Since I have been in Italy for one month and now back in Denver for a week, I have noticed people asking the same question: "what was the hi-light or favorite experience in Congo?"
For me, the most positive experience in Congo was the opening of the library.
First, it was a major personal accomplishment to be a part of opening the first public library in Aru. I was in charge of this project from when I arrived, so I felt a great sense of achievement in seeing it finished after all the hard work that I had put into it. It was scary to be in charge of it and there were several moments when I thought that the sisters were crazy for putting me in charge. It was a huge challenge to build a library almost from scratch when I am not a librarian- I have used a library all my life and my mom is a librarian (which was a BIG help), but there is a big difference in being a library patron and being the sole person responsible for setting it up. But despite all these challenges, the library opened and people came to use it!
The most uplifting part of the library project was that so many people worked together to make it happen: from Tricia the first volunteer who started the idea, to Stefano, Clara and the local construction workers who actually built it, to my parish at home who donated generously and prayed fervently for the success of this project, to my mother who gave me so much advice, to Katie, Elena, and Sr. Joy who helped to paint, clean and set up, to Bolingo the local I trained as librarian, plus many, many others who helped in seeing this project to its opening as a library. Well, as they say at the Oscars, the orchestra has started playing, so I need to finish up, but my list of acknowledgements for the library could make its own book. This was not a project for one person over a short time, but it took many years and many people- volunteers, sisters, people in other countries and locals, to make it happen. It is truly a global community project where people from different sides of the world came together to achieve a truly amazing goal. The library could never have opened without such devoted help from so many different people- both far away and close to Aru.
I am so thankful to be a part of such an important opportunity for the people of Aru and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to serve in this way.