Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Big Church Little Church


I have to admit, I am partial to little churches and missions. My "home" congregation consists of about 60 families. I like the intimacy, the colorful characters, even the feuding. To me, it is so much more like a family. Yes, we have our differences, we frequently do not get along, but we pull together in times of crisis and need. It is our Catholic life.

In a big church, I feel lost. There seem to be so many people and so much to do. I lose focus. I get complacent. There are too many choices. The children are sent out during Mass, not taught to sit quietly, participate fully and honor the Sacrament. The music is modernized to entertain and attract an audience. Just my take on things.
Inside tiny Stella Maris, Lamar, TX
I walk in to a big, modern Catholic church and I can't find the holy water. I want to bless myself with it when I walk in and when I walk out. It is a sacramental reminder of my devotion. Now, there is usually one large font, instead of the small ones at each door. I feel funny walking up to that big baptismal pond to use the holy water, then find my way out.

St. Anne's, Deming, NM

I still want to genuflect when I enter the pew where I am going to sit. I am here for Mass and I want to honor my Host. I want to put the kneeler down and spend some quiet time in prayer and thanksgiving before and after Mass.  Most often, now, the Blessed Sacrament is not even kept in the main part of the church, but in an attached adoration chapel. I guess that's okay for big churches.

View from Lake Lodge rec room, Yellowstone NP, Wyoming
On this pilgrimage of slow travel, I have attended Mass in churches in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Texas. It is always an adventure, come Saturday, to find out where we will be attending Mass on Sunday. The Holy Eucharist is always nourishing and enriching. Small churches just ensnare my heart. St. Anne's in Ash Fork and St. Francis in Seligman, Arizona, where I had the honor of leading the music for 15 years. The rec room of the Lake Lodge in Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, where we attended when we were there for my daughter's wedding. St. Anne's in Deming, NM, where we worshiped after a long night of trying to find a campsite in the dark. Stella Maris, outside of Goose Island SP, Texas, where we shivered on top of an AC vent, until someone realized it was cold outside and in and turned it off. The pastor there had recently been healed of stage 4 cancer and spoke confidently about God's merciful love and healing. 

This week of our full-time rving life, this awesome road trip, we will be celebrating Ash Wednesday in a big church in Texas and we will be grateful to have found another spiritual home on the road.

Friday, February 6, 2015

And One Last Word on Mobile Internet...

Update:




Things have changed since I wrote my first two mobile internet posts. My Straight Talk hotspot died again, and rather than continue to replace it every 6 months, I looked into Verizon prepaid, as we had recently experienced using a smart phone as a hotspot with good results. I decided to go with the iPhone 4 to replace both phone and hotspot, as the unit was only $99 online. The monthly no-contract rate for unlimited talk and text and 500mb of data is $45, with extra 3gb for only $20. I also earned an extra 500mb a month by setting up auto pay. To my calculations, this beats $35/month for straight talk phone plus $40 for 4gb on the hotspot. Not by much, but close enough. So far the service seems at least comparable, and if it ends up being better, that’s a bonus. The customer service is waaay better. I was having problems with the hotspot, and walked into the Verizon store and walked out with problem solved. (I was putting in my password wrong, ugh!). Sadly for the boy, Verizon prepaid does not offer shared minutes for an extra line, so he gets to stick with Tracfone for now.

For lots more detailed info on mobile internet, visit the Technomads, they wrote the book on Mobile Internet.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Public Wifi vs. Personal Hotspot


Some notes about public wifi. We have relied on public wifi quite a bit. From libraries, to McDonald’s, Denny’s to the hockey rink, public wifi is great for checking email, playing games like Words With Friends, or keeping up with social media. But for things like banking, updating the blogs and websites, or other activities that are better done on a secure line, your own password protected hotspot is a wiser choice. Like your home service, you can leave your hotspot open, but other people are guaranteed to piggy back off of it and slow everything down, if not hack right into your accounts. As soon as I set up the Straight Talk account I gave it a strong password. I have had to reset the account a couple of times in the past year, such as when the first hotspot died and the company sent a replacement. 


Learning how to get the most out of the hotspot is a real challenge. It is great for checking email, social networking, banking, etc. Games and streaming videos run slow, usually. Uploading pictures and videos can go fairly quickly or very slowly. We have learned to keep an eye on how much data we’re using. Especially since photos and videos use up a lot of data in uploading. When we get down to our last 500mb, everything tends to slow down. When we add a new data card, everything goes more smoothly. We have also learned, that even keeping data cards in reserve has its quirks. Straight Talk will automatically add a reserve card on the service end date, but not when we use up all our data. Then we have to call or go online and add one of our reserve cards or buy a new one and add it. If we use all our data before we add the card, then we have to call to add the reserve, since we can’t get online to go to our account and add it.

In spite of all the frustrations involved in the learning curve, I am happy with our current internet setup. Yes, we are still working out the bugs. We had so much trouble with our former rural internet providers that I wish I had known the mobile hotspot would work nearly as well at the house. I would have cut them loose years ago. It is still odd to walk into the house and not check the answer machine right away. But since I can take my cell phone and internet service with me wherever I go, without the added $100 monthly expense, I think I’ll stick with Straight Talk for now.

For lots more detailed info on mobile internet, visit the Technomads, they wrote the book on Mobile Internet.