Mt. Kinabalu

Mt. Kinabalu

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Raw-thoughts on orientation

            After a week of orientation in Chicago we have finally begun our journeys.  Sixty young adults scatter around the world, on their way to communities anxiously awaiting their arrival.  We have spent a week of orientation trying to make sense of difficult questions about faith, identity, culture, privilege, power, and diversity.  Not surprisingly there were more questions surrounding these conversations than answers.  This left many of us struggling to express the multitude of emotions stirring under the surface of our skin, still suntanned from summer adventures we'd so recently left behind.  Ecstatic, pained, confused, purposeful, anxious, ready, scared, blessed, angry and loved  name a few of the emotions I found ready to burst out at any moment.  In describing this over abundance of emotion I tried words like neutral or numb.  It seemed more accurate than trying to pin down one specific feeling, which may change within the next minute.  However as the tears streamed down my face while hugging many of my fellow journeyers goodbye a new word came to mind. Like the salty streaks of tears left sitting on my cheeks I felt raw. I feel raw in more than one sense of the word.  One definition says raw is "having the surface exposed and painful" which is fitting. Having to contextualize our identities in terms of the global community has certainly left me feeling exposed and even pained at times.  To recognize there are systems at play in our world resulting in poverty, oppression, and division, about which we can only make small differences can feel hopeless.  This sense of feeling raw is crucial as we must carry both an awareness of ourselves and these systems as we begin to build relationships in our new communities.  However, possibly more importantly I feel raw in the sense that I am unrefined or unprepared.  Like vegetables lying on a cutting board I am ready for preparation, to be refined, to be changed.  We will all be changed this year and will hopefully find something new to stir into what we have lovingly called the great American melting pot (or salad bowl if you prefer).  

            We have spent a week searching for a recipe for how to live this next year and realized it doesn't exist.  There may be a few givens but there is lots of room for both creativity and mistakes on this recipe card.  The one thing I do know is love, hope, and peace will be at the top of my ingredient list.  Speaking of food, already encountered some interesting cuisine on our first flight to Seoul, Korea.  I wasn't expecting my side dish to have eyes (it was just my first encounter with anchovies, nothing too special yet)  More updates to come upon my arrival in Kota Kinabalu (KK)!

Peace & Blessings 

(From the YAGM Malaysia Facebook page, captioned "The Malaysian Minions are on the Move")

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Fear & Courage

                Just a few short days lie between me and the beginning of my YAGM journey.  Wednesday morning I will board a plane to Chicago where I will be reunited with my fellow travelers and begin a week of orientation.  While I am so close to my dreams being finally realized a little bit of fear sets in too.  Fear of what I might miss in my absence, fear of the unkown, and fear of inadequacy.  However, I am ok with the presence of fear.  I think a little fear can even be a good thing.  As Nelson Mandela once said, " I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."  Courage is not always easy to find.  I am anticipating it might be especially hard to find when traveling halfway across the world and my support system just doesn't quite fit into my suitcase.  Yet courage becomes so necessary as I begin a year of some of the greatest challenges I have ever faced.  It is a good thing love is something that doen't need a suitcase to carry with you. 
               I am so grateful to be surrounded by love from family, friends, and even people I barely know.  I felt an overwhelming outpouring of love last Sunday as Christ Lutheran Church blessed my YAGM journey through a beautiful sending service.  As I spoke about my dreams I was the lucky recipient of dreams more beautiful than I could have possibly imagined from members of the congregation.  I will carry these dreams with me in a tangible way as I bring my box of dreams to Malaysia.  However, I know I will also carry an abundance of love and support from my congregation.  As a part of the service the congregation gathered around me and read the verse at the top of this blog, which so happens to be my confirmation verse.  "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." -Romans 15:13 In that moment, with such wonderful people all around me, I was certainly filled with joy, peace, and hope for what was to come.  I do not go without fear but I do go with love, which just might be an even greater conquerer of fear than courage.  I am so blessed and grateful for the beautiful people walking this journey with me every step of the way.       
 Below are just a few of the special people from CLC who will be walking with me.