Hello and Happy Advent,
Thank you everyone for your love and prayers. I have definitely felt them from across the oceans! I remembered my brother's birthday on the 30th and relyed on your love to get through it - Please keep him in your prayers this Advent season.
November was a blessed month. The youth groups were in full swing and the kids seemed to thouroughly enjoy the term. I gave a talk on Mary to the high school kids and gave a talk on strength and conversion to the middle schoolers. The girls group that we had on Wednesdays was wonderful, and we spent the rest of the term studying "Theology of the Body" which was a huge success. We ended the term with a retreat for the middle schoolers which was based on Holiness. I gave the last talk on going out and living our life in a way that brings glory to God. As you can see your prayers were needed this month - please keep them coming :) We're ending the school year with a huge celebration Sunday this Sunday to share with the parents and parish what went on all year.
I'm chaperoning another retreat this weekend for the Pure Love Club that one of the youth implemented outside of the youth group. Isn't that great! The Lord is truly building up leaders all around me. Please keep these youth in your prayers, chastity is a new idea for most of the culture here.
The conference planning in under way. I have traveled all over the diocese visiting the schools for a second time since I've been back. I met with all of the coordinators at the schools to talk about the best ways to get the word out about the conference to the kids. Then I traveled back again and spoke to some of the kids at more assemblies, and we implemented a lottery so that one student from each of the Catholic schools in the diocese wins to come to the conference for free. The kids are really having to be sold on this... We're not in Steubenville anymore, Toto!
The schools are almost out now for the summer, so over the break we will be working on mailing all of the students an additional letter and form so that they're parents see everything as well. I am learning so much. I had no idea that so much PR was going to be required. I am looking forward to when it is over and I get to work more on planning and implementing the actual conference and less PR, but in the mean time I am learning a lot!
We celebrated Thanksgiving with a wonderful "traditional" meal and celebration put on by Fr. Michael, and two friends, Daniel and Kieran. We even had a turkey! It was such a blessed time and we all said what we were thankful for this year. I think the Lord knew that we missed being home :)
We had our end of the year beach day with the highschoolers - the weather is finally beginning to be friendly and I spent the whole day in the water! I'm learning how to body surf - who said it was all work and no play? :)
Lastly, Kerstin's parents have come to celebrate Christmas and its been so wonderful to have some Americans here with us! Christmas will truly be an exciting time this year.
I hope this update gave you a little taste of what we've been doing, so far away from home. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and happy 2010!!! Please play in some snow for me - we are a little low on it here :) And I love getting letters if you get a chance - hint hint - ;)
My address is...
St. Thomas More Catholic Church
17 Gloucester Rd.
Mount Maunganui, New Zealand
God bless you all! Know of my prayers for you and your families this Advent.