The worst part of going on any sort of journey, at least for me, is unpacking. I’m very lazy in that way. For all my Type A personality traits, my inability to put things back where they belong is just so stressful. It doesn’t matter how short the trip, or how little room my bags are leaving in my room, finding the motivation to unpack almost always evades me for weeks.
This past week has in a ways felt like a constant unpacking. Last Monday over 60 young adults, representing over 10 denominations converged upon the Stony Point Center (on of PC(USA)’s conference centers in New York state) to be DISoriented. We get to meet most of the folks that will make up our serving class, (the 2nd year YAVs do not attend orientation twice), but we were inundated with information on cultural competency and really given some tools that will be helpful as we embark on this journey. Not only are we bringing our physical stuff, but we’re bringing our pasts, our stories, our experiences to our various new homes. We have to find ways to unpack these things in ways that will not only be healthy for us, but also in ways that will contribute to the many new experiences we will encounter over the course of our year.
I will say that so far orientation has been very challenging. The viewpoint that we’ve been asked to view the world is really heavy. I guess I’ve never really thought about white supremacy as the driving force behind every aspect of life. We talked about the “center” and the “borderlands” and how an affinity for centrality (all that is “good” and “righteous”) is a dangerous and deadly force that serves to keep all peoples in chains. This definitely has been on my mind as I enter this journey as a missionary. The spread of Christianity has been the basis to spread hatred, death and to keep people trapped in self-sabotaging cycles that impact generations. What role do I play in that, if any? Orientation left me with so many questions, some of which I know that I will never get answers to.
Another challenge is this aspect of intentional Christian community that I’m “living into.” Being with over 60 people and making them your community is SO HARD. It is a test of patience and self-control. There’s so much intentionality behind everything that we’re doing as YAVs. It’s a lot and for so much of these past 2 weeks it’s felt as if my brain has constantly been turned on. With that being said, at the end of the day we’re all human. We get tired, we get overwhelmed, we get frustrated. I’m super excited to experience this more about what this entails with this amazing group of humans (luckily only living with 3 other people), and possibly see what this experience can teach me about being with others as I progress into the rest of my life.
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” – Lilla Watson
On Monday we left Stony Point to journey to Newark airport. What an adventure. It took us 4 hours and 3 trains from Stony Point to clear TSA. Our flight was nice and short, 6hrs, overnight.
We arrived at about 7am local time and after dropping off our belongings at our new flat, we met with some of the Priority Areas staff and walking around this very walkable (and hilly) city. We’ve spent most of our time here meeting with lots of new folks, and drinking lots of tea. Over the past 2 days we visited all 4 of the churches that the Scotland YAVs will be working at. It’s nice to put faces to names and see some of what we’ll all be doing. I’m so excited. The Church is doing SO MUCH here. All of those we have come into contact with has said in at least one way or another “you’ve come at such an exciting time.” I am honored that we have been invited to be a part of these communities for a short time.
Being in Glasgow is going to be a good experience. It’s lovely to be back in the UK. In many ways it feels like a homecoming of sorts. So many similar sounds and smells. I was washing dishes the other day and I was overwhelmed by the scent of Fairy dishwashing liquid. We stopped into Gregg’s bakery yesterday and eating a that doughnut in the middle of the day made me feel like I was 6 years old walking through Hayes high street shopping with my mother. But so much is different. Being Scottish or English is very different than being British. Looking atop a flag pole and seeing the Scottish flag is new. Living in the heart of a major city is also a new (and exciting) thing. I’ve always lived in the suburb of a major city (London, Washington D.C., Dallas). Glaswegians also speak so lovingly of their bus system! I think in all of the places I’ve lived public transportation has always been something that is something to complain about.
We still have a few more days of orientation before we all start at our placements on Wednesday. So more on our adventures next blog post. I’ll leave you with a wee playlist that was a LOT of fun to make. It’s songs that were on the Top 40 the week that I left the UK in 2003!