Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hello, Belfast: Relatively Coherent Highlights of the Day

- The door to our flat is actually red, not yellow as Google maps represented.

- C.S. Lewis grew up in East Belfast, in the same neighborhood where we are living.

- The murals in Belfast are more intense than I expected. Wowsa.

- I made our first dinner in Belfast: frozen pizza.

- Ovens are in Centigrade. Cooked the pizza at 200 degrees Celsius. The flat was not burned down, and the pizza was delicious.

- The Northern Ireland site coordinator and his wife are absolutely amazing and supportive.

- Guided by the Norn Iron site coordinator, we visited Stormont (housing NI parliament) this afternoon.

- We will spend all week getting oriented to our sites, the city, and some of the basic history of the Troubles.

- I have now been up for about 28 hours straight. (There was only brief napping on the uncomfortable plane.)

- There was just someone outside my window playing a rendition of “Danny Boy” on harmonica.

- I walked around the neighborhood tonight with another flatmate; we are in a nice little section of East Belfast! (Lots of little shops/ restaurants/ and such around.)

- In peace and grace.

Norn Iron YAVS 2010-2011

With Doug Baker in front of our flat!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Parting is such sweet sorrow. Kind of.

“Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.” – Henry David Thoreau

So, today has been a long day already. Since our flight doesn’t leave until 9:30 tonight, we have been hanging out all day. (Thank goodness I learned how to procrastinate in college.)

Throughout the day, as groups gradually left to head to the airport, the goodbyes and hugs were exchanged. YAV love abounded as general nervousness was expressed by many. (My apologies go out to the people who left at 2:30 or 7:30 a.m. without a send off.)

For me, the next 24 hours carry two certainties: it will be lacking a long period of sleep, and it will basically be 24 hours straight of continuously eating. Thank you, in-flight meal.

During the past few months, since graduation really, my life has felt surreal and extremely transitional. In talking with other YAVs today, I realized that that feeling is gone. Right now, I have the feeling that this is it; this is what I am being called to do. I am right where God has wanted me to be. I follow in the footsteps of over 1000 YAVs before me and am surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.

This year will bring new experiences, hopefully new wisdoms, and perhaps a new and better perspective on the world and my place in it.

While it is painful to say goodbye to the other YAVs, it is time to get to work. To go out into the world, and to do what and be whom God is calling us to be.

Este momento! This is the moment!

In peace and grace.

p.s. Meant to include this earlier: People we heard speak this week included Rev. Jessica Vazquez Torres, Rev. Janet Slayer, Veronica Cannon, Rick Ufford-Chase, Rev. Ben Larson-Wolbrink, Rev. Hunter Farrell. (How great a cloud of wise and knowledgeable Presbyterians!)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Orientation/ Disorientation

This week has been… well, here’s a short list of adjectives:

AWESOME, overwhelming, rejuvenating, exhausting, refreshing, stressful

Each day has been packed full of workshops. From breakfast at 8 a.m. to when vespers ended at 9 p.m., there was constant talking/ thinking/ extraverted activity. We talked about race, gender inequalities, economic inequalities, discernment, personality conflicts, culture shock, and more. If we weren't meeting together in a large group, we were discussing the topics with our small groups. Or we were eating. Or worshipping. Or hanging out until the wee hours of the morning once we were done with the work of the day. Whew.

(As I found out this week, I am an ENFP on the Myers-Briggs personality scale, but even extroverts need alone time.)

Unlike discernment weekend when about 60% of our time was “creative discerning play time,” this week was INTENSE.

Ironically, one of the topics touched upon was how to take care of our bodies while in times of change and stress. (Note: there are people going all over the U.S. and world; there are challenges that vary by the site.) Well, my body has undergone a lot of stress these past few weeks – saying goodbye to friends and family, traveling, trying to pack for this week, and just the overall stress of getting ready to live for a year in another country. The physical side effects are starting to show as I am physically and mentally exhausted, but thank goodness for Sunday afternoons. (Nap time!)

Each site went to a different church this morning for a commissioning service. The Northern Ireland site went to a small Presbyterian church in downtown Haverstraw, NY, and on the way back, we got to take a detour to see the Hudson River!

The main reason this week has been so refreshing (and which has helped me get through it) is the other YAVs. It has been so much fun hanging out with both national and international YAVs this week. (There are about 62 of us total.) From hymn sings at 11 p.m. in one of the dorms’ lobbies to one of the Kenyan YAVs throwing a perfect round of Cornhole, it’s been full of priceless and extremely memorable moments.

I fly out tomorrow evening to Belfast, and the journey will have officially begun.

So while this orientation has been slightly disorientating, in the long run, I will hopefully be able to draw upon all that I have heard and discussed, and the friendships that have been forged will continue to grow.

Love to all!

In grace and peace.

Written 09 August 2010: Traveling Thoughts

800 miles of driving = excellent time for thinking! Especially during the final stretch into Virginia with the sun setting behind the Blue Ridge mountains and Mumford & Sons playing on my ipod.

This is it – only three weeks left into the U.S. before a year of living differently. Differently in many different ways – adapting to a different language, food culture, living culture (yay public transportation). Overall, I will be living a smaller life – moderation in food, seeking to create less waste, and also living in tighter quarters in a city location (not suburban America).

I am so excited to live smaller – be able to walk/ take public transportation to run errands, buy items at UK thrift stores, etc.

But, the packing debate goes on - will I be able to consolidate my stuff to one suitcase or will I be taking two!?!? (Striving to live simply in Northern Ireland is difficult as the main way to survive the cold/ damp weather is with plenty of warm, waterproof layers. This is not conducive to packing simply.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

On the road again!

Well, I am headed to Virginia this week. I'm off to visit family/ friends in Winchester, Fairfax, Richmond, and Williamsburg. Then it's for a week at the beach in North Carolina with some more family. :)
I begin orientation in New York on August 23rd and will fly over to Belfast on August 30th.
Much love to everyone in the states; feel free to contact me by phone until the 30th! (I will have sporadic internet access as well; my e-mail address is simply my full name -no punctuations/capitalizations- @gmail.com.)
For those of you I will be visiting, see you soon! :)
In grace and peace.

p.s. Highlight from this past week: I am officially an inquirer with the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy! (It's the first step in the ordination process of the Presbyterian Church.)