep for him/herself, and one to gift to a friend, family member, coworker, or even a stranger.  If the recipient already had a bible, Anna encouraged him/her to use it daily and asked that he/she prayerfully consider who should receive the ones we'd shared. I'm really thankful that Anna was willing to write this note because she is so much more fluent in Spanish than Chris or me.  She was able to communicate, in a way that was informal and yet lovingly straightforward, that God expects us to share His love and His Word with others - it's not an option for those of us that want to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

Step #5: Assemble the bags of items and prepare them for distribution.  

Here are a few examples of the beautiful crosses that we received.
The people that we gave the crosses to were SO incredibly grateful!

Step #6: Chris, Jack, and Michael went to various Section 8 housing projects in our area to pass out the bags of goodies.  They ran up and down dozens of flights of stairs and knocked at hundreds of doors looking for people who were interested in the bibles, rosaries, and wooden crosses painted by members of Team Carmody.  

Following are some photos of their outings:

In addition to the bibles we gave to those living in the government subsidized housing projects, we also gave one to each of the 250 students at the Catholic elementary school across from our house.  

The principle asked us to highlight the story of Jesus' birth, which we did, along with the fruits of the Spirit in chapter 5 of Galatians.  Thanks to the hard work and generosity of one of our mission partners, we were able to put a recycled Christmas card with a religious image inside of each bible.  
We wrote a special note inside the cover of each of  bible encouraging the kids to read their bibles each day, and wrapped them in Christmas paper. 

The last box of bibles we left with our daughter, Katelyn, who is staying in Puerto Rico to continue her studies at Sacred Heart University.  She asked that we leave these so that she can continue to share the Word with those she meets ~ especially college students who are hungry for the truth!

We spent 16 months serving the poor in Puerto Rico.  Our desire to preach the gospel was hindered by the government-mandated covid-19 restrictions and regulations, but thanks to all those that donated bibles we were still able to share the Word in a powerful way.  Our best estimation is that we gave away over 2100 bibles, 800 of which found good homes in the last month of our stay.  I'm eternally grateful for the team that I'm a part of - not just Chris and the kids - but every one of our mission partners too.  The saying, "Many hands make light the work!" has come to life through everyone's collective efforts and I'm soooo grateful for each individual contribution that has made this initiative such an incredible success!

I humbly ask you to pause and say a prayer for all those that received bibles, that they're attentive to the inspirations of the Spirit and docile to His guidance, that through sacred scripture they'll come to know and love Jesus in a personal way.  I appreciate your participation in this mission; whatever part you're playing, I believe it's essential for the success of this mission and for your own spiritual growth.  I pray that the Lord continues to bless your efforts to draw ever-closer to HIM.  Love, Karen

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Thank you and may God bless you and all those 
you hold dear to your heart!

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