24 October 2013

the o.p. (kind of like the o.c.)

As you have probably noticed, our blog is super fun. And we like to post everything, from our random thoughts on Craigslist to reasons why we're moving to Tanzania. But we realized recently that we haven't given you, our readers, much of a picture of our current life in Ossining, New York, where we are involved in our Orientation Program (affectionately known as the O.P.). You deserve a good description, right? Right!

only one letter off. basically the same idea.

The O.P. is a ten-week program, put on by MKLM, and designed to give new staff members (or 'missioners', as we're called) an introduction to the organization and to train us in specific skills and tools we'll need for new life overseas. Areas covered include adapting cross-culturally, living and working in community, managing conflict, applying social, political, and economic analysis, and dealing with trauma, among many, many other issues. Seven other lovely, lovely individuals are a part of our O.P. including Kristle (Tanzania), Caitlin (Bolivia), Hang (Cambodia), Karen (Cambodia), Joe (El Salvador), Melissa (El Salvador), and Pete (El Salvador). Except for Melissa and Pete, who have two children, and thus, live separately, the rest of us live together and as you can imagine, have become quite close after living, eating, and showering together (almost) for two straight weeks.

pictured here, from left to right: sam stanton (executive director), pete, michael, kristle, ashley, back of karen's head, eli (child of melissa and pete), caitlin, and hang. 

So what are we doing up here all day? Oh, I don't know. Just hanging around.


i like it!

We are literally running our little behinds off from the moment we get up (usually between 6AM and 6:45AM) to the moment Michael and I snuggle into our cozy pull-out sofa-bed (circa 11PM). Because I like these, here's a run-down of a typical day from the last two weeks:

6:15AM - Alarm goes off. Michael and I grumble and stumble out of bed towards our respective dorm-like shower facilities. Thankfully, they are a million times better than what we had to experience at BC.

7:00AM - Leave our residence and walk down "the hill" to the dining hall, where we eat all of our meals. (While we live on a hill, it is still a hill. And our only means of transport right now are our legs. 'Nuff said.)

yep, i like breakfast.

7:30AM - After breaking the fast, we head over to Walsh, the headquarters of MKLM, to sip some coffee (well, only I sip coffee) and wait for our turn in line for the first series of the rabies shot. Joy!

8:15AM - Shot is in, massaging of arm begins. Quick check of the morning e-mail.

8:30AM - Attend the daily prayer service, previously led by some of our staff members and now taken on by us newbies. The service can range from a reflection on poverty in the developing world to contemplative meditation.

not a bad way to wake up.

9:00AM - Grab a bit more coffee before heading over to the Society, where the Fathers and Brothers live, for a full-day class on the Theology of Mission by Father Tom Henehan.

12:00PM - Father Tom has mercy on us and let's us out to eat! We have a scheduled working lunch with the folks at the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns in DC so while we eat, we discuss their mission, what we can do for them, and their future visits out to Tanzania.

1:15PM - Quickly wrapping up lunch, we walk back to the Society for the rest of our class with Father Tom.

4:15PM - After a full day of theology swimming in our brains, some of us are expected back at Walsh for one-on-one discernment meetings with a staff member, to discuss any issues we're having with the O.P. or questions we have about our upcoming work.

5:15PM - The discernment meeting is going splendidly, but I have to cut it off in order to make it to dinner in time. Sadly, the dining hall closes at 6PM and I don't want to miss it!

captured it exactly.

6:30PM - Dinner is over, but this is far from the end of our day. We leave the dining hall to head over to the Potter House, the house where Melissa and Pete live with their two adorable kiddos. We hold a Community Meeting to go over upcoming social events, dinners, and anything else on the schedule that leaves us confused.

7:45PM - After saying good-bye to Melissa and Pete, Michael and I head back to Walsh, where we're able to spread out at a table for some hardcore Swahili studying. Eeesh, the brain is really hurting at this point.

good luck with that. 

9:00PM - Although there is much more language to learn, we're done looking at vocabulary cards and give ourselves some time to check our e-mail again, prep blog posts, and get ready for the following day.

aaand, we're done.

10:15PM - Hike back up "the hill" to our residence in the dark. No worries, we have a miniature flashlight to light our way!

10:45PM - We are safely tucked into our sheets and try to eke out a couple pages of reading (Michael's reading this, I'm reading this) before one of us admits that we're falling asleep. Lights out.

Phew! I'm exhausted just writing that! We keep on telling each other that it's all good stuff, it's just a LOT of stuff, and processing in between the comings and goings is difficult.

The topics of our lectures and classes varies as well. I used Theology of Mission as an example, but in the past two weeks, we've...
  • attended meetings with Joanne Miya, our Regional Coordinator in Tanzania, to discuss our future work (more to come on that front).
  • listened to the life stories of our fellow missioners as well as some of our MKLM staff, to better get to know one another. 
  • learned more about ourselves and others through the study of the Enneagram.
  • studied Scripture, both Hebrew and New Testament, with Brother Jack Rathschmidt, a Franciscan Friar. 
  • visited with Bob Short, the head of the Maryknoll Affiliates, to receive his ideas for the Affiliates Program as well as offer our own. 
  • figured out the logistics of our new work, complete with an MKLM e-mail, staff web site, and photo sharing project. 
As you can see from our sched, we don't have a ton of free time! But in all honesty, we are loving our current lives. We wake up every day pinching ourselves, still unable to believe that we will soon be moving overseas to do something we have only been able to dream about, up until now. Oh happy day!

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