Friday, August 3, 2012

Elaine on a Train

The journey finally begins!

My parents drove me to 30th St. Station in Philadelphia to board the train to Cincinnati yesterday morning, and I’ve spent the past 20 hours passing through the eastern countryside next to a woman named Elaine.
I boarded the train hoping to find a double seat unoccupied, but soon accepted the fact that I would have a seatmate the majority of my journey. Elaine seemed like a good choice; an older lady, not too spread out in the seat and smiling. Soon, we introduced ourselves and started friendly chatter that turned into hours of discussion and dinner in the meal car together. Elaine was telling me about her brother who had recently passed away. She was her way back to Indiana after meeting with family in New Jersey to sprinkle his ashes in the Atlantic Ocean. He had been in the Navy on a submarine and one of his final wishes was to be put at peace at sea. It was amazing to hear her talk about him and the stories he shared with her family about his time in the military, and I was glad that she was able to carry out his last wishes with her remaining family.

When we were talking about my journey, she was really interested that I was going to teach on an Indian Reservation for a year. Elaine said she remembered growing up in a time where it was acceptable for different cultures (ie: races) to mix. The fact that Indian children were not allowed to attend white schools is a sad fact of our American culture, and part of the reason I am excited to go to Arizona and work with the mission and schools down there is because I want to know more about the Navajo culture and because I don’t understand why we could have been so historically atrocious to a group of people that have offered so much to Americana.

After a delay that summed up about four hours, the tired train chugged into Cincinnati at FOUR in the morning. Yes, four in the morning. I have since dubbed my friend Dennis my Knight in Shining Pick Up Truck for diligently keeping his word to pick me up despite such a delay. I planned my trip a few days ahead of what I needed for orientation in order to spend time with friends in Kentucky before I dedicated my year to service. It was good to spend time with friends, but it was also nice because I was an hour away from the retreat center instead of twenty, and there was a significant drop in how anxious I was to arrive at orientation. I can’t thank my friends enough for giving me a chance to relax and get adjusted before I make significant changes in my life. I am so excited to go through orientation and move to Arizona, but I am also terribly anxious about what will be happening in the next few weeks. I pray that everything will go smoothly, and that I will have a good year, and I need to keep an open mind and an open heart about where this journey will take me. 

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