Sunday, May 30, 2010

Back to the Convent

My last week of my homevisit went by very fast. My mom and I finished the skirt...surprisingly, using the sewing machine is the easier part for me! It's using the pattern that takes the most time. It involves a lot of cutting and pinning. I hemmed the sides of the skirt. She hemmed the waist and bottom, because those are for more advanced sewers. I just found out that we will be taking a sewing class this summer at the motherhouse, so this has been great practice for it.

I visited with a few more friends and family members. I unfortunately didn't get to visit with everyone I had wanted to, but in actuality it shows how blessed I am to have so many wonderful people in my life. By the way, my maternal grandma said, "Say hello to everyone I don't know!" So she says hi to most of you! She's so funny! I told her that I am praying for her, and she said (with a jokingly serious face), "Well you can do more than that! Pray for your other relatives, too!" :) Yes, Grandma.

Marie picked me up from the airport and her family had us over for dinner before we came back to the motherhouse. We feel as if we have been gone a long time. It has been a month away...the sisters gave us a warm welcome back. It has been nice not to have any homework to do while we've been back. Marie and I got out our bikes from the barn, and rode around the property for a while.

This weekend is jubilee weekend for those celebrating their diamond jubilees (60 and 75 years professed!) This morning was a nice breakfast in honor of them, and this afternoon there will be a special mass with the Bishop. I was thrilled to see a couple of the sisters from the St. Peter's Indian Mission in Arizona. I miss all of them.

Tonight those of us in initial formation (and some other sisters who also signed up) will begin our 5 day silent retreat. It is called "Living the Evangelical Counsels in the Franciscan Tradition."

This is the retreat's description: "One of the profound aspects of the vowed consecrated life is growing in intimate union with God. In a way that is unique and penetrating, the evangelical counsels [of poverty, chastity and obedience] lived in the Franciscan tradition facilitate and enhance a deeper intimacy with God."

Our retreat master is a Capuchin Franciscan from Colorado, and we will be able to sign up to meet with him. We can also go for bike rides, walks, read, and other quiet activities. Sr. Mary Ann (one of the vocation directors) gave Marie and I some watercolor paints and a little book of prayers, readings, and reflections. The Sisters all advised us to create a schedule for our days, so as soon as I receive the itinerary tonight I can figure out how I will spend my days.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Home Visit (and good news from Congress about a bipartisan issue!)

Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. -1 Timothy 4:12, NAB

One of my main causes that I support in prayer is Invisible Children, a grassroots movement to help end the Africa's longest running war in which children are forced to be soldiers. Over the years, during my activism days, people would ask me how protests are actually going to help. I said that I have to believe they do, just like Dr. King had to believe that his protests would help. In fact, Rob Siltanen wrote something that was used for a computer ad that was circulated frequently during "The Rescue" protest: "[T]he people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

I was very pleased to return home to find a letter from Senator Carl Levin, letting me (and the others who wrote to him- politicians do write back) know that the Senate unanimously passed the LRA Disarmament Bill and Northern Uganda Recovery Act (S.1067). I checked online and discovered that the House of Representatives also passed it. Now we are just waiting on President Obama to sign the bill!
5/25 update: the President signed it! You can read his statement here.

The following is a two-minute excerpt from the House of Representatives. It is very inspiring!

Congress Passes LRA Bill: Highlights from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

This is a spiritual issue, because Joseph Kony thinks he is god. We are doing more than we think by praying for those involved. St. Therese of Liseux is patron saint of the missions, and she never left the convent.

In other news, I am enjoying my home visit. The first day back, I wore pajamas until I had to get ready for Sunday evening mass. I have been enjoying going to the 12:05pm daily mass at the Cathedral, too. It's interesting, I can already feel the sense of community's nice. It has been great to share my time with family and friends, play with the cats, relax a bit and play games, such as Monopoly Deal. Seriously, that game's a blast! My dad and stepmom taught it to some of us at the convent, and now it's a favorite there, too. When you play it, remember that there's no charity in cards, so don't feel guilty about stealing property from your friends.

I have one more week of my home visit. Last week I was with my dad and Ginny, and this week I am with my mom. It's nice that I can spend a week at each home. My mom is going to teach me how to make a skirt. We bought the pattern and fabric from Jo Ann Fabrics. I am excited to learn how to do this, and to wear the skirt!

Friday, May 14, 2010

How to Make Egg Salad and Other Stories from the Desert

I've had hat hair, I'm expecting to have veil hair soon, but I did not anticipate having crown hair! During the school's morning prayer, whenever it it someone's birthday, they get to wear a beautiful paper crown. They are decorated and the person's name is written in a fancy way with glittered lettering. They also receive a bag stuffed full of goodies, like brand new toys! The whole school sings "Happy Birthday" and "May our dear Lord bless you" to them. My birthday isn't until September 17th, so I was very surprised to hear my name called off for the birthdays! :) I also surprised to get my own bag of gifts. I wore the crown all day.

I've learned a lot this week. The sisters at the mission want me to make sure to include that I learned how to make egg salad. While I was figuring out what to prepare for myself, I saw a sister mixing together a hard boiled egg with mayonnaise. I then realized that the mixture was starting to look like egg salad. My jaw dropped with disbelief as I stared at the concoction. I said, "That's it? That's all you have to do to make egg salad?! I have been paying so much money at the deli for that stuff!" :) They told me that some people like to add a little bit of mustard or a little bit of relish. So I made egg salad for myself with a little bit of mustard, and sure enough, it tasted like egg salad. :)

I also learned how to use a sewing machine. It was really fun, and I am looking forward to developing this new skill. I finished the inventory of the school uniforms on Monday, so since then I've been helping around in the school library: picking out books, shelving books, screening new (donated) books for their appropriateness, and reading at story time. I liked reading at story time the best. It was fun to hear them laugh about Amelia Bedelia's silliness and say, "Uh-oh!" whenever she did something she wasn't supposed to do. I have also continued to walk with the kids around the track in the morning before school and helped with grading assignments...good practice for the future!

Today I shared my vocation story with the fifth graders, and it was so much fun! They were excellent listeners and they were so funny! During the Question and Answer time, they were amazed that I knew who all their favorite music artists were and how to dance all their favorite dances. Whenever they asked me if I knew a dance (e.g. the Cupid Shuffle) I would dance it for a couple seconds to prove it as I said, "Yeah, I know it." They thought that was so funny! They also asked really good questions about what it is like to be in formation. After the "Going Home Prayer" at the end of the day, a group of the fifth graders crowded around me for a big group hug. It was so cute!

I have really enjoyed being at this mission site. The school has such a family atmosphere, and that's nice to see. As I have been telling the kids, I don't know where the community will assign me in the future, but I would be happy if I was assigned here.

Here are a couple YouTube videos of the St. Peter Indian Mission (where I've been):
Franciscan Sisters Arizona Mission Ministry Part 1
Franciscan Sisters serving in Arizona Missions Part 2

It is bittersweet to know that I will be leaving tomorrow. I am going to miss everyone here, but I am also happy that I will be going on a home-visit to see my family for a couple weeks.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Make Way for Ducklings!

Hello from Arizona! I have been in Bapchule, AZ since Sunday, at St. Peter Indian Mission. It is at a Pima Indian Reservation. I was greeted by my first ever dust storm! While the descent of the plane was turbulent, and the road conditions were similar to a blizzard, it was a bit exciting to experience something new. I also was amazed at the height of the cacti! I had no idea they were so big! They even grow flowers.

The Sisters took me IHOP, and someone paid for our meal! That was so nice. People treat sisters so well. Since then, I have been experiencing life at the mission site. I have been helping out around the elementary school: walking with the kids around the outdoor track, doing the school uniform inventory, sharing my vocation story, listening to the kids prepare for the Spring Program, and reading to them. I have also been helping prepare meals and run errands. It has been wonderful to be here! I would love to be assigned here someday. I love weather too.

The convent here has two ducks, Ben and Aflack. (Sounds like Ben Affleck!) Aflack is having ducklings! They are so cute! So far, 2 have hatched: Cuddles and Ducky. We hope that Eggbert arrives tomorrow. We have been so amused by these ducklings. I looked up how to care for them on the internet, and we have been very careful to keep them safe. When the ducklings are ready, they will be moving to the local petting zoo.
Here's Cuddles with Aflack:

It has been nice to have prayer with the school. Every morning, we pray a decade of the rosary and sing songs, and in the afternoon there are more songs and prayers. Until now, I did not realize how perfect it is that there are 5 decades, and 5 school days. I think it would be great if more Catholic schools took advantage of that, and prayed a mystery a week. Yesterday was a very special was May Crowning. The seventh and eighth grade girls wore traditional dresses and processed up to Mary with bouquets of flowers. The 8th grade girl with the best church attendance got to crown Mary. They did so well and looked so beautiful! We also prayed the rosary for a greater respect for human life from conception to natural death. The school is going to do something great next year: they are going to have Reconciliation once a month. The graces from that Sacrament cannot be overestimated.

Today, we went to a House Blessing for the kindergarten teacher and her family. It was great to be apart of that. Father Edward put me in charge of the holy water, and he gave me very specific directions to shake the holy water liberally everywhere. We had two bottles of it. The prayers were really cool, too. We also had a great lunch, watched the Yankees for a bit, and played with her four-year-old son. He is so smart and outgoing.

I feel like I have so many more things to share, but perhaps another time. I am really enjoying being with the sisters here. They have been so nice and welcoming. It's been a great week. I am glad I have another one here.