A joyful spreading of the Gospel.

Last night I kicked off the new series my young adult community is hosting, “Forming Our Hearts for Mission.” We’re speaking on how to evangelize in our daily lives, based on Pope Francis’ wisdom in Joy of the Gospel.

I spoke about the joyful spreading of the Gospel through a renewed encounter with God. It was quite humbling for me. I was someone who didn’t even know what evangelization was nine years ago. And then once I learned what it was, I was someone who ran away from it because I knew I’d fail. And now I work for a Catholic ministry of evangelization and I am constantly reminded about how much I still have to learn.

God is funny sometimes. I love the ways He constantly reminds me that “His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in weakness.”

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Bon fèt nan Ayiti.

When this year began, I knew I wanted to celebrate my 30th birthday in Haiti. I could think of no better way to bring in a new decade than surrounded by many pieces of my heart in a place I’ve come to deeply love. And I was right.

The week was filled with laughs, frustrations, sorrow, and joy.

We were greeted by a thunderstorm when we arrived. Awesome because the country has been in a severe drought for quite some time. Not-so-awesome because our group needed to get up a dirt, mountain road in a truck with no four-wheel drive.

What is usually a four hour drive, took eight hours. We laughed. We were worried. We prayed. There was a quick run through Port-au-Prince to find a bathroom… At the end of the paved road, before we went up the mountain, we switched trucks (including moving six 50-pound bags of rice, soda, eggs, all of our luggage, and a stove). There was a serenading of “Happy Birthday” for me at 10:30 PM (my birth time).

Time in Haiti is nothing if not an adventure.

On that truck ride we declared the upcoming decade my decade of adventure.

Continue reading “Bon fèt nan Ayiti.”

Hello, thirty.

Two years ago, I was sitting with a friend on the steps of a church. He had just come back from a year-long journey around the world. I forget exactly what we were talking about, but it somehow led to me lamenting the fact that I was almost thirty. (I was 28 at the time. I know. Dramatic.) I remember this because what he said next stuck with me:

“Jen, you’re not 30. You’re 28. You have two years until you’re 30. Do you know what you can accomplish in that time? In one year you can travel around the world. You’re not 30. You have time.”

Here I am at 30 and he was right. I had time. In that year and a half, I:

  • left my government job, which I had for thirteen years
  • to work in Catholic ministry helping people in the work of evangelization through traveling, writing, and designing,
  • established relationships in Haiti and led several mission teams,
  • became part of a very new intentional missionary community,
  • deepened unexpected friendships in unexpected ways, and
  • grew in my understanding of who I am and what I desire.

All in all, not bad for a year and a half.

Still, I knew this changing of decades would be difficult. With the help of friends and family, it was a weekend of celebration instead of lamentation. AND the best part isn’t even here yet. Continue reading “Hello, thirty.”