First, my life has been pretty busy. In the first two weeks that I was a part of this L'Arche community I went to our annual "Faith and Sharing" retreat which is a two night retreat up at a convent in Leavenworth, Kansas. Then, only a few short days after that, our entire community went on a road trip to Memphis for our L'Arche Central Region Gathering. There we got together with our fellow L'Arche communities from Mobile, Chicago, Jacksonville, Iowa, and some forming communities in St Louis and Atlanta. That was quite the experience. It was a lot of fun, and I met some amazing people, and I got to tour Graceland (although my little headphones with the automated tour guide stopped working part way through. I found out later that one of our core members was repeating a lot of what was being said out loud. Had I known this I would have followed him around so I could have gotten some more insight into what I was seeing!), and we had a dance and a talent show! It was a great experience, but at that stage in the game, I have to say it was a little overwhelming.
I've also been trying to figure out where I'm going and how to find places without getting lost. One of the responsibilities we have in my house is transporting a group of 4 core members to and from their jobs at a sheltered workshop. It involves leaving from our house with one core member, driving to our two other houses to pick up three other core members, and then driving them to work. Then we have to accompany them inside the workshop and make sure that they get to where they need to go and, if they need to be, are checked in. I really enjoy doing this. It's fun, and there are now other people that work at this workshop that I enjoy seeing when I'm there. But my first few days, when I was merely a ride along while another assistant drove the van, I wondered how I would ever figure out where to turn and which direction to go. Several hours of my freetime were spent driving and trying to figure out the right route, so that when it came to be my turn to drop off or pick up the core members, that I wouldn't get lost. I thought I was pretty good, but the first time I picked them up I took a wrong turn onto one of the highways. Despite the protests of one of the core members who told me I was going the wrong way, I was pretty certain that I had made the right choice. It only took me going past one exit to realize that I had, indeed, made the wrong turn. So, apologizing to the core member, I turned the van around and made it home. I have gotten to the point where I have figured the route out, now, and have driven it many times successfully. But there are still places that I need to drive various core members to for various activities, and I often don't know where I'm going. So I rely heavily on google maps. So far I'm doing pretty well.
I'm having a great time getting to know the people, too. I'd like to think that I'm off to a good start with building some great relationships with the core members. I enjoy being around them and they seem to enjoy my goofy disposition. I enjoy all of the other assistants and have a lot of fun being around them. I also like the community leader and the community coordinator, who are my two bosses. They are fun and the community coordinator just recently took me out for coffee. So he can't be all bad.
It definitely is a change of pace from what I've been used to. In my previous life, I was constantly planning, organizing events and classes, planning Confirmation, meeting with committees to plan activities and events and organize Sunday School. Every time I'd hear a siren I'd wonder if I was going to get a call to the hospital or funeral home.
But here, it's much more laidback. My main responsibilities most days are making sure the core members have the things that they need each day. And then a lot of what happens is extra stuff. Like a walk through the neighborhood, or a trip to the bowling alley, or a cookout. It's building relationships and getting to know people and spending time together. It's playing Uno, or celebrating that someone kicked the soccer ball. It's laughing and singing and dancing and telling stories.
So I'm sorry that I haven't kept this blog as up to date as you or I might have hoped. But life is definitely good. There are amazing things happening. And I promise that I will try to be better at sharing them with all of you!!