Friday, July 27, 2007

Getty Ready for Congo

Our Day in Assisi

Some of the Sisters at International Night

Sr. Pat and I in St. Peter's Basilica

Sr. Salome and I

Bon jour!

I hope that you are all enjoying the summer. You are often in my thoughts and prayers.

My life in Rome continues to be full. Missionary month ended on Tuesday with a Mass in the catacombs of St. Peter’s basilica in front of the tomb of St. Peter. Last Saturday we celebrated “international night” with singing and dancing from the home countries of many of the Canossian sisters. Mary and I put together a slide show of some beautiful places in the United States and sung and played “America the Beautiful” as we presented it. Sharing the last month with sisters from so many diverse places was a blessing.

Two weeks ago, we four volunteers spent a Sunday in Assisi. What a beautiful place! St. Francis has always inspired me, so visiting his hometown was especially meaningful.

Beginning tomorrow we have a four-day break from formation sessions. Mary and I plan to go to Ancona and Loreto for a couple of days. It will be about a four-hour trip by train to the Adriatic coast northeast of Rome. I’m looking forward to a change of pace and some beautiful scenery.

Today I found out that my plane ticket to Congo has been purchased. I will be traveling with Sister Salomé, the Congolese sister who has been tutoring me in French and Madre Tina, an Italian sister who is the superior of the community in Aru. We should depart August 29, to fly through Brussels to Kampala, Uganda, where we will spend the night with the Canossian community there. The following day we will take a small plane to Arua, Uganda. We will be picked up there to go by car across the border to Aru, Congo.

Salomé has been answering my cultural questions about Congo along with my French questions. She has told me about celebrations of Mass filled with songs in four different languages (Lingala, Ki-Swahili, French and the local tribal language) and much dancing. She has told me that many outsiders are shocked by the material poverty they encounter there, and that the war has left the educational system and infrastructure in disarray. Salomé is eager to see her family whom she hasn’t seen in seven years.

The plan is that I live in the convent with the community of Canossian sisters until December when at least one more volunteer should arrive. The construction of a house for volunteers just across the road from the convent will be started by a short-term VOICA group in August. When construction is finished, the volunteers will move in there. Yesterday, a shipping container was packed at a port in northern Italy to be sent to Congo. It contains an industrial-size oven to begin a bakery, about twenty used computers to start a computer lab/cyber café and the solar panels for the volunteer house, among other things. We hope that it arrives without problems. I’m still awaiting word about the books I sent to Congo in May with your help.

I am excited about my upcoming departure, and I am hopeful that VOICA’s presence in Aru, will be a light to the people there. I am beginning to realize how distant I will be from what is familiar to me, from my own culture, from conveniences, from all of you. I will be living with Italians and Africans and using languages I don’t know well. It should be a great opportunity for learning detachment, openness and simplicity.

Please pray that I be filled with the Holy Spirit as I make my way to mission, for wisdom to prepare well. Keep praying for my facility in learning French, too. Salomé will be on pilgrimage for four weeks in Poland, and the French institute doesn’t have classes available at my level, so I’ll be studying on my own and watching lots of movies.

Peace to all of you!



bsmcconnell said...

As always it is great to read your updates. We are all praying for you.
Spent last weekend with the folks and Karen's clan up in Leadville. Karen has a Japanese 15 yr old for 3 weeks now.
Everyone is doing good.

I showed my mom how to play the "A" cord a little better. Not sure how you play it, but it's best to lay your fingers down very close to the frets. not at a 45° angle. jam your middle finger in between the pointer and ring finger which are up against the fret. You may already do this. We love ya and Take CARE! B

Tricia said...

It's great to hear from you, Brian! I'm glad all of you could get together in Leadville. Did you have sing-alongs with your mom? I will focus on making my A chord position better. There are lots of opportunities to play guitar here.

Please say hello to everyone for me. Love and prayers,


Jim & Helen said...

What great blessings you are receiving during this time in Rome.

All is well here. We are going to the dinner theater with your folks tomorrow night to see "Sugar". Melissa is going on an all girls hut trip this weekend which includes Christine & Nickie. Chris and the children are coming up to your folks'. Chris & Dave hope to do a float trip on the Gunnison I think.

We had some awful fires up on Cedar Mesa a couple of weeks ago and two mobile homes were lost. The volunteers here in the city got together and sponsored a BBQ in the town park and a car was with all the proceeds going to the two families who lost their homes. It was a delight to see such a terrific response.

Take care, we keep you in our thoughts & prayers

jam52772 said...

Your pictures are amazing! Are you getting nervous? The kids all start school on the 16th. I got a pretty big promotion at work and I still love my job. Selena is near sighted and picked the cutest glasses, she looks really cute, Gabe registered for 8th grade and we just got back from Steamboat (this officially ends baseball season for us) and start football on Tuesday. Do you know who your students are going to be yet? If I remember right you weren't sure yet if you had women or kids! Ryan interviewed for a transfer from trash to vehicle control agent, we should hear if he gets the transfer this week. Well keep uploading the pictures and your travels are in our prayers