Saturday, December 30, 2006

Orientation in Baltimore

Sandra, Ryan, Catherine, Kathleen, Arielle, Tim (behind the camera)

Well, after an exhusting three months of preparation and an extremely chaotic night of packing and family goodbyes, I am now in Baltimore for a week of orientation before I leave for Kenya on January 3rd 2007. It's great to finally meet all of the other volunteers for the first time in person after weeks of emailing back and forth. I even got to meet Kathleen and Kathryn, the volunteers that will be spending a year in Lima, Peru. Everybody comes with a different story, and I come with mine, but we all seek a common goal, and that is service to the poor and also to get the most out of this opportrunity that has been given to us. The orientation is pretty well structured and includes many talks given by Sisters that have spent many years in Kenya and Peru. Between the talks and presentations there is time to sleep, lounge about, or even go for a walk through one of the historical districts in Baltimore. Today I received a British Airways plane ticket with Tim Constantino printed in all caps just above the words "To Nairobi Kenya." It's really starting to sink in. I will be in Kenya on Jaunary 4th 2007 at 9:20PM!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas!

And the angel of the Lord said unto them, Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be for all people: for born to you this day in the city of David is a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace
good will toward men."

Luke 2:10-14

Friday, December 22, 2006

Frassati Society Party

Tuesday night I went to a Christmas/Going Away Party with my friends from the Frassati Society. It gave me a chance to spend some time with Mike, Raquel, JP, Heather, Mary, Amy, and Tera and make my final "good-byes" before leaving. Once again, I am in awe of the amount of support I am getting from friends and even people I haven't known for very long. It is all very very much appreciated. You will all be in my thoughts and prayers everyday in Kenya. I'm not sure I could be able to do something like this if I didn't have such a solid support team back home.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Suggested Viewing

I have been trying to gain as much information as I can about where I will be in Kenya and what it will be like to live in a third-world country. From movies, to pictures, to books...I have been trying to absorb it all. Last month, I received a list of suggested books and movies that might give me an idea of what life in Kenya might be like. Seeing as how I have been incredibly busy with preparations, I haven't had any time to read any of the books. From what I hear, there will be more than enough time to read while I am there. I have, however, had an opportunity to see some of the movies and even can suggest some myself. I really enjoyed Hotel Rwanda, Born into Brothels, and Yesterday. Two thumbs, way up!

Suggested Books
This Our Exile: A Spiritual Journey with the Refugees of East Africa by James Martin, SJ
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Suggested Movies
The Constant Gardener
Out of Africa
Hotel Rwanda
In the Time of the Butterflies
The Motorcycle Diaries
Born into Brothels

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Learning to drive a stick shift...

Part of preparing for my mission in Kenya requires me to learn how to drive a stick shift. This is important as cars in Kenya with an automatic transmission are quite nonexsistant. It is my understanding that I may be asked to transport patients, by car, from the medical center in the small village to the hospital in the city.

Today I started learning how to drive a stick shift. Surprisingly, it is my little sister, Anita, that is teaching me. It seems as though not many of my family or friends have acquired this skill or own such a vehicle. Fortunately for me, my sister's first car was a stick and little did I know that she would someday be teaching me how to drive. The only problem that arose when she agreed to do so was that she had long since gotten rid of that first car and now owns an automatic. This is when my sister came up with a brilliant idea! We spent an afternoon visiting various car dealerships in the area test driving the latest models....all of course in the new sporty, fuel-efficient stick shift editions!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Campus Ministry Party

Last night I spent with friends that I have worked with through the years in campus ministry at Macomb Community College. They had their annual Christmas Party, but this year it was also a going away party for me. It seems like I've known them all forever. I've worked with some of them on some of my very first service events. It was some of these events that eventually lead to my decision to spend a year in Kenya. I remember all of the times we spent together at the alternative spring breaks in Kentucky, volunteering at the soup kitchens in Detroit, at the charity soups sales, and collecting the toys for Christmas for Kids....we've been through a lot....and now they are seeing me off to the next chapter in my life. It was good to see them all again. We spent the night talking and laughing and singing Christmas was the perfect holiday send off. It's a pretty amazing feeling to have such friends and such support. Thank you all very much.