Sharing: Summer 07 in New York

My first adaptation during my orientation at the Maryknoll Sisters is the language. Upon departing from Surabaya airport on Jul 25, 2007, I should talk in English again. I only talk in English for once a while upon finishing my live in the Philippines. I stayed in Kuala Lumpur for one night, watched “The Forbidden City I and II” movie and tried to sleep during the trip.
I saw a rainbow near Newark Airport. It reminded me to Fr. Mike Bassano, MM who said “God keeps His promise…” when we were waiting a rainbow in the Philippine Eagle Center Davao–Philippine. While queue in front of the immigration desk, I said to myself that getting the visa was out of my control. The officer answered “I do not understand” when I said I would do religious functionary. Finally I informed him that I would serve Roman Catholic Church. He gave me three years permit to stay (I94) even though the Surabaya Consulate General of the USA gave a year visa only. It was a miracle! My decision to become a Candidate of Maryknoll Missioner was not only depend on the acceptance from the Congregational Leadership Team but also the visa. By getting three years I94, I realized how God prepared everything for this journey.
I was surprised since we can use credit card for paying the trolley. I should go to X-ray for agriculture product but there was no further examination. Sr. Nila, Sr. Jean, Laura and Genie wait for me at arrival hall and we arrived at Maryknoll Sisters Center around 10.00 p.m. Sr. Nila prepared three pink balloons in my door and there was a pink bedsheet in my closet. I slept around 1.30 a.m. and woke up around 4.00 a.m. after around 48 hours in trip Surabaya – Kuala Lumpur – Stockholm - Newark. I slept around two hours in the afternoon.
Sr. Beverly guided Genie, Laura and me to go around Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll Society including the office of Maryknoll Magazine and Bethany of Maryknoll Lay Missioners. Sisters Center has three buildings (Rogers building where I stay in the 2nd floor; main building for main chapel, main dining room, computer room, residential care for elderly sisters, etc; and 56 wing for the offices, main laundry, etc), around 11 stairs (stair A-K), around 200 bedrooms in 2nd and 3rd floors of Rogers building excluding in main building, several chapels and coffee shops, and also the Maryknoll Mission Institute (an educational ministry, sponsored by the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation, which provides continuing education and renewal programs for missioners and others engaged in cross-cultural ministries in their local churches). It is a very big compound including cemetery for Mother Mary Joseph–foundress-and also the sisters. For the first few days, Genie and Laura usually accompanied me to go to dining room, computer room, etc. I started to remember the sister’s name but it is not easy since there are many sisters who were so welcome.
I was touched by our conversation with Sr. Barbara Hendriks in her room (I was smiled when I read her comment regarding her earings after her election as the first President in the 1970), opening song of silver jubilee Eucharist of Sr. Leonila and Sr. Yoo Soo Kim, vesper for Sr. Rose Chin, sharing of Mrs. Lily O Halloran about Maryknoll Sisters in Hong Kong. Four first days was in tears.
Gathering of Young Women and Men at Maryknoll was so informative especially the sharing from the missioners in China, Africa, Brazil and Taiwan and Mission Spirituality talk by Fr. Larry Lewis, MM. It was also so touched especially the Divine Mercy. Fr. Romane St. Vil, MM told about “going to the root” and “If you think you love your mother, how much more I (God) love your mother”. The purpose of the ‘Gathering’ was to introduce to those discerning a missionary vocation, what it means to be a Maryknoll Sister, Lay Missioner, Brother or Priest. It was also an opportunity to get to know the Centers of the Maryknoll Sisters, Lay Missioners, Brothers and Priests.
Sr. Beverly, Sr. Arlene, Laura, Genie and I went to New York City on Aug 8, 2007 by train around one hour and have a sightseeing trip by bus. We stopped at China Town to have lunch and visited Transfiguration parish. We ended our trip by visiting St. Patrick Cathedral.
I went to grotto on Aug 9, 2007 morning and then stayed at cloister till the next day afternoon as my quiet time before our welcome ceremony.
Our welcome ceremony was a combination of Indonesian and Philippine nuances. I wore our modern national cloth in pink and move slowly to the altar. We received the Chi Rho pendant, the book “Spiritual Heritage of Mother Mary Joseph” and Orientation Hand Book. We also signed the Teresian Register. It was a nice ceremony especially the homili of Fr. Dennis Moorman, MM. Our first reading was “The Calling of Jeremiah” (Jer 1: 4-10), Abby and Genie sang “Like Cedars They Shall Stand” as the responsorial psalm, the Gospel was taken from “Mary and Marta” (Luk 10: 38-42) and “You are mine” was the communion hymn. As Mother Mary Joseph wrote in 1948, “We soon learned that a missioner must be contemplative in action; that our hearts must be on fire with the love of God, (people and all creation)…Faithfulness to times of prayer and trying to be constantly mindful of God’s presence in our hearts, were the foundation of the missionary life we had chosen to follow, a life so busy that we often wondered, as we do today, how we could live at once a life of prayer and a life of extreme activity…”
Abby, Genie, Laura and I went to the Croton Dam near the Sisters Center the afternoon after the welcome ceremony.
I was touched with the offering procession of Sr. Sarah Male during her profession of the vows together with Sr. Anastasia Lee, and Sr. Julia. It was an Eucharist in Burmese, Korean, English, Tagalog, etc.
After all activities in Center including Mass at Chalet with Maryknoll Sisters Contemplative Community or 4th floor with the elderly sisters, level of immune blood test (and I still have another blood test-the fifth since my live in-for level of polio immune), diphtheria/tetanus immunization and social security matters, Laura, Genie and I went to Watch Hill-Rhode Island. I thought it is an island! It is around three hours by car from Sisters Center. It was a nice vacation with all the activities: walking in the beach of Atlantic Ocean, visiting Piquot museum, sharing housekeeping and stories, attending Mass at St. Clare, watching movie, etc.
Our first meeting with Orientation Community was on Aug 20, 2007 to discuss about our trip to Chicago, our schedule and also choosing our bedrooms in the Orientation House Chicago.
Abby, Genie and I attended Workshop on reflexology on Aug 21 – 22, 2007 with Fr. Joseph Eugster who is a missionary in Taiwan. I used to have reflexology regularly in Surabaya but I never have a chance to learn it. It was not easy because there are so many reflexology zone in our feet.
There are several activities before leaving to Chicago: a cocktail party for Sr. Dolores Mitch who will no longer with vocation ministry, a German measles immunization, a dinner with Philippine’s meal and interviewing Sr. Terry Alexander who was in El Salvador when Sr. Ita Ford, M.M; Sr. Maura Clarke, M.M; Sr. Dorothy Kazel, OSU; Jean Donovan were killed as martyrs.
Closing sermon of Fr. Bob Galbert, MM at main chapel on Aug 22, 2007 was an affirmation for me, that God’s will finally is our will because God put the desire in our heart.
That was all about my four weeks (how fast!) at Maryknoll Sisters Center. I flew to Chicago with Sr. Jean Maloney on Aug 24, 2007. Overall, I feel well and calm, even though I got headache and stiff neck once. I try to think positively and also minimize “I should…” It’s great that the phrase “Do not be afraid” was part of the reading several times as reminder to surrender to God, to be here and now, and also to walk step by step. I can have long conversation with the sisters, sometimes I can not catch the point so I should ask it. I learn to hear more attentively including for the different vocabulary with my British English e.g. cupboard for closet (I am quiet confuse when a sister said that the vacuum cleaner is in the closet since for me, closet refer to water closet), lamp for light. I also ask how to operate equipments e.g. vacuum cleaner, washing machine and dryer. The food at Sisters Center is served in cafeteria style so I can choose and pick the food. As a sister said “You don’t have to (eat/do), if you don’t want to (eat/do)…” There is no rice daily but it is a complete menu including fruit, yoghurt, juice, and salad. It is summer time but it is quiet cold, as my liquid virgin coconut oil turn to solid and it is still bright even it is 8.00 p.m. Sometimes, I wear sweater even I am inside the building. I have many names here: Anastasia Birgitta Lindawati for my passport, Anastasia Birgitta Lindawati Padmadewi, Oei in my visa, Anastasia B L Padmadewi Oei in my social security card (later on Anastasia B Lindawati for my Catholic Theological Union ID) but I want to be called Linda AB as previously and also as there are three “Anastasia” in Maryknoll (Lott, Lee, Lindawati). My Chinese name is Oei Li Li and my Indonesian name is Anastasia Birgitta Lindawati Padmadewi, Oei. My name is so complicated now.

Chicago, September 6, 2007

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