Catching up ’til Now

Highlights since last time:

Summer job at a swimming pool. Sweating and drinking lots of water. Got super tan. Went to the beach! Kept working at the swimming pool. Right before the end of the summer, I took several days to go to Johnson City and visit (a small) part of my Tennessee community. I was afraid it would make me regret not going back to seminary this fall, especially since I felt very lonely this summer, but ultimately it was good. I definitely feel a sense of closure about finishing well and turning the page on that chapter of my life. I miss my community: my friends and my church, desperately, but in some inexplicable way, I feel peace.

Immediately after coming back from Johnson City, I packed my bags and left for Stony Point, New York, where the Presbyterian Church operates a conference and retreat center. My (former) roommate and dear friend, Renata Vicente, gave me this advice as I left: “Try and get some rest while you’re in New York. You’re tired and you need a break.” Renata is always right but sometimes, despite good intentions, you just can’t take a break. Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) orientation (a DOOR partner organization) was exhausting: 13 hour days of lecture, small group activities, discussions, workshops, worship, and more. I did my best, Renata, I did my best.

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The YAV/DOOR orientation official picture. I am not in this picture. I fell asleep and napped for four hours and missed this picture.

Several of the friends I made at Stony Point have written blog posts on what it was like to be a non-Presbyterian in a very Presbyterian environment and I’m going to try to do the same. But for now, I’ll say that I was amazed by the quality and quantity of training support I feel from the church as a whole. Our last day, Sunday, the YAVs went to various churches within driving distance of Stony Point for a commissioning service.

I, along with six other young adults, went to Beacon Presbyterian Church. The pastor welcomed us, allowed us to participate in the worship service, and commissioned us to serve on behalf of the church. It was an incredibly moving experience and reminded me of the support and encouragement I received from Hopwood Christian Church, my “home” church in Johnson City before I left in June.

The next morning, I flew out of Newark International Airport and landed in Atlanta, Georgia, around 5:30 pm. I met Chad, the Atlanta site director, and my roommates, Becca, Melacia, Sarah, and Hannah. These people are important characters in this story and you will be hearing more about them! I adore them all and am thrilled to be embarking on this adventure with them beside me.

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The YAV/Dwellers and our fearless leader Chad. From left to right, Chad, me, Melacia, Becca, Sarah, and Hannah.

For the last weekish, we’ve been doing site orientation. We’ve spent time exploring Atlanta on MARTA, which will be our primary method of transportation for the next year. We’ve eaten amazing food: Six Feet Under, I’m talking about you! Grant Central Pizza, and Busy Bee’s. We spent Thursday at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, which you will definitely be hearing more about.

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I could not find a title or artist for this mural, which is at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta

Most importantly, maybe, we’ve visited each other’s work placements. Each intern’s supervisor has given a short tour, explained the work that the non-profit does in Atlanta, and allowed us to see how the organization works. This has been really insightful; it’s wonderful to see the work being done by groups throughout Atlanta and it’s given me a better understanding of what my roommates will be doing this year.

Our orientation week is almost over: today we took a hike at Sweetwater Creek State Park and tomorrow we’re attending a church which is in walking distance (less than 100 yards) from our front door! Monday is Labor Day of course, and we have the day off to chill and get settled. We have a fire pit on our back porch and I think we’re planning a bonfire to celebrate.

On Tuesday, though, we start working at our placements. I can’t wait to tell you about it.

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