For quite some time, I was building my own home. A large home at that. My entire life, I was the carpenter, taking control of the blueprint and even taking a hold of the tools a carpenter uses to build a stable structure. Everyone knows that a sturdy foundation is that on rock and not on sand. Yet, as I continued to ignore the spongy foundation that I was building on, I ceased to notice the storm that was slowly approaching my home.
The season slowly began to change from summer to fall as the leaves changed color and the skies began to darken. I was fooling myself into thinking that the storm that was about to approach this home I had built wasn’t going to shake it too hard. I was sure that the sand-like foundation would suffice and only some damage would be seen after the sky cleared. However, the storm rolled through like an angry hurricane that shows no mercy on any shaky foundation and all at once, everything I had built was falling on top of the grains of wet sand. Doors were being ripped off and walls were collapsing onto each other. Like the Gospel of Matthew, the rain poured, the floods emerged and the winds beat on my large home; knocking down just about every wall that I had built to keep myself safe. Safe from the true carpenter, from the one who allowed the storm to appear but to also pass through.
As I looked all around me, after the winds had ceased and the rain had quit; the only remains of the home I had built were in shambles all around me. I was exposed. No roof to shield my head and no walls to protect me. I was ridden with shame- everything I had built was gone. While looking around, the sun began to slowly show and the feeling of hope burned my skin. After the clouds began to clear and the bright, burning sun began to appear again, I could see a new carpenter. The one who builds on rock and not sand. The one who is now teaching me that He is the carpenter of the new home He is building for me.
As I look back on that storm, I was reminded of what I asked in the beginning of this missionary year: to build in me a stable foundation. Being a missionary has allowed me to see that he continues to rebuild the broken parts of my old home, restoring in me an entirely new resting place. Jesus is not done building and continues to build magnificant rooms in this new home of mine.
Hi there! My name is Mia Marcotte and I'm a missionary at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. I'm from a desert land called Arizona where I graduated from Arizona State University and am now living in the beautiful Midwest!
Talking to strangers regularly is not something I envisioned myself doing when I was growing up. In fact, for most of my life, I actively avoided it. I had my circle of friends and family, and that was enough for me.
When I went off to college, I was suddenly surrounded entirely by strangers. There was not a single person that I had ever met before within fifty miles of campus. Though it was nerve-wracking, it was also a beautiful opportunity for growth, and I learned that I actually enjoy meeting new people. God has created so many wonderful souls and it brings me joy to hear their passions and stories.
About two months ago, we decided as a UW-Milwaukee team to change our approach to outreach. Partially because of the pandemic, partially because of the city, partially because of our own fear, outreach was a struggle in the first semester. There was an idea in our minds that we had to do something super fun and creative to meet people, but it just wasn’t working. So this semester, we decided to just go and talk to people on campus. No gimmicks, no handouts, just the Holy Spirit, the Gospel message, and us. It was incredibly intimidating!
The first time I went with my teammate Mia, I was so nervous that I hoped that we wouldn’t actually find anyone on campus to talk to. Luckily, there were two lovely women who offered to watch my backpack while I ran to get something, and we ended up having a really natural, comfortable conversation about their year and how they had chosen UW-Milwaukee. Though there weren’t any fall off your horse conversion moments nor did the Holy Spirit physically descend like a dove, there was a fire set in my heart from the conversation. Everyone we spoke to that day was so thankful to be approached and genuinely cared for. It was amazing!
As the weeks progressed, it became less frightening and more exciting to go out on campus. A few weeks ago during outreach, I felt a tug to approach a woman who was sitting alone. I walked up and introduced myself as a missionary from the Newman Center, and she immediately reacted by saying that she had been trying to get there for over a year but was afraid to go alone. We chatted for about fifteen minutes and ended up agreeing to meet at the Student Union sometime to walk over together. A week later, I texted her to try to set up a time to meet, but her schedule and mine kept conflicting which was very frustrating. I started to feel discouraged and that although it was a blessing that outreach was less intimidating, it still wasn’t bearing the fruit that we had hoped for.
The Lord in His goodness took over from there, and much to my surprise, she came to our student dinner last week with a good friend of hers. She had been continually thinking about it after we spoke (the Lord definitely kept the dialogue going!) and ended up talking about it with her friend who was interested in also coming. Not only did the Lord guide me to speak to her, He then continued to guide her to the community here at the Newman Center.
The Lord has continued to bless our outreach efforts in surprising ways which has continued stoking the fire in my heart! God is good!
Thanks for reading all the way to the bio! My name is Mariah Navis, and I am a first-year missionary with Brew City Catholic at UW-Milwaukee. This year has brought so many blessings, especially joy, and I am so excited to share some of them with you!
I would say that the driving force of many of my decisions is fear. I’m sure this is pretty common - if you ask anyone if they have regrets, it’s usually from an opportunity they didn’t take, someone they didn’t approach, or a way that they didn’t stand up for themselves. It’s a unifying human experience.
However, the Lord has recently been knocking on the door of my fear and in a surprising way: through outreach.
As you could imagine, a fearful person (me) may not take super easily to the idea of walking up to random strangers and starting a conversation. I could give you a fleet of reasons why it would be a bad idea. But I’ve noticed that when my desire for fruitfulness in mission increases then so do the intimidating opportunities that come my way. Outreach is no different, and if I want to grow then I need to dive straight into it. Now I’ll be honest: I do not pass with flying colors. If anything, struggling with outreach has taught me to celebrate the small victories instead of wishing they were bigger ones. I would say, however, that the most powerful thing that I have learned through outreach is a simple fact that has stuck with me:
God prepares things in advance.
To give some context, my local missionary team does outreach by walking through some spots on campus where students usually hang out to start some casual conversation and invite students to the Newman Center. It’s actually a beautiful experience because as we walk, we ask the Holy Spirit to point out a person or table of people and to tell us to say hi. Like I said before, this is really not my strong suit, but I remember the first time that I went by myself, and I said hi to a student eating lunch and even though it was so awkward, we talked and I found out that we had the same major in college. In the moment, I noticed this as a small point where the Father was saying to me, “Trust Me. I’ve got it figured out.” The most recent time that I went for outreach, I went with a student and although we talked to a couple people, we were mostly wandering around not sure where to go. My avoidance mind was going, “well, this is hard, let’s be done,” but my friend asked Jesus really quickly and casually where He wanted us. Almost immediately, we saw a student we knew and in talking with her found out that she had just received some scary news, and it was obvious that Jesus knew where He wanted us and had guided us to her.
Overall, in both moments, I saw how God was guiding me and showing me that I don’t need to be afraid of going where He leads. He arranges things in advance and leaves little signs of His love in every path He prepares for me. It’s all personal. And it’s all love.
Hi! I am Mari Sanchez and I am blessed to be in my 2nd year as a Brew City Catholic Missionary on campus at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. My life as a missionary is a mix of work, play, and random adventures with the Lord, and I am so excited to share just a little of how He has blessed me.
I met with a student at Carroll University for discipleship. “Discipleship” is an intentional meeting with a student (or a couple of students) that essentially aims to strengthen the student’s commitment of being a disciple of Christ through increased prayer, knowledge of the Faith, and receiving the Sacraments. That day, I met with a freshman who I had been meeting with for about a month. As our meeting was coming to a close, I asked him if there was anything in particular he wanted to work on for that week. He asked if I could go to confession with him, and also asked if we could bring along another freshman guy who we knew.
Heck. Yeah. This may seem like something small, but for me this was really exciting and a big step forward for this student. Without knowing it, he was living out his identity as a disciple of Christ. He, like so many characters in the New Testament, saw the goodness attainable in Christ and wished to share it with others.
The three of us went to confession that Saturday in Waukesha, and spent some time in prayer at the Church as well. Because it was around noon, we decided to grab some lunch while we were out. We chose Mexican food, specifically tacos. We perused our options: chicken, beef, chorizo. I had more or less made up my mind when one of the students said, “Woah, look! There’s beef tongue!” We looked, and sure enough, there was not only beef tongue but other peculiar types of meat that we had not tried before, like beef-head meat and barbacoa of goat. Before I knew it, we had agreed to try the “trifecta” as we named it.
Our consensus: we wouldn’t recommended the beef tongue, personally. Maybe it was the idea of tasting taste buds with our own taste buds that was the deal-breaker, but we do plan on making confession and lunch a regular occurrence.
Pax! My name is Joe Wiebersch, and I’m a first-year Brew City Catholic missionary at UW-Whitewater and Carroll University.