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Overseas Lay Missioners

A Feast Day for Our Wholly Human Families

Editor’s note: Reflecting on the recent Feast of the Holy Family, missioner Mari Snyder shares the mission statement, written during FMS Formation, that grounds her call to serve. Her experiences serving at the Migrant Resource Center this year have only deepened her call to serve “wholly human” families that she meets on the Border. Early…

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And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life

Editor’s Note: Missioner Joleen Johnson shares a reflection on life and death that she wrote and shared for the Transitus prayer service, which celebrates St. Francis’s passing from life to death, and the deeper meaning she found after her grandfather’s passing a few days later. As a Franciscan Mission Service missioner placed in Kingston, Jamaica,…

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Day 7: Grime

Editor’s note: On this seventh day of our Advent blog series “His Light Would Not Go Out,” current missioner Domonique Thompson reflects on her ministry at a soup kitchen or comedor in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Instead of a transactional experience, she notices that those who come to be served find ways to serve themselves. Men, women…

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Day 6: Heal (or Not to Heal)

Editor’s note: On this sixth day of our Advent blog series “His Light Would Not Go Out,” returned missioner Rhonda Eckerman shares the profound healing she experienced once she left her burdens at the altar with Christ. I came to FMS in August 2020 heartbroken as I had recently lost my mother and my family…

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Day 5: Tarnished

Editor’s note: On this fifth day of our Advent blog series “His Light Would Not Go Out,” current missioner Julia Pinto explores how accepting our flaws, or what makes us tarnished, can lead to a more honest relationship with God. Tarnished? I don’t want to be tarnished! Rather than lackluster, I desire to be beautiful…

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When You Say YES to God

Editor’s Note: After two years of mission in the U.S.-Mexico border region, Overseas Lay Missioner Rhonda Eckerman shares her favorite memories of service and recounts the joys that come with saying “yes” to God.  Two years ago I said yes to Franciscan Mission Service and to a move to the U.S. – Mexico border taking…

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The Transient Southwest

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Julia Pinto shares glimpses, through poetry and prose, of the ever-changing nature of accompanying migrants on the U.S.-Mexico Border region.   Few people around, fewer things to do and see, Why do attachments here Seem to form so easily?   Neighbors, volunteer friends, confidantes, It all feels in vain. Mucho dolor…

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JOSE, ROAD TRIP, LIGHTS, AND SIRENS

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Rhonda Eckerman reflects on her encounter with suffering and injustice along the U.S.-Mexico Border.  Early one morning at the Migrant Resource Center in Agua Prieta, Mexico, I noticed a young man in the courtyard sitting apart from the group looking very sad and scared. I noticed he had several scratches…

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DAY IN THE LIFE OF DOMONIQUE

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Domonique Thompson shares about a typical Tuesday at her ministry sites in Cochabamba, Bolivia.  I shall choose Tuesday for a day in my life, because it is one of my favorite days. I live at the Franciscan Social Center in the center of the city. It is a space open…

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The Precious of Uvalde

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Mari Snyder laments and reflects on the mass shooting crisis in the U.S. through the lens of the tragedy in Uvalde. The Precious of Uvalde   By Mari Snyder   In the fresh spring of their lives  They could sniff summer wafting  Through louvered windows.     One … twice…

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100 Days in Jamaica

Editor’s Note: Joleen Johnson reflects on her first 100 days as an Overseas Lay Missioner in Jamaica.  I’ve officially been in Jamaica for three months now. In fact, I calculated it, and my 100th day in Jamaica was June 9th, 2022. My time here has felt like it’s just flown by, and I really can’t…

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La Paz Sea Contigo

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Victor Artaiz reflects on the gifts of the Holy Spirit working in his life as he serves on mission in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I recently celebrated the Feast of Pentecost with men and families at El Abra prison in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Within the Catholic chapel, the celebrant priest, Padre Juan of…

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Discovering Our Common Tongue

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Julia Pinto shares how the gift of music created a moment of connection despite differences in language and culture on the U.S.-Mexico border. Just a typical afternoon in the Arizona May “springtime” – 94 degrees, 7% humidity, clear skies, and plenty of sunshine. I park near an abandoned shoe store…

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Hugs, Hugs, and More Hugs

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Rhonda Eckerman shares a reflection on greeting strangers with hugs on the U.S.-Mexico border to convey comfort and love.  I have now been working across the U.S.-Mexico border for over a year, and one of my favorite customs is greeting a stranger with a hug. I watched in wonder as…

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The “Our Father” I Lived Yesterday Afternoon

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Mari Snyder participated in her first shift at the Migrant Resource Center in Agua Prieta, Mexico, just yards away from the U.S.-Mexico Border. She shares the Our Father in Spanish with a very personal English-language interpretation.   Padre Nuestro, Our Father,   Que estas en el cielo,  Who art in heaven, but…

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Appreciating God’s Creation in Jamaica

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Joleen Johnson shares a photo blog of God’s creation in Kingston, Jamaica.  As a way to appreciate God’s intricate creation, this blog post consists of photos of just a few flowers and plants (and one parrot) found in Kingston, Jamaica. Each petal is different than the next and has God’s…

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Night at the Art Car Museum

Editor’s Note: Julia Pinto, an FMS missioner on the U.S.-Mexico border, shares a story of meeting a retired Border Patrol agent and how he challenged her assumptions.  My fellow missioner and I were invited by one of our ministry partners to a dinner on March 22nd at Art Car World, a small, local museum in…

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Franciscan Values and Blessing In Cochabamba

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Victor Artaiz reflects on Franciscan values and blessings he is experiencing while serving in Cochabamba, Bolivia.  Heading into my third month of mission here in the beautiful city of Cochabamba, I am overwhelmed, delighted, and reminded daily of the various Franciscan values and blessings I encounter along this journey. A continuing…

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Expect the Unexpected

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Domonique Thompson challenges her preconceived ideas about life in Bolivia and reflects on the power of small changes for the betterment of her new community. Since I have been in Bolivia, I have been overwhelmed by the overflowing grace that has been present since I arrived. It’s honestly been difficult…

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Fasting, Ham Sandwiches, and a Gift

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Rhonda Eckerman, who serves on the U.S.-Mexico border, reflects on a moment she will never forget during a time of fasting.  In the spring of 2021, I participated in a fast entitled “Fast for More Compassion from the People of the United States for the Migrants Coming to the Southern…

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¡Bienvenido a Cochabamba!

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Victor Artaiz reflects on his recent arrival to Cochabamba, Bolivia. What a joy to have arrived and spent my first month here in the land of the “Cochabambinos,” an endearing name for the dear, diverse, multicultural, indigenous, and cosmopolitan people of this Bolivian department. Kind, gracious, and muy simpatico are…

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A Spark of Joy Revealed 

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Mari Snyder reflects on simplicity, gratitude, books that spark joy, and preparing to leave for the U.S.-Mexico border.  Does this display of books “spark joy” for you like it does for me? If you have read one of these books and wish to recommend it, please note it in the comment…

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Walk With Me

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Joleen Johnson reflects on the meaning of accompaniment and friendship.  My close friend and fellow missioner Rhonda Eckerman, who is serving on the U.S.-Mexico border, recently helped me brainstorm ideas for the topic of this blog. As I reflected on some of the ideas presented, I embraced a moment of…

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Why Wait?

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Julia Pinto reflects on the hidden blessings she’s discovered during a season of waiting as she prepares to serve on the U.S.-Mexico border. Holdups are often perceived as torment, especially in the context of a culture of instant gratification. We would rather not wait longer for our package or dinner…

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The Snake, St. Francis, and Me

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Rhonda Eckerman shares a story about finding a snake outside her home on the U.S.-Mexico border and how she embraced her inner St. Francis.  During FMS Formation back in the Fall of 2020, when I lived with 14 other Franciscan volunteers at Casa San Salvador, we adopted the acronym WWSFD (What…

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Day 18: Unknown

Editor’s Note: On this eighteenth day of our Advent blog series “Hidden Joys,” Overseas Lay Missioner Julia Pinto reflects on the importance of relying on God despite the unknowns in her life, as Mary did. When Mary came to terms with the fact that the Son of God would be growing within her womb, she…

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Day 17: Humility

Editor’s Note: On this seventeenth day of our Advent blog series “Hidden Joys,” Anna Metzger, who just completed her time on mission in Bolivia with FMS,  shares what a bike injury taught her about humility.  Nothing teaches us humility quite like the Christ child. God chose to come to earth as a baby…babies are the…

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Walking Forward in Accompaniment

Editor’s Note: As Anna Metzger concludes her two years in Bolivia, she reflects on how God has worked through her time as an FMS missioner.  The past two years with FMS have brought their own ups and downs, twists and turns. For years, I dreamed of doing international mission and living in Latin America. When…

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Stop and Be

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Nora McMahon reflects on lessons gleaned from stopping and being with nature.  There’s a banana tree in the garden of the Center where I live in Bolivia and, besides pictures, I’ve never had a chance to observe a banana tree before. In the land of eternal spring, the actual season…

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1,891 Miles

Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner Joleen Johnson shares the insights she gained by traveling 1,891 miles across the country with her grandpa.  I recently had the privilege of driving 1,891 miles across the country with my 85 year old grandpa. Upon arriving at our destination, I had the unique opportunity to observe the daily operations of an…

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The In-Between

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Domonique Thompson reflects on learning to embrace a season of waiting before going overseas. Lately, I’ve felt like I’ve been caught in this in-between place as I transition out of DC Service Corps (DCSC) and into becoming an Oversees Lay Missioner. And honestly, it has been difficult. As a DCSC…

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Blanca

Editor’s Note: Rhonda Eckerman, a Lay Missioner serving on the US-Mexico Border, reflects on her time helping at Casa De La Esperanza and overcoming the language “barrier” with her new friend, Blanca. One Saturday, my fellow Franciscan, Brother David, and I went to Sasabe, Mexico approximately 3 ½ hours by car from my home. Sasabe…

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Content at Home

Editor’s Note: Anna Metzger, a Lay Missioner in Bolivia, reflects on the contentment she has experienced through living a life of simplicity and solidarity in Cochabamba. Simplicity is a core belief with FMS, often coming up in conversation between the FMS community and appearing frequently in blogs. Throughout the past two years, I have leaned…

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The Kitchen: A Sacred Space

Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner in Bolivia Anna Metzger reveals the tenderness that lies within the seemingly common kitchen. She shares different stories of how this space has become sacred to her through meaningful connections. Before my time with FMS, I worked for another mission organization called YouthWorks. During my summers with YouthWorks, I spent many…

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A Pandemic Playlist

Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner Joleen Johnson shares a playlist of compiled songs that have helped the FMS community throughout this past year of pandemic.  To mix it up a little bit, I chose to use more music instead of words for this blog. I’ve asked current FMS Missioners and community members to share a song…

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One night in Mexico

Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner serving at the US-Mexico Border Rhonda Eckerman recalls a time spent serving at the Migrant Resource Center. She candidly shares some stories from her first night.  The Migrant Resource Center is a small two story building located approximately 20 feet from the port of entry turnstile that rotates into 1st Street,…

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Looking Forward

Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner Hannah Hagarty shares her discernment of “What comes next?” following the end of her service with FMS. In her final blog, Hannah candidly opens up about her approaches in trusting God with her steps moving forward.    My time serving as a Franciscan Mission Service Overseas Lay Missioner (FMSOLM) is coming…

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Habitual Welcome Mats

Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner Nora McMahon reflects on the acts of Holy Thursday and how it can relate to our modern times. Today is Holy Thursday (though by the time you are reading this I am sure it is well past that) and the readings and focus for Holy Thursday has always been on the…

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Two Desert Days

Editor’s Note: Lay missioner Rhonda Eckerman describes two days from her time in mission at the US-Mexico border. She dives into the details of her experiences of encountering the harsh realities and hardships of a migrant.  I am in the first months of my border mission here in Douglas, Arizona and recently have had two…

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Auntie Hannah & Jamaica Day

Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner Hannah Hagarty describes her shifted role within her Jamaican school community. Through this new “Healthy Mind, Healthy Body” class, she’s been able to appreciate those around her and dig even deeper into her faith as well as her community.    When I returned to Jamaica after being home in the states…

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You Got It All!

Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner Anna Metzger reflects on giving her gifts and talents to all those she encounters. Through a happenstance reply, she recounts how God has provided through her with a renewed gratitude and awareness.  In my last blog, I challenged you to “be attentive to the present and step into the moments where…

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Gains and Growth

Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner Joleen Johnson, in sharing the story of her dad’s physical therapy, reflects on the positive impact of growing beyond your limits of comfort.   A few weeks ago my dad had his right knee replaced. At a recent physical therapy session, the physical therapist said something that got me thinking about growth. …

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Rest Required

Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner Nora McMahon describes the process (and standstills) of arriving at her new mission site in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She notes the importance of rest as a gift, contrary to cultural acclamation.  Preparing to leave for Bolivia was perhaps more hectic than actually traveling there. Repacking my bags three times, trying to say…

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Constantly Immaculate: From Luxury Hotel to Franciscan Home Base

Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner Megan Hamilton delves into the history and Franciscan connections of her daily home-base within the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany convent in Kingston, Jamaica. Megan would like to thank her friend Adrianna Amari who contributed critical research on Constant Spring Hotel. At my November 16, 2019 Commissioning Mass in Washington DC I…

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The Packing and the Unpacking

Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner Rhonda Eckerman discusses the uncharted waters of packing “do’s and don’ts” within the process of moving to her new mission site at the US-Mexico border. She shares the difficulty of packing tangible items, as well as the necessity of intangibly packing moments that bring a sense of home. THE PACKING I…

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FMS Lifelong Missioner Feature: Tim Shelgren

Program Director Emily Norton had the gift of interviewing Tim Shelgren (Mission Class 33, Serving from 2018-2020 in Kingston, Jamaica) via a Zoom call. Below is the interview.  Q: How have you chosen to live out Franciscan simplicity since returning to the US? The day I left Jamaica, I remember standing in the airport on…

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Step into The Moment

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Anna Metzger speaks about her active call to ministry while in Bolivia. As she awaits both the welcome of another FMS missioner, Nora, and an official ministry site in Cochabamba, she reflects on the life giving relationships throughout her day to day. As followers of Christ, we are all called…

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The Power of Simple Prayer

Editor’s Note: Overseas Lay Missioner Joleen Johnson shares the story of her spring break babysitting turned God-moment. She expresses the power of a simple prayer through the eyes of her younger cousin. When I was in college, I excitedly volunteered to babysit my twin cousins while their parents were gone for the weekend. It was…

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Fleeting Eternity

Editor’s note: Lay missioner in formation, Nora McMahon, uses a poetic language to reflect on an early morning adventure with her casamates. 530 am Alarm 540 am Put on kettle 550 am Let tea cool 600 am Drink tea 610 am Head out   We make it to the Lincoln Memorial by 640 just as…

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A Time for Everything…

Editor’s note: Overseas Lay Missioner, Hannah Hagarty, reflects on her time of mission serving in Jamaica as well her time back at home, recognizing the beauty of Ecclesiastes within her life throughout this period of many transitions.  I just returned to Jamaica on September 20th from being home in the states for a 6-week stay.…

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