Monday, August 26, 2013

The beginnings

Well, I definitely intended on writing a blog before now, but there has been so much going on and so much I would like to write about that I felt like couldn’t do the experience justice... and in the end never wrote anything! So I have decided that I will just sit down now and write.

I was blessed to spend a fantastic week in Chicago with a wonderful group of 60 other YAGMS (Young Adults in Global Mission). We had important sessions that were designed to help us this next year, we were able to talk with alums of the program, we drank a lot of coffee, and we cried and laughed a lot together. There is a certain bonding that happens when all of you find yourself on the edge of a life changing experience and you are jumping in together. 

YAGMs hanging out at LSTC

I wish that I could share ALL that we learned, talked about and shared during that week. But since I can't, I'll share one interesting exercise that we did in small groups. We went around and told in depth stories about what has brought us to where we are today. We were free to share our stories and knew that our stories were valued and heard. What surprised us all was the diversity of our stories. It was a small glimpse into the lives of the people in the group, beautiful stories I wouldn't have seen coming. 

My awesome small group

During this exercise we used the “Covenant of Presence” that included some important points that I challenge you to use and will serve all of the YAGMs well this next year as we build relationships with those in our host communities:

Author your story. We all have a story. Some might say, “I don’t have a story,” or “a story worth telling,” but you do and the world is in need of hearing it. You must claim authorship of your own story and learn to tell it to others to they might understand you, be inspired by you, and discover what calls you to be who you are, do what you do, or love what you love. 

Turn to wonder. If you find yourself becoming judgmental or cynical, try turning to wonder: “I wonder why she shared that story or made those choices?” “I wonder what my reaction teaches me?” “I wonderful what he’s feeling right now?”

Hold these stories with care. There are many people who will benefit from the stories they hear during our time together. Imagine listening to another as you could listen to scripture - attentively, mindfully, and open to the holy. 
The Full "Covenant of Presence"

Then on August 21st I left with Rachel, Liz, Anna, Gabe & Jake to begin our journey in Mexico for the next year. So far our time in Mexico (which feels a lot longer than it has been!) has only touched the surface of what the country and people have to offer. We visited the “Zocalo” (Main Square) of Mexico City and the Basilica of La Virgen de Guatelupe. We have had some very informative and touching conversations with our hosts at the convent in Mexico City. 

Inside courtyard of the convent in Mexico City

Outside my window this week in Tepoztlán!
Now we have moved to a smaller city about an hour and a half outside the capital called Tepoztlán for a week of language school. We have walked around town, climbed the Tepozteco mountain and eaten the “exotic” ice cream flavors the town is known for. Through this time in Mexico our country group has grown pretty close. We are all looking forward to entering our site placements and meeting our host families in a few weeks, but in the meantime we have become each others family as we adjust to this new culture. 

Arriving in Mexico City

Alameda Park in Mexico City

After climbing Tepozteco (We are over looking the city I'll be living in this next year!)

That is just a quick overview of my last few weeks. Hopefully I’ll fill in some of the other stories and details soon and stop procrastinating! 

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