What is Intake Anyway?
Intake is what Family Missions Company calls its 3-month training program that all new missionaries must go through in order to be sent out into the world to proclaim the Gospel. It’s a time to make sure that the missionaries not only understand the Gospel they are to preach, but believe in it and live it to the fullest. During this training, we live in community: sharing meals, studying, praying, reading God’s Word, and serving in the local area. Basically, we are doing what the Apostles and the early Christians did to grow in holiness and become more faithful to the teachings of Christ.
Each morning all 50+ of us get up and head over to the community house aka the Big House for breakfast about 8 am. We begin with a song followed by the blessing of the food. After breakfast, we have morning prayer in the Big House. We begin with praise and worship and then pray the Liturgy of the Hours as a community and later divide up into smaller groups for personal sharing and prayer intentions in which we pray for all of you and your needs. Following morning prayer, we alternate between two “classes”. One is called Si Señor and the other is a teaching workshop.
During Si Senor, we are learning the “ins and outs” of being foreign missionaries. We are learning about what is required of us not only through scripture and Church documents, but also through the experiences of the Summers family. For the teaching workshops, we are broken into two groups and are learning how to give different kinds of talks and teachings. We have all given our first talk which was our own personal conversion story. We were very blessed to be able to hear how God first began to work in each of our lives eventually leading us all to In-take 2013.
About noon, we get a little break before gathering back for lunch. This is usually when we check back in on the kids if they weren’t with us during the morning session. We all gather back at the Big House for lunch which also begins with song and prayer. After lunch, we gather for our afternoon session. Again, alternating between two different sessions. We are studying the Acts of the Apostles and Mission of the Redeemer by Pope John Paul II. Both of these lay out the “job” of lay missionaries.
After lunch study is chore time. I know many of you moms were thinking, “Who does all the cooking, cleaning, washing, etc. for 50+ people?” Well, we all pitch in. We have chore teams that take turns with the cooking and dishes for each meal, but we also all have personal chores that we do each day. Some of us clean different areas of Big Woods and/or the Big House. Some of us are in charge of yard work. Some work in the office. Everything is divided up, so even though there is a lot to do, it all gets done pretty quickly with such a large crew. My job is entering new benefactors into our database and updating previous donor’s info, helping to promote our upcoming Proclaim 2013 conference, and helping with grant research. Travis is the trash man and helps keep the grounds mowed.
Once our individual chores are done, we have time to rest and/or study until dinner time. This is usually when we meet back with the kids to finish up school or do our own homework. Yes, we have homework too! On Tuesday afternoons and some Thursday afternoons, we all go to daily Mass down the road. Then meet back at the Big House about 6:00 for dinner. After dinner, we have various evening activities: men’s and women’s bible studies, community leisure night, game night, praise and worship night, etc. Lots of fellowship time!
On Wednesday nights, we have “Mission Formation” which is a potluck prayer meeting that is open to anyone. We’d love to have you join us one Wednesday evening. It is held at Our Lady of the Bayou Retreat Center on Henry Street in Abbeville at 6:30 pm. We share a meal, listen to reports from the mission field, share anything that God has been doing in our lives, and pray for one another. Sometimes a missionary or two will share a testimony or teaching. I was asked to share mine last Wednesday and was so blessed when I began to recall how God had changed me from the selfish, worldly women I was to the submissive, God fearing woman I am today. (Click here to receive reminders and more information about Mission Formation and other FMC events.)
Thursday is probably my favorite day of the week! It’s ministry day, and we get to spend the entire day together as a family. Our family, along with the other three families and four of the singles, accompany Mr. Frank, our founder, to one of the local nursing homes for a rosary and communion service. We have always loved visiting the nursing homes back home and really felt that God had hand picked this ministry for our family. After the nursing home, we break up into smaller teams and visit some of the homebound from the parish. Our family visits a beautiful lady that recently had a stroke. She can’t communicate much with us, but I know that she loves seeing the kids each Thursday.
We return to Big Woods for a quick lunch and meet back up with the rest of our ministry team. After regrouping, we head out to a local trailer park for some door to door ministry. One of the other teams ministers at the “soup kitchen” in Lafayette while another ministers at a different nursing home here in Abbeville. Thursday night is family night which means that we don’t have a community meal. We usually take the kids out for a bite to eat and then come home for family movie night or family game night.
Saturday is Work Day/Desert Day/Lord’s Day. All are welcome to join us on Saturday. Just call the office and let them know you’re coming! We tackle some the “big” projects our here at Big Woods or for someone in the local community in need that can’t be done during the week (carpentry, plumbing, electric, painting, etc). After lunch, we have what is called Desert Day. Everyone spends the afternoon in the outdoors in prayer with God. We take our bibles, journals, prayer books, and bug spray, and then we find a nice quiet place to spend with God in His creation. Saturday night is our Lord’s Day dinner. We get dressed up and celebrate the arrival of the Sabbath with a small ceremonial meal similar to a Seder meal—song, scripture, prayer, candles, bread, and wine (aka sparkling grape juice). Afterwards, we usually have community game night where there are usually several board games going on at once all over the Big House.
Sunday is our free day! We attend Mass and then have the rest of the day to rest, call home, and waste our two hours of personal Internet usage scrolling through a week’s worth of Facebook statuses and junk email. We are allowed to leave and have lunch/dinner with family and friends IF all other In-takers are invited. So, who wants to have all 37 of us over for Sunday lunch? 😉
For the most part community life is awesome, but like with all families it can be difficult and burdensome at times to live so closely with others. The reality is beginning to set in for many of us as the newness and excitement wear off. Anxiety levels are beginning to rise, and of course, Satan is constantly trying to swoop in and use that against us. But the power of so many people seeking holiness through Christ is so much greater than all the trials he keeps sending our way.
We are growing our patience as our pride begins to die. We are feeding off of each other’s wisdom and starving our own arrogance. We are learning humility as we learn to give of ourselves completely and totally for the good of the community. Please continue to pray for all of us as we learn to totally die to self and give Christ our everything