Here’s the quick version of this post:
1) Visited Trinity Episcopal Church –wonderful visit
2) Visited St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church –wonderful visit
3) This experience is going to be awesome
4) I might be a church nerd
On May 13th, I visited Trinity Episcopal Church (The Woodlands, TX) and made an announcement at each service. The community’s response was heart-warming. Many people congratulated me, showing genuine love and support. It was already a busy Sunday (celebrating Mother’s day AND honoring graduating seniors!), and the fact they included me into their program was humbling. Thanks to Fr. Gerry for letting me speak, and thanks to all the Trinity staff for being so hospitable. This place is an authentic community, and I encourage you to visit.
On June 3rd, I visited St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Bryan, TX), where I spoke at their Adult Forum. This small group ministry has the feel of a spiritual coffee shop where people gather for mutual formation. The personal atmosphere was wonderful, and I look forward to visiting again. Thanks to Fr. Sean and all the people of St. Andrew’s for letting me visit.
Fr. Sean and his family was also kind enough to invite me to lunch afterwards. Our conversation consisted of youth ministry, Bishop elections, Summer Camp, and discernment. Who knew you could cover so much at a Cracker Barrel?
At present, a total of $6,675 has been accrued for this mission. This is wonderful!!! If you haven’t already, please consider supporting this endeavor financially. $26 alone covers 1 day of work. Credit Card forms can be found here, and check forms can be found here. Any amount would be treated like a precious gift.
The Monastery in Grahamstown is a wonderful ministry. The Monks are truly invested in the community, intent on making manifest the Kingdom of Heaven. See Travis Shield’s quote below (written during his year in Grahamstown):
I had a thought earlier this week. I don’t have to be here. I could have easily joined the Oil business and could be living an easy life make 85 grand a year. I could have my own apartment with a big screen TV to watch the Dallas Cowboys lose like a normal American. These are all good things that I sometimes wish I had.
So why am I here? Am I here to have adventure and fight injustice in the world? Is it because I wanted to take the road less traveled? Is it because God told me to?
Today is Sunday. The rest of the week I pray with the monks 3 times a day for 30 minutes each service. We either pray in silence or sing psalms in meditation. Sunday morning though… it is time to let my soul rejoice. I play drums and sing praise songs in Xhosa with all my heart even though I don’t have a clue what I am saying. We dance around the alter like nobody is watching except for God. We take communion in a giant circle and my children give me hugs like I have been part of their family for years. On Sundays, I do not question why I am here. I am refreshed and fortified by God through the people around me.
… We had a parents meeting today after the service. It was a time to discuss with the parents of our school kids everything that they have been doing and what they will be doing. Today the parents and the monks both told me that they know why I am here.
Why am I here? Many reasons most too hard to explain. Is it right and a good thing that I am here? A resounding yes! Adonai, My Master Leads.
Is that not awesome?
You can also consider the history of the Monastery:
You can also consider the history of the Monastery:
After Apartheid, Desmond Tutu invited the Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, NY to send monks to South Africa to assist in the healing process. Several monks accepted, and they moved to Grahamstown in 1998, where they established the Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery (the Monastery I have been assigned to).
Later that year, 3 local children were playing on a railway line close to the Monastery. An oncoming train did not stop in time, and the children were hit. 1 died instantly, another died in the hospital, and the last child survived with little scarring.
As the monks offered their support, it became apparent that education was the best way to help prevent future tragedies -education about safety, but also education in general. There were schools in the city of Grahamstown, but none in the rural area where the Monastery was situated (this was due to the government phasing out inadequate schools). Therefore, the monks set up a scholarship fund that allowed children to attend schools in the city. At present, these funds assist 63 students, covering a variety of grades and schools.
It also became apparent that the younger children were several years behind their city counterparts. Therefore, the monks established a Holy Cross school on the Monastery Campus in January 2010. This year, the school hosts 28 students grades R–1.
(R is the equivalent of Kindergarten)
A YASC participant acts as the assistant teacher to the school, performing duties such as lesson planning & leading, individual tutoring, monitoring free time, and various miscellaneous tasks. They can also attend the Monastery’s daily offices, which consist of Morning Prayer, vespers, and compline among others.
The Monastery truly fills a void, spiritually and educationally. I look forward to being invested in the community, and seeing how the coming year unfolds.