Moving Forward

A beautiful sunrise

I used to live in the future. When I was a little kid, I wanted to go where my big sisters went. My parents were very strict about the kinds of activities we participated in… unless (we figured out) the activity or event was at school or church. It wasnt very long before my older sisters were involved in the school choir, the church youth group, cheerleading, and anything else that could get them permission to get.out.of.the.house! So as a 5th grader, I desperately looked forward to junior high and high school.

In junior high, I wanted to be in college. I kid you not- as an 8th grader, I paid a visit to our local state university. I eagerly asked questions about campus life, scholarships, and degree plans. After all, I would be in college in ‘just’ four more years, so I needed to know all about this stuff.

Of course, in college, I just wanted to graduate. When I was single – for what felt like forever…  I just wanted to get married.

Fortunately, some time after my many failed attempts to marry myself off, I began to learn about living each day exactly where God has you in that moment. This lesson is certainly still in progress, but it has already made a tremendous impact on me. More on all that another day. And then, God did bring me to my vocation. I was finally exactly where I always really wanted to be. A wife. A mother. And as quickly as the days go by, I strive to just really be present every day so I don’t look back and wonder where my little babies went.

In any case, since November of last year, I have known that our lives would be changing in a big way. In May, we officially received our assignment to serve at the University of South Dakota. So for months and months and months, we have been in transition, preparing to begin this exciting missionary work that God has called us to.

Yet, it has been really important to me that we continue to live here in CO as long as … well, as long as we live here in CO. I dont want to check out early. I dont want to miss any precious time here with our family and friends. This community has been a tremendous blessing to us, and darn it, I want every ounce of blessing God wants to give us here.

But still the time does come when it is time to say goodbye. After almost a year of getting ready, moving away is not something that is happening in the future. It’s happening now. I have declared a week with no dish duty and brought on the paper plates and plasticware. My cupboards are bare.Rooms are overflowing with boxes. We all have about 4 options on what to wear this week because our wardrobes are otherwise packed. Our house is a crazy mess… even more so than usual, that is!

AND. This weekend we said goodbyes. Our dear pastor Fr. Daniel gaves us a special blessing for missionaries. Our friends at the parish gave us a farewell potluck party. We topped off the weekend at the annual parish picnic – which was just too too fun. (Have you ever stayed at a parish picnic for 4 hours?! Those Peruvians know how to throw a party!)

Then it was time to leave the party… I was really doing fine. Really. I’m excited for this adventure. But then I had to say the actual real goodbyes and it was all over. Tears streamed down my face and my eyeliner went right along with it. We tried to dab tissues on the mess but it may have actually made it worse. ** Sigh **

It is very hard to say goodbye. … But it is very very good to love people so much and to have people love you back.

The following words from a friend were a consolation, and a reminder to allow nothing to steal away my peace. I hope they are good for any of you who are experiencing changes in your life.

“Be at Peace: Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life;

Rather look to them with full hope as they arise, God, whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things;

And when you cannot stand it, God will carry you in His arms. Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;

the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you today and everyday.

He will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.”

~ St. Francis de Sales

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First Friday Promises

crucifix in hawaii

I have often heard of the First Friday devotion, and I’ve been ‘meaning’ to learn more about it for a long time. I finally did! I had no idea that the Lord promised special graces for those who complete a ‘novena’ of First Fridays. Here’s what I found:

“Those who faithfully complete the First Friday devotion for nine consecutive months are promised the following, as told to Roman Catholic nun St. Margaret Mary Alacoque by Our Lord Jesus Christ:

  1. I will give them all of the graces necessary for their state of life.
  2. I will establish peace in their homes.
  3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
  4. I will be their strength during life and above all during death.
  5. I will bestow a large blessing upon all their undertakings.
  6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy.
  7. Tepid souls shall grow fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
  9. I will bless every place where a picture of my heart shall be set up and honored.
  10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
  11. Those who shall promote this devotion  shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.
  12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant all to those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months  the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving their sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

To gain these blessings there are just three simple requirements to complete the each month.”

* Please note: The above information was re-printed from the First-Fridays website.

In honor of our Lord’s Passion, and to encourage a First Friday devotion, I will be posting reflections from the Holy Father, the Church Fathers and other saints on the First Friday of each month. It’s my hope that this will help us each to draw closer to Christ in the great mystery of his suffering, death, and resurrection.

Brotherly Love

The highlight of FOCUS training – for Allie, anyway- was definitely the opportunity to play with many new friends she has made. We spent a lot of time playing trains together, taking dolls for walks in baby carriages, crafting works of art, and otherwise being toddlers.

One day after lunch, we were outside enjoying the sunshine and playing with friends. There was a group of kids playing catch with a large rubber ball, and another group building a campfire out of wooden orange blocks. The youngest children, such as our little Joshua, were sort of milling around checking out the action.

At one point, the game of catch became very ‘intense’ and one young boy was dead-set on getting the ball. He crashed into Joshua, knocking him over into the grass. Allie rushed up to the rescue and scolded the young boy, saying “You don’t knock him over! … Because… because… I LOVE him!”

Now doesnt that just warm your little heart? Allie is a wonderful big sister. Unless of course she is the one who wants to knock the baby over! ;)

Real Happiness

“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you;

He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.

It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”

– Blessed John Paul II

Welcome!

Welcome!

Hello! Welcome to our missionary family blog, “So Much Forever”.

The title of this blog is a little tribute to our daughter Allie who has taught us to say “I love you so much forever”. It also points forward to our Heavenly Father’s everlasting love for us all (Jer. 31:3), that we hope to share with all those we meet. Here we will tell our stories of God’s work in our lives and through our ministry with FOCUS. We hope that hearing our witness will draw you even more deeply into His love.

Be assured of our prayers for you.

With love, Alex and Tamara Pandolfo