Not in the racial sense of the word. But, segregation, nonetheless.

I noticed that I have a tendency to separate my groups of friends. In observing my circles, I see that there are certain people that I hold very dear to my heart. Only a handful of them know everything that there is to know about me. But, I don't mix my friends. I suppose that sometimes I think that it's like mixing different types of alcohol. The immediate effect is a high that is only achieved through the mingling. But, in the long run, it's something that shouldn't be done. Something that could be dangerous and potentially, life threatening.

Here are the groups... in no particular order of importance.

There's the Cliffhangers. People that I have known for years. Some, since I was a pre-teen adolescent in the pre-pubescent period of my life. These friends have been with me through thick and thin. They know my history. I know that I can count on them to always be there. They've not proven me wrong. Even in the time that I was away from home and basically cut off all communication with people of my past, they never gave up on me. When I came back, it was like picking up from where we left off. Yes, we missed a lot of each other's lives. But, in the end, we know that we can run to one another in the event of any particular crisis. The only thing with this particular group is that I feel like I can't be totally honest with my beliefs without being looked at in a particular way. But, I love them.

Then, I have my Community. Not only my immediate community. But, others who have been called to walk in The Way. With these friends, I feel like I can be completely open about my faith. I can open up about my struggles with truly believing. We all suffer the same trials. We've travelled together, cried together, laughed without inhibitions... With them, I can share the struggles I face when confronted with questions or remarks about The Way(there are many). We've all had the same questions posed to us.

The next is, S.O.U.L. A group made up of friends old and new. A couple of us have known each other, upwards of 15 years. Most are new friends. But, with these people, I feel that I can be myself and show my spiritual face to. There are some times when I feel a little awkward. Mostly, when we talk about The Way. But, for the most part, these are people whom I look forward to seeing a lot more of. There's never a real moment of uncomfortable silence with them(nope... not even during the rosaries).

I also have an online community of friends. They've all helped me in one way or another. Some, I've known for a few years... some, a few months. Most, I've never met in person. But, it doesn't lessen their importance in my life. I appreciate them all and look forward to meeting at least a handful of them in the future.

Then, of course, I've got the acquaintances. Not to cheapen them. I don't doubt that they'd make good friends and that the people who consider them close friends are rather blessed to have them. People I see on occasion.... A side note... A friend of mine noticed how, here on Guam, when we see friends whom we consider 'acquaintances', we just barely wave or nod acknowledgement. I was asked why we do this. I suppose, being here on this tiny island, it's not that big a deal to see someone you know. So, you don't feel the need to carry on a full fledged conversation with said person. Or, maybe it's just that laid back, Pacific Islander life-style.

Now, people in these groups of friends are not mutually exclusive from any other group. I can have someone from S.O.U.L. meet Community. Or, someone from the Cliffhangers meet a couple of people from S.O.U.L. This would be perfectly fine. I just don't know about the whole lot mingling together. It would make one interesting wedding, don't you think? *laugh*

I guess I got to thinking about this the other night. It was Jacque from Community's birthday and I was out with them. I thought about calling a couple of people from S.O.U.L. and then thought again. I don't think I'm afraid of what one group might think of the other. I don't think I'm afraid of what the groups would reflect of me. I don't know what it is, though. What about you? Do you let your different groups of friends mingle? Do you keep them separate? Is it childish? *shrug*



You have to bear with me today. I'm slightly exhausted and when I'm in this state of being, I can't really get my thoughts gathered in to sensible order. But, I figured, it's been a bit since I've written anything. So, I'm slightly overdue. Here goes, eh?

It's been about three weeks since I've seen my community. Well, in it's whole I guess. But, I haven't been to a Eucharist celebration or a Word celebration in three weeks. I'm starting to see the effects that this is having on my life. I haven't strayed from the church. I just have been too busy to go to community. It feels as if there is something missing as time goes by. I feel bad because... being a community of 6(on a good day), every absence is felt by the whole community. Other people have to pick up your slack. But, it's not that that's been bothering me. I guess, I feel that the longer I am away, the more susceptible I am to persecution. The more open I am to hearing and believing things that people say about the way.

I've been spending a lot of time with people who are not in 'The Way' and who don't understand the things we do or how we celebrate. Up until now, I never have let anything anyone had to say about the way effect my opinion of it. But, this past week or two, I've heard a couple of side remarks, said jokingly, and it has been effecting me more than it should. I don't know how to explain what it feels like. But, I suppose... because of who says it and the feelings I harbour towards said person, my heart drops. I guess every time I hear it, I respect the person a little less and I question what I do a little more.

Don't get me wrong. I've had an awesome three weeks on all fronts. I've rekindled friendships that I thought had fizzled out. I've strengthened friendships that I thought could not be stronger. I've made new relationships with people whom I believe will be there until we're old and grey and driving the orderlies crazy. But, that sense of being complete is not there anymore.

Things will return to some semblance of normalcy in the next couple of weeks and I will be wondering what the heck I was babbling about today. But, until then, I struggle. Does normalcy mean that I lose the relationships that I've built with these people? I don't think it has to. But, it will require some sacrifices on my part.

On a good note, summer starts next week. Free SATURDAYS!!!


Falling In Love

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to fall in love all over again. The experience was truly amazing! What's more amazing is that I not only fell in love once, not twice, but three times! Can you believe that?! Three times! After all but giving up on the idea of 'love', I was able to feel myself fall.

I suppose it started in the middle of the week, actually. On Wednesday, I left work early, feeling sick as a dog. I wanted nothing more than to curl up in bed and hibernate for a week. But, you see, things very rarely work that way. I came home to a monster of a project. So, rather than lay in bed and get much needed rest, I helped my sister tackle the gala dinner project. This led to a 48 hour stretch without sleep(30 minute naps don't count). How can one fall in love with this on their plate? Well, there was a point at which we thought that the project wouldn't end. That we wouldn't have enough time to design and lay out the booklet in order for it to go to print in time for the dinner on Sunday. But, on Friday night, the last of the corrections were made, all the ads built and placed, the articles written, and the booklet sent to print! Not only did we have it done on time but there was a profit made that would go to educating young men to lead us in our faith. So, I was able to see the miracles that got us through the week and made the production possible. I fell in love with my creator all over again.

For the past 3 months, I have been working with a group from my past. Friends with whom I had been very close to and had lost contact with over the years and a couple of new faces. We worked closely in order to put together a retreat for the confirmation class in Ordot parish. Getting together with these friends, I was able to realise that our relationship, no matter how long it had been, was as strong as it ever had been. Walking in to that room, on the first meeting I attended, was like coming home again. Like finding a lost loved one, I suppose. So, I fell in love with them all over again for accepting me for who I am... knowing everything about my past and not judging me by it. For knowing who I am more than most people do and putting all the BS aside to see the true Jess.

Finally, on Saturday, I began the day with the sunrise at the confirmation retreat(after the 3rd night without sleep). Looking out over the island, it was easy to forget that you once loathed this 'rock'. The sunrise is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to start the day. To see the sky turn all the colors of the rainbow and the sun break through the clouds, the rays reaching as far as the could... an absolutely stunning vision. Then, after a full day of sessions and sharing with the kids, we watched the sunset from the Asan Bay overlook. I had the opportunity to sneak away and observe it undisturbed. From the overlook, you have a view of the southern end of our island. The under developed part of Guam. To see the hills covered in green, the waves gently breaking on the reef, the trees swaying in the breeze and to feel the calm of the island... it was amazing! I fell in love with the majestic beauty of home, once again.

I realised, this weekend, that love doesn't have to be romantic. To me, it's more a feeling of comfort. A feeling of home. Of belonging. Coming to the realisation that you are where you should be. That there is a plan... even if it's not quite the path that you had chosen for yourself. It's in accepting that plan and seeing where that path leads you.

I think I fell in love once more. But, that's another entry altogether. We'll see where the path leads me. What's that saying about counting your chickens before they hatch?

To my sister, thank you for a wonderful two days of chaos. I'm not being glib. To the retreat team... Teddy, Andy, Jamie, James, Uncle Joe, Bobby, Zack, and Chrissy... thank you all for being you and for all the hard work you put in to this retreat. I believe that we are on truly blessed for being able to share our experiences and our faith with others.


FHC Angels

Okay, this is backwards. I meant to post this first. But, I was a little riled up over the BS with the friary masses. So, here it is *wink*.

This past weekend was spent in: a. a drunken stupor on Friday night, b. surrounded by 60 children on a sugar high on Saturday, c. the same 60 children dressed as brides and grooms of the church with angelic voices that could have lulled me to sleep, and d. my wonderful family for whom I have nothing but love.

Lessons learned from Friday... Cameras and booze
never ever go well together. Especially if those who are handling said equipment are sober and are out for vengeance! Lesson number two... When drinking, it is best to try not to drown your sorrows. They will be there in the morning. As it was put before, our sorrows know how to swim. Lesson number three... When the vision is blurred slightly, it is best to switch to water for the duration of the evening. Lesson number four... It's best not to have a drink out on the second floor balcony. Stairs seem to grow more narrow and less stable on the way down. Lesson number five... When the crying starts, the party stops. Lesson number six... When you know that you have to spend the next day with 60 children, you should probably stop at two and no wait until your world is spinning. All lessons that are very good to retain! But, will we remember them next time? Probably not!

Saturday, despite waking up with a horrible headache and feeling like I'd been hit by a truck, I dragged my butt out of bed in order to be at a retreat with the kids. I thought it would be horrible! But, it turned out to be a very nice day. I learned that, no matter how silly the kids are acting, once they say 'I love you', all is forgiven and all is well with the world. I love my kids(which made up about a fifth of the group) and I will miss them so much when the school year is up. We have 2 weeks left of CCD. I won't be there for the session this Saturday. But, I'm looking forward to seeing them all again on the 23rd.

On Sunday, all 60(I'm sure there were more) children received their First Holy Communion. To see them all in the chapel, awaiting their sacred hour, was beautiful! They were still a little hyper. But, they looked so angelic and beautiful that the activity didn't take anything away from the experience. I can't begin to voice how proud I was to see all of my kids make it to this day! The mass was very interactive, to keep them all alert and to make them feel a part of the celebration. It was truly their day. Fr. Alberto kept them entertained and asked them a few questions. We got some very cute answers out of them that kept the congregation happy. Then, when they sang their song, it was just
beautiful! The voices of angels, I tell ya!

The boys goofing around....

While the girls pretended to be angels(we know them better)!

The rest of Sunday was spent with my mom at brunch and then in bed trying to fight off a cold. All in all, it was a full and wondrous weekend!


I've been a little better, this year, about following stories that are being covered by the local paper. Some time this week(I'm not quite sure when the original story was covered), the paper ran a story about the Archbishop 'forbidding' mass at the friary. From what I read, he did no such thing. He has shared this with the staff at the chancery before. What he was concerned about was that people are going to use the mass at the friary as a means of worship rather than attending the services provided by their own parishes. In the letter that was sent out, he addressed these concerns.

What the public is hearing and what the bishop said are two different stories. Signs were posted on the doors of the friary's chapel stating that the Archbishop had forbidden mass to be said in the chapel and that concerns are to be addressed to his superior. The public, therefore, is attributing this decision to the fact the the Archbishop does not see a cut of the '
lemosna'(collection) being garnished by the Cappuchin friars. How can one say that? The Archbishop, being a Cappuchin friar himself, has no concern of this money. What he would like to see is this... that the faithful start to show support for their respective parishes. Right next to the friary, for example, you have Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, St. Jude Catholic Church, and Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral basilica. The Cathedral offers a noon mass(the same time as the friary). But, this mass has a very low attendance. Rather than go to any of these churches, the faithful choose to go to the friary. Why?

Working together with the Archbishop and with the priests stationed at the different parishes around the island, it is easy to see that the number of faithful within the villages is dropping. Because people choose to attend different celebrations, like the ones at the friary, the local parishes are
suffering. Places of faith formation(i.e., the friary, the seminary, and convents) are supported by benefactors. Yes, we are all suffering for money. But, when it comes down to it, we should support or local parishes before we turn to institutions of faith formation.

To those people out there who see the Archbishop as a greedy and power hungry man, please try to see him for what he truly stands for. He is our shepherd. His faith is immense and something that we should pray for. In times like this, it is easy to see him as a man
exercising his power. But, in this, we are wrong. I'm not saying that he is God. He is a man and can fall weak to his desires. But, that's where we need to come together as a Catholic community. We need to stand behind him, support our parishes, and most importantly, be obedient.

To those posting comments on the
PDN news site, the friary has nothing to do with the Father Duenas Friars. They are two separate institutions within the Archdiocese of Agana. One is a high school, the other an institution of higher learning and faith formation.

One last thing, if it is okay to attend mass at the friary, why don't we just go and join the religious women in their masses in the monasteries or why don't we attend mass in the
Redemptoris Mater seminary? You see... Religious communities of men and women usually have their own masses that are for their communities only. It allows them to grow together in faith. To be a family. You don't see people barging in to the dinners of other people's families and just making themselves at home, do you? So, we should respect the sanctity of the religious community and allow them to grow together in order to lead us in our faith.



I've been sitting here, wondering how I can put my feelings for my mother in writing. I could do it like I used to - in a long poem filled with emotion and gratitude. But, somehow, that doesn't seem to work with me right now. I could dote on her for a day. But, is one day really enough time to show her how much I care? I don't think so. So, I've decided on just putting it all out there.

You know those kids that grow up with the notion that they would
never ever want to be their own mother? The ones that pray that, when they have children of their own, they don't repeat the same patterns that their mothers showed with them? I'm not one of those kids. I believe that my mother did the best job that she could do in raising her children. We didn't turn out to be angels. We're not perfect in any way shape or form. We definitely caused her a lot of heartache and headache. But, you know what? She took it all with love.

I will be the first to admit that I have strayed
many times. I ran away from home and from what I saw as something that was holding me down. I made my mistakes and when the time came, she welcomed me back with open arms. No 'I told you so'. No 'You really should have listened to me'. No 'See what you get?'. Just a 'Welcome home, Jess' and a hug that I will never forget.

My mother
always allowed us to make our own mistakes. I know that it was painful for her to see her children fall. But, in life, it's something that we all have to do. Even more painful, not being able to help us up. But, being the strong woman that she is, she prayed and reassured us. For this, I am forever grateful. Because we were allowed to fall, we are stronger and wiser than some adults in the world.

Faith wasn't always a big part of our lives. I suppose we were good Catholics in the eyes of the world - we prayed, we were respectful, we valued life. But, when it came down to it, faith just didn't play a big role. I think it was just tradition. In our adolescent years, we were fortunate enough to be brought closer to the church. Since, faith has played a big role. We're not model Catholics, by far. But, we pray together now and are no longer to speak of God and the graces in our lives. I don't know what did it... But, I know that it was our mother that brought us back. Again, never ending gratitude!

I do not have my own children. Until the day that I do, I will never fully understand the love that a mother has for her children. But, I can say that I have had the best possible role model that could ever have been given to me. I pray that when that day comes, I can be at least half as good as my own mother was to me. I pray that I have the strength that she possesses. I pray for the patience required for such a role. I pray that I will be able to love my children and my husband with all that I am.

To my mother, I pray that I can go on, everyday, showing you how much I appreciate you. Thank you for all that you have done for the three of us. Thank you for loving our father and never giving up on him. Through you, I have learned that it is possible to endure heartache and shed tears. You have taught me that the fight for love is well worth the pain. You have shown me that change is possible with patience and love. You have shown me forgiveness. I can not say how grateful I am that God gave me a mother as wonderful and beautiful as you.

In the words of Fr. Wojciech. Thank you, thank you, thank you.... *laugh* I love you, mom.


Benefit of the Doubt

For the past three days, I've been following a story being covered by the Pacific Daily News. On Wednesday evening, I was dozing off while waiting for Andy to come over. My dad nudged me to get me to pay attention to the story being covered on KUAM. It turns out that an old friend of mine was arrested and charged with allegations of criminal sexual conduct, child abuse, official misconduct, and obstruction of governmental functions(like it functions well to begin with!). Needless to say, the news was particularly shocking.

This friend was someone whom I had known since I was a teenager. We were in a church group together and I would have trusted him with my life. Actually, there were times when I did put my life in his hands. If faced with that decision, today, I would have no doubt in my mind that he would be there to catch me. Just like he has done in the past.

It is very disheartening to see the picture that the media is painting of this man. In America, a man is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Guam, regardless of anyone's opinion, is part of America. If anything, shouldn't we at least respect the family and the privacy that they cherish? We seem to have forgotten our roots in this matter. Judging a man based on allegations that have yet to be proven seems rather harsh, in my opinion.

I am not saying that he didn't do it. But, people... give him the benefit of the doubt. And, if he did do it, there is a root to the problem. Shouldn't we work at finding that root rather than condemning the man to hell? Yes, I have been taught by my faith, in recent years, not to judge a man. But, even as a person who had little to no faith whatsoever, I wouldn't judge him only on the word of two individuals. Individuals who may know how to contort situations for their own benefit.

Until he is proven guilty, I will stand by my friend. I will believe in him and the person that I know him as. For those of you that know him, I pray that you do the same. We shouldn't turn our backs on him now. Especially not after he has stuck by us for so long and believed in us as individuals. If he is found guilty... well, I'll jump that hurdle if it ever pops up. Either way, he needs our prayers and most of all, our love.


Smells Of The Island

This morning, after waking up in a very foul mood for no reason in particular, I was reminded of how fortunate I am to live on the island. I walked out the door to the pouring rain and the smells of kamachile fruits, mangoes, and fresh flowers. Now, I know what you're thinking... 'Those smells are overpowering, Jess!' It would seem that it would be a little much. But, I found it oddly comforting. The smells brought me back home.

Yes, I've been home for almost two years now. But, for some reason, this morning was the first time I've felt like being home. It was a feeling that brought back memories of my childhood. Growing up with a kamachile tree(with a trunk shaped like a bench) in our side yard under which we used to tell stories, legends, sing, gossip, eat... All the carefree responsibilities of a child. Back then, all the children in the neighborhood were so close. We've since grown up, started careers, broken hearts, had ours broken, some of us had children or moved to the US mainland.

I recently went to a memorial service for 'Auntie Narcy'. Auntie Narcy was... well... Auntie Narcy! She was my aunt through marriage. But, everyone called her 'Auntie'. She took us all under her wing and cared for us while we were playing in her yard. My brother and I grew up with her daughter, Vicky. My point is... At the memorial, we had the chance to chat a little with her children. It felt good to be able to have that common bond of growing up in the same neighborhood. Recognizing the same trees from our childhood. Reminiscing of our carefree days. In that bittersweet moment, we were able to feel like those children again. The children we had long since locked in a closet and kept hidden from the world.



It seems that these days, I have no idea what a hobby is! I remember the days when I had a list of hobbies. The list included dancing, singing, reading, writing, leisure time with friends, gaming, music, etc. I remember being able to let my hair down and party through the weekend. What happened to those days? If you see them, can you let me know? Or, at least let them know that I miss them!

This past weekend was a schedule full of meetings, teaching, practice, cantoring, setting up, planning, planning, and more planning! This weekend is looking to be more of the same. Same goes for next weekend. Yes, the work is all for the kids and for God. But, there's just some days when it seems a little much. I enjoy what I do and know that it's where I need to be at this point in my life. But, there's still that part of me that wants to be the carefree yunggin'.

Some may think that I'm hitting a midlife crisis episode. As an old friend once put it... if I'm going through a midlife crisis, I must not be planning on living very long! I think, with the upcoming birthday(okay, it's not fast approaching... but, it's still soon!), I'm a little less willing to let go of my youth. It's ironic that, as children, we can't wait to be adults. Yet, as adults, we're less apt to let go of the past and the ways of our adolescent selves. As young teenagers, we are attracted to people who are older and wiser. Who make us feel like adults, ourselves. But, as adults, entering our 30s, we surround ourselves with those in their early 20s to make us feel younger, more energetic... needed. Is it just me? *laugh*

Maybe I need to promise myself to put time aside for a couple of hobbies. Ones that keep me out of trouble and at the same time, allow me to be Jess. I need tiny breaks from community and responsibilities. Oh! A vacation! I did promise Andy, Manu, and Steve a visit. Something to ponder. It's in the planning stages guys! I didn't forget.