Hi again, everybody!
Thank you for your prayers and good wishes. I wanted to let you know that I'll be in Rome for two more days. After leaving for the airport at 4:30 this morning, we returned at 6:30 because our flight was indefinitely delayed and we would have missed our connection in Brussels. We thought it would be better to wait in Rome than in Brussels. The next flight to Kampala is on Friday, same time. Anyway, my bags are packed and I'm ready to go. I get to go to an audience with the Pope this morning.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Our Favorite Ice Cream Place
The Street Market in Trastevere
Sending Off Mass
Sending Off Mass
I hope that you are all well, looking forward to the Fall, the new school year and other new adventures.
This will be my last posting before I depart for Africa early tomorrow morning. We volunteers have been wrapping up formation in the last couple of weeks and making final preparations for our departures. Last night we had a “sending off” Mass with the Sisters followed by a celebration. We read our prayer of commitment (posted below), lead the music and receive our mission crosses from the Mother General of the Canossians. It was a meaningful way to bring closure to our summer of formation.
On Wednesday, Sr. Salomé and I will take the 6:30 flight from Rome to Brussels, and then fly from Brussels to Kampala, Uganda. We should arrive at 10:00 p.m. and be met by some Canossian Sister there who will host us for the night. The following day, or maybe the day after, we will fly to Arua, Uganda, by light plane where some Sisters from Aru will pick us up to cross the border into Congo by car. Madre Tina the provincial head will not be traveling with Salome and me as she had planned, but will arrive a couple of weeks after we do.
I will do my best to post a blog update soon after my arrival in Congo. There is internet/e-mail access at the mission site albeit intermittent and unreliable. I will also have a cell phone. The plan is to buy an African SIM card in Kampala. Then I can post the number on my blog. Former volunteers have told me that calling from Africa to the States is expensive, calling from the States to Africa is less so, and text messaging is relatively cheap. I’ll have to experiment a little bit when I get there. I will also post a mailing address on my blog after discussing with the Sisters the logistics and reliability of the mailing system.
The Canossians will celebrate fifty years of missionary service in Congo this September 15. I hear we’re in for a big party. Hopefully, I can post pictures.
Thank you all for you accompanying me in this journey of mission, for your encouragement and your prayers.
Our Lord God, with great gratitude for your abundant gifts to us, we offer ourselves to You as we go to mission:
We promise to remain in You, through prayer, meditation and constant openness to your loving Presence in our lives.
Prayer of Promise
We promise to allow You to form us through reflection on Scripture, through spiritual direction and through reflecting on experiences in mission with spiritual eyes.
We promise to love one another in our communities, living out our vision for mission together, in simplicity and solidarity with the local people.
We promise to faithfully serve others following the example of St. Magdalene of Canossa and St. Josephine Bakhita using all the gifts of mind, body and spirit that You have given us.
We promise to be your friends by doing what you have commanded us to do.
That we may have the strength, courage, wisdom and faithfulness to fulfill these promises,
St. Magdalene of Canossia, pray for us.
St. Josephine Bakhita, pray for us.
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.
St. Anthony, pray for us.
St. Therese of the Little Flower, pray for us.
Our Mother at the Foot of the Cross, pray for us.
All Saints in heaven, pray for us.
And we ask all of you here present to pray for us today and throughout our time in mission.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Our Afternoon at Lake Albano
Mary and Ilaria Making Pesto
Ordering Food at the "Rustic" restaurant
I hope that you are enjoying these last days of summer. You are often in my thoughts and prayers.
August has brought a somewhat more relaxed formation schedule. The volunteers had a four-day break at the end of July/beginning of August. Mary and I took advantage of the time to go to Loreto and Ancona (on the Adriatic Coast). It was a delightful get away. Loreto, especially impressed me as a peaceful, spirit-filled place. This is where the house of the Blessed Virgin Mary was brought from Nazareth, by angels, as legend has it.
After our break, we restarted formation sessions with just the four VOICA volunteers and Sr. Pat. We have been focusing on spirituality, community living and some of the nitty gritty details of living at the mission sites. Sr. Pat usually leads the sessions, but the volunteers also make presentations to the group on mission-related topics of their own choice. I did one on promoting understanding in multi-lingual settings, and this week I will do another on leading singing in a group. Mary and Lucy have given presentations on first aid and how to stay healthy in mission.
Some VOICA volunteers have spent a few days with us this month as they return from mission, or just come to visit. It is good to talk with them about their experiences, joys and trials.
Last weekend Sr. Pat and the volunteer community took an afternoon trip to Lake Albano just outside Rome. This is where the Pope spends some of his summer. We spent some time at the lakeside and then went out to dinner at a restaurant that serves “rustic” Italian cuisine: fresh bread, smoked ham, salami, cheese, dried tomatoes, artichokes and olives. You order at the counter and then put everything in the middle of the table and dig in.
I’ve been savoring my last month in Italy by doing some especially Italian things. Ilaria has shown me how to properly cook pasta. (She couldn’t bear to see the way I had been mistreating it:-).) She also taught Mary and me how to make fresh pesto from the basil from the Sisters’ garden, pine nuts from the trees on our grounds and parmesan cheese from the cheese seller at the market. We also harvested figs from the trees on our grounds. Fresh figs are delicious! I don’t think I had ever had them before (just dried figs and fig newtons). And, of course, I have been relishing the fresh made gelato while I can.
If all goes as planned, I will be in Africa in ten days. I am eager to go in many ways, curious to know what awaits me and ready to begin my work. Sometimes I am nervous about how I will adjust to the new culture, languages, people and work. God knows. The other three volunteers leave September 3 for Togo and Timor. I will miss them. Please keep us all in your prayers.
Thank you for your presence in my life!