Nearing the end of the 9th Month already

I can’t believe it is already the ninth month of my YAV year. It feels like we have only been here for a few months… not nine. We have two months left and are all currently planning out what we will be doing after our year is over. It is crazy hearing all of us discuss plans for the next year and realizing that next year begins in two months. I will be ending my YAV year July 22nd to prepare to go to Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary to get my Master’s of Divinity in the fall!

Since my last update a lot has happened. For Global Interfaith Partnership we had the Kenya Carnival at the end of February. It was a really fun event and I got to help create a fun educational scavenger hunt for the kids. They got to learn about schools, fun, and home life in Kenya as they had fun at the carnival. About a week after the carnival Joseph and Leonard came from Kenya. Joseph is the GIP Coordinator in Kenya and Leonard is a schoolteacher at one of our schools in Kenya. They were here for 10 days and I had a great time getting to know them and spending time with them at the different events and meetings that were scheduled for the week.

Celia, Ellen, Leonard, Joseph, Callie, Megan

Center for Interfaith Cooperation has been busy too. In February we had the Interfaith Banquet which is where we honored the Interfaith Ambassador of the year. This year the award went to KP Singh. He is a really great man that has done a lot of interfaith work in Indianapolis. Currently for CIC, we are preparing for the arrival of the Dalai Lama who will be speaking at the Indianapolis fairgrounds on June 25th! He is coming to speak on compassion and peace and we are very excited to hear his message to Indianapolis!

KP Singh and the IndyYavs!

During our free time, Liz, Madison and I have come up with a list of spring and summer things that we want to do as a community kind of like a Indy Bucket list. I am getting a bus pass so that we can go into the city more without having to worry about parking and we all have or are getting bikes so that we can bike to places nearby instead of drive. We are very excited that it is getting nice out and we can start to explore some of the outdoor activities that Indy has to offer. Yesterday Liz and I got ice cream and went to a park to play on the swings and spend some time outside enjoying the beautiful weather.

Liz and I explored Carmel last month and stopped to get ice cream!

New Year Update

I haven’t updated in a while. Christmas has come and gone. I went home for two weeks and enjoyed time with family and friends. It was a really good time at home.

Ice skating with friends in Valpo

Since being back in Indianapolis I feel like I have hit the ground running. With Center for Interfaith Cooperation I began working with the women’s workout and nutrition program again. Still one of my favorite things to do each week. We are also getting ready for the Interfaith Banquet with will be in February. I have helped out and observed a board meeting.

Interns in the CIC office!

With Global Interfaith Partnership I have been out and about doing presentations for GIP. I have been to an Eman School, a Hindu Temple, and a Methodist youth group. We have had a Kenya Kickoff party which included a movie called A Small Act.

Craft project I do with students after speaking to them.

Other than work, as Yav’s we have been asked to make presentations at different events. I have attended a session meeting and spoke about my year. We also talked to the congregation at Second Presbyterian about our year at a lunch last Sunday. That one was our biggest crowd of about 130 people. In a few weeks we will be speaking to Presbytery. All of these presentations plus the ones for GIP have been great and are helping me work on my public speaking skills. The Yav presentations I do with no or minimal notes to help me improve keeping eye contact with the crowd instead of staring at my notes. It has been really successful and a lot of fun.

Speaking at Second during the lunch

Our house has also started what we call date nights. We go out with one of the other yavs once a week and spend time getting to know each other and spending time together. This week it is Liz’s and I’s turn to go out, so tomorrow we are going to the zoo for the day. It is only 9 dollars during the winter and tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day.

Woman’s Exercise and Nutrition Program

I am way overdo on an update. Everything is going well. We handed out candy for Halloween and had a ton of trick or treaters. Here are some pictures of the decorations at our house.

Yav pumpkin Pumpkin! Halloween

Here is an article that is being put on the Center for Interfaith Cooperation about the program that I am helping out with this year.

As an intern for CIC this year, one of my assignments has been to help the Woman’s Exercise and Nutrition Initiative. As a former student athlete this is close to my heart and something I not only wanted to help successfully start, but also participate in. The initiative began with an idea that Mastora, with the Darfur Woman’s Network, had to help her community. She knew of many immigrant and refugee women that did not know how to exercise or eat healthy in America. The majority of the women cannot workout at a gym because of modesty concerns and need an all-woman area to workout. Mastora came to the Center for Interfaith Cooperation with an idea to start this workout and nutrition group and our office quickly jumped on board to figure out how to make this idea work.

Things quickly began to fall into place. The Interchurch Center has a workout room, so they had a place to work out when the program began, and about a month ago, the women started coming two times a week (Mondays and Wednesdays). The only major roadblock was in the nutrition part of the program. Mastora and her team wanted a kitchen so they could practice cooking healthy, but the Interchurch Center does not have a full kitchen. When the program began they were able to work around the lack of kitchen by simply talking about healthy foods and ways to change their diets, but there was still a need for a kitchen.

I began looking for areas nearby that had kitchens that may be willing to let the women come there to cook once a week. I contacted Fairview Presbyterian and met with one of the pastors at the church. They were excited about the program, showed me the kitchen, and told me the options and the process of getting the program started there. They began to get the ball rolling on their end and I got in touch with everyone on my end. After getting it approved on both sides, Mastora, her team, and my boss, Charlie, went over to look at the kitchen and hash out the final details. The meeting went really well and not only do the women cook there on Mondays; they will also use another room to do workouts on Mondays. Wednesdays they will continue coming to the Interchurch Center and focus on the exercise part of the program.

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I love that I have been given the opportunity to work with and help these women. I now workout with them on Wednesdays and it is very rewarding. It is fun. We push each other and help each other. Coming from a team atmosphere of college sports, I recognize the importance of working out as a group. It gives you not only someone who holds you accountable, but also a friend who shares in your post workout soreness or even your pre workout hesitance on those days you are less than motivated. I am very happy that I had the chance to help this group start up recognizing that a healthy lifestyle will not just help these women but will also benefit their families.

Work Placements

I have been in Indy for almost two weeks now. The first week was orientation and was a lot of fun. We met a bunch of people and started to learn the city. We also have started working on our house covenant. We were commissioned on Sunday by Second Presbyterian, our host church. This week was our first week of work. We work Tuesday through Friday with Monday being our community day. We may also work weekends depending on our sites. I will be working a few Saturdays and some Sundays. I will be working with Center for Interfaith Cooperation and Global Interfaith Partnership and my office will be in their office space. CIC works on projects that focus on interfaith and understanding other faiths. One of their big projects each year is the Festival of Faiths which happened the weekend before we came to Indy. My first assignment for this placement will be analyzing the surveys they are sending out about the Festival.

GIP works to help keep children in school in Kenya. It is called the Umoja Project which means Unity. They partner with GIP Kenya to find children who are orphans, partial orphans, or vulnerable and find ways to help keep them in school. They do this by having a teacher at each school they work with that identifies children in those situations called a link teacher who reports it to the GIP Kenya team and they get the kid hooked up into the system. Then they have guardians that make the school uniforms and keep an eye on the kids to make sure they are getting what they need and gong to school. The Indiana side of this is mostly fundraising. GIP pays for school lunches, sanitary napkins for girls, occasionally a house build if it is needed, girl empowerment programs, uniforms, tution, and lamps so kids can study at home. My work with GIP will be primarily overseeing the Youth Leadership Team in their fundraising efforts. This week my work has been to learn as much about the two organizations as possible. I have read a ton of documents and went to a ton of meetings. Sunday will be my first time with the Youth Leadership Team.

Our house has decided not to get internet for at least this month, so updates will happen when I get a chance to go to the library down the street. Everything is going really well so far and we are all very excited for the upcoming year and the adventures it will bring!

Orientation

I moved to Indianapolis yesterday after an intense week of orientation. Orientation week basically unpacked the nuts and bolts of the YAV program. We learned what was expected of us and how to do everything such as how to make a blog. We also worked on understanding culture and how people can see things differently based on where they come from. We had small groups that everyone were assigned to and by the end of the week we were all pretty good friends with our small group. It was so fun being with the group and being able to share our excitement and our fears and discuss the different speakers.

Indy YAV's

The Indy YAV’s first day at orientation together!

I think the part of the week I will remember the most was the commissioning service. Me and two others went to Rye Presbyterian Church. It was a beautiful church with really friendly people that were very interested in finding out about us and the program and were excited they got to commission us. After commissioning the pastor took us out to eat and to see some sights in New York City. Him and I ended up having a really great talk about Prison Ministry which is something I am interested in. He teaches a class in prison and it turned into a really interesting talk about the programs in the New York prisons and the different options at each prison. After we got back to Stony Point, conversations continued about prison ministry with other YAV’s when we talked about what we did that day and what church we went to that morning. It was really fun getting to talk about something I am passionate about and hearing about it from someone who is involved in it.

Indy YAV

Me on the New York City Tour

This week we are in Indy doing orientation. Today was a relaxed day because Elizabeth took the bus and arrived this morning. The first step is to move into the house and make sure we have everything we need. This morning Madison and I realized we didn’t have silverware when it came time to eat breakfast. We had plastic forks, so we made do. We have gone on a tour and they took us out to eat last night to get a chance to talk to us. Tomorrow we spend most of the day touring the different work sites. It is really exciting being here and everyone seems really excited to see us and get to know us.

Living Simply

This is A bag of Elizabeth’s clothes that Madison brought to keep her bags weight down. To welcome her home we pretended to sell it on the yard while we ate breakfast on the porch. We told her we were helping her live simply.

I will update with pictures of the house soon once we get situated!

Am I Ready?

This week was my last week home. It has been an interesting week. I am used to end of summer goodbyes but this year it was different as there was more questions on when people would see me again. The simple answer and the answer that is hard for people to accept is I don’t know. The thing I found interesting in the entire situation is that on Friday and Saturday I visited friends from college. Some had moved onto campus early and others lived close enough to drive in and hang out for a while. My first visit to Manchester as an Alumni. It was so much fun. I left and was so happy I had the opportunity to see them and I can’t wait to go back and visit the ones who move to campus tomorrow. When it was time to leave each friend the question came as to when I would see them again. I gave them the same answer I gave people in La Porte, “I don’t know”. The reaction was completely different. It was one of acceptance and happiness. I had been able to spend time with them and they knew I will come back sometime when I can. I don’t know is such a normal part of college that you take what you can get. As a college student at Manchester, it was normal to have no clue what you wanted to do with your life or where you were going in the future. The only college students with a solid four or five year plan at Manchester are the first years during the first few months. In general, if you are looking for the college kids with their lives planned out, it’s the first years. Since my friends are used to living not knowing the future and being fine with it i(maybe even excited because there are so many options and it’s fun to think about) instead of saying goodbye, like I have been in LP, my friends at school chose to say cya later. We didn’t hug. It wasn’t emotional. The emotional and hugging part was when we saw each other and said hi. This was like leaving for a break. We left with the expectation of seeing each other again and being content not knowing when that would be. This has made me feel so much better because it is hard telling people you don’t know when you will be back. I left campus feeling excited and ready to go on with my life and return there someday to tell my friends all about my adventures since I last saw them and listen to them tell me about theirs.

This week I also started getting nervous about whether or not I was ready and starting becoming doubtful. Going back to campus helped me remember many events that helped me grow as a person and realize that I am ready for this. My athletics taught me hard work and dedication. Those summer workouts may have been annoying and tough, but they were worth it. The athletic training room, while not the one I ever wanted to be in, taught me to overcome and work through tough and unexpected situations. Dorms taught me how to live with others and solve conflicts. My classes and professors taught me confidence. Confidence that I can solve problems. That I can critically think. Confidence that I can tackle the hardest sounding jobs when I put my mind to it. My friends reminded me that while I will be farther in distance, they are all still there and I have them to lean on or share joys with and just chat if I want to. Most of all campus taught me how trust God completely. When you spend four years in an “I don’t know world” there are a lot of times that you just have to trust God that somehow everything will work out. Junior year after my concussion I had no clue how I was going to write three ten page papers in two weeks time when I still got migraines from looking at a computer for just ten minutes. Somehow, it worked out like it always did. May not have been my best papers ever, but I did them and they weren’t too bad. God will work it out if you control the things you can control and focus on the next step instead of the next fifty.

I feel ready now and really excited. After seeing friends and saying cya later to them. I am going to miss everyone while I am gone, but I am ready and excited for this next adventure. I will come back sometime to MU and LP to visit, but right now I don’t know when that will be and that’s okay. Tomorrow morning I get commissioned by my church and then Monday morning I leave for the airport. I fly to New York for a week of orientation before returning to Indiana. I will try to update sometime soon. Please keep me and my fellow YAV’s in your prayers the coming weeks as we go through our orientations and head out to our sites.

Summer Update!

So far this summer has been crazy busy. I began the summer by taking my senior high youth to camp for a week in June. It was a lot of fun to be at camp with my youth watching them grow in their faith. The next week I was a tribe leader at Vacation Bible School at my church. This was my first year being a tribe leader at my church and I really enjoyed it and was glad I did it. Then to finish off June I went on a mission trip with my church to West Virginia. In West Virginia I got to learn how to put in flooring. We did demolition the first day and then started from scratch in that room to redo the flooring. I learned a lot during the week and it was a great experience. Here is a slideshow of the work we did in West Virginia!

Next Sunday I leave for my next trip. I am going with the other youth leaders to take our youth on a mission trip in Indy. It is called Transformission and it is my third year helping lead this trip. I am really excited to be going this year again.

Now that I have given a life update I have a YAV update too. First, people have asked when I go Indy. I leave La Porte on Aug. 24th to go to New York for a week of orientation. I am officially in Indy on Aug 31st. Many people have been asking about the work I will be doing when I am in Indy. I will not know this answer until I get there. During the first week we will visit all the work placements and through mutual discernment will decide on our sites during the first week there. I like this because we will get to see all the sites and it will give us the opportunity to go where we and the site coordinator feel God wants us during our time in Indy. Finally, during this summer I have been working to raise the required $3,000 for my year. I am happy to announce I am really close to the goal which is very exciting. This Sunday, July 19th, I will be doing a pancake breakfast fundraiser at 10:15 at the The Presbyterian Church of La Porte. Anyone is welcome to come and enjoy some pancakes. If you cannot make the fundraiser but would like to donate to me you can go to this web adress http://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/E051478/. In the comments section put my name. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far and I can’t wait to see everyone at the pancake breakfast this Sunday!