Archive for June, 2010


>I hesitate posting this because I don’t want anyone to worry about me, for one. Also, if there are any potential JVs reading this out there, I don’t want them to be scared! One of our staff at the Poverello was stabbed on Monday. Please read this article.

I am posting it because our staffer, the rest of the staff, and our clients could use your prayers right now. It’s an incredibly rare incident, and he was very lucky. But its definitely shaken us all up.

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Here are some pictures from our trip to Hays. Hays is in Eastern Montana which is in the plains, but there are the “Little Rockies” right beside it and a small (but neat!) canyon. It was incredibly windy there, which is why we are all looking pained in the picture in front of the church. The last one is of Bree at a ranch on the plains. She has a client that thought her name was “Breeze” instead of Bree, so we had to get a picture! All photos to the credit of Jen C.

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The other day, when it was my turn to cook, I made the (almost) quintessential JV meal, if I do say so myself. On the menu was:

* Marinated elk steak (gifted from an elderly couple who has befriended the JVs for years)
* Carrots (from the farmer’s market)
* Biscuits (made from scratch by yours truly)
* Rice sides (One of those put in a pot and ready in 10 minutes, everything included)
So gifted, local, homemade, and cheap. The only thing that might have made it more JV is if we had also included something thrifted, ie from the food bank or donated to the Pov or YWCA.
In another “quintessential” Montana experience, I saw my first bitterroot flower, the state flower of Montana, yesterday. The unfortunate thing about having Mondays and Tuesdays off is that it leaves me with a lot of time alone. So on Tuesday, when the sun had finally came out and blessed us with some warmth, I biked up to Waterworks Hill. Waterworks Hill is also known as the “Peace Sign” hill. It got its name from a peace sign a few people had placed on the hill years and years ago. Turns out, not quite legal to place a sign on public land without permission, and it was removed. A peace sign out of rocks remains on the hill and is visible from downtown Missoula.
I hadn’t done this hike yet as I had assumed it was just a trek up a barren hill, and therefore boring. I was wrong. The wildflowers were gorgeous. Sunflowers and tiny yellow flowers, bluebells and and a white flower that reminded me of the Queen Anne’s Lace we see back east. And of course, bitterroots. In my opinion, they are quite deserving of the title of state flower. It was like an exclusively pink Easter egg hunt, spotting one behind a rock, one under another flower, one just off the path.
The views were some of the best in Missoula. Not only could you see the whole valley, but the Rattlesnake Valley as well. I hiked back down through Cherry Gulch, which did not offer the same views, but was very peaceful, with all that grass rustling in the wind and what not.
Ah, Montana.

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It’s just a few days from the solstice. The pinnacle of the year, the day the most sunshine will bathe this northern corner of our country. Right now we are getting almost 16 hours of sun, compared to the just under 16 hours of dark we will get 6 months from now. And in just under a month, I am reaching the end of my tenure as a Jesuit Volunteer.

It’s a scary venture to no longer be in JVC. Being a “JV” has defined me for the last two years. There are moments when I am excited to leave. I can’t wait to have control over my own checkbook, to just go grocery shopping when we’re out of food and not to need to have a community meeting first. I’m excited to have a paycheck (ha! Just kidding, that’s not gonna happen). I’m excited to not have to wear clothes that I don’t care if they are spit up on, accidentally bleached while cleaning, or somehow otherwise ruined.
It’s harder to define what I am sad about leaving. (Before you say goodness, she must’ve hated JVC, hear me out).
First, their are the trappings of JVC. Retreats, spirituality and community nights, area visits, meetings with support people. My retreats and area visits have already finished, and while I am sure one day I will miss them, they so recently finished, I don’t yet. In my Spokane community, we placed a much greater emphasis on community and spirituality nights than we have in Missoula. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it has been different. I defined much of my JV experience last year through those nights, and so they are already a part of JVC from which I have transitioned. My lifestyle is considerably less focused on simplicity this year than last, which is something I have mourned.
There are other “trappings” of JVC, the job, the location. These I won’t miss, since they won’t drastically change. I left for JVC on an adventure to see the wild west, but I will remain here. I wanted to explore somewhere exotic, like Alaska, see all that was new and different, and then return home. Plans change, and the way you see a place once you realize you will be staying changes too. I have been slower to discover Missoula this year. It’s also a little less exciting to experience sub zero winters when you realize it’s not the only time you will have to endure it. I haven’t bought any souvenirs or a t-shirt that says “Montana” because, well, that’d be weird to wear here. But Missoula feels much more like a home to me than Spokane did.
Then, of course, there is the job. I will miss my job, with all of its challenges, and with all the understanding it’s brought me. I will miss seeing my clients daily and recognizing the faces of people who are homeless all around Missoula. But I am not leaving completely. I will either work part time or be volunteering at the Pov in years to come.
Then there is the part of JVC other than the “trappings.” The values. And these I won’t miss, because I won’t be leaving them behind. I will still value community, simplicity, spirituality, and social justice.
So as the year slips back down to the long winter, I slip closer and closer to the end of my two years. But I guess there isn’t much to “miss” as I leave JVC. (my housemates of course! but even one of my housemates is staying, so that’s one less thing to miss!) My life will be drastically different leaving community and entering marriage, but will be quite similar too. Of course, the major constant will be that this year, last year, and next year, I will try to be loving tenderly, acting justly, and walking humbly with my God. Micah 4:6

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>Today, a group of bicyclists from Cycling for Change came by the Poverello. It is a group of about 15 cyclists led by a Jesuit priest, Fr. Ruhl, who are biking across the country to raise awareness about poverty in the United States. The ride, which covers 5000 miles in 100 days, is an initiative of Catholic Charities of Kansas City.

Two members of the group were former Jesuit Volunteers. It was great to talk to them and hear about their ride thus far. Check out their website; it’s a pretty awesome project.

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>Solidarity, baby.

>You arrive at the front door soaking wet, I arrive soaking wet. You arrive cold, I arrive cold, fingertips red and burning.

Granted, I am only wet and cold from biking to work and not from sleeping outside, but that’s solidarity for you.
At least that’s what I told myself when I arrived to work sopping wet. It poured this morning as I was biking to work. It drizzled before I left, drizzled after, but poured while I was biking.
Ah, to be a JV.
At least the shelter has free clothes so I went and snagged myself a high quality pair of mom jeans circa 1985. The waist comes roughly up to my arm pits and the legs end somewhere right above my shoes. But at least they are dry.

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>Retreat, round 8

>Including orientation, I just finished my 8th JVC retreat of my time as a Jesuit Volunteer. At first, just getting back from vacation, I thought retreat would be a little wasted on me since I had just had rested up. But the 3 days I worked that week proved to be plenty enough to send me running for the hills. It rained all week so we were quite busy, we had two cases of domestic violence between clients, and another death (which I mentioned earlier). And a fight involving knives. So I was definitely ready to retreat.

We headed to a town near Big Sky, MT which is close to West Yellowstone. It was wonderful to see all of the volunteers from Montana, Eastern Washington, and Idaho, about 40 in all. This year I have gotten much closer to the volunteers from other communities than I did last year, which has been a blessing. It helps me to remember that this is bigger than just my community, just my job. We watched a short video based on the bestseller, My Life with the Saints, which also reminded me this is bigger than JVC.
The most influential part of the weekend, for me, was reading Thomas Merton’s Letter to a Young Activist. We just received a copy at the end of the weekend, but I think it is an incredibly powerful letter.
The weekend focused on spirituality and created a lot of time for reflection. Two of the communities, Omak and Hays, have finished their JVC term since they work in schools. It was a little difficult to pair the closure they were going through with trying to renew the energy of those who still have a month or two left.
In addition to the Ignatian Spirituality, there were also campfires, s’mores, and many games of Mafia. I still can’t believe how many times the Mafia won…

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