The past couple of weeks have been an absolute whirl-wind overload- sensory, informational, and extraverted. Here’s the rundown:
Monday August 19th- My flight left Minnesota at 6am. Yes, SIX AM. Which means I had to get up around 3. After some confusion at the Newark airport I found the YAV group and we make the trek through Jersey traffic to Stony Point conference center in New York which was our home for the week. (Stony Point is a really awesome Presbyterian place with a history of mission training and interfaith community- look it up!) I finally got to meet my Bostonian roommates, along with 65 other young adult volunteers going to serve God all over the world.
In case you were wondering, here’s where the Mean Girls quote title comes in– I’m pretty sure YAVs are the best hope for my generation. (I know it’s a strong claim, and I may be a little biased.) These folks are some of the most passionate, involved, well-read, and widely-traveled people who want to do good in a broken world that is riddled with injustice on an institutional scale. It was intense to have so much contact with so many energetic people for the whole week, but truly a great experience.
From Tuesday through Saturday we had full 10-13 hour days full of Bible study, small groups, lecture series on everything from cultural competency, self-care, political advocacy, intentional Christian community, a Quaker service, plus some amazing meals in-between.
It’s almost impossible to remember anything distinctly– the week just runs together in time-bending fashion. What really stands out is the Bible studies with Rick, the director of Stony Point. We took on some of the more difficult passages in Mark with time to journal, reflect on what the text says to us, and then he would blow our minds with his interpretation. The thing that will stick with me the most is what Rick told us several times– This week is prep for a year of orientation for the lifetime of work to which we are called.
My small group was a great break during our intense days. My group is now all over the world– in South Korea, New Orleans, Denver, Chicago, and Austin; I will be praying for them, and all of the 13-14 YAVs, throughout the year.
On Sunday two other girls (who are now in San Antonio and the Philippines) and I went to Hitchcock Presbyterian Church for a commissioning worship service for our year of mission work. It was a wonderful and welcoming congregation, and afterwards the pastors took us into New York City. It was an unbelievable experience– Rockefeller Plaza, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Time Square, and Grand Central. I am beyond grateful for their hospitality.
One of my favorite parts of orientation was the singing, which is how we started and ended each day. Not only were there amazing musicians and singers, but everyone brought such a spirit and energy to their offering of song. We knew something holy was happening; the Spirit was, and still is, at work. There’s a quote my mom likes to reference– when everyone is singing their part, with such joy, you can hear a melody that no one is actually singing.
Monday morning we all went our separate ways to our own sites, and the adventure continues in Boston…