Year 2 so far: New missionaries, peace, and a Bishop in my office.

So, I got back for year two of working with Hard as Nails about a month ago. Leaving my family was hard, as it usually is, but ever since I’ve gotten back I’ve felt a lot of peace that this is where God wants me to be. I’m super grateful for the opportunity to serve another year and I am super humbled that God would 

Things have been crazy since I’ve gotten back! We only had two weeks to prepare before this years missionaries got here and it was a busy two weeks.

When the missionaries (5 new ones!) got here, it got absolutely insane! On top of that, we had our chaplain, Fr. Bryan Page in town for two days that same week, and then Jeremy Rivera, who is producing a show about the ministry on EWTN (oh, yeah, that’s happening), was in town for two days after him. And we have been preparing for hte past two weeks for a mass and cookout with our Episcopal Advisor, Bishop Frank Caggiano, which happened last night.

Big things:

EWTN

So yes, EWTN (a Catholic TV network for those who don’t know) is totally doing a show on the ministry. Which is kind of a big deal! They are sending a film crew and producer on the road with us for two tours (one in September and one in October), and then going from there. The show is set to be 10 episodes and we’re not sure on the premier date, but I will keep you posted!

Mass and Dinner with Bishop Caggiano

Bishop Frank Caggiano, from Bridgeport, CT, came into Syracuse on the 18th to say mass at our new center (more on this later) and to bless the center. No big deal, but he also came into my office :) How crazy is it that a bishop was in my office? Like, super crazy. I had minute where I was thinking “Is this real life?” God is pretty awesome, guys. Also, Bishop Frank is super humble, holy, and inspiring (and he lets us take selfies with him!)

My favorite quote from him: “What is our greatest possession? It is not a what, it is a who. And that person is Jesus.”

(Close second was: “I’m very proud of you.”)

My new office/Our new center

I guess you can say that I’m kind of official now…I have my own office and it is pretty awesome, not going to lie. I’m often struck by the fact that I’m really still a young kid but I have my office/full-time job. It’s pretty awesome.

The ministry has a new center in Syracuse! We hope to use it as housing for the missionaries as well as a community type center, where people can come together and be impacted by the ministry. God is going to do awesome things with it, I know.

Last thing, in October (I’m 96.7% sure) I’m going to LA in October, and I am doing not so hot on fundraising for it. Travel for the year is $8,000 and I have about $1,000. If you could help me out, that would be super awesome. http://www.gofundme.com/naomivrazo2 

God bless!

Needs, wants, and asking for money.

I have been home for almost a month now. Relaxing, spending time with friends and family, and even doing a little bit of work.

Earlier, I announced that I would be going back for another year of work with Hard as Nails Ministries, which I am very excited about. 

God uses funny people to do His work, and I am no exception. It was hard for me to accept a position that required me to fundraise, I will be honest. But as I said, God calls funny people and I knew this is where He was calling me so, here I am, one week away from going back for another year of traveling, video-making, fundraising, but most importantly, helping people to come to Christ. 

There are sacrifices that will have to be made. Every month there are expenses like gas and food and insurance and phone bills that have to get paid before anything else gets paid or any money goes into my savings. And the thought of asking people for money to help cover those costs is not my favorite thing in the world. But it is a sacrifice that God has asked me to make, and so it is one that I will charge into, head-on.

So, here I am, asking for money. Because there are things like food, and gas, and car insurance that need to be paid. Every month.

And maybe God is going to humble me and I will eat PB&J for the rest of the years, which is fine, if that is His will.

But I kind of hope that it’s not. :)

So, would you help me out? Because I need a lot of help. I need a lot of financial support. I need A LOT of prayers, most importantly. I need you.

Because when it comes down to it, not eating PB&J is a want.

But car insurance and gas are a need.

And being able to travel and help kids come to Christ is also a need.

So, would you help a kid come to Christ? 

http://www.gofundme.com/naomivrazo2

So, last August when I was getting dropped off in Syracuse at the beginning of my mission with Hard as Nails, my best friend Anne gave me this box. Inside were tons of letters from some of my dearest family and friends to help me through my year. She had gone and gotten them from all of these people and yes, I started crying. The other day I opened the last one. These letters really helped me through the year to feel the love coming from my home and can I just say that Anne is the best? Cause she is. I am so blessed by her.

So, last August when I was getting dropped off in Syracuse at the beginning of my mission with Hard as Nails, my best friend Anne gave me this box. Inside were tons of letters from some of my dearest family and friends to help me through my year. She had gone and gotten them from all of these people and yes, I started crying. The other day I opened the last one. These letters really helped me through the year to feel the love coming from my home and can I just say that Anne is the best? Cause she is. I am so blessed by her.

Change of Plans.

Things don’t always go according to plan. Like how I planned to stay in Syracuse for nine months and then come back to Michigan and continue my life right where I left off. 

Yeah. I planned that.

But the other missionaries left last weekend and I am still sitting in…Syracuse.

Long story short:

Justin asked me to stay another year. I said yes.

It was a long, drawn out decision. Ask any of the people I talked to about it. It went on and on and on and I didn’t think I would ever make a decision, but…I did. 

And I’m still in Syracuse.

I am joining the Hard as Nails team as a Staff-Missionary with the role of Media Coordinator.

I am honored by the opportunity and I am excited and nervous to see what this next year brings. This ministry is truly doing great things and it is amazing to be able to be apart of its very exciting future. God is going to do the impossible, just watch! :)

Please keep me in your prayers as I move forward.

God bless!

Going Home: St. Joseph’s (a story from the road)

This post was a long time coming. Over a month, actually.

We went to St. Joe’s to do an event.

St. Joe’s is more or less my parish. It isn’t the one I grew up in (that’s St. Cyril’s) but it is the one that I chose for myself, which I think is kind of an important part of your journey.

I didn’t mean to switch parishes or anything. Mostly St. Joe’s was only 10 minutes away and I wanted somewhere to go to daily mass. And then I started going there on Sundays. And then I signed up for a holy hour at their 24/7 adoration chapel. And then I started going to the senior breakfasts (don’t ask me how I pulled that one off, I’m not a senior) And then I started going to the young adult group. And helping out with the middle schoolers youth group. I started joking that I was there every day and twice on Wednesday (because, well, I was).

And I suppose that’s when St Joseph became my home parish.

But really, St Joe’s became my home when I would go there after closing at work and just didn’t have it in me to face the things I was going through elsewhere. It became my home on an October morning when I had no where else to turn. It became my home when the only person I could talk to would make time for me every time I asked. It became my home when it was the only place where the hardest time of my life wasn’t so hard.

St. Joe’s was my home long before I claimed it. Because that’s how God works, right? He sees all the things that you will need and when you trust Him, He lays them out in a perfect pattern just as they should be. When I think of all the things that had to lay in place for me to end up in St. Joe’s, I am dumbfounded by how much God loves me. How much He takes care of the little parts of my life.

And this place named for the foster father of Jesus became a sort of foster home for me.

 And when I left to come to Hard as Nails, I left part of me in that little chapel at St. Joseph’s. Just like I left part of my heart with my friends and family.

So when they asked us if there were any places that we thought we could put on an event for in our hometowns, St. Joe’s of course came to mind. And I thought it wouldn’t happen. But I prayed for it. And for some reason, God honors my prayers a lot. And it happened. 

Oh, did it happen.

All I can tell you is that during that event at St. Joseph’s Church in Lake Orion, Michigan, people’s lives were changed. My life was changed. I sat on that front pew and looked up at the crucifix which I had looked at a million times before and told God “You know you don’t have to do this. You don’t have to do all this for me.”

But He does. Because that is how much He loves me (and YOU). It was like He was shouting at me “Do you get it now? How much I love you? Do you see? All those times you sat in that back pew feeling like nothing was ever going to work out in your life, all that stuff you had to go through? It was for this moment right now. For these people.”

And I cried (yes, I did).

It was just another event. We did the Amazing talk which we do all the time. We set up the same way, talked the same way. But God had placed favor on that day and that event and I think the fact that St. Joe’s has 24/7 adoration helped to. And it wasn’t just another event. It was one of the most powerful events we’ve ever done.

So.

Yeah.

Jesus is real.