Hello friends! On Monday I returned from a week long YAV orientation in beautiful Stony Point, New York. It was a powerful and energizing experience full of worship, singing,laughter, and deep discussion. Being surrounded by 60 something other young adults all with the same drive to live in an intentional faith community while doing service both nationally and internationally was an incredible experience. We had very enlightening discussions on race and power in mission, self-care, culture shock, and globalization.
One cool thing we did was that we got to be commissioned at different congregations in the presbytery up there in New York. Two of my housemates Evan, Lauren and I all went to First Presbyterian Church in Yorktown. We each got preach our story of how we felt called to mission. Then they all put their hands on us and prayed for our coming year and made a promise to support and pray for us. It was great to have an entire congregation that I had just met be so welcoming and supportive of us and what we are about to do.
There was also a seminary fair with all the different representatives from Presbyterian seminaries around the country. Definitely something to think about!
On the second day we took a whole afternoon on self-care. Ellie, the girl doing the workshop, mentioned that you have to have a self to give. This statement struck a chord within me because Ive struggled with the idea that part of the reason I'm doing this YAV year is selfish, internal motivation. However, after the self-care workshop, I decided it's not selfish at all to want something out of this experience besides service because that is what it is for. I don't want to come in as someone with the upper hand willing to help people because I think they desperately need it. I prefer the idea we discussed of Mission being Partnership. Not just one individual overpowering another because they need them to but serving one another in christ with the common goal of living out God's love.
I felt God's presence throughout orientation. I felt him in the songs we sang, in the quiet meditative moments, in the provocative discussions about faith in a broken world, and in the laughter and dancing among new people. The past few weeks of this experience have made me realize how intentional I want my spirituality to be. I no longer want God to be something that is selective or compartmental or even going through the motions. I want God to fill all aspects of my life, and I want it to be an offering I hand up to him at the end of each day.
This week in New Orleans we've been having more orientation type stuff. Today we did a fun scavenger hung around the city which involved various things like gettting our picture with an alligator, a saxophone player, a person drinking a hand grenade, an NOPD officer, and mardi gras beads hanging in trees. We also discussed goals for the year and what an intentional community and what simple living really means. I am learning simple living is not just being frugal . It means to live your life with less stress, with less unhealthy habits. To think about living a life focused on God despite all of the distractions our society throws at us. To appreciate what you have instead of constantly searching for more "stuff" to clutter your world. To replace the phrase "I need" with "I want" because many of us have more than enough. To realize what is really unhealthy and what is really healthy.
I am really liking this word "intentional." I feel like a lot of times we go through life and let it just happen to us and we don't realize what we're doing and how that affects others in the bigger picture. By being intentional with what I do and the way I do it I can turn my whole life around and in turn affect others hopefully in a good way. It's hard to think that one person can change the world in one year or even their lifetime. But I think awareness and evaluation of how one's own life is being directed is a good place to start.
Last night we went to see the Rebirth Brass Band at The Maple Leaf in Uptown. It was a cathartic, loud, joyful experience. I can't wait for more live music adventures in the city. These guys were so talented and really embodied the hope and passion this city offers. Tomorrow I will visit Faith Presbyterian for the first time and hopefully begin talking to them about what I will be doing for their church in the next year. I am nervous and excited but feel very ready. I have gained a lot of new insight and knowledge over the past few weeks, so I am still processing it all. After it all gets shifted inside my brain I will share more of my thoughts with all of you, my dear followers! But for right now things are going pretty well. I've started getting up early and running with some of my my housemates in City Park which is nice. I'm a a little overwhelmed with this new phase in life, but know I am in the right place and am growing in leaps and bounds. Talk to you wonderful people again soon and feel free to comment!
"If you have come to help you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together"
A few pictures of my adventures so far! Enjoy!
|My housemates and I on the wall in the Ninth Ward|
|Live Music on Bourbon Street!|
|Some other YAVers on the Hudson River in New York!|
|Stony Point Presbyterian Church|
|YAV Orientation at Stony Point Retreat Center|
|Emma, my rommie, and I at The Maple Leaf in Uptown NO.|
|Rebirth Brass Band at The Maple Leaf! AMAZING!!|