Sharing: Fall 07 in Chicago

I always examine my transition period in a foreign country with three things: food, language and weather. Deo Gratias. God gives me graces to overcome them during my first months in Chicago.
Since all of my community members are rice eaters, we have rice for supper and dinner almost daily. Usually we have breakfast together at kitchen even though there are only four chairs. During our second Inter-Community Novitiate (ICN) workshop at Siena Center, Racine, I got a headache on the first night. It’s getting better by the next morning, then it’s worse by noon time, finally it’s getting better even though I didn’t finish my rice dinner yet. Topic for our second ICN was Enneagram by Sr. Celine Goessl, SCSC; twelve years ago, my number was six and now my number is nine. I believe it’s a fruit of my favourite phrase ”Don’t be afraid” and my Jesus prayer as my first thing in a day (with all the distractions and even back to sleep again).
There are a lot of required reading for my ”Sacramental II” by Fr. Edward Foley, OFMCap and ”The Art of Doing Theology” by Sr. Dianne Bergant, CSA and Fr. Robin Ryan, CP classes but I never got headache of it! Sometimes, I ask (simple) questions in class. I recorded all the talks that I attended.
I tried to look for room 8103 at Bernardin Building of University of Chicago Hospital for my hospital orientation as per my telephone conversation with the volunteer service administrator. After asking security and a doctor, a volunteer was willing to send me to the room that she attended the orientation because she does not know where is room 8103. And it’s room H103 instead of room 8103! I still make clarification between ”can” and ”can’t” by asking ”can or can not?”
When Fr. Roger Schroeder, SVD asked what’s the difficult part. I said weather since it’s uncontrollable. Food and language are controlablle factors. I do not loose weight (it means I have good meals) and if I can’t understand the language, I still can ask for clarification. I should really depend on God’s providence in weather. First few weeks were warm enough but later, it’s getting colder and colder. Sometimes, I felt like hold ice even though I wore gloves. I wear three till five layer of clothes and also gloves whenever going out. It’s warm inside the house since we turn on the heater. I can not drink my virgin coconut oil anymore because it is frozen. Our first snow (light) was on thanksgiving day and my first snow shoveling was on Dec 5, 2007. I like to walk in the snow. And the next day, I should walk for the first after snow to Catholic Theological Union (CTU). I wore sweater, jacket, gloves, scarf and boot. On the first half way to CTU, I started to talk to myself, that God know me more than I am, so God should help me if God want me to stay. On the second half of my way to CTU, I started to feel warm so I opened the zippers of my sweater and jacket. Later on, two Scalabrini seminarians passed by with closed thick jacket. After sharing the experience at home, I just realized that God answered my simple prayer.
I felt bad that morning, after walking 15 minutes from Church to University of Chicago Hospital and reading for one hour at hospital lobby while waiting my appointment just to hear that I could not be a prayer support for Eucharist Minister at hospital even though I have the hospital ID because it’s part of pastoral care and my bag was locked at the office for almost 30 minutes! I only need to wait visiting homebound schedule from our coordinator. I was not feel bad when the bad reaction of TB skin test happened even though I should visited hospital several times to cure the induration. My eyes were in tears when I left the hospital so I only could say ”God, I don’t understand”, ”God, I don’t understand”. After that, I felt relieve and I did not want to cry again. Even though I still do not understand what’s the meaning of my TB skin test which is not necessary but brought me to a recommendation (it’s not a mandatory) to have 9 months of INH treatment, I understand that God is with me.
When my new friend said that she felt like near Mother Mary if she near me, it reminded me that Mother Mary is with me so that my friend could feel the radiance of Her presence.
During our retreat at The Well, La Grange, I could not enter my room again at 2.00 a.m. since it’s still locked when I went to restroom and I didn’t bring the key. I decided to sleep at TV room using 2 towels as my blanket and went to Eucharist with short sleeves. I didn’t inform anybody including Sr. Jean who sat beside me during breakfast since we were in great silence retreat and I planned to look for the back up key from Sr. Marlene, CSJ after Eucharist. It’s happend again in the afternoon! We burst in laugh when we started to talk about it during our last supper. It reminded me how God take care of me by providing a pink blanket, bed cover, towel, light and garbage can in my room! I even found pink small towel at TV room so I could use it for washing my face before going to Eucharist. I also got pink bedcover during our first ICN workshop about Prayer at Siena Center, Racine. On the last night, I thought to what I should surrender my life: to medicine (INH) or to God who take care of me since the beginning? I decide not to have INH treatment since I have a BCG vaccination and no TB evidence in my lung but I know it’s not easy to argue with the doctor! I tried to minimize medicine including by not taking flu shot.
When I browse our Thanksgiving morning prayer prepared by Sr. Sue, I started to have tears so I kept quite during the prayer. I thought that I would say ”Thank you Lord for the graces in every moment in my life” as my personal thankgiving prayer in front of the tabernacle. After saying ”Thank you Lord” I started to cry and could not continue to speak. We have a Thanksgiving dinner with Sr. Jeanne, MM, Sr. Dora, MM and friends (including an Indonesian priest Fr. Andy Gunardi). We were busy since the night before. I got waist-ache so I took a nap. It’s around 22 persons in our diningroom so everybody could not move easily. I even could not eat a lot. We have spontaneous closing prayer in several languages.
We have four patients who usually attend Bibly Study at Bonaventure House but there were maximum two patients each time. One of them, who knows Bible more than I am, said ”thank you” several times when I asked about his ”12 Steps” workshop. After Bible Study, Andrzej SVD and I stayed at dining room to talk with whoever come.
I usually attend catholic charismatic prayer meetings after Sunday Mass. It’s a small group. I also help in distributing the brochure during our parish Ministry Festival.
Christmas party including exchange gift at Maryknoll Society was held in Dec 8, 2007. I am used to celebrate Christmas after Christmas eve.
I am not a good cook so I always cook simple meal e.g. stir and fry with various vegetables and meat/shrimp and ask Genie to taste it. Usually I cook fried rice for my lunch during ICN day at Techny Tower.
So many others experience during fall 07, including barbeque with all Maryknollers at Chicago, brown unleaven bread for Host during St. Lorenzo Ruis celebration with Philipino community, ice cream and soda during St. Theresa’s day, attending Call to Action National Conference: From Racisme to Reconcilition at Milwaukee, Maryknoll Days (sometimes I cried and also in other occasions e.g. watching movies), visiting Field Museum, Planetarium, Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier, workshops (Mission Theology by Fr. Anthony Gittins, CSSp, Pastoral Theological Reflection by Fr. Mark Schramm, SVD, Spiritual Direction by Sr. MaryLou, MM, Protecting God’s Children (Virtus Training) by Keiren M. O’Kelly, Financial by Sr. Imelda Bautista, MM, Prayer, The Self as an Instrument for Change by Sr. Norma Angel, MM and Small Christian Community by Fr. Joseph Healy, MM), public lectures (by Thomas Melville, George Mische, Sr. Angelyn Dries, OSF, Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ, etc), and housekeeping.
For all of that, I only can say ”Here I am Lord to do Your will” which make me feel peace amidst all the differences.

Ossining-New York, 24 December 2007

Linda AB, M.M.
Let’s make God’s love visible

1. Half of this sharing was prepared for Maryknoll Sisters Orientation Community
Winter/Fall 2007 Newsletter.
2. The doctor allowed me not to have INH treatment since I am over 35 years old and