After Nicaragua we spent the week at the Jersey Shore, Ventor to be more precise. If you play Monopoly...you'll recognize Ventor as one of the Yellow Properties. It's near Atlantic City.
We were hosted by Marion's Uncle Louis and Aunt Denise who were kind enough to offer us a week at their beach condo. We had a wonderfully relaxing week. Hit the beach, went to a minor league baseball game (The AC Surf--got a cool cap too), won $200 at blackjack, and had a wonderful dinner with Cousin Louis and his wife Amanda at Barrells a fabulous italian joint.
Back home for a week, putting the finishing touches on the new place.
While I'm at it, drop some prayers for my dad whose PSI (a measure that detects possible Prostate trouble) was up at around 10 last week. The doctor examined him and found nothing unusual so he's going to have a biopsy done on Friday to make sure there's no trace of cancer. He should be fine regardless but if you have a safety prayer lying around...please do utter it.
Nicaragua was a blast once again. A wonderful group of people from our parish (probably the best group yet) travelled down with us. We did some major painting (of the roof, kitchen, office, and chapel), we replaced the horrible florescent light in the chapel and put a less harsh tri-bulb track light in--focused on the tabernacle of course, and redecorated the chapel (it now doesn't look like a figurine marketplace). Of course we also did remarkable work with the children. My wife led a "circle time" with the kids a few times much to the delight of the staff and our crew. They enjoyed singing "dias de semana" (days of the week--which is a song sung to the tune of the Addams Family.
Our evening reflections were great...Missi Decker one of our retreat people from BustedHalo offered a profound reflection on her faith story which set the tone nicely. Susan Mantel, one of the leaders also offered a wonderful reflection on Naming What's Important. Dana Evans and Kenneth Wright ended our week with talking eloquently about suffering healing and hope and our deepest desire. All worked hard on their talks and it showed.
Ok, now for the moment you've all been waiting for...
"But Mike, what about the adoption news??"
We are in line for a child is the short answer. We have placed our request with the ministry of child protection and they in turn will be searching for a child for us. None of the children at Hogar Belen fit our criteria or are eligible to be adopted at this time--although their status could change over time. But most likely, our child will be female, between the age of 1-5 and be from a home other than Belen.
We should know some news in a few months. We now have a lawyer (Nubia, who is fantastic) in Managua who is working hard on our case.
What else? I have some great pictures which I'll post later in the week. Maybe they will be fodder for some reflecting as well.
On Saturday, I head to Nicaragua for our mission trip to the orphanage Hogar Belen in Managua (also known as the land that cool breezes have forgotten).
Please offer prayers for our group of 19 from St Paul the Apostle in Manhattan and for the children and staff of the orphanage.
I'm a bit worried about travelling with the recent liquid bombing attempt in Britian and I'm not easily spooked when it comes to travel. The government has done a good job out of scaring the pants off of us. So also pray for safe travel.
In other news regarding our trip, Marion and I have been recommended to look at other orphanages in the area as they have more children ready to be adopted (abandonment issues are taken care of, no parents, within the right age). Since we're "older parents"-- I'm 36 and Marion is, (WHACK!) ahem, a bit more experienced than I--we need to adopt a child who is around 2-5 years old. So hopefully we will be able to see who our child will be on this trip with God's help. It's been a trying summer for us, between moving, Marion changing jobs, and the strangeness of not knowing where our adoption plans really lie, so pray for us and for our continued committment to one another. We could use some support.
Oh yeah...and if any of you could spare a dime...
We're still taking donations for the trip (we're about $400 short of our $3000 goal).
Send donations to:
Mike and Marion Hayes Mustard Seed Trip c/o BustedHalo.com 415 West 59th Street New York, NY 10019
Just spent the week in San Francisco (a wonderful city--I always ask the question "Why do I live in NY?" when I return from SF.)at the National Young Adult Conference and the NCYAMA Leadership Forum for Young Adult Leaders where I played a fairly major role in both. I presented my findings in Googling God to a group of young adult leaders alongside sociologist Bill D'Antonio from Catholic University and Brett Hoover, CSP (my old boss) and Ken Johnson-Mondragon from Instituto Fe y Vida (Faith and Life Institute) presented great information on Hispanic millennials.
At the conference, Fr. Dave Dwyer and I did a live podcast at lunchtime of the conference and Fr. Dave was one of the keynote presenters (he knocked it out of the park--it's still hasn't landed!). I also served with the wonderful Jenene Francis of Charis Ministries as Co-emcee for the conference.
John Allen, Jr. from NCR and CNN did a phenomenal job presenting "Making Sense of the Vatican." I particularly saw lots of young adults taking notes during his presentation. If you ever have the chance to hear his top 5 myths of the Vatican--jump at the chance. He's a great guy too and has a love of coffee and italian cigarettes.
All in all...a great time had by one and all. Mary Jansen, the director of Young Adult Ministry in SF was a gracious and wonderfully organized host along with her bishop the Most Rev. George Niederhauer, who spent all three days of the conference with us, including a lunch with young adult ministers. Very impressive.
Your humble blogger is Mike Hayes, a well-known expert in the world of young adult ministry (20s and 30s) in the Catholic Church. Mike is the author of Googling God (Paulist, 2007) where he explores both the chaotic world that young people live in and their religious reactions to that world. He also explores the age of instant gratification and how churches can respond to the needs of the young adult age by using technology alongside more traditional ministry methods.
Mike founded the award winning BustedHalo.com® in 2001 and continues to contribute to it as the editor of their catechetical section appropriately named Googling God.
Recently, he left BustedHalo® to focus on more direct ministry with young people at St Joseph University Parish as a Campus Minister for the South Campus at the University at Buffalo.
He has only two loves: his adorable wife, Marion and a nine pound chihuahua named Haze, who still find him amusing enough to let them live in their home.