Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Alan Alda and 2 World War II battle tested vets

Yesterday I had a great day of spreading the mission and vision of FOCUS. I was visiting with an 87 year old man in Illinois. I set up an appointment with him last week on the phone, the whole time we were on the phone he tried to talk me out of visiting him, how he was just an 87 year old man, he didn’t want me wasting my time by visiting him. I assured him that I would be happy to meet with him to not only share my work with him but visit with him and learn about him and his family. To give you an idea of how our meeting went I showed up a few minutes before 5:30 and left at 7.

Before I knocked on the door we had never met each other and had only spoke on the phone a few times. One other time than the time I mentioned above. During our previous conversation I learned that he had a big family and that many of his children would be visiting him on July 4th. Not long after I arrived at his home yesterday I learned that he and his wife had 10 children. You think he’s Catholic?

Our conversation was all over the place but it was great. We talked about Vatican 2, although my perception and understanding of it is much different than someone who lived through it. My 87 year old friend did not seem particularly happy with Vatican 2, but it was clear that not only is he proud to be Catholic, but he really lives out his faith. He showed me a few books that he particularly enjoyed about the Catholic faith. Both by the same author, one titled “Papal Sin” and the other “Why I am a Catholic”, he strongly suggested both of them to me. Then he got up to look at his book shelf and handed me “Rediscovering Catholicism” by Matthew Kelly, and said that it presents a different angle than the other books he mentioned. He told me to keep it. I’ve never been to an appointment where I am supposed to be presenting the gospel and sharing the Catholic faith where I have been given a book about the faith. I thought it was a very kind gesture. He told me that he usually orders that book “by boxes, about 100 at a time” to give away to his friends and then they usually call asking him to send more so that they can give a copy to their children. I told him it was quite a ministry he was running, he shrugged off my compliment. Then he started to tell me about his 10 children and that he gave each of them a copy. He shared with me where a few of them were at in their faith lives; one of his sons is now a Catholic Deacon after being out of the Church for 30 some years!

I was really enjoying our conversation, but finally my friend said, “Well what am I doing all the talking for, you’re supposed to be talking to me.” I smiled and began to tell him about my work with FOCUS and Varsity Catholic. I told him about the importance of my work with male student athletes and one particular baseball player that I had the privilege of working with this last year. When I finished he said that he had heard of FOCUS before and that he knew about it and was impressed with it. He went on and said that when I started talking about Varsity Catholic he wasn’t sure about the need for it, but after I told him more about it, he said he got it. He understood why it is important for college athletes to make faith a part of their lives, because of the positive impact they could have on their teammates, peers, and community. This gentleman had invested in (supported) a missionary before, so he told me, “What you do is not easy and I would be glad to give to this cause. If you send an envelope here each month, I will send you a check each month.” I told him that I would be honored to have him investing in me each month.

Before I left I used the restroom and on my way out I noticed a giant poster of Alan Alda and another poster full of pictures from MASH. I asked him about these two posters because they seemed out of place on the floor leaned up against a wall full of family photos. He said that he had found them rolled up in the attic where one of his kids left them. He pulled them out and put each one in a frame so that whoever they belonged to could have them. He said he did this because one of his children told him they might be of value. Then he talked about how he was in Korea during the war. Then I told him about something my grandma had given me earlier in the day. My grandma gave me a photocopied article of my grandpa’s hometown newspaper when he was honored for his service in World War II (while he was near the end of his service)Here’s what the article said…. “Sgt. Albert Garcia Receives Promotion Mr. and Mrs. Albert Garcia have received word that their son, Albert Garcia, Jr. was promoted to technical sergeant May 24, in Germany. He has been in combat for ten months and is up for decoration. He holds the good conduct medal, combat infantryman badge, five battle stars and the presidential citation ribbon for the rescue of the lost battalion at Mortain, August 16, 1944. Four other sons in the service are, Tony in the Marines in the Pacific, Anselmo in the Army in Germany, Mike in the Army and back from overseas, and Adolph in the Navy at sea.” As my friend read this about my grandfather he said wow over and over again, he said how impressive it was, and how proud our family should be of him. I had no idea since I was 9 when my grandpa died, asking him about World War II was not of much interest to me back then, I wish it was.

Sharing the mission and vision of FOCUS is another one of the great things I get to do as a FOCUS Missionary and imitator of Christ. I am so thankful for opportunities to do so and grateful for the families that invest and become a part of this incredible work happening in the Church today.

Please say a Hail Mary for the intentions of all those who make an investment with FOCUS.

And if you’d like to become a part of my mission with FOCUS, remember that it is just a click away above in the box titled “Join me in my mission” above on the right hand side of the page.

God bless you.

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