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
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!