24 September, 2010

This week was wonderful! Let me tell you what I did…

Saturday was our first day of neighborhood outreach. I walked around with Maureen for about four hours, meeting people in our neighborhood. An adorable old woman named Jacquelyn invited us to sit with her on her porch. She offered us tea and we talked for about an hour about our lives and our neighborhood. On Saturday night, we had our first hospitality night! We invited our neighbors Brandie (21) and Nesha (16) over for dinner. They were babysitting and brought their nieces Nia (8) and Mia (7) and nephew Aaron (5). We played games with the kids and had so much fun with them! Brandie commented that Nia usually has to clean up and take care of the other kids, and doesn’t usually get a chance to play. It was such a blessing that we could provide a space for her to be a kid and to simply have fun! Although we’ve just met these neighbors, they already have a place in my heart!

This was my first week of work and I absolutely loved it! For the rest of my time in Atlanta, I will be at the Georgia Justice Project (GJP) from 9:00-5:00, Monday through Thursday. I am the receptionist as well as the Criminal Intake Coordinator, which means I deal with a lot of potential clients and a lot of paperwork. So basically, GJP provides legal and social services for people who are in legal trouble and can’t afford a lawyer. It’s such a wonderful organization and the more I learn about what they do, the more I love it!

This week was a lot of fun, but really overwhelming, just trying to get acclimated to my job and my neighborhood. So I welcome this day, my Sabbath, with open arms so I can rest and prepare for another busy week!

From Atlanta, with Love

17 September, 2010

Oh my goodness gracious! These past two weeks have been absolutely crazy! All of the emotions that I was lacking in Savannah have flooded over me and I have experienced such a range of feelings since I’ve started Mission Year! I have a wealth of information to tell you, so am going to do my best to simply give an overview and keep this as short as possible.

On Friday, September third, I began my adventure in Atlanta, Georgia. I met all of the new Atlanta team members, Mission Year staff and alumni, our city director Caz, and some wonderful members of our community. Altogether, there are sixteen Mission Year team members in Atlanta, in three different neighborhoods around the city. I am living in the South Atlanta neighborhood on an all-female “Amazon Women” team. My beautiful teammates are Emily, Jysicca, Kaitlin, and Maureen (I’m sure I will write much more about them later). We live in a ninety-year-old house at:

49 Bowen Avenue SE

Atlanta, Georgia 30315

So… now that you have my address, you better send me letters! I’m participating in a six week technology fast so will only have my phone and internet access on my Sabbath, which is on Fridays. So snail mail is always appreciated :)

Anyways, my first thought upon entering our house was What have I gotten myself into?? But after arranging furniture and settling in, I realized things aren’t nearly as bad as my first impression and I’m already starting to feel at home here. Our house is one story, with a kitchen, living room, two bathrooms (one has a broken shower), and three bedrooms. One bedroom has been designated as our “quiet room.” Jysicca, Kaitlin, and Maureen share the larger bedroom, while Emily and I are bunk-bed-mates in the smaller room. We have a large screened-in front porch which will be perfect for hanging out once it gets a bit cooler out. Our backyard is quite large and has a swing set in the middle, but is currently an overgrown jungle. Hopefully we will be able to cut back some of the plants so the neighbor kids can come use the swing set. Ok, more about our home later…

We got all moved in and settled on Saturday the fourth and then left at 4:00am the next day to drive fifteen hours to Chicago for our training! Training was for all of this year’s team members, about sixty in total, who will be spending the year in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Oakland, Sacramento, or Buenos Aires, Argentina. It would be an understatement to say that training was extremely intense. About ninety percent of our time was spent at a church in the La Villita neighborhood on the west side of Chicago. Each day was filled with hours of sessions during which we talked about everything from social justice to solitude to safety. It was such a blessing to hear from people who share my passions and to have them pour out their wisdom for us.

My team in Chicago! Emily, me, Maureen, Kaitlin and Jyssica!

Beautiful Chicago

We drove back to Atlanta last Friday and have spent the week doing city-specific training and preparing for our year. The most exciting day this week was Tuesday, which we spent doing a scavenger hunt in attempt to get to know our public transportation system, which is called MARTA. We were given MARTA passes, a list of different sections of Atlanta, and places to find in each of those sections. Our hunt was documented through pictures and we were required to use different facial expressions in each photo (I’ll post a couple pictures from our adventure). Today was our last day of training, which I’m super excited about because I’m eager to begin working at my community service site!

Outside the church where Dr. King preached

Centennial Park

CNN Headquarters

...and our favorite stop, Krispy Kreme!

I will start working on Monday morning at the Georgia Justice Project as a receptionist and intake clerk… I think… I went to the office yesterday for a tour and my new supervisor, Julie, wasn’t positive what I will be doing. Nevertheless, I am so incredibly excited to begin working there! GJP is an amazing organization that shares my ideals and passions and does wonderful work for the community! I will write a ton more about this once I have a better sense of my job and can more clearly explain what the organization does.

Besides training, we have spent a lot of time getting to know our community and our neighbors. We spent last weekend creating a map of our neighborhood to familiarize ourselves with the streets and to get to know people. On Sunday, we attended our first service at our new church, Henry M. White United Methodist Church, where we were warmly welcomed into open arms (I’ll write more about this soon, too). We have met several of the neighbors on our street and the surrounding blocks. I am so excited to get to know them better!

These two weeks have been busy, overwhelming, and challenging, but oh so good! I’ll try to update you each Friday and hopefully will have much more exciting news as my relationships deepen and my heart for this neighborhood grows. Until next week…

From Atlanta, with love

02 September, 2010

I leave for Atlanta tomorrow. I was thinking to myself, I should write a post about my thoughts and emotions regarding the adventure on which I am about to embark. But honestly, I don’t really have any. Now, I don’t want you to start thinking I am apathetic or indifferent, because I am neither of those! I am eager to see what the Lord has in store for me! However, I am not particularly anxious about tomorrow. Perhaps I am in shock and it hasn’t really hit me that I will soon partake in a new lifestyle in a new city. Or perhaps I have just gotten used to moving and beginning new adventures. Perhaps I have nothing to be incredibly nervous or uncontrollably excited about because I simply don’t know what to expect. I’m just not sure.

What I am sure about is God’s word, which never changes. In Proverbs, He called on me to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” I heard God’s call in my life and I am ready to go, regardless of my thoughts and emotions, or lack thereof. And God promises, “happy are those who execute justice for the oppressed, who give food to the hungry.” I hope to achieve justice for the oppressed and satiation for the hungry, and will rest in the peace that God has given me as I prepare for the task He has set before me.

I’m not sure when I will have Internet again, but hope to update you as soon as possible! Until then, here's a short little film I made of my roadtrip! Sorry it's so small -- you can barely readwhat any of the signs say! Regardless, I hope you enjoy it!

From Savannah, with love!