Sunday, October 30, 2011

Special Visitor

I mentioned yesterday about the snow, but I was saving a special post to mention my visitor for the weekend. We were fortunate to have my friend from NYU make one last visit before she gives birth to her second daughter in less than a month.

Not really the best time for the 8 month pregnant Melissa to leave

She chose a heck of a weekend to visit, but braved the snow just to have some extra "Katie-Melissa Time." We had a great time hanging out, playing cards, resting, and just catching up. Thanks, Melissa! Can't wait to meet the new little lady soon (but not too soon so you have time to get the room finished)!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


It's crazy snowing today in Ossining and we just got back from a snowball fight. It's hard to believe that 2 days ago we were playing frisbee in our t-shirts.

2 days ago we were playing frisbee in t-shirts!

It's a great way to spend a day, though. Cozied up, watching football*, drinking hot chocolate and resting. We're just getting off a 10 day stretch with no day off and we're about to go into another one. So this is just great!

*I'm not a huge fan of watching sports on TV, but it reminds me of childhood and the noise in the background is comforting.

Update: there are more pictures of the snow-shenanigans on Flickr now.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Motivations to Serve

Chris wrote a really good blog post about his motivations to be in mission and serve in Africa. I share a lot of his thoughts. Check out the post here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dear, oh Dear

Last night Chris and I decided to go out to dinner on a "date." We're 1/2 way through a 10 day stretch with no days off and we started to get a little stir crazy. After staying inside for several days in a row and having no outside experiences I really start to get cranky. It was funny because for the past 2 days we'd had workshops on conflict resolution. When Chris and I went out we were both so cranky that I said we'd decided to demonstrate the conflicts we'd heard about for the past few days.

Anyways, I got a little gussied up and we went to a town over to get dinner and then came back to Ossining for dessert at the local diner*. Despite our tired crankiness, it was a nice night. And the best part was when we pulled into the parking lot at Bethany there were 3 deer grazing in the yard, a momma and 2 teens we presumed. We thought they'd skitter off when we got out of the car but they didn't. We had to walk past them to get to the door of the building, but they still didn't budge. They just looked up and watched us closely as we watched them closely. We were about 5 feet from them. Totally cool! (And a little scary.)

*$2.50 double scoop of ice cream with whipped cream and a cherry! What a deal, even if the bathrooms were a little smelly.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Mailing List

Four times a year Chris and I will send out newsletters that will detail the work we're doing. The first one will go out in December, so if you have already requested to be put on our mailing list and have given us your contact information but you have not received any updates in your mailbox from us (virtual or otherwise), now you know why! :) Keep your eyes peeled after the 1st of December and you should find something there.

If you have not formally requested to be put on our mailing list and would like to do so, please email me or Chris with your email address and snail mail address. Me: curlyk78(at)gmail(dot)com or Chris: baldman76(at)hotmail(dot)com.

Great stories to come, for sure!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What Are You Studying?

Bethany House
Bethany House, our home and our workplace for Orientation Program

We've gotten a lot of questions about what exactly we're learning about and studying over these next few months of the Orientation Program. It's kind of a hard question to answer because we're learning new things every day and every week. But here's a bit of a rundown of what we've been learning.

Just like any other job, we've had orientations to all parts of the organization--marketing, human resources, finances, etc. Those are the "how to's" and the "who we are's" of the organizational structure. Pretty typical stuff.

For the past week we learned about Dialogue-Based Education (aka Popular Education), which is a method for teaching adult education. It's based on the concept that ideas are generated from the group, rather than from a traditional teacher-to-student mode, like more traditional teaching styles. This type of education incorporates a lot of activities, discussions and dialogues, and the participants are seen as active decision makers rather than passive attendees. It also allows a lot more room for respecting diverse cultures. Cultural sensitivity will be especially important in mission because I'll be coming from a very different cultural reference point than all of my participants. Plus, who would know better about the problems in their lives and the potential solutions than the participants themselves?

One of the things that is also neat about Dialogue-Based Education is that it's sort of like how Jesus taught. For better or for worse, Jesus taught using parables and stories. He rarely gave a straight answer. Instead, He encouraged the people to come up with answers themselves. DBE uses this idea. And that can be great and/or it can be infuriating because it's a circuitous process and there's not always a clear-cut answer. This will certainly test my patience (not a strength of mine), but I'm hoping it will lead me down paths that I never would've thought on my own!

The training room at Bethany
Our training room

We've also had classes on scripture in which we've talked about various passages related to mission, as well as classes on the theology of mission. That was where we talked about what it means to be a missioner in the Catholic Church in 2011 (and beyond). That class was great because it cleared up a lot of concern that most of us had about mistakes made by past missioners/missionaries (and current missioners too, I guess) (for example, disrespecting indigenous cultures, forced conversion, ethnocentrism, etc). It was from this class that I got the quote I used in an earlier post.

The next few weeks will be interesting because we'll be cross training with three other Catholic Mission organizations, the Franciscan Mission Associates, the Society of African Missions and the Comboni Missionaries. They will stay with us in Bethany for 1 1/2 weeks and then we'll be going to DC for another 1 1/2 weeks. I think we'll be talking for the most part about how to handle trauma in mission as well as cross cultural issues. But I'll for sure keep everyone posted!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

History of Maryknoll, A Good Hike, and Other Stuff

Chris wrote a great post about the history of Maryknolls. Pop over to his blog if you've not read it.

I also thought I would post a picture of our Regional Coordinator, who we have mentioned on several previous occasions.

Chris, Joanne and Me at Bethany
Our first meeting with someone who will soon play a very significant role in our lives!

Also, in the spirit of being behind on blog posts, I think I should mention that in our free time we've been having some nice outings around the area that we're living. A week ago Saturday, 6 of us hiked Bear Mountain. This had special significance to me because I used to hike up this mountain every Fall when I was in Newman Club at NYU. It's been at least 11 years since I took my last hike here, so it brought back all kinds of good memories*. I wonder if they still do this as an event.

Hiking up the rocks
The ascent we took was quite steep.

Resting for a minute
Here we are resting a minute from the climb.

Near the top of Bear Mountain
The views were spectacular, though the leaves weren't really changing yet. It's amazing what difference a week can make! I bet it'd be all colors this weekend.

When we got to the bottom of the mountain the park was having an Oktoberfest festival. What better way to celebrate a good hike then with a cold beer! We contemplating getting a stein, but decided none of us needed to spend that much money on beer**!

Refreshing after a few hours' hike!
Do we look happy or what!?

This past Sunday we took another smaller hike along the Hudson, but I don't have those pictures uploaded yet, so I guess I'll save that for a future post.

*Some of which include Fr. Greg almost tumbling down the mountain, praying at the summit, and sliding down the wet rocks on my butt!

**If I remember correctly, it was $23 for the stein and $9 for refills of beer. Compared to the standard $5 a pint, it seemed a little extreme.

Sunday, October 09, 2011


Fall in NY = apple pie

Oh so good.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Our Project

I can't believe I've left everyone hanging since Saturday when I mentioned that we got our project descriptions but didn't actually tell you what we'll be doing. Sorry about that folks.

So, the back story is that in order to get Tanzanian visas we have to list our job title and job description. None of the other 5 countries that MKLM serves has to do that. So most missioners won't know their job until they're in the country, can tour the job sites, and get a feel for where their education, talents and interests will best fit. I think there's positives and negatives to both ways of doing it, but I certainly appreciate knowing ahead of time what my job will be! So, we sat down with our Regional Coordinator* on Thursday of last week and hashed out where we'll be working. I am thrilled to say that it sounds like both of our jobs will be perfect fits!

I will be working at the Catholic Diocese of Mwanza in their Women's Programming Desk. I'll be working with a native Tanzanian woman who's been the "lone ranger" in the office but she doesn't have enough time to get all the work done. The programs they run include: Gender and HIV/AIDS, Gender and Inequality, Supporting Women in Civic
Engagement, Support for Single Mothers and Women and Agriculture, to name just a few. So, needless to say, I'm totally stoked and I feel like it's all coming full circle. This is the exact type of work that I wanted to do and my skills and education will certainly be utilized in this job.

Chris will also be working with women, but in a different capacity and through a different organization. His job will be assisting an NGO with women's cooperatives. His job will be a lot more nebulous because it's basically just sitting with women in the area and finding out what kinds of things they'd like to start, and then helping them start them. There are already a few coops already started, one of which is a womens' singing and drumming group. He's totally psyched about that!

Time will tell what these jobs will really look like, but at this point we feel very positive about it and can't wait to get started!

*All of the Regional Coordinators from around the world are in NY this week for a meeting of the Global Council. That's a benefit to us newbies because we get to meet the people who essentially are our in-country supervisors and who will be a great resource to us while we're abroad. Our RC is GREAT!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Long days

Today's schedule:
8:30 Morning Prayer
9-12:00 Morning session
12-1:00 Lunch
1:00-3:00 Afternoon session
3:30-5:00 Tour of the Seminary
5:00-6:00 Happy hour at the Seminary (yes, you read that right. These guys have a great setup!)
6:00-7:00 Dinner with the Priests and Brothers
7:45-9:30 Meeting with Regional Coordinator
10:00 Security check around the building

Tomorrow's schedule:
7:30 AM Rabies shots (yeah, that's a great way to start the day)
8:30 Morning Prayer
9:00-12:00 Morning session
12:00 Group Picture
12:20-12:50 Individual Discernment Meeting
1:30-4:30 Afternoon session
5:10-5:50 Vaccination meeting
evening Get passport photos taken

Monday, October 03, 2011

How Do MKLM Party?

With a cook out and Andean music...

My battery died, so this video cuts pretty short. But you get the idea.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Has it Been A Week Already?

This week has flown by! It's hard to believe that we arrived at Bethany this time last week. So I feel really slack that I've not yet posted about the visit to Long Island that we made before coming up here.

Check out this little squirmy worm:

Hanging out at Melissa's house

We enjoyed the awesome company, plus hanging out, resting, getting ice cream and (as always) eating yummy food.

How about this quiet moment?
A cute scene

We didn't take a lot of pictures of Melissa and every one that we did take, Melissa said we couldn't post online. So here's the only one I've got:
At the playground

Thanks for the great visit!

What Are You Going to Be Doing?

We get that question a lot. It's a reasonable question. People want to know what we'll be doing. Heck, I want to know what we'll be doing. And, to be honest, we found out this week what our jobs will be. (Yipee!) But I'm not going to share it just yet with you. Before I do that, though, I want to share a quote that I got this week during one of our training sessions.

Before all else, dialogue is a manner of acting, an attitude; a spirit which guides one's conduct. It implies concern, respect and hospitality toward the other. It leaves room for the other person's identity, modes of expression and values. Dialogue is thus the norm and necessary manner of every form of Christian mission as well as every aspect of it whether one speaks of simple presence and witness, service or direct proclamation.
-Reflections and Orientations on Dialogue and Mission #836

I put this quote up here because it's a reminder (mostly to me) that regardless of what my job will be, my main purpose is to listen to people, to accompany them in their stories. There is nothing I can do for anyone without first doing that. This is probably the hardest thing that we will do while we're missioners.