Friday, December 21, 2007

Aru Nativity

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope that as we celebrate Jesus birth, you and all of your loved ones find yourselves in good health and good spirits. You are often in my thoughts and prayers.

As I sit down to compose this letter, I remember Colorado's beautiful Christmas blizzard last year that blanketed the world white and made roads nearly impassible. The forecast for Christmas this year is green with roads that are perpetually nearly impassible. Maybe we can decorate a banana tree ☺ since pines are scarce.

Since I wrote my last general letter at Easter time, I've passed through three stages:

The Grand Getting Ready
April and May were busy months as I made arrangements to leave the country, prepared my house to sell, packed for two years in mission and said goodbye to friends and family. I am grateful to the many people who helped me to prepare practically, emotionally and spiritually. My house sold just a few days before my departure from Denver on June 6. (Thank God!) I flew to Paris, spent a few days traveling in France and enjoying the kind hospitality of Therese and Paul in Annecy before making my way to Rome.

Reflecting in Rome
I began formation on June 13 at the Canossian Institute in the heart of Rome along with three other volunteers. During these three months we came to better understand the Canossian Charism "Above all, to make Jesus known so that he will be loved" with Mary at the foot of the cross as a model of discipleship. Living in community and lessons of culture and language also prepared us for mission. We also spent some time eating gelato, pasta, pizza, pesto and pinoli and exploring Rome, Assisi, Lorretto and other beautiful places nearby.

Adjusting in Aru
On September 1, I arrived in my new home: the town of Aru on the northeastern edge of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Aru is a world distinct from any place I've known before. In some ways it's like going back in time one hundred years. In some ways its like living in a National Geographic magazine. Life here is fascinating, challenging and full of opportunities to learn. I am grateful for the chance to experience life here.
I teach high school English, give English/music classes at the pre-school and work with the aspirants once a week on English and music. I also do a bit of accounting and secretarial work. This, along with language study (French, Lingala, and Italian) cooking and housekeeping, keep me quite busy
For my first three months here I lived at the convent and shared in the community life of the Canossian Sisters, as I was the first long-term lay missioner here. Two weeks ago two more volunteers arrived from Italy and we have begun our lay community, eating meals and praying together. Luca and Fausto are delightful company and I am grateful for their presence. I will continue to sleep at the convent until the new volunteer house is finished and we call all move in.
The pictures that I hope to post with this blog show a scene from the fifth-year English classe's nativity play and our new VOICA community (Fausto, me and Luca). I will try to post another blog in January. Internet access continues to be scarce.
Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année 2008! Rejoice, God is with us!

Love and prayers,



jam52772 said...

Merry Christmas to you and your new friends. Diane and her family also send their love. Please don't hesitate to let me know if there is anything I can send you or do for you here.

My children and family also send their love, I will email you some updated pictures. Ryan played Santa Clause for his friends daycare and was very cute, the daycare kids loved him. Gabe, Naldo and Selena are growing like weeds and acting like teenagers.

Love, Jen

Tricia said...

Dear Jen,

I appreciate you keeping in touch. Please say hello to Ryan, Gabe, Naldo and Selena for me, and to Diane's family as well. How is she doing?

Many blessings to you all in 2008!



Gail said...

SO great to hear from you. You seem to be adjusting well.
This is the first time I have written to someone's blog so it is fun to see how it works. It looks like you did a good job setting it up.
Any chance you will still be in the Congo Sept 2009? We went to an information session on a South Africa trip with friends and would like to visit you at the same time and Maryknollers in Kenya.
Not to make you homesick but we had champagne powder at Vail today.
I will keep you in my prayers. Let us know what we can do to make your experience even better.
Peace and Love,