Heather in Rome

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. - St. Augustine

Wednesday, March 29

Middle of the Mission

It's Wednesday, smack dab in the middle of the mission. No mission is the same and this one is so different than Ireland or Portugal. In Portugal we had an hour and a half bus ride each way on the way to and from our host families to the city center. Those were days of early risings and late nights, often going to bed around 1 am. Then there was Ireland, where the days were equally busy, but the long bus ride was taken out and replaced by a 20 minute walk. Much better and more sleeper friendly. Now there is this mission in the Netherlands, which is so laid back and not busy. It's strange to have so much time.
There are a few reasons why we have less to do this time around. All the open houses (where we go to people's homes at night and talk with a group they have invited) are being conducted in Dutch so we are no help there. Then, while in Ireland there were 4 high schools and more elementary schools to visit, this time there is only 1 Catholic school that agreed to have us visit. And even there, the classes we visit have to have the permission of the teacher (as opposed to the principal) so there are many times when we are on the school grounds but not going into a classroom. During this open time we go to the lounge where students hang out when their teachers are absent (instead of using substitutes, the class is canceled) and try to strike up conversations with them. Some times it works, but so far the conversations I've had in the lounge haven't gone deep. Still, it's good to be present and to show that Catholic Christians are normal people.
The rest of the time we have been in Geldrop we walk around the small town and talk to people in the streets. There is a carousel for the mission and it attracts the kids and parents with small children. We hand out free tickets for the carousel and then talk to the parents while their kids ride 1, 2, 3 times. On Sunday there was a special treat when we went to a city 40 minutes away (Den boss?) where Anne-Marie is from and visited St. John's Cathedral. It was huge, old, with beautiful stain glass windows. The group of us went for a walk of the city, with A-M as tour guide. Before that, 3 of us ate lunch in the park with flowers covering the grass like a carpet. It was great. It's rare to have time to see the country when on mission so it was a special time and very unusual.
Yeah, I don't want to spend all of my free evening on the computer so I'm going to go. I'll write more after the mission, whenever I can fight my way onto a computer at the Domus. I can't say I'll try too hard right after returning home though. I hope everyone is having a rich Lent. Fasting, almsgiving, and something else...

Tuesday, March 21

The last long mission of the year is just around the corner. We leave on Friday for the Netherlands, a very secular and "free thinking" country that will bring unique challenges to the mission. It's good though. The Netherlands (also known as Holland) used to send the most missionaries to other countries in all of Europe and so it's time we help the culture turn back that way. It will be the first mission in the country in 50 years.

Everyone, especially young people, should check out the following link: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/youth/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20060222_youth_en.html It's the message of the Holy Father to the youth of the world on the occasion of the 21st World Youth Day, which is April 9, 2006. It's really good, inspiring, calling us to a greater knowledge and love of Sacred Scripture.

It's getting close to the end of the 6th month in the school. I can't believe there's only 3 months left. It's going too fast. Time needs to slow down.

Thursday, March 16

Short Update

I've been bad about writing lately and I'm going to be bad for a little bit longer because I only have 7 minutes until class starts. This weekend I'll try to get around to the blog, add some pictures, things like that.
Some updates on what I last wrote. I decided not to go to Camp Gray. It's difficult to explain why because even I don't understand it all the way, but in the end it came down to the fact that I was struggling so much with the decision and every time I thought about going, I didn't find any peace. I would decide to go and then the next day I would question the decision. So in the end I had to listen to my gut telling me that there is something else waiting for me out there. Now, just like last year, I have to find it.
Now to Carole. She came home on Monday afternoon and each day she gets stronger, able to do more things by herself. Obviously she is still in need of prayers if you want to offer one up for her. Another student, Anne-Marie, is a physical therapist and she said once the cast comes off in 2 months, it will still be awhile before Carole can walk normally. It will be a really long process and one that isn't always easy.
The whole situation has taught me a lot about suffering, compassion, not being in control of our lives, how life can change in an instant, etc. It's been really interesting and gives me a lot to reflect on. This week we have 3 days worth of classes on compassion and our teacher said that compassion is the sharing of passion in its two forms: great love and great suffering. The injury has been an opportunity to share in both, especially last week. Yeah, I don't understandy why it happened, but God is still good.
Well, I'd better be going. Time to enjoy a little break before class.

Tuesday, March 7

Prayer Requests

Hi everyone,
Things are being shaken up in Rome. Two prayer requests. Today the school was playing soccer and Carole got injured. We thought it was a bad sprain, but it turns out she broke her ankle in 3 places. Right now she is in the hospital waiting for a consulation (tomorrow) and they will probably do surgery in a few days so she is looking at a significant hospital stay. So please pray for her. Rome is not an easy city to get around in when you are on crutches and we have the Netherlands mission at the end of this month and Easter vacation in 6 weeks.
Second request: even though I was supposed to decide on the Camp Gray position last Friday, I asked for an extension and have to decide by this Friday. I'm troubled about the decision, unable to see clearly whether it would be a good or bad step after this year. So yeah, thanks for keeping everything in your prayers.