• November 5, 2010

“Being part of something greater”:
Elizabeth’s testimony about her Orientation Program

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.

Elizabeth J .
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