The Maiden Voyage
5 am wake up and we’re off. We cram in Black Panther and Flash, our suburban and our Tahoe respectively, and hit the rode for the next 16 hours to Denver with plenty of bathroom breaks in between, thanks Ashley. Before we finished the first leg of our journey masks started to fade as we got to know each other on a deeper level instead of just 13 randos going on a Headlights trip together. Madlibs, Hangman, and mini info sessions on the lives of the Denvarians breaking barriers right and left. Some good questions asked include: If you were a food what would you be and why? What was a moment in your life that defines who you are? Who is a teacher that has had an impact on your life? And, what has made you happy this week? Mmm bonding, gotta love it. Our first leg concluded at the Bumble Bee Café in Buffalo, Wyoming, a quaint diner with great service if you’re ever in the area. Our first meal a success!
AND THEN CRISIS. Pop pssssssss. Flat tire. Left behind by Kyle’s car, Tyler and Heather, our fearless leaders, sprung into action only to be stiff armed by a freshman–Jennifer Woyak to the rescue. Over the course of the next hour, 3 fully functional adults learned how to change a flat on a new vehicle while the rest properly documented the experience. Freshman sure know how to selfie.
Our second leg ended at Guadalajara in Wheatland, WY–home of Carroll College’s own Vice President, Pierce Peasley–where we celebrated Alex’s first birthday in America. In Alex’s own words, “A Chinese kid in America celebrating at a Mexican restaurant, can you picture that?” Well we have pictures so you can.
Here’s to smooth sailing, no bathroom breaks, and many more Madlibs from Ashley on our last leg to Denver.
Goodnight from your fearless leaders, or I guess the elderly if you’re anyone else on the trip,
Heather and Tyler
Shakira Shakira! Greetings from Denver… House of the Beatitudes!
Matt and Bryce here and we want to just evangalize via the blog-o-sphere! So by now I’m guessing you are wondering if we took advantage of some of the new legalization laws here in Denver, but I want to let everyone know we are just very tired and full of the Holy Spirit which as many of us know fills us with great joy. After an adoration filled night, the day began with Mass and Lauds. The sisters sang to our hearts and nourished ours souls for the day. Once again we were late to Christ in the City and after much discernment the group decided to meet at Holy Ghost Church in downtown Denver. From there we began a pilgrimage to all the different churches in the city. Let me tell you Denver sure knows how to “Church.” Some highlights from the walk included; walking in the pouring rain without appropriate gear, Matt slipping on a banana peal, and praying a Rosary through the busy streets. After the pilgrimage lunch we ventured back to Christ in the City to break bread as the group decided to fast together in observance of Lent. Grace, laying in her bread crumbs proclaimed, “LENT!” thus making her the poster girl of all those fasting. After a period of down time the group began the penetant task of making rosaries. Let’s just say my purgatory will be spent making Rosaries, Bryce began to contemplate pagan beliefs. However, after seven hours I (Matt) have completed a rosary.
We now want to take this time to inform you about the big city driving experience. Katie and Matt change more lanes faster than shakira’s hips don’t lie. Let me tell you, Matt set the record for the most consecutive days of being honked at, which could barely be heard over our screams. One time Matt nearly killed a man, we were pulling out of Christ in the City and like a Gazelle, this runnner jumps in front of us. We all scream and Matt hits the breaks barely missing the dude. I peed a little. I will tell you though, Matt may be our best driver, I still have not stepped foot into Katie’s car. Especially, after watching Katie cross a double white line to make an exit cutting off some people…. I-was-horrified. I am still here so it leads me to believe that my many prayers to our guardian angels protected us. We are not home yet, but so far so good, right. Lets not even talk about Tessa and driving……. let’s just say speeding tickets in Wyoming are very expensive.
Tonight in the Jewish tradition Shabbat is celebrated as the sun sets welcoming the Sabbath. The Community of the Beatitudes celebrates Shabbat as a way to remember our roots in Judism as Catholics. After all Jesus, Mary, and all the Apostles were observent Jews. During the Shabbat meal the group prayed in Hebrew different psalms. We then sang and danced around the table celebrating the arrival of the Sabbath. While the praying lasted three hours Bryce felt the prayer was more of a celebration. If you have never heard of Shabbat you need to google it is truly amazing and our words cannot do justice to the grace of the meal. Father Gregory pushed the wine a little too much, but no one fell to their weaknesses. Overall the Shabbat meal will be a fond memory for all involved. The evening came to a close with many stories and much laughter by all.
On a more serious note today was a day designed for us to remember all the graces of serving in Denver. I (Matt) have been so blessed to be apart of this group. As the only senior on this trip I can now say I have so many new friends both in the Carroll Family and here in Denver in the streets… Ask me about Lawerance if you want a good story! In prayer I have been very “focused” on the importance of presence while loving others. To be fully present to another is very important to making others feel loved. While on this trip I really learned how unloving I can be. Those experiencing homelessness are very easy to judge, but after encountering people in a more intentional way I came to the realization that it would be very hard to tell which one of us truly was poor if you only could hear our conversations. Mother Teresa once said that, “We have forgotten that we belong to eachother.” While on this trip I met brothers and sisters who will forever hold a place in my heart because of the love they helped me come to know. One of my favorite quotes is from Toni Morrison is, “If I had known more people. I’d of loved more.” I’m reminded of this quote as I prepare to leave Denver and know God has graced me with the ability to love more because of all the people I encountered.
Bryce here on the more serious note. As we have journied through this week it has led me to understand alot of things. Before this trip I feel like I was a dry root of a fruit out of soil and for the Lord I did thrist for his love and will. By the end of this trip (and tomorow we leave), I feel as if i have quenched this thirst. I came here to do what I could in his name and I cannot leave happier. You see, what I have learned from this trip is a type of recognition, a new sight, spiritual sight and my human sight that blinded me was washed away. I began to recognize that God’s will is in me and everone around me and as a whole we are a part of a holy community, a holy family. So instead of walking up to a man that was homeless , I instead was walking up to a brother in Christ and in recognizing this I no longer was just trying to serve this man but instead I was bringing two humans together to share a story. It is in other’s experiences, not just our own that we must learn how to live the life that we are in. This is our call to the human experience to be in union with one another, so that we can grow with one another. This trip taught me a lot and I am thankful for every second God gave me on this trip.
Day 5 in Denver! I have the opportunity to be staying with a soon-to-be consecrated lay family. So every morning, Sidney and I wake up and walk to the Beatitudes’ convent just down the road from their house for morning prayer at 7 am. I absolutely love praying with the Beatitudes everyday; there’s nothing like a 5-part harmony to wake you up in the morning! After prayer and mass this morning, our whole Headlights crew took a trip to the Mother Cabrini Shrine. I didn’t know much about this Saint until today, but I am truly fascinated by her. Fun fact: she was the first canonized American Saint! She purchased over 500 acres of land in Denver for an orphanage, which we got to go visit today. Mother Cabrini miraculously found a spring that is filled with holy water. The latest known miracle was a year ago when a woman visited the Mother Cabrini Shrine in Denver and poured some of the water from Cabrini’s Spring on her wounded leg. Instantaneously, her wound was healed. After hearing this story, I was beyond eager to go visit the spring myself. Upon reaching it, I noticed paper cups were available and I actually got to drink the holy water from the spring!!! Then we continued hiking up to visit the Shrine of Mother Cabrini. It was an incredible experience to be surrounded by the beauty of the mountains and I can honestly say I felt the undeniable presence of both Mother Cabrini and the Lord today.
After such an amazing morning, I was so ready to go out and do some street ministry in downtown Denver. It’s amazing how much my perspective has changed on this whole ministry. I’ve been walking around for 3 days now talking to people on the streets of Denver and I don’t think of any of them any different from myself. Jesus is so present in each and every encounter I’ve had on the streets. Today I met a 26-year-old guy who was traveling from my own hometown back to Pennsylvania. We had a great conversation about Sacramento and how much he loved it there. Simple similarities and commonalities such as this remind me that we’re all connected. And on an even deeper level, we’re all children of God. I hope that by simply reaching out to the homeless and treating them with the dignity that they deserve, they may come to know their worth. It was just yesterday at our lunch in the park when a man thanked my friends and I for letting him know that he had a great heart because he claimed he often couldn’t see that himself. Sometimes it takes a little reminder- a smile, or a conversation- to remind others that they are important and that they are LOVED.
I’m feeling truly blessed for each of the encounters I’ve had on the streets of Denver and with the Beatitudes. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds.
Greetings from Denver!
We started off the day with mass and breakfast with the Beatitudes and then headed over to Christ in the City. We listened to a talk by Fr. Daniel who spoke about Spirituality of Action. One thing that Fr. Daniel emphasized is that every action we have in a day is an opportunity to glorify God. He gave the example of how God could have made one “super fruit” that had all the nutirents we needed. However, He chose to give us a variety by making many diferent kinds of fruits and in this small way, He shows His love for us. We can do the same by recognizing the constant gifts from God and making every encounter we have a way to glorify Him. Applying this to the ministry on the streets of Denver, every conversation we share with someone, every smile or act of acknowledgement to another is an opportunity for us to glorify God and make that act of love a prayer.
Today we also had the opportunity to expereince lunch in the park with Christ in the City’s friends on the street. To give a simple explanation, lunch in the park is like a big family get-together. Everyone is welcome and we all share a meal together, getting to know new friends. The atmosphere is comfortable and you are able to have true authentic converstations that don’t seemed forced. It was a beautiful day in Denver and around 150 people attended Lunch in the Park. I had the priviledge of meeting and talking with Chuck and Junior. These two men are very different, each possessing different talents, interests, and histories. It is really beautiful to be able to get to know these individuals and recognize the gifts and talents they have and contribute to the Body of Christ. Yesterday, a man I met named Taylor (who commonly goes by the name of Fishbait), said it perfectly, “a hand can’t do what the foot does in the Body of Christ”. This statement really stuck out to me. We all have our own purpose and we are here to work together and help each other because have different skills as well as struggles. Christ in the City has done a beautiful job in recognizing this and showing love and compassion to individuals that are often dismissed easily. As we have found out, we have a lot to learn from our friends on the street and they are vital members of the Body of Christ.
I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring! Please continue to pray for us as well as those we meet.
Hello from Denver! Actually the basement of the Beatitudes House!
Sunday we woke up to do morning prayer with the Beatitudes and then had the chance to eat some delicious pancakes. Sometime during the breakfast the Beautitudes sang a beautiful prayer. It was the first time we had heard them sing together and they harmonize very well together.
Later our other group from Christ in the City met up with us so we could leave to go to Mass in the mountains. We drove out of Denver into these gorgeous snowy mountains and then Katie told us to get out of the car. So we all get out to “hike” up the road as Katie, Tessa and Matt drove up the mountain to leave us stranded. At the time we were all lost on why we were walking up this road when we could have just gotten in a car and driven up. In the end we were all happy to be outside and to have gotten some excersise. Not to mention the whole “hike” up the mountain was absolutely breath taking. It was also nice to talk and get to know people on the trip we hadn’t talked to before.
Once we “hiked” far enough we all got back in the cars and drove to a town called Central City. It looked to be this old mining town at first, but then the further we got into town, the more casinos we saw. We had Mass in the church there.
That night we ended with dinner and evening prayer. Fr. Anothony also showed us a few of the dances the Beautitudes do.
Stories. Everyone has one. Some may be more full of challenges than others, but nonetheless, they are all important.
Today was the Denver crews first day of street ministry. Christ in the City took us to Capital Hill, a common place where the homeless tend to congregate. Every Wednesday, Christ in the City brings lunch to the homeless and hangs out with them.
When we first got to Capital Hill, we set up for lunch and started talking with the people. At first, finding common ground was difficult. You couldn’t go to the usual questions like, “what are you studying?” or “what year are you?” because you didn’t know if they ever went to school. You had to dig a little deeper. After stumbling through a few awkward moments in the conversations, it became much easier.
One of the people I talked to shared his story with me. For years this man had been struggling with drinking and smoking. Over time, he realized he wanted to turn his life around, and went to the Samaritan House. Since he first entered the Samaritan House, he has stopped drinking and smoking and “refound” God. He said it was really hard at first, but it got easier and easier. The man shared with me that through the love and peace he has found in God, he was able to find the courage to go to confession for the first time in a long time. He said he’s still got a ways to go, but he hasn’t been this happy in years.
I never thought I would be sitting on a wall, talking to a homeless man, and sharing the love of Christ. But everyone has his or her own story, and everyone deserves a chance to share it.
Time and time again, probably like many others, I find myself praying for things that I want and desire. I pray for things that I think that I need. Very rarely do these prayers get directly answered in a way that I have asked. Today was a prime example of this lesson that I have come to learn. When I first signed up for this Headlights trip I originally asked to be sent to Rochester, New York. The reason for this was because I had been to New York in the past and experienced the homeless on the streets. I felt a strong desire to someday return and hopefully help the poor. When I found out I was going to be going to Denver I was a bit disappointed. I knew wherever I was going, I was going to be doing work for the Lord, but I had thought that New York was my calling. After talking with one of the leaders I found out that the trip to Denver was going to be working with the homeless directly on the streets. I immediately knew that there was a reason God wanted me in Denver for a mission’s trip. I prayed for weeks, and maybe even months before the trip. I prayed that I would experience a profound moment with God. One of those moments where God’s love and faith would just directly flow from me, a moment that probably happens very few times for most people. As the days grew closer and closer to when we would be doing our street ministry, my prayers got longer and my hopes were high.
As we were approaching the afternoon where we would be headed to Capitol Hill to work with the homeless on the streets, my nerves were high. The City Of Christ missionaries asked us all if we were nervous for what we were about to do, and most of us said yes. Now that I think about it, I believe we were all nervous for different reasons. My reasoning for being so nervous wasn’t because I was afraid of talking to the homeless or because I was afraid of those awkward moments. I was truly afraid that I was going to fail. I was afraid that I was going to not experience that profound moment that I had been praying for so long about. I didn’t want to fail as a missionary.
My experience at Capitol Hill was very different than I could have ever imagined. Of course I was able to talk with the homeless, and I was able to bond with some of them. One homeless man in particular completely caught me off guard. I was caught in an uncomfortable position with him where a few inappropriate words were said, and I honestly did not know how to react. I still to this moment have a very hard time explaining my feelings from then on. I couldn’t stop thinking about what just happened. I didn’t understand why this happened. I kept asking myself questions about whether or not I did something wrong, or what more could I have done in this situation. I also was very confused with God; I wanted to know why had He put this situation before me. My experience wasn’t what I had been praying for for weeks and all I could do was question God and his intentions.
Walking back to our housing after our street ministry, everyone was talking about their amazing experiences with their interactions with the homeless people. I was very happy and thankful that many of my friends had profound moments during the street ministry. When I was asked how my experience was, I honestly didn’t know what to say. I would never say that it was bad, but I couldn’t quite get myself to tell others that it was great. I was very emotional about the subject and hardly had words. I still hardy have words for why I felt so let down and why I felt so hopeless. I would kind of like to share a prayer that was said later that night though that really opened my eyes . . . it comes from Ephesians 3: 17-21, saying, “May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of your life, thus you will be able to grasp fully, with all the holy ones, the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love, and experience this love which surpasses all knowledge so that you may attain to the fullness of God himself. To him whose power, now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask to imagine-to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, world without end.”
It’s crazy that I had been praying for so long for that experience of a lifetime that I had all planned out in my head. I prayed to God about what I wanted, thinking that that was what I truly needed. I realized today that God doesn’t always give you what you want. He gives you what you need. I really needed that experience today on Capitol Hill and I still can’t really explain to you why, but I can say that one day God can reveal this to me. This gives me time to pray and time to grow in my faith so that I can continue to serve the Lord. I have more to share with God than I did yesterday and I have more faith that I ever had before. I am truly thankful for this because now God has room in me to do work that is immeasurably more than I could ever imagine.
Thank you for reading,
Nicole K. Munoz
Today began at a very early hour- we had to be moved out of St. Joseph retreat center by 6:40 to be at mass by 7:00. Continuing our tour of Denver’s Catholic community, we had mass in the Denver Cathedral. As with the other churches, we were welcomed generously. We then went to the Christ in the City house for breakfast and instruction in street ministry.
Following training and lunch, the missionaries took us out for a street walk to show us the lay of the land and open our minds to the lives of the homeless. Walking through the city we were told to imagine as if we were homeless. When doing this it reminded me of the way I think while hiking or backpacking; constantly analyzing different places to stay and looking for sources of food. The urban environment felt much more like a jungle with that train of thought. The lack of security was very palpable.
Our path next took us to the 16th street mall. While riding in the free bus that runs the length of the mall, Katie had a very good conversation with a stranger about life and prayer. The person commented on how he often felt lonely and unloved, two very common experiences of life. Katie shared the power of prayer with the man and it was a very powerful experience; even before we officially start the street ministry, the power of God is working for us.
While on the bus, we also witnessed the negative side of humanity. It manifested itself in the form of several young people making fun of a mentally challenged individual who, after getting off the bus, was mocked behind his back. While good was being done between Katie and the conversation she was having with the stranger, evil was being done by the youths. The battle for good is constant, but we will prevail.
It is now 6:30 on a Tuesday, with temperatures falling and darkness overtaking Denver. Those who slipped through the cracks of society are now filling the places that we walked through earlier today. With no place other than a small bit of ground to call home, it is vitally important that they know they are loved and people do care. We journey tomorrow to show them how loved they are by Christ.
May God’s love be with you,