I’ve realized that I know things about my program that I should probably fill other people in on, and by “know,” I mean “have internalized so they shape how I view pretty much everything I learn and do here, but I also forgot to clue in the rest of the world about.” My bad.
What’s important to know is that we are the first community of JV’s to ever go to St. Francis, South Dakota. Whereas other communities are in houses that were inhabited by JV’s of several past years, we’re starting from scratch. In many ways, we are akin to the first experience of JVC in 1956, where 4 people went to Alaska to live with a Jesuit community and work with the Native peoples. Ok, so freakishly similar. In fact, when our Program Coordinator, Heather (who will be the main contact for JVC for us and for a few other houses) described our situations, she made it sound as if we were pioneers. It was hard not to catch some of her eager enthusiasm about the work we’d be doing.
Turns out, we are very much like pioneers, especially given our living sitiation. Take the house, for example. We’ve got running water, but our stove is broken and we have to go back to that double-wide to do laundry because our washer and dryer should be in by the end of the week (but then, they keep telling us all this was supposed to be done before we got here. Life of the pioneer, I guess). Oh, and a large number of people associated with the parish have keys to our house and we often hear workers banging away in our basement, which they are converting into a living room for us, as well as installing a second bathroom. Our first morning here, we realized that, oh, lots of people have keys to this house. Cozy. (As soon as they’re finished working though, we’ve been told they’re changing the locks).
During Orientation, we met with Heather. For all the other houses, she filled them in with details about where they would be living and what they would be doing and then gave them a binder filled with pertinent information compiled by JV’s who had lived in the house previously. Some of the other binders were lavishly decorated and stuffed with pictures of the house and the neighborhoods, plus information on where to find the best Happy Hours and restaurant deals or nice places to hang out. Our binder had a printout of the St. Francis website, and two google maps, one with towns where we would be working, plus one town where we might find one or two restaurants (and we still got lost on our first solo trip to the grocery store). Heather also had no idea what to tell us about our new house, because she had only seen the double-wide, which we believe had a giant flat-screen tv, pool table, live-in maid and DVD collection of epic proportions. So we’re looking forward to setting this house up best for next years JV’s, provided we (and by we, I mostly mean I) don’t screw up so royally the Jesuits never want to talk to JVC again, let alone host a community (are there any betting pools out there on this yet? Maybe there should be. Remember, I’m supposed to work with children. Yeah, be afraid).
As you can maybe tell from the links (quick aside to JANICE MELLO-click your mouse on any words that are a different color than black. To get back to this page, use the left pointing arrow near the top left of the screen), I find a lot of this to be hilarious. So do Mike, Moni and Neil. We’ve all accepted that we have a lot to figure out as we go, which is great for me because I usually just fly by the seat of my pants. Which means that here, it’s not my usual lack of preparation, but “taking it all in stride”, “not anticipating too much” and “going with the flow”. Phew. I think I’ve got them fooled.