Saturday, September 14, 2013

Entering In and Venturing Out

I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.
-Henri Nouwen

It's beginning to sink in that I will be 


with six people I didn't know before two weeks ago, people I barely know even now but whom I will get to know intimately by this time next year. 

I joined Mission Year because I want to live and love intentionally, and I wasn't sure what that looked like. 
I'm starting to get an idea. 

It looks like late nights sitting up talking between bunk beds. 
It looks like talking through logistics of entering into our neighborhood as God's fellow workers.
It looks like laughing in the dining room.
It looks like crying on the couches in the living room because we're too exhausted to find the words we want to say.

It looks like meeting people where they are at, regardless of where I am at. 

It's becoming aware of a whole lot of ideas, traits, habits, philosophies I want to cling to, and holding them with an open palm. 
It's holding back when I want to jump in.
It's jumping in when I want to hold back. 
It's discerning. 

My team is beautiful and diverse. And we will work through it all. 

I wish I had more words to tell you, a better way to describe what I've experienced in just the past week alone, but words seem so inadequate right now. My head is still swimming and my thoughts are trying to find solid ground. 

The word of the month is VULNERABLE. There is strength in vulnerability. I'm maneuvering my way around the word. 

We have a tight schedule during our time in Mission Year. Each day is full from morning til evening: family (team) devotions, work at our volunteer sites, family meetings, curriculum, getting to know our neighbors, doing laundry at the washateria (that's it's actual name) across the street, making family meals and also reaching out to invite our neighbors into our homes for meals and fellowship, city wide meetings with the other two teams here in Houston, and other sporadic events as time goes on. 

This is the entire city-wide team of Houston. We are split into three smaller house teams.

The six people I didn't know before last week are my family. Even if I don't feel that way now, I know they are my family for the next year and will be treating them as such. We've already experienced that we will need a lot of grace with one another. I know my tendencies that upset and bewilder others, and I consistently need grace from those who do not function in the same way I do, and vice versa. We're learning. 

Tomorrow we will be visiting our new church for the first time and looking for ways we can get involved. We begin our volunteer jobs the week after. 

IMPORTANT: Starting today, we as a team/family are on a strict technology fast. No phones, computers, ipods, wifi, etc. Nothing. Fridays are our Sabbaths, so we can use technology ONLY on Fridays. So, if you are emailing, texting, or calling me and wondering why I'm not responding, it's because of the fast. 

The purpose of the fast is for us to recognize our relationship with technology and what impact that has on our face to face relationships. We are choosing to give up technology so we can build deep relationships with our housemates, our immediate neighbors, and our city, without leaning on technology. For example: if I had my smart phone and I was lost, I may be tempted to simply goooglemap my location and figure out where I'm going. If I don't have that technology available, I will have to ask a neighbor or someone nearby who seems to know the area. 

It will be an intense six weeks for sure! 

Here's a neat picture of all the team members who are spread out across America, doing exactly what I'm doing in Mission Year: living and loving intentionally. 

Here are the states we are representing here in Houston: 

I appreciate your prayers for both me and my housemates as we begin this journey. Please pray for grace, for God to move powerfully within all of us, and for love to win in our neighborhoods, in Houston, and in our own hearts. 

If you'd like to partner with me in this journey, walking with me as I venture through Houston's Fifth Ward, loving God and people, you can donate to my journey by clicking the "Donate Now" button on the side of the blog. Thanks for your love! 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sleeping In the Gym

"Where you stand determines what you see."
- Kathy Kelly

The adventure begins. 

5am: leave for Flint
Catch a plane to Baltimore
Catch a plane to San Antonio
Catch a plane to Houston

I arrived at Hobby airport in Houston, greeted by some folks in "Love God + Love People" shirts holding Mission Year signs. They drove me to a church where, over the next few hours, 60 of us newbies gathered. The hot button discussions began right away: women in ministry, gay rights, socialism v. capitalism, social justice for immigrants. I was exhausted by dinner time. 

I met my housemates in person for the first time, which was my favorite part of the day yesterday. One of my housemates looks strikingly like one of my exes... 

That night, 40 of us girls pulled out air mattresses in the gymnasium of the church we are using as a temporary shelter this week while we go through orientation. No showers. I was covered in travel, Houston humidity, and bug spray: not bathing was not an option. To the bathroom sink I went, washcloth in hand. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do. The air mattress last night wasn't such a great idea for me. I had a ridiculous headache all day that kinda drew me away from some of the conversation and activity. Tonight I'm making a better choice: tumbling mat covered in blankets. 

We woke up at 6am today, packed all of our stuff up, packed the mattresses away, and began our whirlwind day of discussions, presentations, and team building activities. 

I've taken my 5 minute shower (the time we are allotted because we are using the church's homeless shelter facilities) and am feeling clean and fresh and so so exhausted. 

We had presentations on faith and justice, art and faith, neighboring, and, my personal favorite of the day, how our worldviews are formed and how to be more aware of them in order to have more grace with ourselves and with others. 

As I meditated today, figuring out how I fit here and how to be here, I heard the words, "Be slow to speak." I am here to learn. I feel that silence is a big part of my journey, that I will have plenty of opportunities to hold back my own opinion, advice, and judgment until I have listened, really listened. 

I hope I will have another opportunity to be on here again, but with our schedule this week, I'm not sure. 

Starting Monday we begin a 7 week technology fast in order to better develop relationships with our housemates and our neighbors. I will be able to use technology on Fridays, my Sabbath. If you email, call, comment, or leave messages for me, I will attempt to reply to them all on Fridays. Thanks for being patient with me as I go through this transition! We will be moving into our apartment Wednesday. 

Prayers for my team's transition into our apartment, into our new life together, are greatly appreciated! 

If you'd like to help support me on this journey you can click on the side link to donate to my Mission Year account. 

Thanks for all your love!