Hey Fam, Hey Friends!
Friday, October 03, 2008
Toward Africa: Needles and Nuns
Hey Fam, Hey Friends!
Just a little report, as I make some headway toward this next journey abroad.....
Today, I got my shots! Woohoo! Two of the four injections that I'll have to have, thank you very much, before traversing the diverse landscapes of Africa. (South Africa, to Tanzania to Zanzibar to Kenya to Uganda to Ghana. Really? We shall see...!?)
After hearing this line up of countries, Dr. Raje at Open Cities Health Clinic advised that I have a Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis), Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever and Typhoid vaccinations, along with Malaria meds. Thanks to Latitia, the lovely nurse I've developed a nice rapport with in the past couple years, I received two of my shots pretty pain free. (Though not without tears! The needles don't hurt, but I just wasn't expecting that we'd have to shoot into both of my upper arms.?! Thanks, mom for your text message of support!) ....
I have to make a small note here about Latitia, because I'm not sure how many other people really get to know or feel comfortable with their medical practitioners. Latitia is like a former student of mine. In reality, we discovered she used to date a former student of mine. She is young and sassy. She is sweet and clever, and though sometimes seemingly overworked, she is honest and kind with me. And in the last office visits I've paid to this clinic, we have found our way to this comfortable place of being prayerful in any medical treatment approach. Our conversations have taken us all over the place, from education to politics to faith to love, and ultimately, we have shared some kind of spiritually-calming experience.
Today, after learning that Latitia did not watch the Vice Presidential debates, because she was at church planning for her pastor's and grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary, we talked about this gift of her faith community, and the gift of marriage. I did my "Thank you, God" litany for these people and circumstances in her life, as she proceeded to prep my right arm for injection. Whew. I started up again then when she grabbed the needle.
"Thank you, God for nurses. For vaccinations. For clean needles. For clinics. For being able to travel abroad. For..."
And she jumped in, "Thank you, God, that Melissa has the money to travel and see the world!"
It was so freaking sweet. Okay. I just had to share that.
Next: I drove downtown to the Department of Public Health to get my Yellow Fever, Typhoid and Malaria meds. I remember this from the last go round, but I forgot that they only give out these shots during specific hours of the day. (Do other people have to go to the Department of Public Health when they travel abroad? This strikes me as funny, now. Why didn't my clinic have these vaccines? Is it an insurance thing? A public health issue?)
Anywho: Then I was onto the nuns in North Minneapolis. Mass and lunch with the Vis sisters and spiritual direction time with Sr. Mary Margaret. God bless me! Visiting were a brother from St. John's, a monk from Collegeville, MN, who said mass, and then Fr. Bill Donnelly from Villanova, PA. I love who shows up at this place! I was just at mass on Tuesday, and sharing a bit more of the unfolding details of my trip to Africa, when I asked Sr. Karen about her friend who lives someplace on the southern end of the African continent. She promised to look this info up for me, as she didn't quite recall where this priest was....Well, don't you know that this visiting Augustinian from Philadelphia, after learning of my ensuing Africa-travel- plans says, "Oh! You must look up Frank Doyle! He's a good, good friend of Karen and mine who lives outside Durban. Yes."
I mean how cool is that? This guy Bill is in town for less than 24 hours (after escorting a sick friend to the Mayo Clinic) and here he is: pointing me in the direction of a guy I was looking for earlier in the week, across an ocean? I love the convergence, or connecting information!
So: Fr. Frank Doyle. Augustinian outside of Durban, South Africa. I make a note of this. I say "thank you;" I move on.
Spiritual Direction with Mary Margaret is like the most sacred thing a being might have the privilege to do on this planet. An hour, 90 minutes, with a wise woman of God, who just wants to hold open the space for you, as you reflect on how you hear God, feel called by Love to be, serve, act, travel, ask questions!? It's a privilege! Pure privilege! I highly encourage everyone to get themselves into spiritual direction! It's simply an amazing, amazing gift!
Sr. Mary Margaret and I discussed this current space, this current plan to travel, and we prayed. And like those vaccinations I got earlier to ready me for travel, I felt just as prepared by this wise woman's council and spiritual medicine, as I did receiving the literal injections of medicine.
Final note: I BOUGHT MY TICKET! I leave November 10, flying into Johannesburg, I return December 21, flying out of Accra, Ghana.
Stay tuned. As the unfolding of events shall continue.
November 4: Election
November 8: I turn 40.
November 10: I depart.
In there, there are parties! As I make my way and lean into this call to love, be change, build relationships, learn and serve.