My friend Christy Tobin wrote me. Christy was a Vincentian Lay Missionary who served as one of the first missionaries from the USA in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. I had the privilege of working with Sr. Mary Beth Kubera, D.C. as this special program was begun in the middle of the first decade of this millennium.
11 years. I couldn’t believe. I got out an old album of Ethiopia: the year with Suz, Mark, Sarah, Jenn and Matt in Bahir Dar.
11 years? I googled the release date that the last Harry Potter came out, to double check myself. (I have such vivid memories of reading The Deathly Hallows all night long, after coming home, while getting readjusted to our time zone).
I’m no longer a young, idealistic volunteer, ready for a summer adventure teaching in Africa. I have three little kids. I drive a blue mini-van. That’s not young. (Hopefully, I’m still idealistic). There’s no hope in sight that the hiking pack that took me back and forth to Bahir Dar three summers is getting used anytime soon.
As all those memories flooded back from the old album, I thought of you! Many of you I’ve traveled with, taught with, and lived in community with, but not stayed in great contact with . . . please know you’ve been in my thoughts these past weeks– and I’d love to hear how life is treating you, if you get a minute. And, even if we don’t know each other, I can almost guarantee we have some common acquaintances on another continent (or a common VLM friend somewhere).
Two questions have been on my mind, as I read the VLM’s reflections:
What can I (still) receive?
How am I still blessed by my three summers in Africa? Sometimes it seems like such a long-ago time, but I desperately want it to still have meaning in my life. How can I not forget the life lessons that I was taught about simplicity, joy, and service? How can I live out the bravery, tenacity, and compassion of the people who inspired me?
What can I (still) give?
I realized I’m a lapsed donor, not because I couldn’t contribute or I didn’t want to give: I just never found a moment to mail a check or enter a credit card number.
I want to continue to share the stories of Ethiopia more: with friends/family, with my own children, with the students I teach.
And I also don’t want to let as much time pass, without donating to the Daughters of Charity’s work in Africa.
Will you join me in the Kenyan Summer Challenge? Summer days are slipping away, and this fundraising effort is about halfway there. Even if you can’t give, perhaps you’d consider sharing this information and your experiences with someone who could.
Hope to hear from you soon, Love, Christy
For the challenge information to share with friends, family, and others, please use: