The Friday before the mission week rolled around. During the day, nothing exciting too place. I caught up on a couple of e-mails, sent some postal mail. Really, there was nothing exciting to mention.
Around 5 p.m., Vanessa and Teeney, a student from Texas A&M who had previously served at St. Peter’s, arrived from The Woodlands. We made our way to the van rental business and picked up our brand new 2005 Chevy 15-passenger vans. These vans were so new that they still had the temporary plates on them. After dinner and a trip to J&J’s Towing, we sit down and go over in too brief of detail what was going to happen the next week.
Around 1 a.m., I went home. I packed until 2:30 a.m. and left to drive to DFW. I made good time and pulled into DFW’s remote parking just before 6 a.m. My flight takes off on time and I land in Phoenix along with Amelia and Greg. Two of the sisters, whom I never had any personal interaction with before, pick us up from PHX.
We pull into St. Peter’s Indian Mission. If you were to go to Mapquest or Google Maps or one of those websites and look up Bapchule,AZ, you would see exactly where we were at. For whatever reason, the mission school is where all the various online map sites believe Bapchule is exactly located.
The school was much like I remember it. They had added a blue tent/tarp type thing over the basketball court, thanks to a NIH grant. The church now had air conditioning suitable for a building of that size. All in all, the site was just like last year.
We prep the site somewhat; getting a feel for what we had access to, collecting keys, determined location of classrooms. Nothing too exciting but the type of stuff an advance group should handle.
At 4 p.m., I found myself back at PHX with a school bus to pick up the various students from the University of Notre Dame who were flying in. Almost everyone was already there. One person was bumped to a later flight and we had to wait on him. We leave the airport missing one person, completely unsure as to where she was. Later, we learn that she misbooked her flight for the wrong day. I can’t say too much about this- I did the same thing last year when flying to ND to visit Vanessa.
I’m horrible with icebreakers. I’m not a fan of them; I don’t enjoy them. They simply aren’t my cup of tea. That’s fine except when you’re in charge of 15 people, virtually none of them knowing anyone else, all about to start a week-long project that requires them to know each other. A good number of people seemed to have started to talk amongst them. After seeing this, I just let everyone go to their own devices.
Amelia demands that I take a nap. I had dozed off for a few minutes at a time on the plane but that is not nearly enough sleep after being awake all day, driving all night and starting to coordinate a mission. While I’m off sleeping too heavy to dream, Amelia has the troops sort through all of the various supplies that we inherited from the previous church’s leftovers.
That evening, I hosted a very informal, very quick and very unofficial Ethics workshop. This was one of the more confusing aspects of planning this experience. The Bishop of Austin said that everyone from his diocese had to confirm to Diocese of Austin protocols, i.e. a workshop and background check before working with minors. The Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, home to Notre Dame, said he had no preference. The Bishop of Phoenix wanted everyone to have some type of training with various key points taught without question. The Austin requirements completely fulfilled the Phoenix requirements. For everyone coming outside of Austin, there was no training we could have our staff go to in order to meet Phoenix requirements. After chatting with the Phoenix Diocesan offices, my quick training would be good enough. They also asked that Austin people would be matched up to ND people to whatever level was possible. We tried.
Still very tired, I forget now of what the rest of that first day consisted. The two vans had left that morning and were now in El Paso stopping overnight. Without any other immediate concerns, I fall asleep.
At an ungodly hour that I do not know, I hear a constant knocking on my door. It is one of the sisters. One of our staffers who I had thought would be arriving around noon was already there and no one knew where she should go. Honestly, I have no idea what I said or what happened. I think I may have suggested that they go take a nap. I don’t remember.
I receive a phone call- the vans were almost there. Moments later, Van Wilder and Van Halen pull up and make their new home St. Peter’s. Later that day, I pick up the last of the staff from the PHX airport. Through the air, on land, with detours, delayed flights and missed turns, the staff of Bapchule Bound 2005 had all arrived.