Thank you all for your prayers! We just returned from our visit to Honduras….and wow, it was amazing!
Please see some of the pictures we took:
As the coordinator for all Young Adult missions to Honduras with the Missioners of Christ (www.missioners.org), I am blessed to be a part of such an amazing ministry that continues the transform the lives of thousands (yes, THOUSANDS!) of people from all over the world! God is good!
I wanted to take the time to pass along this blog post from a fellow Missioner, Nick Higgins, who was the lead facilitator of our New Year’s mission trip that took place from December 27th to January 5th. He has some pretty profound insight in to “the mission” and how we are called to respond! Check it out:
That post was about the specific mission, but check out his other posts to read more about what we do/live in Honduras and how we are called to transform (and be transformed) through serving the poorest of the poor.
Here are some pictures from their mission:
After years of “doing” these missions (and years of learning from our achievements AND mistakes…..and many times, the hard way!) we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all about LOVE. We aren’t in Honduras to “fix” anyone or anything. We are in Honduras to LOVE and SERVE….and to let God do the rest. Our focus is on the relationships we build as we live, side-by-side, with the people of Honduras. Now, with living together comes all of the joys and sufferings that us humans carry – cultural differences, language barriers, subtle differences in the way we pray and worship, organization (and DISorganizational) issues, etc etc etc.
But, God continues transforming the lives of all those involved……and so, we continue. We try each day to remain faithful in this call to love and serve, while enjoying it along the way!
Contact me if you are interested in participating on any of our missions to Honduras at Andrew.Pocta@missioners.org
The following dates are set for 2014:
Spring Break I
Spring Break II
Come & See
March 8 – 15
March 22 – 29
April 21 – 26
June 12 – 23
July 3 – 14
December 30 – January 8
God bless you!
Our Christmas picture:
There’s not much to say in this post. We have spending a lot of time in awe of our daughter and the Grace and Strength that Our Lord has given her…..especially in the last 2-3 weeks.
For a while we were worried that Maria Isabella was a little too attached or dependent on mommy and daddy, (we’re definitely happy about her having an attachment to us, her parents, but feared that her needing to be carried around would cause additional dependency) but have seen her break out of her shell in the past few weeks.
We sat talking on the couch one afternoon last week and it hit us. During a quiet moment in the conversation, we heard…..silence. Cristina anxiously looked around and our little ‘bug’ (as we affectionately refer to her – a term coined by her cousin Daniel, who couldn’t pronounce Isabella or Bella) was nowhere to be found! She had traveled off in her wheelchair, in to the bathroom to find her toothbrush!
This was the moment we had dreamed about (and I’ll admit, cried many nights about)……something we looked around and saw in our other friends with children her age…..exploring the world around them, playing with toys and examining the furniture/toys/decorations/etc. while their parents talked to other parents like us. For so many weeks/months, Bella was unable to do any of that……but now that is all slowly changing.
There is much work to do….and Maria Isabella’s toddler-potential has yet to be seen…..so we continue praying and working and pushing her!
This week, Bella’s physical therapist, Karen, (who has been a HUGE blessing to our family, and truly loves Bella) invited her and Cristina to the physical therapy class she teaches at Old Dominion University. (which also happens to be my parents Alma Mater)
As her class has been learning about different birth defects, Karen wanted to present Bella and explain the various therapies and exercises that are done in order to help Bella learn to crawl, “roll” and one day, walk.
We don’t know where we would be or what we would do without Karen! What a blessing it is to have people who are so generous and who sincerely love Bella….we owe so much to all of her doctors and nurses (she’s pretty famous at our local Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters) What a gift it is to know that there are many who love and serve children with special needs…..God is too good to us!
As Cristina and I have shared in the past, we owe a great deal of our lives and faith (not to mention having met each other!) to the time we spent serving as long-term missionaries in Comayagua, Honduras with our community, Missioners of Christ.
Missioners of Christ is a Catholic Christian Community centered in prayer and united by a Covenant that evangelizes, disciples, and sends forth youth and young adults on domestic and foreign missions to fulfill the Great Commission of Christ.
This video, although a little dated, is by far, the best short-explanation of what we do in Honduras:
As Missioners of Christ, our community provides ministry opportunities in the US from youth retreats to Catholic Underground events to intercessory prayer groups among our commited members. But, the greatest expression of this covenant is our John Paul II Center for Evangelization in Comayagua, Honduras, which houses roughly 20 long-term missionaries (both Honduran and non-Honduran) who volunteer for 2+ years at a time.
By the Grace of God and under the permission of the local Bishop of Comayagua (and the support and guidance of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, CFR) we are blessed to live-out a intense life of prayer and ministry, including a rigorous prayer life of daily Mass and Eucharist Adoration within our Two-Hearts Chapel.
Among many many ministries (from feeding the poor, hosting various American medical brigades alongside the CFRs, gang-ministry, prison-ministry, youth ministry, scholarship and financial sponsorship, etc.) that our long-term volunteers are blessed to live-out, the Lord has slowly led us to a focus on pure evangelization. While we live and work with our neighbors in our neighborhood on the outskirts of Comayagua (a growing agricultural city infused with a metro feel) we are very committed to serving the priests of the mountain parishes or “aldeas” where the villages are so many and so spread apart that they are only able to be visited by clergy once a year or two. As you’ve heard, Latin America is still deeply rooted in Catholic culture….it’s the Catholic Faith that has been rocky. Various factors have caused a giant gap between formed Catholics and cultural (sometimes innocently superstitious) catholics…..which has only enabled the somewhat convenient mass-conversion of Latinos to different faith traditions and churches, especially those brought down through the thousands of American missions that go down each year, with good intention, to help the poor and bring many to Christ (even though they were already with Him, they just need some formation, encouragement and resource! Sigh….)
Towns and streets are named after Saints and feast days……children are named after the Holy Family and little girls carry the name of Our Lady in her various apparitions, namely “Fatima”, “Lourdes” and “Guadalupe”. I’d have to say, the most bizarre encounter was during a house-to-house visit to a newly converted protestant family in which the mother, named Fatima, tried to convince me that Our Lady was “no good” and that it was a waste of time to even think of her. Sadly, this is motivation for us who have been blessed with so much, to go and “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) …. for to those who have been given much (US!) much will be required. (Luke 12:48)
Here’s an example of just how important Catholic Feast days are to Hondurans: (Yes, that is a wooden box with a bull-skull strapped to the front of it….and those are REAL roman candle fireworks strapped to the side. And yes, those Roman Candles are pointed towards the crowd!)
As I mentioned above, the communities are humble and prayerful but lacking in formation and the tools to defend their faith. Add in to the equation a healthy amount of folks that can’t read or write and you can only imagine what might happen if a foreigner from another church arrives with a different message…..claiming that the only way to salvation is through reading “the Word”. I’m not bashing or criticizing the attempt to spread the Word of God….that would be ridiculous. But, the memory of an elderly mountain villager in Honduras telling me -
“Andrew, my whole family has left the Catholic Church for another church down the road that was built by very loving missionaries….but now my son tells me that unless I learn to read and learn the Word of God in the Bible, I will not be with Jesus and go to heaven. I’ve gone to mass my whole life and I pray the Rosary and receive Jesus in His Body and Blood….but I’ve never gone to a day of school in my life and I can’t read or write. How will I get to heaven?”
Now, that is an extreme example….and I can’t say honestly that in the last 8 years of serving on-and-off in Honduras that I’ve encountered that situation again….and I realize that the protestant missionaries didn’t teach them that perverted theology…..but the point is that through good intentions, there has grown a mass confusion about how to love God and even more profoundly, how to worship Him. So, as you can see, it impacted me….and through this man’s (and the vast majority of the Hondurans) simple approach to prayer and Christ Himself, my love for the Sacraments grew ten-fold. Which is why this mission is ESSENTIAL….to bring priests – to bring the Sacraments – to those who are without.
I could spend hours upon hours explaining what God has asked us to do in Honduras…..but you truly have to see it to believe it. We’ve learned that it’s really ALL about the relationships….that we can’t arrive to Honduras as “intelligent” and “well-formed” foreigners ready to “make a change” or “do good for the poor”…..but rather do as Mother Teresa felt called to do in Calcutta – to live and pray as the people did, walking together as brothers and sisters.
This is exactly what we aim to do (although we fail, often) – to raise up leaders in Honduras. The funny thing is that while we spend all of our energy in forming, “discipling” and evangelizing in Honduras, we always end up receiving and learning MUCH more from them than what we give them. This is the beauty and blessing that is, what us Missioners of Christ call, “The Mission”. Coming face to face with Christ Himself and learning to love Him while He strips away our selfish, materialistic, superficial “1st-world” selves so that we can allow Him to love us.
Currently, I’m blessed to serve as the Coordinator for all of our Missioners of Christ adult missions to Honduras throughout the year. Currently, we are preparing to send down a group of 25 adults on December 27th for a 10-day evangelization mission in the mountains.
Our preparation incorporates an intense 7-week formation program based on “Redemptoris Missio” or “MIssion of the Redeemer” by the late Pope John Paul II as well as various cultural and logistical lessons that we’ve learned in the over 10 years that we’ve lived in Comayagua.
Please contact me at Andrew.Pocta@missioners.org if you are interested in knowing more about our missions throughout the year, or if you’d like to just know more about our community and how you could get involved by sponsoring one of the many children in our neighborhood in Honduras.
Check out a video we put together in celebration of 10 years of having lived in our neighborhood. You’ll see clips of each “class” of long-term missionaries that lived and worked with us throughout the years:
I’ve decided that since a whole year has passed….it’s time to get things back together for this blog!
What a year….since last October…..what a year! For those of you who have been following – it’s been quite the eventful 12 months! Last we checked in, we were making the move from New York City (then NJ/PA for a few months) down to Virginia Beach, Virginia. Due to financial difficulties after the In-Utero surgery that Cristina and Maria Isabella underwent for Spina Bifida repair, followed by Maria Isabella’s “2nd birth” via C-Section……we decided it was best to spend a year living with my parents, in a small room over-the-garage. Heck of a way to spend the 1st year of marriage! Don’t get me wrong….we were/are grateful for the opportunity….but it’s worth adding that God truly has a sense of humor. Sometimes Cristina and I jokingly regret doing this during our wedding mass!
Still, there is so much to tell since we’ve been in Virginia Beach…..from multiple ER visits, brace fittings, Spina-Bifida clinics, a birthday party (interrupted by an ER visit in the middle of the cake-cutting!) to wheel-chair fittings and even us purchasing a house!
Throughout all of it, however, God’s presence and Grace have guided us. That, is for sure. Even in our darkest moments, when we’ve been unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel…..He has been there….and He has sent us the right people and opened all of the doors for us to go through. (and closed the doors that would have sent us on the wrong path)
Please see our pictures below!
We continue to beg for your prayers and now that things seemed to have settled down (and us settled in to our new home!) to update our blog more often!
May God bless you and may Our Lady continue to intercede for you!
Andrew, Cristina and Maria Isabella Pocta
Please. Watch this video about a father who wanted to abort his daughter diagnosed with down syndrome.
VP debate tonight between two types of “Catholics” and it’s gonna be real interesting….
1) If you feel frustrated, remember:
2) BUT – That doesn’t mean that we can just throw in our towels and think “well…..I REALLY don’t like one of the candidates…..and the other, well, I’m not too crazy about him either. I guess I should just vote for a 3rd party and remember that it doesn’t matter who the president is, we’ve got a King!”
You’re right, we do have a King! But, we also have a responsibility as faithful citizens and there’s no way around that one, folks. Sorry :-(
Is it gonna be easy to back up either party whole-heartedly? Nope.
Does the supposed Pro-Life party have members that can appear to be “racists” in how they approach the issue of illegal immigration or as “bigots” in how they approach the issue of homosexuality in the US? Sadly, yes.
But I can tell you this as a fact: The difference between the two parties is that one stands - fundamentally (
as part of their platform and core agenda) – against Christ’s teaching on Marriage and the the Dignity of all human life.
The other party does not.
And by the way, our job as Christians is to actively HOPE FOR/PRAY FOR and SUPPORT a government (and leaders) who will stand for these morals. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, don’t be a Christian.
Could it be any clearer?
Bishop Paprocki says it well:
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
Much attention was given at the Democratic National Convention held recently in Charlotte, N.C., to the fact that all references to God had been purged from the draft version of the party platform. After outcries of protest from outside as well as within the Democratic Party, the sentence with the same reference to God used in 2008 was restored to read, “We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.”
Before anyone relaxes and concludes that all is well now that the Democratic Party Platform contains a single passing reference to God, the way that this was done should give us pause. Convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa had to call for the voice vote three times because each time the sound level for the “ayes” and the “nays” sounded about even, far short of the two-thirds necessary according to convention rules to amend the platform. That did not stop the convention chairman from declaring, “The ayes have it!”
What is troubling about that is the blatant disregard for the rules and for the apparent wishes of about half the delegates. The reference to God is back in the platform apparently because President Obama wanted it back in. That may be fine for now, but if a future president wants references to God taken out, apparently that can be done regardless of the wishes of the delegates if that is what The Leader wants. That does not bode well for democracy in the Democratic Party.
Even more troubling is that this whole discussion about God in the platform is a distraction from more disturbing matters that have been included in the platform. In 1992 Presidential candidate Bill Clinton famously said that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” That was the party’s official position until 2008. Apparently “rare” is so last century that it had to be dropped, because now the Democratic Party Platform says that abortion should be “safe and legal.” Moreover the Democratic Party Platform supports the right to abortion “regardless of the ability to pay.” Well, there are only three ways for that to happen: either taxpayers will be required to fund abortion, or insurance companies will be required to pay for them (as they are now required to pay for contraception), or hospitals will be forced to perform them for free.
Moreover, the Democratic Party Platform also supports same-sex marriage, recognizes that “gay rights are human rights,” and calls for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law signed by President Clinton in 1996 that defined marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman.
Now, why am I mentioning these matters in the Democratic Party Platform? There are many positive and beneficial planks in the Democratic Party Platform, but I am pointing out those that explicitly endorse intrinsic evils. My job is not to tell you for whom you should vote. But I do have a duty to speak out on moral issues. I would be abdicating this duty if I remained silent out of fear of sounding “political” and didn’t say anything about the morality of these issues. People of faith object to these platform positions that promote serious sins. I know that the Democratic Party’s official “unequivocal” support for abortion is deeply troubling to pro-life Democrats.
So what about the Republicans? I have read the Republican Party Platform and there is nothing in it that supports or promotes an intrinsic evil or a serious sin. The Republican Party Platform does say that courts “should have the option of imposing the death penalty in capital murder cases.” But the Catechism of the Catholic Church says (in paragraph 2267), “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm — without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself — the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”
One might argue for different methods in the platform to address the needs of the poor, to feed the hungry and to solve the challenges of immigration, but these are prudential judgments about the most effective means of achieving morally desirable ends, not intrinsic evils.
Certainly there are “pro-choice” Republicans who support abortion rights and “Log Cabin Republicans” who promote same-sex marriage, and they are equally as wrong as their Democratic counterparts. But these positions do not have the official support of their party.
Again, I am not telling you which party or which candidates to vote for or against, but I am saying that you need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.
I pray that God will give you the wisdom and guidance to make the morally right choices.
May God give us this grace. Amen.
If all of this is just TOO much for you….check out the latest news:
Anyone who knows us knows that we’ve been open to the idea of adoption for a long time now. It’s a beautiful gift to both the family and the child being adopted. It seems that now more than ever, in 2012, it is very timely to bring up this great gift.
Some of our close friends (check out their blog here) down here in Virginia Beach have been discerning the call to adopt for a long time now. After much discernment and even some heartbreaking experiences….they are now set to adopt!
But, there’s one thing. Yep…you guessed it. Fundraising.
Just another sign of the anti-life culture that the enemy is trying to cultivate here – make it almost impossible for a holy, loving and joyful couple to adopt because of money.
But they’re not gonna let money – this invention of man – stop them from God’s Will!
So here’s why we’re writing this.
They need to fund raise - and fund raise ALOT.
How’s about a-20,0000-lot. Yep, you heard that right. 20,000 for them to proceed and we’re gonna help them.
Now, I know that we’re not gonna be able to raise everything with this blog post, but it’s a start….and I would ask your help, too. Please go to their site and click the DONATE button….and consider giving whatever you can! Trust me, it’s safe.
Also – PLEASE share this post, share the link to their blog and share their story!
Christ created us for community…..and how else can we live in community here in the USA? Sharing of our time and talent. In this case – our financial gifts.
Imagine if we got 200 people to each give 10 dollars? that’d be a BIG start!
Also, and this is even more important than those few dollars, PLEASE PRAY FOR THEM! Pray for Matt and Kim as they prepare for their baby, and pray for the mother as she carries this beautiful child!
And please, don’t hesitate to send them a message or two….you can bet that the discouragement will come (it’s natural) and they’re gonna need all the support and prayers that they can get!
We promise to keep you posted as things develop…and we will alert you of any fundraisers that Matt and Kim put on here in Virginia Beach!
God bless you!
Andrew, Cristina and Maria Isabella
Wow…..it’s been a while since we’ve posted…..and a lot has happened!
Let me recap:
For starters, and for a number of reasons, Cristina, Maria Isabella and I had to relocate to Virginia Beach where this little family is starting it’s new life. While relocating to Virginia was always something we were serious about doing, we never expected it to happen so fast…so we literally went from Camden, NJ to New York City to Virginia Beach, all within a 3-4 week period. Although it was tough to leave the city….and the Archdiocese….we know that this is where God wants us and He has opened doors for work and for our current home…..we can’t complain!
One of the reasons we had to move was to find a more stable job. Don’t get me wrong, leaving for work from 8am-5pm has been quite the transition for all of us, we were so blessed these past 2 years. This time last year, we were preparing for our wedding and both Cristina and I were blessed to work in the same building together! To add to that, once Cristina and Maria Isabella had their initial surgeries and we were relocated to the Ronald McDonald House in Camden, NJ, I was able to work remotely…so we were together every day for 4 months! Now my poor wife has had to leave her family to move to a city where she’ll need to get her driver’s license and learn how to navigate the streets! But through it all, we know that Our Lord is doing something bigger than we can see…..and though the change has been tough, Cristina is becoming one tough momma.
Maria Isabella, as you can see, is doing very well for her age. She’s our little hero and each day she proves to be even tougher than what we had previously thought. One of the reasons had to move was because of the Children’s Hospital where Bella would receive her initial care. While New York City and Philadelphia offered great programs and state-of-the-art facilities, it would have been too much for us to have to travel to either one on a weekly basis. Providentially, the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, VA, is close by and has a great team for their Spina Bifida program. Not only that but Bella has already had to see so many doctors in the past few months that we were at the hospital around 2-3 times a week! Thank God for their hard work and love for the children that they serve!
As for details, there a few things that we would ask prayers for.
One of the biggest concerns we had, and also one of the biggest reasons we discerned the In-Utero surgery, was the benefits it showed in reducing the need for a shunt. While a shunt isn’t the end-of-the-world, we are relieved to know that up until this point, Maria Isabella’s fluids are stable and it seems that she will avoid the need for a shunt.
With Spina Bifida – Myelomeningocele, especially where Bella’s spine was exposed (in between L1-L5), the bladder and kidneys are usually the first to be effected. As part of the nerve damage that was done before we were even aware of her Spina Bifida, her bladder is abnormally shaped and seems to have some leakage…while we are blessed that Maria Isabella is able to urinate on her own for now, she still leaves a little too much urine in her bladder. As we saw in a highly specialized Urodynamics test that was done last week, there is some slight damage and irritation going on from that leftover urine towards one of her kidneys. The orders we have right now are to continue giving her antibiotics nightly to prevent infection and in January, another test will be done to find out if a)the bladder repairs itself or b)if she will need to begin using a catheter a few times a day in order to fully empty her bladder. Only time will tell….please keep this in your prayers!
The other prayer that we beg for is the movement in her legs. While she seems to wiggle her feet and sometimes ‘lift’ her legs, there isn’t much movement going on. Luckily, here in Virginia Beach there is a strong Early Intervention Program with much experience with children with Spina Bifida, so Maria Isabella has already gotten her first few visits from their team. Here’s what she’s got going :
The reality is that we won’t know much about her ability to walk until she gets a little older….but she has so many who are rooting for her and are dedicated to helping her get as strong as she can! What peace we have in knowing that in the end, He is in charge! Whatever His Will may be, we pray for the strength to be the best parents that Maria Isabella could possibly have. What a blessing it is to have such supportive family and friends!
Please keep us in your prayers….now that we’re back in action, we will update with news as the next few months pass!
Here are some of our latest family pics:
She looks just like her mother when she wakes up in the morning….