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!