Here we are. NET Team 12, 2018-2019’s very last post of the year. There’s only a month left of this crazy beautiful adventure. It seems like we just started, yet it feels like we’ve been here for years. Our love for Richardson has definitely been growing every day. Letting go of this lovely city to head back home will be a difficult task. Throughout this year, we have learned how to love one another and ourselves better, experienced how eight strangers from all over the world can become a family in nine months, and lived through tiredness and disappointment, beauty and fulfillment while persevering with God’s amazing grace.
Being able to put all our focus on ministry this year has made an immense difference in our lives and in the lives of others. When you don’t limit God, He can do amazing things! We’ve encountered more than 600 youth, over 140 young adults, put on 12 retreats, and lived with 46 host families. We’ve had the opportunity to meet 1-on-1 with youth to encourage and help them pursue their faith, and have seen God work beautifully in their lives since the beginning.
One example of God’s work here in Richardson happened at one of the Catholic high schools we serve at. On one of the retreats we had for sophomores not too long ago, a youth declared to me her desire to become Catholic. That day, my small group had been very honest with the other small group leaders and I about wanting to choose to be Catholic rather than being told to be Catholic. One student was participating in the conversation, and seemed intrigued at the other students’ questions. At the end of the retreat, we had 45 minutes of adoration and I noticed her worshipping the Blessed Sacrament in a particularly profound way. It was beautiful to see her completely focus on Christ before her.
After the retreat was done, I went over to thank her for coming and tell her goodbye. After talking to her, as I turned to walk away, she called out to me to tell me she had a prayer request. She told me that she really wanted to be Catholic, but she wasn’t in the process yet. It turns out her family is Lutheran and might eventually become Catholic, but she doesn’t want to wait to join the Church–she wants to do it as quickly as possible. I was so excited for her! It’s amazing what a little Holy Spirit prompting can do.
Another powerful story we have is about a young adult who had recently been doubting his choice to convert to Catholicism. A young adult in our teammate Harris’ small group had been on the fence about joining the Church. He had seen a priest to talk about his questions, but was left unsatisfied and said he was about to give up on the Church. However, since Harris was his small group leader, the young man wanted to meet with him before making that final decision. Harris told him that he couldn’t convince him to convert to Catholicism, and that only God could convince him of that. He then asked him, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?” and “Do you love Him back?” The young man answered with a scoff, as if our teammate should already know the answer. Harris ended with one last question, “How much do you love Him?” After their small group later that night, Harris shared a video about the bible verse John 3:16. The video was about God the Father’s love for us as His children. With that, the young man was in tears and couldn’t understand why God would die for us. Our teammate simply answered, “Because He loves you.” Afterwards, he chose to continue his journey with the Catholic Church. This story reminds us that it is crucial that we know that we are loved unconditionally. That Jesus would die all over again, simply because He loves us. What an incredible reality that we are God’s children. Praise Him for being so good and kind to us!
With so little time left to spread God’s Good News, we are determined to give our all to the young people of St. Joseph. We might only have a month left of ministry, but our work here is not done. I think the whole team can agree that this year has pushed us in crazy ways we never thought could happen. We’ve lived through tough obstacles and learned how to surpass them with hope and faith. With the support from our teammates and the St. Joseph’s community, we continue to conquer our hardships and grow through every one of them. We’ve had the chance to practice trusting more in others and in God. We realized that as a team, we need to work together to ensure that each one of us can effectively carry out our roles. This not only requires trust from every end of the octagon, but also commitment (1 Corinthians 12:12). When those moments of helplessness come, we need to put our faith in God and know that He will take care of it (Psalm 46:11). Life is a journey, an amazing one with Jesus walking by your side. It teaches you lots and it doesn’t stop; it’s all to prepare us for our true home!
Telling y’all about our mission in Dallas, TX with NET has been wonderful. We’ve shared how God is working in our lives so that you may join on this adventure with us and we thank you for being part it. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that we were blessed to have lived, and it will stick with us till the end of our earthly lives. We’ve realised that God gives us amazing opportunities that we can’t take for granted because every moment the Lord give us is a blessing and a gift. Loving the Richardson community, the St. Joseph’s parishioners, the staff, the young people, our team, the lifestyle we live, ourselves and God more has only deepened our understanding of who we are and of the happiness that awaits in heaven. Our home here in Dallas holds a special place in my heart and the people God has placed in my life this year have made me grow in gratitude. My teammates will forever be my brothers and sisters in Christ whom I love with all of my heart. Thank you God, for everything.
Happy Easter and may God bless you,
NET Team 12
P.S. To the St. Joseph second year team, we wish you the best of luck, and know that we will be praying for you. We are excited for you to see what God has in store for you, because the moment you step foot in Richardson’s St. Joseph Catholic Church, you will fall in love with the beauty this parish contains!