Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Ok, so what are you really doin out there Furlong?

This is the first of a four part series breaking down what I expect from my life in Chile because I just realized that so many of you, and in the end, even I myself don’t really know what to expect out of the next 28 months of my life. So enjoy!

It is always so hard to explain what I am doing with my life to people. There is the first and most obvious reason in that people have a hard time putting their head around the idea that I would graduate college, in debt, and be going off to VOLUNTEER in a developing nation for two years. Alright, I can see where some people struggle understanding that. But beyond that, it’s a struggle to explain what I am doing, perhaps because often times I can not explain it to myself…

I was at the dentist today when the hygienist was asking me about my trip. “Well, first I go to Notre Dame for training, then they send me to Bolivia for three months so I can learn Spanish, and then, then I arrive in Chile and once I am there I will figure out whether I live in the city or the rural setting.”

And so, this is my attempt to answer your questions, and perhaps my own, as to what this whole volunteer life really means.

So the basics are easy enough. I am going with the Holy Cross Associates (HCA) to the country of Chile where I will serve as a volunteer until December of 2008. I do not yet know where I will live, what kind of work I will do, or even really how the money totally works out. I know very little and HCA does not seem to mind. Just like my Peace Corps application process, it has been stressed over and over that FLEXIBILITY is the greatest asset of a volunteer. Easier said than done, but that’s for another entry, another time.

In the end, we are to live by four guidelines, or four pillars: community, simple living, spirituality, and service. I don’t yet know what these mean, but I’ll do my best at this point to explain to you what I anticipate it all to equate to.

Sounds simple enough at first. There is a house, I live in it with most likely three other people. We come together, reflect together, eat together, and share if nothing else, a bond in that we are Americans fresh out of college who have made an active choice to spend two years of our lives living in solidarity with the people of Chile. But yet, I think community will extend to mean so much more… Being that guy that can be extraverted but in the end really has a strong introverted streak, I am nervous but excited about community living. I do not anticipate it will be easy, but I think it will cause immense growth.

And so I leave you with that first pillar, and as I will probably do so often over the next couple years, I leave with words of wisdom from those much wiser than I…

“Our first task in approaching other people, another culture, another religion, is to take off our shoes for the place we are approaching is holy. Else we may find ourselves treading on people’s dreams. More serious still, we may forget that God was here before our arrival.” –Max Warren

1 comment:

Joshua Johnson said...

That's the way it is. You don't have to explain yourself to anyone but God, who already knows your heart. People will always question you and attempt to undermine you anytime you go against the norm and the status quo. When they do that, take it as a reminder of who you are and as a reminder that God made you a leader and that you are moving upward on a difficult but extremely rewarding and fulfilling path. It is when people stop asking you "why?" that you should begin to question your role in this world. :) Of course it is inconceivable for people why you would not throw yourself into a selfish, capitalistic, and individualistic job in which you can easily walk over the little woman and the little man in order to augment your paycheck, but God knows and you know why you're not doing that--becuase you (unlike most Estadounidenses) care for your brothers and sisters. Thank you Patrick. We need more like you, and I am thankful we have one who is you. I see God in you Patrick. I want you to forever see Him in yourself, too. Much love, peace, and blessings. -- Joshua