Sorry for the length between posts, it’s been quite the journey this past month, and I don’t think I’ve able to really gather it all together until now. I will work on doing a better job about keeping up with the posts, so don’t worry mom. I am writing them :). I also wanna give thanks to everyone who has donated to support me this year. Thanks to your loving kindness, my minimum goal of fundraising has been met! However I will continue to ask for your support, as all the money I am able to raise will go to support the YAV program and the Korea site. If you ever have any questions regarding fundraising, click here and it will direct you to the fundraising page on this blog. Okay, I’m gonna have to divide up the first go around into 3 separate posts. So take your time, kick back and enjoy.
We had YAV orientation at the Stony Point Camp and Conference Center (pictured above) in Stony Point, NY the last week of August. This was one of the most memorable weeks of my life for a bundle of reasons. It was the first time in my life where I wasn’t going to school in August. I was meeting like-minded young adults from across the country, all of us joined by something that told us to follow a different path for some time. And we spent the week learning about the rough realities in this broken world of ours, in a format that was more effective than I have ever experienced. So many of my anxieties about the world and my culture were finally articulated and explained in thoughtful discourse. The main takeaway I have with me is this:
I am constantly uncomfortable with the extreme forces of poverty, global economic displacement, racism, war, famine…essentially anything that is destructive to loving communities and the people in them. It kinda sucks. But recognizing this discomfort begins the path to action and healing. It does not mean I have to deprive myself of basic needs, but it does mean I can not live aloof of others’ pain. Remain Steadfast.
By being uncomfortable, I am learning to live aware of my race, my economic status and my privilege and how that may affect those around me. And I am happy.
I would like to share one thing from orientation specifically, and that was the day a group of us traveled into New York City to visit Broadway Presbyterian Church. Below is a picture of the organ within the church. I’d post some more but in my infinite forgetfulness I didn’t charge my camera battery before visit, so this is the best one. Here is also a link to their website. Broadway Presbyterian. This church runs a soup kitchen and homeless shelter in the basement, and has a chef who prepares the meals. People do not grab a tray and walk through a line. They sit down at a table, open a menu and are waited on. The people are treated with dignity, not as a social other. They are a part of the church community, not just being served by the community. If you are interested, I recommend checking out the website and helping out by prayer or donation if you are able. This church is beautiful in its inclusion and love, and I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon.
Now, we can move past orientation and travel to Korea. Our total travel plan from Newark to Daejeon, Korea was about 20 hours long on planes, (airport) trains, and automobiles. It was quite the journey, but we made it safe and sound without any bumps along the road. Exhaustion was a real force to be reckoned with that day, but we persevered. Our first Korean dinner was the perfect welcome to a long time traveling, and by the time we arrived at our house I was falling asleep on my suitcases. We had survived the trek across countries and oceans, and were ready to begin the next step in our year of service.
Straight off the plane, Korea YAVs from left to right: Emily, Linda, Me, Alexis, Alyson
Over the next 2 weeks we had our site orientation in Korea which I will discuss over the next couple of posts. There’s a lot I’ll have to leave out just because of the sheer amount of experiences we have had. If you want to know more, I’d love to discuss it with you directly, and you can always contact me through the wonders of the internet, be it email or social media. Contact me here with the information on this page if you like. I can’t guarantee an immediate response, but I’ll do my best to get to ya as soon as I can. The next post will focus on orientation here in Korea, new kinds of theology we are learning about, my house and living situation and a few more goodies I’ll throw in.
After orientation I was ready to begin a new chapter, and I felt renewed. Renewed in my faith and my ambition to live for others in a loving, positive way. In terms of new beginnings, this was a pretty big one. But it’s been an unforgettable experience. In case anyone is wondering (Mom, Dad, Dear Family and Friends), I am okay. Every day I work and live in community for causes and people dear to me. I miss all of you dearly, but I feel like I am in a place fertile for growth.