October 20, 2013 by Alex Johannigman
Welcome to part 2 of my “week in the life of a missionary” series. If you missed Friday, you can read it here.
7:00am– Wake up and get ready for the day.
7:40am– We pray the rosary on the way to mass at Holy Ghost.
8:00am– Mass at Holy Ghost
8:45am– I return to the Seton House to find out that we’re out of milk. As the only person on the cooking team this week with a car, that means I’m making a quick trip to Safeway to pick up a couple gallons so that we can enjoy our cereal.
9:45am– Start preparing for Second Saturday Lunch in the Park. It’s actually on the third Saturday this month since we couldn’t get the park reserved last week. We’re each given a different responsibility, and Dante and I are in charge of a lot of the recreational equipment. We go and grab a bunch of footballs, soccer balls, and frisbees, as well as our giant jenga set, and load them up in my car. We also throw in a couple guitars for a couple of the missionaries to play while we’re there.
10:30am– Our equipment is all loaded up and good to go, so I head to the kitchen to help load up the food and drinks that some of the other missionaries have been preparing. My car gets filled with some things for the prayer tent, including a statue of Mary, and a ton of water bottles. I also help load tables and food trays into Adam and James’ cars.
11:30am- Everything is loaded up so we pray in the chapel before departing for the park. Most people walk there because it is less than a mile from the Seton House. I drive my car full of stuff and then after unloading have to find a place to park.
12:00pm– Lunch in the Park begins. Kevin leads a Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and then I lead grace once the volunteer servers are ready to start serving lunch. We’re serving tacos and spaghetti this month, an interesting combination. I get in line hoping to start a conversation with a couple of our guests, but the first couple guys are just not interested in talking. One man has nothing but negative things to say about his life, and after a minute or two just tells me to leave him alone in less than polite words. The other guy I try to talk to is silent and doesn’t really respond to anything I say with more than one word answers.
A little discouraged, I leave the line and decide to come back later to talk to some other people. My second try is a lot better and I’m able to strike up a great conversation with a guy wearing a Dallas Cowboys jacket. He also came here from Dallas, so we got a chance to talk about everything we love and miss about Texas while waiting in line for food.
After getting food I sit down with a couple other guys. One of them came here from Oklahoma and has been living on the streets for a while. The other just moved here from India a week ago for a temporary work project. He’s actually a software developer with a pretty stable career, but saw us serving food in the park and thought we were selling it. Since he was hungry he came over to buy some, but was surprised to find out that it’s free. Fortunately we don’t require anyone to prove they are poor or homeless to join us for lunch.
2:00pm– We start breaking everything down and loading up the cars again now that most of our guests have left.
2:45pm– Clean up the house. Everything is kind of a mess from all of the food prep and foot traffic in the morning, so we work to make it all look better.
3:30pm– I’m exhausted, so I decide to take an hour long nap. Hurray for weekends!
4:45pm– The evening is free for most of us, so I decide to spend it at an event called Fiesta Praise, hosted by the Community of the Beatitudes at St. Catherine of Sienna parish. I roll out of bed and drive my car to St. Catherine.
5:10pm– I arrive at St. Catherine and find people are already in the church singing contemporary praise and worship songs. After a few of those songs, they move into more traditional Byzantine vespers, which is a new experience for me. I end up really loving how everything is sung in 4-part harmony since it’s probably been over a year since I’ve actually read music and had to distinguish the bass line from the melody. Following vespers, a deacon in the Beatitudes Community preaches on the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, explaining how Christ wants to go into the smelly, unpleasant parts of our lives that we want to keep God away from, and give them new life. We then move into about 30 minutes of Eucharistic Adoration with some more familiar music.
7:00pm– After the Eucharist is returned to the tabernacle, the sisters of the Community of the Beatitudes start dancing towards the back of the church and invite all of us to join them. So I find myself dancing around the sanctuary with some religious sisters making our way down to the basement for dinner. We are served some delicious Mexican food and New Belgium beer. After dinner, we spend the rest of the evening learning some Israeli dances with the brothers and sisters of the Beatitudes Community. I learn that dancing is a pretty regular thing for them, and that their community does this sort of thing every Saturday night and are excited to be teaching their dances to the young adults who they have invited to their church tonight. I have a blast and hope that I can do it again. Dancing and praising God are two of my favorite things, so when you also add in good food and good beer, I am a very happy camper.
9:30pm– I finally decide to head home after the festivities come to an end. The rest of the night is spent writing a blog post (see yesterday’s post) and then heading to bed around 11:00pm.
EDIT: I actually did find a great video that shows nearly all of the different dances we did on Saturday night. Check it out!
The adventures continue on Sunday.