Friday, December 30, 2011

Made it To TZ!

After 3 flights and about 24 hours of travel, we met up with Caitlin and David in Istanbul and we all made it to Mwanza this morning with no problems. It's 10 PM here and we're exhausted, so this'll be short and sweet. I just wanted to give a shout-out to let everyone know we're here safe and sound.

We were picked up at the airport at 8:15 AM by 3 current MKLM missioners, Michele & George (with whom we're staying this week) and Joanne, our regional coordinator. We had a bite to eat then rested for part of the morning and afternoon. The only big event for the day was taking a walk to the market just to get acquainted with the neighborhood. We all made dinner tonight and I uploaded a few of those pictures with shots of the Otte's house onto my Flicr account. I won't link any pictures here because I don't want to use all of George's bandwidth for internet, so you'll have to go over there to check them out. Tomorrow we're supposed to go buy internet and phones, so hopefully I won't have to be so cautious about usage in the future.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Goodbye! (for now)

We’re sitting in our gate for our flight to Turkey, then Tanzania. Just finished our last meal in The States for a while, Wawa hoagies. Oooh yeah! This whole situation is so surreal; I can’t even explain it. As I was driving up to the airport (3 hours from Southern Jersey to JFK), I was struck by how normal all of this seemed. I mean, maybe not normal-normal, but a new normal. I wasn’t freaked out at all today. For the most part I felt calm and relaxed. Everything just seemed to fall into place. It definitely stung to say goodbye to my mom and step-dad, but other than that, I am just amazed at how we’re just doing this. One foot in front of the other.

So, I guess this is it.

Thanks to everyone who have made these last few days, weeks, and months so wonderful! There is so much I am going to miss, but most of all I will miss you.

I look forward to updating the blog again when we’re at our destination. Say some prayers and send thoughts our way for a safe and uneventful journey tonight and tomorrow!

At the airport, ready to go!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Recap

We had a great visit in Vicksburg for our last Christmas in the states before we head out. Here are some shots of the highlights:

E&F @ Highway 61 in V'burg
Whenever we're in town, we always make a stop to Highway 61 Coffee Shop.

Chris hanging out with Ian @ coffee shop
We got some last-minute visits in with friends, including Ian, who came to town to see us for a few hours.

The coffee shop in downtown V'burg

We also went out one night to hear Chris's uncle Carl in his band, The Chill. I'd never heard him play before, so it was really fun to hang out and watch him.

Watching the Chill at the Biscuit Company

Watching the Chill at the Biscuit Company

Watching the Chill at the Biscuit Company
Chris's mom made an appearance for a few hours!

Watching the Chill at the Biscuit Company
Lots of family were there to hang out.

Christmas eve was at the Reid's house.

Christmas eve at Chris's Grandmom's
The food was amazing. I ate too much and then passed out in the living room. Good times.

Christmas eve at Chris's Grandmom's
Exhibit A, followed shortly by another helping.

We opened presents at Chris's mom's apartment on Christmas day and then had lunch at the Antoines.

Opening presents at Tricia's mom's

The Antoines at Christmas

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Chris!

Happy 35th birthday to my beautiful, wonderful, smart, goofy husband!

Cutie sighting on the beach

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

1 week and Counting!

Our bags are all but packed.

We just got word that our Tanzanian resident work visas were approved and they are currently in the mail to us.

The car was (finally) sold yesterday. (We’ll miss you, Soob!)

And in a week from today we’ll be boarding a plane to our new home.**

It’s all incredibly surreal but the fear is definitely starting to creep in a little bit!

**Wanna contact us while we’re abroad? Chris and I will be turning off our phones after Christmas, so we will no longer be reachable at the phone numbers we’ve had for the past few years. We will still update our blogs and regularly check email, so feel free to keep in contact that way. We also have a Google Voice number, which is a US phone number that people can call or text to leave us messages and check in. I’ll be emailing out that phone number this week, but if I don’t have your email address or you accidentally get left off the list, leave a comment here and I’ll be sure to give you our new number.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bo!

While there's still 10 minutes left in the day, I want to wish a happy birthday to my step dad.

Bo's birthday 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011


For the past week we have been at my mother and step-father's house hanging out and getting ready for our departure. It's been great to spend quality time with family and just relax. I'm very appreciative of this time and have been trying to soak it all in because I know that within a very short period of time all of this will be behind me.

At the same time, there is a little bit of apprehension during this time because we're just sort of waiting. I think the whole family feels the strain of the waiting because the immediacy of our departure seems to sort of put a shadow on everything that we do.

I'm not the greatest at waiting, as patience has never been my strong-suit. I generally like to just cut to the chase and I often find myself constantly moving through life anticipating the next thing that's coming around. Obviously, that's not the best way to live because while I'm waiting for the next thing, I'm missing out on what's currently going on. We talked a little bit about the topic of waiting in our MKLM training and I recognized my lack of skill in this area. I pulled the quote below from one of our better trainings, which was conducted by Rev. Larry Lewis who has written several books on the topic of waiting. I find solace in knowing that there is something special in this time of anticipation and I hope that I can slow down, take time to enjoy the moments, and recognize my blessings.
Not to push the days, the seasons,
Not to strain for tomorrow.
Let be.
What if these were the end?
From the fancied gasping plunge in the void
Turn with relief
To a leaf
To a flower or a bird,
To anything that is and is naught,
And note how even the gloom
Of that lowering cloud
Brings out and deepens
The colors of the world,
Colors unburdened and freed
From the flattening stress
Of excessive glare.
Not for me the labored pretense
Of eternal optimism,
Of perpetual looking forward
With unwearied eagerness.
Now is all that is left
From all the pregnant futures
Of the immemorial past.
Now is it- or never.
Now is the greenery of trees
And laughing girls and bees,
The pain of scars and of memories.
Now is to hold and to savor.
Such as it is, look,
Look your fill and hark
Before the screen goes dark.
-Samuel Kaufman, "Acceptance," in American Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 37, No.4 (1977), p. 352.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MKLM Joint Mission Sending Ceremony

This past weekend we had a ton of family and friends up in Ossining to witness our Joint Mission Sending Ceremony. This ceremony marks the end of our Orientation Program and culminates in us being officially "sent" to our mission countries. It was a jam-packed, emotional weekend, but I had a great time with everyone!

On Friday we went out to an Ethiopian dinner with my parents, Chris's sister and bro-in-law and fellow missioner, Darren.

Rev. Mike Duggan
The Ceremony was full of symbolism and quite beautiful.

Missioners from each region were "called forth" by someone who had previously served in that region and then they were given their mission crosses by MK leadership.

The calling forth to Bolivia
The Calling Forth to Brasil
The Calling Forth to Cambodia
The Calling Forth for El Savlador

Me & Chris receiving our mission crosses
Me and Chris receiving our crosses by Sam and Janice.

The 2011 Joint Mission group
After the ceremony we all went out to the mission sending bell for pictures.

With the NYU crew
It was so great that some of my NYU friends came up for the day!

The dress that I'm wearing is from Tanzania. There is a returned missioner, Bertha, who was coming back to the US after completing 9 years in mission in TZ. She happened to be in Ossining this weekend and she gave me this dress. It fit perfectly, which was amazing because it was made specifically for her. I was so excited about it that I decided to wear it to the ceremony.

It's unbelievable that the next step is simply getting on a plane in exactly 2 weeks from today. There's a lot to do between now and then though and it puts a knot in my throat and stomach to think about it!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Goodbye Bethany

The halls are nearly empty as most of the missioners departed a day or 2 ago. Just a few more goodbyes and we'll be rolling out of here. For good. Bethany has served as the home of MKLM for several decades, but we'll be the last class to come through this building. For a variety of reasons our operations will be moving to the Society down the road and the building will be sold back to the Priests and Brothers. Even though I have only lived here for 3 1/2 months, it grieves me to leave this place.

This building is the heart and soul of Maryknoll. It's not just a building. It's a home. A memory of good times. A place where great friendships were formed. The start of the most major shift in my life. An embracing of a lifestyle that will break me. And heal me. Over and over again.

As Fr. Larry Lewis said in his Homely at the Covenant Signing Ceremony on Thursday, mission requires us to constantly empty ourselves so that we can be filled up again by the people we serve. Embrace the emptiness because that is where we'll find God. I certainly feel that emptiness today. It's a hard place to be. And I know the emptiness I now feel will only get greater as the next 2 weeks roll on. But I do believe there is a grace to it. It's a blessing to feel loss and pain, even if it hurts. It shows there is something good there.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Covenant Signing Ceremony

Today we celebrated the first of our two big ceremonies ending our time in the MKLM Orientation Program and officially welcoming us into the Maryknoll community. We had the Covenant Signing Ceremony this morning at Bethany, our home and the hub for MKLM. It was an intimate ceremony, full of symbolism and celebration.

Merwyn helps set the sacred space
Each area of the world had a table and a representative from each region decorated the table. Merwyn, a Lay Missioner in the US, and former TZ missioner, did the TZ table.

Fr. Larry Lewis
Fr. Larry Lewis, a MK priest, said Mass. He had a great homily.

The TZ crew signing their covenants
The TZ crew getting ready to sign our covenants.

Me witnessing Caitlin's covenant
Caitlin was my witness and I was hers.

Me and My Mentor, Noel
I was so pleased that my mentor, Sr. Noel, was able to come to the ceremony today. She's been a great asset to my experience here for the past few months.

The next big ceremony will be on Saturday. We'll have a ton of family and friends coming into town for that one. We're going to party it up!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

It's so hard to believe that 14 weeks have passed and we now have less than a half week until the end of our Maryknoll Orientation Program. As with all things, it seems like a lifetime ago and a blink of an eye ago that we left South Carolina and pulled into the parking lot at Bethany. I am so excited to be finishing because that means the next step is just getting on the plane on the 28th! But, at the same time this next step comes with a huge number of emotions.

This weekend will be our Sending Ceremony, which is pretty much like a graduation. And at the end of the weekend we'll have to say goodbye to the wonderful people that we've met here. Over the past few months, I've made some amazing new friends. As I said at the very beginning of training, we all have very different stories, yet very similar paths. So it's been easy making friends here because in some ways we understand each other very well. So, needless to say, it's going to be a tear-jerker to say goodbye to these folks.

MK Orientation Group
From the back row, left to right.
Chris, Rick (El Salvador), Darren (El Salvador)
Me, Dee (Cambodia)
David (TZ), Mabel (TZ), Hyun Jung (Brazil)
Caitlin (TZ), Carolyn (Brazil), Nena (Bolivia)
Gloria (Bolivia), Isabel (Brazil), Maria (Cambodia)
Sirikit (Brazil), Donna (Bolivia)

Saturday, December 03, 2011

More Goodbyes and Visits

During the past 3 months we've had so many visits from family and friends that it's been hard to keep up with them here on the blog. I'm not saying that's a bad thing! We've had such a major outpouring of support and love from our family and friends. It continues to astonish me!

When we were in DC last month we got to stay goodbye to Paula, a friend from SC who has lived in the DC area for a few years. She even took the day off to hang out and get Ghanaian food with us!

Chris and Paula with beautiful fall decoration
Posing with some beautiful fall foliage.

Then, a few weeks ago we went back into the city to hang out with a childhood friend of Chris's, Billy. Billy and his wife are recent transplants to the NYC area so we had fun trudging around Central Park and going into FAO Schwartz.

2 Mississippi sons
MS boys take Manhattan!

That same night the 3 of us met up with another group of friends, Tricia and Adam, to see a Mike Doughty concert in Brooklyn*. A&T get big props for driving (through wicked** traffic) from Boston just for the evening. I think we only got to hang out for like 1 hour (not including the concert, which doesn't count as "hanging out time" since we couldn't talk.)

With Tricia and Adam
The crew after eating some awesome veggie burgers and veggie dogs in Williamsburg.

The Mike Doughty concert was great, as always. And they had a really rocking opening band, Moon Hooch.

Mike Doughty and his band
Doughty and Band

But the added bonus of seeing MD in concert is that Chris's other long-time friend, Andy "Scrap" Livingston plays for Mike. So we got to hang out with Andy before and after the show!

Andy, "Scrap"
Scrap, living the life.

Chris and Andy after the show
Andy and Chris after the show.

Last but not least in the visits thus far was that I took a quick trip onto Long Island yesterday morning to get a glimpse of my college friend, Melissa, and her beautiful children. The visit was too short, but I'm starting to have separation anxiety and I just needed to say hi.

This child melts my heart.

Baby Lena is as snuggly and cute as can be.

It was hard to get everyone to stay still for even a second!

*We were in my old stomping ground of Williamsburg. I lived there over 10 years ago for a summer and then moved over to Greenpoint, which is just a few blocks down the road. My, has that area changed over the past decade! I almost didn't recognize it!

**You see what I did there? "Wicked?" Boston? Yup. I'm a dork.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New life

It seems like life has been full of pregnancies and births lately. I have two friends who just recently gave birth to beautiful, healthy babies. And it seems like every day someone new is announcing their pregnancy. In fact, the big news in my family is that my brother and his wife are expecting their third child. This, after a 10 year hiatus, took everyone by surprise! They announced it to the family on Thanksgiving weekend via this cute video that my brother put together. Check out these pictures of the family when they found out:

The "Big Reveal" of B&J's 3rd pregnancy

The "Big Reveal" of B&J's 3rd pregnancy

The "Big Reveal" of B&J's 3rd pregnancy

There is just something so magical and special to me about all of these changes. Life is moving so rapidly and change is coming whether we want it to or not. Perhaps because I am manipulating so much change in my own life I am finding some clarity in seeing the changes unfold in other people's lives on a day to day basis. And (Not that everything is about me, but it's my blog so I can make it all be about me, right?) I am finding a lot of similarities between what my pregnant and newly parenting friends/family are going through and what I am going through as I prepare to embark on my own new adventure. I can't imagine what it's like to go into the hospital one day and come out the next day with your very own infant in your arms! When you're going to become a parent many people read books, talk with other parents and buy all the right equipment; yet somehow I imagine that there's really nothing that one can do to fully prepare for what that experience will entail. You just have to live it and experience it and figure it out as you go along.

Well, that's exactly how I feel right now about going overseas. We've been working toward this move for so long. We've met people who have lived there; we have attended session after session in the orientation program; we've bought new equipment. But there's really no telling what it's going to be like to step off that plane in our new home until we just do it. We'll just have to work it out as life unfolds. And there's just something really poetic to me about that. We just need to keep moving forward knowing that God will give us all strength to handle whatever challenges and triumphs are thrown our way.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Car for Sale

Anyone know someone who wants to buy a Subaru? It's a fantastic car and we would never sell it if it weren't for moving abroad!

Here's the link to the posting on Craigs list. Pass it around to anyone you think might be interested!

Welcome Lena!

Lena and Melissa


Born 11/26/11 @ 10:19am
7lbs 2oz

Congrats to Tim, Melissa and Ann!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I have so much to be thankful for and right now I'm even more aware of the blessings in my life since things are about to change so drastically very soon. Of course, I'll still have an uncountable number of things to be thankful for even once we're gone. And in fact, when I'm in Tanzania I suspect that I will be even more aware of my blessings than I currently am. But for now I'm trying to practice awareness of the great things in my life and appreciate all of my surroundings.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Visit from the Family

Last weekend my brother and his family came up to Ossining for a visit. It was so special to have the time to visit with all of them and catch up. We had a leisurely time together but managed to do a lot of fun things too.

We reserved them their very own apartment at Bethany. I think it was nice for them to be able to stretch out a bit and have their very own space.
Hanging out on Fri night in their apt

But each morning the Waldies merged upstairs in our place for breakfast together. It was so cute.
Eating breakfast in our room on Sat

Watching videos in our apt

We enjoyed going to the local farmers markets and stocking up on some goods.
At the Ossining Farmer's Market

Maddie got to help make stone soup.
Maddie helping to make stone soup

We also spent a good amount of time walking around the Maryknoll grounds and visiting the museum at the Father's. I hadn't been into the Maryknoll Museum before, so I was pleasantly surprised at how cool it was.
At the MK Museum

They had a lot of interactive exhibits and a great video that I thought explained the call to mission really well. They also had this really cool prayer gazebo where visitors could write their prayers on wooden cards and tie them to the gazebo.

Saturday night we played a mean game of Apples to Apples with some of my fellow candidates. Yours truly was the winner, thank you very much! I thought it was really great that the MKLMers and my family could get some time to get to know each other.
Playing cards in the solarium

On Sunday we took a walk along the Hudson. It was a bit chilly, but the sun was out so it was a pretty day.
Walking along the Hudson

Walking to the lighthouse

Thanks, dudes, for a great visit! It means a lot to me.
At the Society