Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Hey Friends, by the time you read this I will be on a jet plane, leaving the states. Here is the itenerary, in eastern standard time in case you are wondering:

August 22nd:
Depart South Bend on Delta at 8 AM arriving Cincinnati at 9:10 AM
Depart Cincinnati on Delta at 10:15 AM arrive in Miami 12:59 PM
Depart Miami on Avianca at 5:00 PM arrive in Bogota, Columbia at 7:30 PM
Depart Bogota on Avianca at 9:25 PM, arrive in Santiago, Chile at 4:15 AM on August 23rd

Spending a week in Chile, meeting other volunteers, getting an orinetation, and then, it is off to Cochabamba, Bolivia for language training. Here is that schedule...

Wednesday August 30th depart Santiago at 6:40 AM and arrive in La Paz at 10:30 AM (La Paz airport is on a mountain supposedly, over 12,000 feet above sea level)
Depart La Paz same day and arrive in Cochabamba (the flights are fluid, ya just get on one)

I will be in Bolivia until December 17th, when I will begin the return to Santiago!

Fun travels ahead! Hope to see some of you is ya care to make a visit to Chile in the next couple years. E-mail me, keep me up to date on what's going on in your lives, Lord knows I'll need and want to hear about it!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lesson Learned

Some thoughts I have while chillin at Notre Dame.

 I have been living in a seminary for three weeks. A seminary can feel a lot like a mortuary.
 When the heat index score is 110, and you live in a room with no AC, perspiration is more frequent than breathing.
 I am glad I am Jesuit educated. ND'scatch phraseis “God, Country, Notre Dame” Compared that to "men and women for others." LION PRIDE baby!
 A woman rules Chile!
 People in Indiana don’t drive as efficiently as people in LA
 Peanut Butter Crunch is really good after 10 PM
 Damn I am going to miss the game of baseball so much…

Things I know I need to learn in South America:
 Spanish! I am kinda screwed if that one doesn’t work out
 Where I will live
 Where I will work... yes, I know very little about my own life anymore
 How to better communicate with people when I can't see them face to face, day to day.

Things I don’t know I need to know (sounds like a Donald Rumsfeld quote):

"The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson. " Tom Bodett We'll leave the light on for ya! (read the hotlink to understand that)

Friday, August 18, 2006

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Hey Everyone,

I have been learning the life of a blogger and came across something really cool. There is a box in the top right corner of my page where you can enter your e-mail address and get an e-mail, from my account, pjfurlong@gmail.com any time I publish a new post!

I thought it might be cool for anyone who wants to keep up to date on the blog and not have to constantly check the page, now, my account e-mails you and says check out my new post and you can go from there!

So subscribe if you like, let me know what you think!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Final Pillar: Making service more than an experience

Perhaps you want to know specifics about my service, but sadly, I can give you nothing solid as I don't know those facts myself. I might live in Santiago, or in a rural area called Pocuro. Perhaps I will teach English, or I might bounce around five different jobs for each day of the week and honestly, at times struggle to uncover any meaning and worth in the work I do.

A great friend, Charles Bergman, gave me advice in a goodbye letter he wrote to me. Charles wrote fresh on his return from El Salvador where he studied and served for four months, He says this: " never forget that this is not merely "an experience" like an Alternative Spring Break trip is an experience. This is years of your life! So give up judging it by light bulb moments or monumental breakdowns. These will likely happen, but only in the midst of all the small frustrations and challenges of any daily life. Embrace these frustrations, even rejoice in inevitable boredom! Neither of us are likely to be martyrs, but we can be disciples of a sort. I've come to realize it is often more about small kindnesses than lofty ideals, interpersonal interactions than vague issues. Obviously, you're not naive enough to think injustice can be confronted without paying attention to the ideals and issues. But at some point it started to register with me- and I believe it may have for you as well- that we can only love people, not ideals or issues. Then we start to realize that it is their stories that are the puzzle pieces we have been trying to assemble for so long."

Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit and founder of Homeboy Industries takes the place of our sign off quote. Read his 2005 Commencement Speech. It really has become my mantra and can articulate much better my views upon "service" and "justice" and so much more. So sneak some time to read an incredible speech!
Have a wonderful week.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Making less in 2 years than you make in 2 weeks... Simple Living, Chile Edition

I make $60 a month. To some degree, whether I want to or not, simple living is going to be forced upon me. I remember the first day one of my best friends told me how much her new job brings in every two weeks, and having that frightening realization that she made more in two weeks then I will make in the next two years! And yet, it would be deceiving to look at my salary and think that encapsulates all there is to the radical theory of simple living.

My simple living, no matter how hard it might actually get on me personally, is, in the end, temporary. I live and work among people for two years, and then I come home. It's hard not to feel a bit guilty about it all.

I see the opportunity to struggle, but I also believe this might be my most beneficial aspect of the experience. Living simply means finding my pleasures in the simple things of life: a good book, a hand written letter, or a really beautiful thunderstorm that lights the sky up in ways I forgot to look at for so many years. It means making sacrifices like using less electricity, cold showers, and eating beans day in and day out even though that's my least favorite food, but doing it because it's what my community got at the market, it is affordable, and in the end, it's what my neighbor is also eating that night for dinner.

If I get this whole thing right, I think it will make my relationships with those at home and those I live amongst in Chile that much richer and real. For in the end, I will be coming to my relationships now with nothing to offer but myself and in turn, others will approach their relationship with me having nothing more than who they are to offer as a gift to our relationship. Simple living means understanding that while I have come to serve, I will also get served by the people in our society we so often feel have nothing to offer...

"And so Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness... recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That's a new definition of greatness... by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb to agree to serve... You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant." ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

PS- All is well here. I depart August 22nd and the adventure begins!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Remebering Adam and Jessica on this Day

Remember the lives of a friend, Adam Bacon, and his girlfriend, Jessica Hanson, both of whom were killed in a car accident a year ago today...

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again dear friends,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
Irish Blessing, Saying

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Dirty Word... Missionary

I get asked a lot about what the next two years holds, and when I explain what I am doing, the typical response is "oh, so like a missionary trip, right?" Let me make this clear once and for all... I AM IN NO WAY WHAT SO EVER ON A MISSION OR GOING OUT INTO SOUTH AMERICA TO CONVERT OR PROSELYTIZE ANYONE... got it?

So then, how does spirituality play into this adventure? Spiritual life tends to be seasonal for me where at times I do "desire the desire" as Ignatius talks about, and other times, I'm a washed up river basin with very little to offer, and very little within. And those from Arrupe know that if we try and throw J.C (Jesus) into the equation, forgetta about it, I'm gonna be lost.

But I remind myself that spirituality is more than just religion and other streotypes we are fed so much. For some, the traditional ways work, and that's good. For me, my relationship with God is found in my willingness to be in relation and kinship to others, particularly those who are most often forgotten in our society. It has and I hope will contine to be defined through my service for AND with others.

My spiritual life has always been chaotic and perhaps sometimes fluid and undefined. But in the end, through all the mud and the muck, it's been something to call uniquely my own. And so I bring myself: the struggles, questions, and passion for social teaching and liberation theology to this group of volunteers, and we interact as an "intentional community" in an attempt to find God in our own lives, and our own ways. And I won't always agree with their theology. They most certainly will not always agree with mine, but we will learn and grow. Ultimatley we'll be challenged to understand our own lives better through attempts to understand the lives of others.

So don't worry my friends, I WILL NOT be out trying to convert anyone to anything anytime soon, you know me, pluralism is great!

"I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief." Gerry Spence