Well, so much has happened in the last week, it’s hard to even know where to begin. We arrived at Bethany, the Marykoll Lay Missioners campus here in Ossining, NY (see picture below) and since then we’ve had some very packed days full of meetings and tasks. It’s been hard for me to really find the time to reflect and spend some time drafting up a post that addresses some of the more introspective and thoughtful moments of the last few days. Much like during my AmeriCorps*NCCC, another experience where I was placed out of the day-to-day grind and into a communal living arrangement, experiences seem to occur at hyperspeed and it’s hard to believe that we have only been here for 1.5 weeks. I feel like I’ve known these people for a long time.
Bethany, the headquarters of Maryknoll Lay Missioners
Katie has a blog post with pictures of our apartment, so click here to see the pictures.
So, let’s talk quickly about the people. Our fellow candidates* are great people. Everyone is very nice. There are 13 of us and we’re from all walks of life, from all different ages, and three different countries. In addition to the fellow mission candidates, we have four nuns going through the training as well, so that brings us up to 17 folks from five different countries (the USA, the Philippines, India, South Korea, and Timor Leste**). By virtue of the activities of the training, we’ve had to be very open and share a lot about ourselves, and we’ve all hit it off very well. There are five of us that are going to Tanzania, and we’ve all become fast friends.
The staff here are also very nice. Almost all the folks are past missioners and they have each done amazing work. Really put themselves on the line for their faith and dedicated their lives to the poor and marginalized. Today, we were reviewing the history of Maryknoll and the MKLM program, and I was humbled at the fact that this organization and these people have invited me into their midst. It is a privilege to be here. Additionally, we've met many welcoming priests and sisters in our time here. These folks are very happy to have us joining them in their mission.
Also, Joanne Miya, the Regional Coordinator for Tanzania, has been here at Bethany for a week-long meeting, so we’ve been spending quite a lot of time with her which has helped provide a great deal of detail about our upcoming lives in Tanzania. She’s been super supportive and excited, and it does help lower the anxiety of the move knowing she’ll be on the other side waiting for us to arrive.
I’m not going to recount all the details of what we have been doing so far, but the week has been chock-full of meetings, and lectures, and discussion groups, and dinners, etc. Just busy from morning until night, hence the lack of blog posts. Our brains are just a bit fried. But as I pointed out to Katie after a particularly long day, “We might be tired now, but at least we’re tired in English.” This is just the start of what will prove to be an exhausting year of training, then travel, then language school, then settling in and starting to live and work in a completely new culture. The fatigue we have now is nothing compared to what’s to come.
A lot of what we’ve been doing on the front end of these 11 weeks is housekeeping and logistics type stuff, but we’ve been able to get into some “content” classes. Two days on the Theology of Mission, a day of Scripture discussions, and sessions discussing the history of the organization as well as its core values. Tomorrow we spend a day discussing Racism! These discussions have been very illuminating, and I want to share some thoughts, but not right now. The brain’s fried, as you know.
I’ll try to get some more photos up in the next few days to give you, Dear Readers, a feel for the place, as well as a glimpse into the Maryknoll Society world headquarters (the front gate is pictured to the right). Six of us managed to slip up north to Bear Mountain State Park and get in a pretty strenuous 4 mile hike last Sunday, so there’s some nice pics in there, too.
* Technically, we’re “candidates” as we move through the discernment process. We won’t officially become “missioners” until the end of the training when we sign contracts.
** Don’t feel bad. I couldn’t have found it on map, either.