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Archive for August, 2008

>Thank God for a sense of humor.

When we first moved into Casa de Romero, we quickly realized the place had accumulated years of former JVs former treasures and our current junk. After deciding to keep certain things, such as the forty pound statue of St. Michael the Archangel (renamed Cletus) and getting rid of others (such as 10 out of the 16 decks of playing cards), we came upon the problem religious knickknacks. Goodwill really only wants so many plastic rosaries and pocket crosses and Catholic guilt forbids from ever throwing these away, so what is a house to do?

And then Brian came up with an ingeneous use for one of the two-inch brass crosses – hide it. Then, when a JV is to find the cross, he/she must yell (preferrably at the top of their lungs and with the intention of waking up sleeping housemates):

“I FOUND JESUS!”

So far I’ve found Jesus twice, once in the linen closet and once propped up on a picture frame. As it turns out, however, Jesus can be harder to find Spokane than in the Casa de Romero. I’ve seen him a few times, waiting in line for a meal at the House of Charity homeless shelter, struggling to go down for a nap at St. Anne’s Child center, spending another night away from home at St. Margaret’s Women’s Shelter. And I’ve seen him in my housemates. Leaving loved ones behind in Massachusettes, Illinois, Idaho to build a new kingdom. I’ve seen him in the face of those who need help. I’ve seen him in the face of those who have little to give but their time, their presence, and their hearts. Day by day, we’re finding Jesus and we’re losing our hearts.

Something else I lost, as some of you might have heard:

my lunch. And dinner. And breakfast.

After battling a “tummy ache” (my vocabularly is shrinking the more I work with the chillins) all weekend, my stomach decided it wanted fight back, and to win on Sunday night. And thus after a night camped out on the bathroom floor, my roommate took me to the ER to get some fluids in me. Apparently the stomach flu is making its way around the baby room at St. Anne’s, where I chose to spend my Friday afternoon. All is good, however the doc banned me from work until Thursday. My housemates were great and quite helpful.

They also apparently realized its not a good idea to wake one another up with “Jackie’s in the hospital” and maybe “By the way, Jackie got sick last night so she went to get an IV at the hospital” would be a little less dramatic.

Another culture shock: Ginger ale is not popular on the west coast.

Oh and contact information for those who are curious:

1010 E Mission Ave
Spokane, WA 99202

(and Meredith – I am still knitting! I just taught one of my housemates, too!)

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>Babies galore!

>So apparently the JVC isn’t just about having fun, traveling the country and meeting new people. Work began on Wednesday. I am working at St. Anne’s Family and Child Center as an “operations specialist.” (If anyone knows what that is, feel free to tell me). St. Anne’s is a daycare/preschool for kids from 4 weeks old to 6 years old. They accept a high number of low income children, children who have special needs, and several who have been kicked out of other preschools. The program is young so its still growing, and thus has a much higher number of high income families than low income. It can be hard to see the social justice in it sometimes, but I think it’ll be an interesting place to work. One of the reasons that it isn’t just a day care for low-income families is that Catholic Charities Spokane wants to work to a classless society, to expose children and families of different economic backgrounds to each other, and to help erase the stigma of poverty.

 I’ll be in training for the next few weeks, which basically entails going around to each classroom and spending a day in them with the teachers and kids. The past two days I’ve been in the infant rooms. Cute, darling, yes, but truthfully, kids aren’t that much fun until they can walk. Or talk. Or do something besides projectile vomit on you. After we’ve gotten settled in at St. Anne’s, Kelly and I can decide on a project that we want to work on. Also we are going to ‘adopt’ a family and work specifically with them. We might also have the chance to work as one on ones with kids who need more attention in the classroom, which is something I’d be interested in doing. 
In other news there is: 
The Full Moon Fiasco. 
The Full Moon Fiasco is a biking event run by the FBC of Spokane. Every full moon, everyone who is anyone hops on a bike and does a bar tour of Spokane. The riding was great, the bars were nothing compared to the Delis, and I felt like I was at Ragbrai again! It was funny to hear everyone talk about how many people there were. There were probably about 50, which is quite large for a night bike ride, quite small for an Iowan adventure. (And yes mom, we all wore helmets and road on well-lit streets). One of the strengths I’ve heard of Spokane that I’ve heard over and over again is the community. I think its true. I can’t wait till I can run again (ankle injury blah) and can join the Flying Irish Running Club. But more on that when that actually happens.
Sunday some of us went to St. Ann’s Church instead of the one at Gonzaga. Gonzaga’s church is beautiful, but I think I might become a regular at St. Ann’s. I want to go to a church with immigrants, with the homeless, with middle class people, with the L’arche community, where a nun gives a reflection after the homily. It seems like my kind of place.
It’s about 96 in Spokane. Its actually warmer than in Williamsburg. Crazy!

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>Washington to Washington!

>I left, on a jet plane. I’m not quite sure when I’ll be back again.

The grand northwestern adventure officially commenced bright and early on August 4th. Actually, it was well before “bright,” the sun didn’t rise until about two hours after I had been at the airport. But after a relatively hassle free journey I arrived, quite sleep deprive, quite jet lagged and quite ready to be in:

Oregon.

All of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps had orientation at Camp Adams, in Molalla, Oregon (about 45 minutes outside of Portland). The area was gorgeous. The forest was so dense with pine trees that you could smell them as you walked around camp. We didn’t get any famous Portland rain, but the mornings and evenings were quite misty and cool. The late afternoons were sunny and warm; however, for me at least, the cool was a welcome respite from Williamsburg summers. The cabins were adequate, but the best night’s sleep was in the meadow. The Spokane house decided to camp out under the stars and watch the meteor shower. (Which hits its peak August 11-13th so go out and watch it!)

Orientation focused on the four main values of the JVC: community, spirituality, simplicity, and social justice. We heard many speakers, did many group activities, etc. It felt a lot like summer camp at times. But on the bright side, we ate locally grown blueberries every day! Sustainable, yet delicious. Mmmm. In addition to catching up with Caitlyn, a JV in Portland whom I know before, I saw Laura, a friend from William and Mary. Neither of us had realized the other was doing JVC, but now we’ll both be in Washington. She is in Tacoma, and I (in case you didn’t already know) am in Spokane. Orientation ended with a missioning liturgy. We had a beautiful mass, and were given Jerusalem crosses, and were sent out in to the world.

The next monring the final leg of the journey began. The Spokane community took a variety of ways to get there. Two by bus, and the rest of us carpooled. The drive from Portland to Spokane was fascinating. As we were leaving the lush Oregon coast, we stopped at the Multnomah Falls and went on a mini-hike. Next we drove through The Dalles, where grass became more sparse and the trees fewer and fewer between.

Then we hit the desert.

Yes, the desert. I wasn’t even sure if I believed that there really was a gigantic desert in the Northwest, but let me tell you, there is. It was yellow grass, dust swirls, and tiny shrubs for hours and hours. Until we suddenly hit the oasis – Spokane.

We arrived at the Spokane house, Casa de Romero, to one of our support people cooking us dinner. The house, built in 1904, is darling. Its greeen and yellow on the outside (go tribe!) and the inside is full of pictures of former JVs, candles, quotes painted on the walls, plenty of bedrooms, and sadly – one shower. For 8 of us. Its definitely a year to get cozy. Spokane itself (the little I’ve seen) is a nice city. The Spokane River runs through the middle of the city, and the Spokane Falls are absolutely gorgeous. They seem to just spill down haphazardly along the side of the city.

The past few days have just been spen settling. The former JVs left us plenty of food, which is great since our first paycheck doesn’t come in until the 15th! Work starts tomorrow, so look forward to hearing about the chillins in a few days!

Jackie

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