Elizabeth will leave in December 2010 for a 14-month mission in Senegal.
Arriving at orientation for my upcoming mission, I was unsure what to expect of the two weeks ahead of me. For me, one of the most formative parts of the orientation program and something which I was certainly not expecting was how quickly I felt we were accepted as a part of community life. I had known, of course, that we would sharing in community life: chores, prayer, mass, etc.; however I had not prepared myself to feel like I so much belonged there. Rather than an outsider with a rare look on the inner workings of something, in two short weeks I felt I was a part of something.
I had been - and if I am honest, must say that I sometimes still am - nervous about being the newest member of an established community, a bit on the outside because of inexperience and language barriers. Being at orientation, however, helped me to understand that despite these differences of culture and personality, community is based upon something greater than simply shared quarters. It is based upon a common mission, a common love, and a common call.
Although walking into a house of seven of people who have already been living together does seem a bit intimidating at times, I realize that the love which compels us to be there also is that which makes community is possible. I have heard several times that community is both one of the most challenging and one of the best parts of the mission, and being at orientation gave me a small glimpse of that.