2,928 miles later

(from August 9, 2010)

greetings from portland!

my apologies for the lack of updates but as i sit outside of a portland starbucks using their free internet access, i am reflecting upon the last week of no internet and its been quite a departure from the normal, which goes without saying when i think about the fact that i’m volunteering for a year on the opposite side of the country, living with six strangers and a monthly stipend that i could normally make in just a few hours work.

and so, here i am. a new jersey girl, born and bred, sitting outside of a portland starbucks and starting a job i know very little about in just a day or so.  orientation was great, monday august 2nd was a long day after getting delayed in phoenix but i made it none the worse for wear.  met two of my housemates, sean and miles, at the airport and had a reunion with my friend sarah gatti from fairfield in the airport.  we travelled via school bus, stylish, from the airport to camp adams and the only word i can use to describe it all was surreal.. we drove through farmland almost the entire way and arrived at camp adams, our home for the week of orientation.

each day of orientation held one of the JVC Northwest values as its theme: spirituality, community, social justice, and simplicity.  we had a great number of presenters and time to spend with our communities, or housemates and it was amazing how quickly my housemates and i all meshed.  we had some visits from former JV’s and presentations on how to deal with in-house conflicts throughout the year, how to be mindful of the marginalized populations we will be working with and a great number of of other tidbits that are key to a successful and fulfilling JV year.  i was able to read at mass on monday morning, celebrated by father jack morris S.J. and one of the founders of JVC from back in the 1960s when JVC started in copper valley, alaska.

it was wonderful to finally meet the other 141 jesuit volunteers in the northwest region and discuss all of our journeys that got us to JVC Northwest.  as some of you know, it was a long period of waiting and a quick past couple of weeks when i got accepted into the program.  i will be working with my roommate miles at SOLV and we will be starting work on wednesday; we’re on the lookout for bikes to get us to the light rail system to get into work. miles was also accepted into the program in just the past few weeks, talk about last minute.

there was a great watering hole that a few brave souls swam in, people slept outside at night under a great sky of stars and went for early morning hikes. the weather is considerably different than the east coast here.. colder mornings with warmer weather coming in the late afternoon as the day heats up.

more to come on orientation tidbits when i have all of my notes and things i kept from the week.. its a blur right now.  we moved into our hillsboro house this past saturday, its the first time a JVC house has been in hillsboro since 2004.  it was literally like extreme house makeover when we walked in, we were screaming and yelling and running around into all of the rooms like it was our first time seeing a house.  we have a great little backyard, four bedrooms, a nice kitchen and some great living space.  a parishoner from the local parish brought us some chili for dinner, it was great to make a connection with someone in the area even if it was meat chili.  some of the guys in the house, most namely my roommate ted, are trying vegetarianism for the year and ted went so far as sticking to his new diet and skipping the meat chili and joining me in eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for our first dinner.

we divided up rooms and will switch mid-year.  as a sort of bonding experience, we all slept in a common area and capped off a great first day in our new home.  we started sunday off with a tour of hillsboro with a local named brian who works for intel.  we got to see where the post office, grocery, bank, etc. were and we also got to see where we will all be working.  miles and i will have to bike it to the MAX light rail station for the most part and hope for cooperative weather..

some of our support people in the area, fred and tina, invited us over for a BBQ yesterday and we were able to make it there with the help of our friend peggy who brought us dinner.  ted has his car and this will make life a lot easier for getting groceries and errands when we need it; a luxury for a year of volunteering!  the dinner was great and we were able to chat with some wonderful jesuits from the area who gave us some good insight and funny stories about living JV.

we are currently in portland for a bit today, we came in on the MAX, which takes about 40 minutes from our house.  we stopped at a great bookstore called powells, its huge and sells new and used books of every variety.  hoping to stop in there again soon!

more to come, emails always welcome.. love from the west coast!



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