With the school year over and the ordination of now-Fr. Raymond complete, it's time to go home. This seemed like a fitting bookend. Raymond first came here after college and stayed for a year, which turned into ten, which has now become a vocation. It was not entirely a straight path, but it did not zig-zag very much either.
Monsignor Mike recently invited me to come back for the next school year and I am considering it. I like it here very much and the experience is rewarding. It is an incredible honor to have been asked. The priests here take this vocation seriously and do not trust it to just anyone. That they have asked me to return is humbling. There are few higher honors than being asked to do a job someone considers important; being "drafted" for it, so to speak. I had that honor and privilege in the Fall of 2005 when Fr. Jason asked me to consider being the Program Coordinator for the community center. This feels very much like that.
However, I do not know if I would do the role justice. Recall the aptitude test I took last year included teaching as a potential avenue for my skills. After having explored it a bit (quite by accident), I do not believe I am meant to be a teacher in the sense of lesson plans, tests, and differing grade levels. I look at some of the professional teachers in my life like my mother and sister who are passionate about teaching children. Whatever drives them; I do not have it. If I am meant to educate people, it will look different than this. Still, I will take some time to reflect on this.
That same aptitude test, however, concluded I would do well to explore work in an international setting, and this experience has validated it. While the image of what I do next is still fuzzy, being abroad has focused it a bit. Living immersed in a foreign culture has been very exciting and inspiring. I believe I did it well and certainly want it to continue. While I may have felt like a fish out of water at times, I never heard that inner guiding voice tell me I do not belong here. When I spoke with Monsignor Mike about returning next year, he commented on my ability to adapt here. He and "de faddahs" have been at this a long time and have seen numerous volunteers come and go. In his view, some people are cut out for the ex-pat life and some are not. Apparently, I am in the former camp.
Of course I have to weigh all of this against practical matters. There is a key element of being a volunteer: not being paid. Getting this far has stretched me financially, and continuing in this fashion could become quite unsustainable. Recall that I put some pieces in place for a potential job with the ManKind Project before leaving Chicago. It appears the funding for that idea can fall into place soon, so I must weigh the invitation to come back to Jamaica against advancing a position I have created for myself. Lots to think about.
And as much as I would like to spend that thinking time in a tropical island paradise, it is time to head home. The missionaries here take the summer to travel and visit family, so I would largely be here by myself, which is not an unattractive option. However, my own family is taking a trip to Hawaii and I fully intend to join them. In addition, one of the dogs used one of my sandals as a chew toy the other night. I will take that as a gentle sign from the Almighty that it is time to wrap it up.
With that, I am signing off for a while. As always, I am grateful to all of you who keep up with me in this space. And thank you as always for your messages letting me know that you do. Writing all of this down has been as impactful as the experience itself, but I feel I need to step away it all and clear my head. It is only when I take a few steps back from the middle of everything that I begin to see the bigger picture more clearly. I will be sure to let you know when I begin adding to this space again.
Until then, walk good.