One highlight of this past week is that I am starting to be an after-school tutor for underprivileged children twice a week with the STAIR program. The kids are all in second grade and absolutely adorable. We basically help them with their writing and reading comprehension skills. These kids do me a much greater service than I do them. Kids have such wild imaginations, and I love watching and listening to their profound insight into the world around them. I also am happy to be a positive influence in their weekly lives. It is definitely a treasured component of my weekly routine.
This past week I got the pleasure of meeting and hearing from Joel Tendero. He is an international peacemaker from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. His speech to the church was quite moving. It saddens me just how much violence and corruption is occurring in their government. It is also disheartening to hear that 15 million people in his country are living on just one dollar a day! These kinds of statistics really put things into perspective for me and allow me to step outside of my comfortable, middle class upbringing. The minimum wage in the U.S is around 7 dollars per HOUR. These people are barely surviving in a world where money goes through a clogged drain and becomes stuck in a small handful of people's pockets. I really want to help, but it is hard to even think about where to start. Joel says sending money does not help because it can often end up in the wrong hands inside the corrupted government. However, I see such remarkable faith and optimism in Joel, and he gives me hope that these people's voices are going to be heard. A new government is coming in. I am glad the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) is working in partnership across the seas to help this struggling country. It is important because we often get very caught up in our problems that we fail to step outside of ourselves see the lack of the distribution of wealth in this world. There is enough for everyone to get by, but people hold their wealth in such tight fists that making them unclench is a task that is better left unattended to most of us. I know I fall guiltily in this trap.
All this is not to say that we should overlook the many problems we are facing within our own country. One of the reasons I chose to be a national volunteer instead of international is that I feel it is important to remember that there are many settings within this country that are unlikely, overlooked mission fields. Five years after the storm, New Orleans becomes a faded news story as the media has moved on to more current issues, but we cannot forget those still struggling to rebuild their lives. I don't mean to say that one disaster deserves more attention than another, but we can't forget these people. On a side note, I admire other YAVS that were willing to serve internationally in a completely different culture, and I know they are having a powerful impact on their respective countries. It is wonderful to think of how all of us that gathered at the Stony Point orientation this past August are now scattered around the world making small but steady changes that are sure to have a profound impact on a world that seems to be desperately falling apart at the seams. It gives me such great hope to know that this group of young people I am a part of can help the world move in its entirety towards some sort of realistic peace, one daily interaction at a time. Things fall apart, but the fact that they fall together in the first place supplies me with enough optimism to make it through each day.
This weekend: some of my roommates went to the Voice of the Wetlands festival in Houma. We also were commissioned by the Presbytery of South Lousiana. Emma and I participated in the Light the Night work supporting the treatment of blood cancer. Never a dull moment in beautiful,colorful, southern Louisiana!
Things are about to be very busy I think. I plan to try and start up a "Thirst for the Word" young adult program where people in their 20s and 30's can gather in a contemporary venue to discuss Theological issues. I am also going to try to start a youth group if I can find some kids. In addition it is October, which means Fall Fest and pumpkin patches galore! ( The Blue House plans to go as Mario Kart
characters for Halloween FYI)
My life here in New Orleans is not always as happy and simple as I would like to be. I see injustice, often feel frustrated, and can feel very uncertain and out of place. Intentional community is a bigger challenge than I expected, but it is also a rewarding challenge. At the end of the day, I try to remember the people that support me and love me and am very thankful for their presence in my life. I am lucky enough to have had a wonderful life thus far, and am humbled by this experience in New Orleans which allows me to change and transform as a person. I grow so much each day. I look forward to sharing my experience with congregations back in my hometown.
Comment and spark thoughtful discussion if you so desire!
“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.” Marry Anne Radcmacher
|My fellow YAVs and I working for Bayou Rebirth propagating some plants to help coastal restoration!|