The thing about blogging is that it seems that there is always either too little to write about or too much to write about, and both scenarios seem to result in not writing at all. At the current moment I am definitely experiencing the latter, but I’ve given up on trying to cover everything.
The day after we arrived in Delaware we left immediately for a Jesuit retreat house in Maryland. It was on the Potomac River and was absolutely beautiful! We spent five days there on retreat, which was a nice way to ease into the program and to spend time getting to know the volunteers from other sites. It was a good time for community building and learning how to best serve both in ministry and in community, and on the last day there was a really beautiful commissioning service during which we all received blessings to carry us through the year, as well as our Tao crosses, one of the favorite symbols of St. Francis.
But now we’re back in Delaware. We’ve been here for a full week now, and it’s finally starting to feel like home, especially after we made sure to devote a day to giving the house a solid cleaning.
We’re still in orientation phase, so we’ve been spending a lot of time visiting all of the different ministry options available to us before we choose which ones we each want to commit to. On Monday morning we visited the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution, the only women’s prison in the state of Delaware. It holds a host of women from those awaiting trial to those who have been sentenced for life, and therefore ranges from minimum to maximum security. Most of us are hoping to get involved in the education program there, and apparently they’re looking for a fitness program, so Sheila and I are hoping to start a Zumba class! I never imagined myself teaching Zumba in a prison, but I couldn’t be more excited about it.
Yesterday we spent the whole day at the beach with the migrant workers from Delaware Park. Delaware Park is the horse race track outside of Wilmington, and the workers who take care of the horses are mostly immigrants who live inside of the park. Because their food and housing is taken care of, their salaries are just enough for them to get by, but not enough for them to get out of the system. A surprising number of the workers are actually legal, but they travel around the country depending on where work is best at the time. Some of them have been in Delaware for years, and some of them never stay anywhere for longer than a few months. Most of them haven’t seen family back home in ages. It was great to spend time with them at the beach; they have so many stories to share and just want someone who is willing to listen. A lot of them will be in the ESL classes that we’ll be teaching at St. Paul’s, but honestly their English is much better than my Spanish, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to get a few lessons myself!
It’s still hard being so far away from home, but I can already feel myself starting to fall in love with this place and its people. I have a feeling it’s going to be a really great year.
On another note, I live with these folks, and I couldn’t be happier about it.