Journeys: Part 1

I LOVE shoes. My personal shoe collection is a thing of personal joy and admiration. I know it’s just stuff but I think a good pair of kicks can change your whole vibe. A fly pair of kicks turn an outfit from meh to YAYYY. They change the way you step out of the room. They comfort you on journeys. They show off a killer pedicure.

Now, one of my virtues is NOT packing lightly, and that has definitely been a struggle on this year of simple living. I have a lot of STUFF, i brought a decent amount of it with me to Scotland (both of my suitcases were EXACTLY 40lbs), I carry a large bag, most of the time. I want to be prepared for most any scenario.

I don’t know if I’ve yet discovered what a lifetime of living simply looks like for me, but I think that packing a little lighter, both literally and figuratively will play a huge role in that. But until then, here’s a blog about [some of*] the shoes I brought with me to Scotland and some of the adventures we’ve been on…

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Converse: I’ve had these pair of shoes since I was 16! If these shoes could talk… They did end up being perfect colors for the university that I graduated from #GMG It was totes an interesting experience to be told to not wear them (in jest, kind of…), as they were the “wrong color.” Football and the teams people support here in Glasgow has been a pretty big part of my year in terms of topics that people can easily relate to and can cross cultural boundaries. For many people, things like colors and language go way beyond someone’s favorite sports team.

 

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Teva sandals: These puppies were my birthday gift from my other half last summer (and a compromise as the object of my affections were above her price range at the time…), and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. I’ve gotten to wear them during the course of this wee heatwave that seems to have been sweeping across Scotland while we’ve been here. This is a picture of them enjoying the ICE COLD waters on a beach in Iona.

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Wellies: cuz Scotland

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Black platforms: You never know the adventures that life will take you on. Or the parties you might get invited to… However these were my unfortunate shoe choice for a NYE ceilidh (see New Year’s blog)

Blue suede heels: these are the best shoes I’ve ever purchased. They go with every outfit ever. I couldn’t not bring them #noselfcontrol

 

 

 

So here’s a pretty killer playlist of songs about shoes! Thanks for tuning in!

*this is not an exhaustive list of all of the shoes I brought with me to Scotland, but that is neither here, nor there…

A Case for Easter Egg Hunts

If you know me, you how I feel about fun (spoiler, fun is awesome). Enjoying life, sometimes in spite of many of the challenges that we face is difficult yet important.
So when handed to opportunity to attend the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly (GA) this past week, I was really fucking excited. I’ve never attended PC(USA)’s GA before, so I was pretty stoked about attending a GA in Scotland, in one of the oldest GA halls in the world. I think was a little too enthusiastic about displaying my excitement about GA but many whom I expressed my excitement to were shocked and confused as to my enthusiasm. For me, a GA is the coming together of the denomination, to meet and make decisions about our future, to also gather in fellowship and pray with one another as we journey together. A family reunion of sorts. I just really am a fan of going out into God’s world and then coming together for a wee catch up and a little bit of polity (if anyone can find me the origins of why things get passed with foot-stomping, that would be greatly appreciated!).

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*blows whistle*

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The GA hall was heavy roasting. Olivia’s drawings helped!

It was really helpful to read through some of the reports in the [Blue Book] and witness and listen to all of the work that the wider church has been doing over the past year. In terms of working for the Church of Scotland, we are very much in a wee Priority Areas bubble, which is not a bad thing, but a thing.

I enjoyed my 1st GA experience. On Sunday we attended Heart and Soul which is a mini-festival the church of Scotland puts on. The councils of the church and various organizations and church showcase themselves in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh and the day ends with an outdoor worship service in the park!

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Outdoor service w/ Grant and outgoing Youth Moderator, Andrew!

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I have no self-control and I saw Princess Anne 3 times last week…

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I ended up in the public gallery with 2 lassies from my presbytery back home (waddup Grace Pres!)! Emily who is studying abroad for the semester in Edinburgh and Tara who is a probationer minister for the Church of Scotland right now. So random, but basically it’s defiantly a big fat tiny Presbyterian world!

Lynn, YAVs and Kerry Rice who was the PC(USA) rep to the GA this year. It was lovely meeting you Kerry!!

SIDENOTE: S/O to the Church of Scotland Youth who allowed me and Isabella to crash their GA war room. The National Youth Assembly folk have been amazing to the YAVs this year and we appreciate them greatly. Also THANKS FOR LETTING US SHARE AN ENERGIZER WITH YOU (I love energizers, and other than me freaking about them, here’s a great article from NEXT Church about where they fit into this thing we call worship. They are fun. If you dislike energizers, you dislike fun…)


One of the addresses from last week was from Sam Wells who is the current vicar at St. Martin-In-The-Fields in London and previously of Duke Divinity School. I went back and read his address as I wasn’t around for it. I will say I’m so glad I read it while/before completing this blog. Fun and its place in my life, especially as it pertains to work, religion and church have been on my mind heavily. I think that in the context of church, enjoyment and personal fulfillment can be viewed as frivolities. I think my takeaway for right now is that MY Lord and Savior Jesus Christ turned water into wine at a party, so lighten up. The sacraments we celebrate, the community we build, the love we share, the session meetings we attend, they should all bring us some ounce of joy.

One of the things I’ve gotten to do this year is to help plan a music festival in Milton. The inaugural Milton Music festival will be taking place at the church in September and I am so glad that I will be able to come back for a week to see this piece of work through!!!! Planning a music festival is totes a bucket list item for me, so that I’ve been able to be a part of the MAP team this year and work on this, is a feeling that words fail to describe (though I’m still job hunting at the moment sooo, any festivals that’s trying to hire your girl full time, holla)!

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So here’s to not being so serious all the time, swearing in church and when you stub your toe on the side of your bed, dancing in pews and on tables at bars, Easter egg hunts, celebrations, wearing red on Pentecost, laughing uncontrollably, and striving to live into the abundance that God is calling us to live out.

No playlist this post, but here are some pictures from fun things I’ve been up to including a trip to Islay

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Port Ellen Lighthouse

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Wee purple house. I want one…

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Kildalton Cross

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My trip to Islay happened to coinside with the Whiskey Festival, so had to hit a few of the stils!

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Sunset (10:30pm) view in Bowmore

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Tim Horton’s opened their 1st UK store in Glasgow last week, so obviously our resident “Canadian” had to show us what the hype was all about!

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#SquadGoals Part 2

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I started this blog on the train to go and meet Olivia at the end of the West Highland Way. A 96 mile walking trail from Glasgow to Fort William.

This is a love letter of sorts to my YAV sisters, but mainly Olivia. I know I’m probably not supposed to have favorites, but here I am. Rachel and Isabella are equally as fantastic and I really don’t know if I can hit it home enough about how much I appreciate them, but yeah, Olivia is probably everyone’s favorite too…


Olivia and I are different in almost every way. She’s a 4 on the Enneagram, I’m a 2 (Isabella and Rachel are also 2’s). She loves being with nature, I enjoy looking at nature. Planning things far in advance brings me joy and tranquility and I try to stay away from spontaneity at all costs. Planning far in advance isn’t necessarily Olivia’s fave thing and she is truly comfortable going with the flow (a trait that I am extremely jealous of).

Olivia does joy in a way that not a lot of adults do. Everyday is the potential for a party, every moment has a song and accompanying dance (dancing in Morrison’s while shopping for Thanksgiving is a highpoint) and, our fridge is a cow (you’ll have to pop by the flat for that story!!).

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This past week, Olivia spent 7 days walking and camping her way through Western Scotland. I would definitely never do that (especially not at this point in my life…). She fucking owned the WHW. Her entrance to the end of the of the trail was PERFECT (I’ll set the scene: I see her and scream, giant bear hug to the tune of “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled, lots of noise etc.).

We proceeded to have an amazing weekend in Fort William. Lots of quality time with my favorite YAV.

It’s not just that we’re different that makes this harmony extra special or anything like that. No two people or groups of people are the same in every way. For me, it’s that despite this, we’ve been able to build friendship that’ll probably leave us entertwined in each other’s lives for quite a bit. That the universe has aligned us is really cool and wonderful, and I will be always grateful!

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Killer views at breakfast from the guesthouse we stayed in at Fort William

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One of my fave thing to do in new places is to go to church. Thanks for indulging me O!

Here’s Olivia’s WHW playlist. Enjoy!

#SquadGoals Part 1

I saw a tube of toothpaste and I cried. But we’ll get to that later.

One of the five values of the YAV program is intentional Christian community.

                “YAVs explore what it means to be a Christian community with one another and their neighbors. While some will live in housing together and others spread throughout their country, all YAVs will reflect together on their service and explore their relationship with God, the church, and their ministry in a broken world.”

Not that I wasn’t expecting it, maybe more so it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind, but my intentional Christian community in the context of my YAV year extends far beyond my YAV community. Serving in Scotland has meant being a part of the Priority Areas family. From the PA staff to all the folks that work in Anderston, to the folk with whom I cross paths with in Milton, my squad is endless. And I love, love, LOVE them.

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#teatimeatAnderston

Back in October (!!) our flat got broken into while Lynn was away. We were still babies and didn’t know anyone really well (or have a ton of Scottish phone numbers in our phones yet). The only name that came to mind was Irene, who is the Session Clerk in Milton. She’s also one of my favorite people here and has played a huge role in my life here in Scotland. But anyway, that call sparked of a chain of other events and phone calls that sent the cavalry to the YAV flat on a really shitty day (Fred was our MVP of that night).

I believe that God calls us to be in relationship with one another. In April of last year I found out I would be coming to Scotland and I met Lynn for the first time. I also got to meet some of the folks that would be serving in my YAV class, many of whom would also be serving internationally at different sites. Having people to spend the summer exchanging Jesus-themed memes and packing lists with was very reassuring. It’s a blessing to get to do life with other people.

One of the challenges facing the Church is that people aren’t walking through the doors in the ways that we’ve previously expected them to. We say that we need to now go OUT into the world into communities and be with people in ways that THEY expect us to. Now, I certainly don’t think that I have all the answers, but I know one thing is for sure: this is a hard task. Meeting people on their home turf, by their standards is difficult. But then again, being in constant relationship with people, with God’s people, will always be hard work. It’s the sort of hard work that we should be running towards.


Huge shoutout to my housemates, my Americans, my sisters. Their crazy meets my crazy. One, we all decided to do this thing called “mission” together and that will always be a bonding point. But more importantly, it’s absolutely a blessing to come home to, no matter the day I’ve had, a live music video in my bedroom, a reorganized kitchen, or an offer of ice cream (that will always be rejected on my part, to much chagrin).

Below are various shots of us spending time together. We do it quite a bit, in various ways. One of my favorite things to do as a group is to pray together. I really haven’t made prayer a good practice in my adult life so far.  So getting the opportunity to pray with them has been such a blessing. We have various selfies, our kitchen catch-ups, ceilidhs, concerts, walks, and a couple of train rides…

Isabella and I had both run out of our respective toothpaste tubes and had moved on to the travel-sized tubes hidden in our toiletry bags out of pure laziness. A week later I walked into our bathroom and there stood a brand-new tube of toothpaste. I’ll blame it on an uncharacteristically emotional day, but I saw the toothpaste and burst into tears.

There was something so overwhelmingly comforting about a conversation on collective laziness turned into a super mundane, but equally grandiose, act of love. And that’s been my takeaway of being in Scotland this year- learning to live with strangers and working in a place that is different from my current home in so many ways. These are simple things, and people go through these feelings of newness, of novelty, every day. But in the newness and the constant learning, I’ve gained a family I didn’t know I needed. A family that rides for each other through the thick and thin. A family spread out amongst a whole nation. A family that shows up for each other. A family that argues with one another. A family that is probably single-handedly keeping the tea industry together. #priorityareasaregoodplacestobe #Oliviawashere

Below is a playlist of some of our flats all-time fave songs. The best part of today was getting everyone to pick just three! See if you can guess which song belongs to which YAV (we each have 3)?!!?!

On Death, Dying, and Things that Happen Around That

Of all the blogs I could have possibly planned out this year, this was totes not on my radar at all. But here we are.

Conversation between me and Carys (7 years old):

C: Where are we going?

Me (E): We’re going to plant a tree for Bernie?

C: Why?

E: (unsure…) For people to remember her by… Sometimes people do that when someone special to them dies.

C: But we don’t do that for everyone…

E: I know, but Bernie was super special to lots of people here and I think that that shows how special she was here to lots of people…

C: looks at me, then turns to brownspace and starts talking about picking up trash and how they should build a football pitch for people in the neighborhood

Shoutout to Carys for keeping me on my toes and always challenging me with her questions. But yeah, she was totally right, we don’t always plant trees for people when they die. Funerals and memorials and things we do for people (or maybe more for ourselves??) in their passing varies across a wide spectrum of both culture and expense. The funeral INDUSTRY is a multi billion dollar one. But for every person that gets soon-to-be beautiful plum trees planted in their memory, a horse-drawn carriage down Saracen, a bench, a plaque, a wake thrown, or all the other things we do to mark people’s death there are people whose death is but a blip in time. Like I said, wide spectrum.

I don’t do death. Well not really that I don’t, more I’ve never had to. I only ever met one of my grandparents, once. Most of the funerals and people passing around me in my life so far haven’t been people I’ve had super close connections with. And in all honesty, death makes me extremely uncomfortable.

On Wednesday 28th of December I woke up to the news that one of my favorite people had passed away. Though we didn’t grow up together, and our connections can’t be easily mapped out on our family tree, Desiree was my cousin and on my Top 10 List of favorite people.

Our dads grew up close to each other in Nigeria and obviously moved to the States at varying points to raise their families. We met for the 1st time as they passed through our home in Maryland on their way to spend summer (’05 maybe) with their dad in NY, and to be honest we never really got the opportunity to get to each other past that day. Fast forward almost a decade and a few moves later, both of our families are now in Texas by chance, and we’re older so Facebook is a thing. Texas is large af so, though in the same state they were like 6 hours away. We got back in touch as university started to roll out for us. Desiree and her other half, Destiny, have become a fixture in the Eni house over the past few years, and truly it’s been a blessing. We’re all children of the diaspora, who are caught somewhere between our upbringing in the West and our love of our Nigerian culture and heritage. It’s actually really cool how our generation has created this space of extremely cool existence for ourselves. This is something we all talked about quite often during our increasingly frequent get-togethers.

When I found out about Desiree, it was probably like 4am in the States, so I was extremely pissed off that no one was answering my phone calls. I cried like most of that day (S/O to my YAV sisters and Irene and James). It made the week and definitely the start to a new year seem sadder and slower. But, I think it was the weekend of Desiree’s memorial service, I was laying in my bed in a seasonably grumpy mood. I just knew that, I was done being sad about missing THIS. Desiree did life extremely well. I knew she’d be pissed at me for being a big ol’ sour puss during this year. She was so excited that I was coming to Scotland to work for the church.

During my time here in Scotland, I’ve had the blessing of being able to celebrate the lives of folks that have been very important to the lives of people here. In October one of the people really important in one of the groups I work with every week passed away unexpectedly. Chris was volunteer extraordinaire for Just Like Us and I enjoyed his voice being one of the 1st when I walked into the church on a Wednesday morning, moving around pots and pans, listening to the news on the radio. He was loud, and passionate about social justice and rights for the most disadvantaged Scots (I loved talking to him about Margret Thatcher and the politics of my country). His passing hit my Just Like Us family really hard. His funeral was “absolutely mobbed man,” and in the lead up to it, it was wonderful to hear stories of his life, memories, both fond and difficult by people whose life he touched and was a part of.

Bernie, the subject of my conversation with Carys, was someone that I didn’t get to meet. She left Milton before I got here, but it’s been very clear to me that her impact on this place, among the people that I’m getting to know during my year was tremendous. She was the manager at the sheltered housing complex in Milton, but more than that, she was a friend and confidant to so many here. Yesterday, there was a wee service in Milton followed by a the planting of 3 plum trees at Taransay Court, where she lived and worked.

Getting to mourn the lives of those who have been important to the lives of the people who I’m growing to call family here in Milton, has made being away from my own family as I come to terms with and mourn the life of my cousin Desiree so much more comfortable. I was really angry that I couldn’t go home for her services. Like totes not a thing that I get to be angry about, I knew what I was in for when I came to Scotland for the year, but still a thing.

Desiree is a #twin2 (LIKE ME!!) so our connection will be forever written in the stars of twindom. So thanks to Milton and this year, for unexpected gifts and, for the space to begin to learn how to mourn those whom we love, especially when we can’t be there (physically)

No playlist, cuz I literally can’t even, but here’s a song that I think captures the essence of what the spin around the dancefloor of life is like. This song was sung at Chris’s funeral by Iain Morrison. It was stunning and wonderful.

 

“Dunoon’s a Long Ass Way to go Just for Dinner…”

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Northern Lights, or dinner in Dunoon?

Not exactly the wording I used as we arrived at Glen Kin (sorry for swearing at you Alex…) the home of the GK’s residentials (camps). It was their staff launch to kick of the season and recognize the hard work and progress of the staff and volunteers. The house is tucked away a tiny yet stunning piece of the universe in Dunoon which is couple of hours from Glasgow and includes a ferry ride. The evening was indescribably beautiful in many ways, and as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, GK knows how to throw a party!

The Scotland YAVs get invited along to many a fete, our collection of friends and family here have been very gracious in including us in their various shenanigans. Personally for me, the best part of serving as a YAV has been the gift of being invited to experience things with other people. Whether it’s a holiday, a meeting with funders, a walk along the canal on a beautifully sunny day, a conference or a communion service. There’s been so many gems I’ve had the blessing of experience. There’s definitely been the “you totally don’t deserve this,” running around in my head, but I always try to remind myself that grace is that unearned gift that has been bestowed not only to me, but ALL of us. No matter who we are or what we do (or think we have done), there is absolutely nothing that can keep us from Him. I constantly have to remind myself of this.

My absolute favorite part of being a YAV has been having the opportunity to experience things, mundane and extraordinary (I’m planning a music festival in MILTON!!), WITH folks. Whether it’s my YAV sisters, my Scottish family here, my supervisors or new friends. Words almost fail to describe how amazing this is. From child protection trainings, beautiful hill walks in various parts of the country, dinners, dances or trips to Lidl. I don’t have to do any of this alone. I know I’ve harped on about this in previous blogs, but I am constantly reminded that my squad runs ever so deep.

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my second communion Sunday in Milton

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Girls’s Brigade getting one of their favorite games

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Tenements to come down in Milton

That being said, Dunoon may be a long journey just for a dinner, but Scotland is an even longer journey to come on a mission. To leave my context to serve in that of others. That’s been the most difficult part of my year. There was a day of our orientation which we spent in New York City. We visited a few spots in the city, but for me the main takeaway of the day was the awkward and uncomfortable feeling of being an observer/tourist. That feeling, of being an awkward guest has permeated throughout my year. In Milton, I am in the middle of people’s journeys, their days, their established relationships, and as adaptable as I try to be, that feeling of being an outsider is always there. As uncomfortable as it is sometimes, I don’t think that this is a bad thing. It is what it is. I’m used to feeling like an outsider (a blog post for another day perhaps?). I think that having the ability to explore new things and places is how we are able to learn about God and his universe. I love that I get to do this, in this wonderful place with these wonderful people

 

PLAYLIST

                Okay kids, so finally a playlist. Some tunes that I get to hear played live on a Thursday morning from the folks from at the Music Sessions, tunes from Sunshine on Leith and Trainspotting (TRAINSPOTTING WAS SOLID AF, man like Renton) and some others that have floated through (one with a brief story from St. Patrick’s Day!) my year. Enjoys!!

Ekama and the Awesome, Fantastic, Exceptional, Very Good Day

I think that most YAVs and YAVA will agree with me, most of the things that MAKE this crazy year never make it to a blog situation. 1) We’re lazy. Fam, that would be way too much writing. 2) Most of the things that happen during this year are so crazy, so out of this world yet, ordinary and it’s hard to get a firm enough grasp on an experience to put it into words for the universe to read. 3) You probably wouldn’t believe the story, cuz we still can’t believe that it happened.

Thankfully for you, my faithful readers, this was not one of those “un-bloggable” days. It was a powerfully ordinary yet amazing day, the wee gems that makes this year worth it for me. An unexpectedly amazing day, that I didn’t know that I needed, until I was in the middle of it…

My alarm rang at 7am, but I turned it off and reset it for 10 cuz I knew I didn’t need to be presentable to the universe until lunchtime. I wasn’t feeling so hot so I’d decided that after I rolled out of bed I’d make myself a bacon roll (a frequent occurrence) while I sipped my coffee before I showered. I sat in the kitchen clearing out the emails I’d missed last week while we were on our retreat. Then our internet kicked me out and I noticed our fridge was dark. Our electricity was out, which immediately decreased my already sour mood.

After lots of swearing and banging around my room, I eventually left for a training for music practitioners for the Racket (the MAP youth project I work at on a Monday night).

Stephen Fischenbacher, the founder of “Fischy” music (a very popular music tool around here) led our session. It ended up being way more amazing that I was anticipating a Monday staff training to be. Stephen gave us lots to think about as we navigate constantly trying to tweak and refine the Racket. Youth work is really fucking hard. The kids we work with are complex and in so many ways, we don’t have enough of the tools, resources and skills to give them everything they deserve. It was great to gain some new things for our rolodex. We did some rhythm and song-writing activities. They were just fun and silly. Also, I got to experience Iain Morrison attempting to “dab,” and I didn’t know that I needed to experience that until it happened (if you know Iain, or what “dabbing” is you’d appreciate this too!).

songs we wrote during our training today!

We moved straight from that to our Racket session. It was a pretty great session. There’s usually a group that goes off for guitar lessons and then of the bigger group we’re left with we do song-writing stuff and they get taken off in pairs to get drumming lessons. Our bigger group of song-writers is usually a tough group to keep engaged for an hour. But today, it got to a point when I was walking up to the studio to get something and I was completely thrown off by how silent and engaged they were with the task of writing a song together (this NEVER happens).

All off the kids that walk through our door on a Monday are amazing and it’s been fantastic to watch them grow and come out of their shells these past 6 months. But we have a few, man, they’re so switched on, and they get this whole music thing. Today was a day that those kids got to shine.

Usually I catch a partial ride home with one of the youth workers Calum and walk the rest of the way home with Julie (OG Scotland YAV). Our car ride was filled with laughter, banter, singing along to the radio and an important life lesson on how to treat women.

Then I came home to pancakes for dinner as I’ll spending my Mardi Gras at a training until 10pm.

Now I’m sitting at my computer, pore strip on my nose, sipping a glass of wine, as a recount a very normal day, that was made special in many ways.

I’ve had so many days like today. As tough as I find this year at times, sometimes I’ll like “damn, I can’t believe this is my life and I’m getting to experience this moment right now.” But, as I said at the beginning of this post, most of this year doesn’t get written up with accompanying pictures. But a nice big amen and a thank you, to y’all, my various communities that make this year (and the bloggable bit of this year) possible!

Again, I’m getting lazy with my playlists, but here’s the chorus to the song the kiddos at the Racket wrote today!!

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“She Makes It More Fun!”

I left my blogging notebook in Skye earlier this week and it was just returned to me, so here’s a blog I started while I was there! S/O to Ashleigh for inviting me on her holiday w/ her kiddos and the rest of Clan Gilles/Brown/Graham (and Alex!) for showing ya girl a fantastic time and for inviting me to a new piece of the universe. I really had amazing weekend!

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#AdventureEkama in Skye


One of the reoccurring themes for Ekama in the crazy YAV-year is that I need to chill out and MAKE time and spaces for myself to let loose and have a little fun. Not that I hate fun. Fun is awesome. I am an awesome, fun person (the title of my blog is a quote taken from Lewis, who didn’t know I was crashing his holiday but said “I like it when Ekama comes to Skye, she makes it more fun!” *cries*) and I think as humans we defiantly get caught up in the whirlwind of obligations and life and taking time out often feels like running away from life.

One of the last things we did at YAV DISorientation in Stony Point was talk about self-care. There were various stations (mandala drawing, a labyrinth (BLOG ON MY LOVE OF LABYRITHS COMING SOON OMG), Taize, and probably a couple I can’t remember currently) of which we had to do a couple. So I thought I’d blog about some of the shit I like to do for fun…

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Labyrinth found on an adventure in Faerie Glen on the Isle of Skye

  • Take naps – Irene, the Clerk of session in Milton, and basically my mom while I’m here, got me a t-shirt for Christmas that said “Nap Queen.” I can often be found napping in her flat. Or anywhere else tbh cuz napping is just a really important thing that become less socially acceptable post-infancy and fam, that’s gotta end…
  • Cook – cooking is one of the things in the universe that I am truly confident in. Being in a kitchen and creating something delicious is just so stress-free for me (and cooking people delicious food is also a great way to make friends!). Also I really like eating so that’s a thing.
  • Journal – manifesting thoughts and feels into words
  • Alone-time – extroverts like me cherish our alone time. Being constantly on the ball with other people in various capacities is so draining. Sometimes I just walk home from the bustop a long way, go pick something up to get out of the flat, or walk to the westside to get donuts by myself!
  • Join a choir
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Crescendo is a choir of folks from all over Glasgow that meet to make a joyful noise! Our steadfast leader is Iain Johnston who is an elder in Milton and one of the many folks that works under the Priority Areas umbrella. We meet once a week in Anderston Kelvingrove Church to prep to take the show to various of the churches and projects we work with. 

  • Catch up on the news – as stress-inducing as the news is, I think that catching up with those who we share the world with is really important. Awareness is the catalyst for change. Watching news etc. is just one of those habits I’ve picked up off
  • Visit churches – I’m a big, fat, church nerd. I’m in the home of Presbyterianism. I literally can’t not…
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I didn’t get to visit Kilmuir and Stenscholl Church on Skye as this week the morning service was on the other side of the island. But these buildings are a great view of the famous Telford church buildings that can be found all over Scotland. View from Columba 1400.

  • Play with makeup – simple living means not having extra funds to splash about on glittery eyeshadow. In addition to makeup shopping to be very time-consuming *internal rant about limited access to makeup shades tailored for WOC* So I may have brought my entire makeup collection with me to Scotland
  • Do my hair – I have patience for many things, maintaining an afro is not one of them. So every couple months I carve out about 9 hours of time and sit down to braid my hair. Glasgow, is quite a diverse city and the universe placed the YAV-flat about half a mile away from a hair store with which for me to purchase purple hair J
  • Random adventures
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Casual London bridge views

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Ekama and 2 clerks of session walk into a mall… Grateful for these two super mucho.

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Auchentoshan Whiskey distillery. Totally worth taking a day off for!

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The most snow I’ve seen in Scotland. The tiny Rowes enlisted my assistance in manifesting a snowman

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Lambhill Stables. Views from an unexpected canal walk on a beautiful day #workperks

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View from the top of Connick Hill in Edinburgh

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More Edinburgh

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Unplanned coffee date w/ Isabella

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#sightsfromSkye

I’m not sure I’ve been inspired enough to make a playlist this week so here’s one of my favorite songs, by one of my favorite artists. This song (even more so this record) came out at a really horrible, not-so-great time for Ekama. It was one of those musical, shining lights at the beginning of a really cloudy tunnel.  Also, Frank and Tyler make really great music together…

“It’ll be good for you to get away for a bit…”

As an YAV serving internationally, one of the expectations is that you do not go home during your year of service (with a few exceptions). First of all, jetting off back to the States is really not conducive to simple living, especially the way these ticket prices are set up! But even more so, as we also make a dedication to cross-cultural mission we make the decision to fully immerse ourselves in the culture and new community we have chosen to call our home.

That being said, I’m kind of a fan of bending rules (within reason). Luckily for me, Scotland and England are the same country *controversial* So after the festive winter holidays had subsided, I decided to take the time to go back to the old stomping grounds, spend time with some family and get a few touristy bits in there as Isabella and Olivia had never been to London before.

On Friday, we took the city by storm and wondered around seeing some sights. One of my childhood buds David met us on our adventures. I haven’t seen him since we left London in ’03. Our mums went to nursing school together back in the day, and we’re about 6 months apart in age. It was so great to catch up, chat about our various politics and the paths on which we find ourselves as adulthood is beginning to take shape. We ended our day with a service at a sung Eucharist service Westminster Abbey celebrating Epiphany.

 

Saturday was kind of a tourist bust and we kind of ended up wandering around London while missing fun things to do as we didn’t really plan ahead as well as we could have.

We did however go to Harrods #fortheculture I touched a chinchilla jacket. FAM it was so soft. It was like a jacket made out of soft baby bottoms. Oh my goodness…

There was a sale at Harrods, but #simpleliving


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Somerset House

Sunday was church. My cousin Ntami is on the praise team at Jesus House in London. It’s I believe the largest Redeemed Christian Church of God (a Nigerian Pentecostal denomination) in the UK. It was cool to share this worshiping experience with Isabella and Olivia. To our luck there was an incredible female saxophone player, Funmi Sax playing for the LAWD. Listen, you don’t hear a sax in church every Sunday… The service was a wonderful one, and again, wonderful to share the experience with my new sisters.

Monday was a wee bit of an adventure. The London Underground is one of the many wonders of this world. However, last week there was a planned strike by 2 of the unions which closed most of the tube stations in zone 1 (central London). We spent most of our morning trying to figure out how to get Isabella and Olivia into town (the family we spent time with lives just north of London). I sent them off to Camden Town and I made my way to West London, Northolt, where I grew up to visit my old primary school and catch up with an old friend and her mum.

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Viking Primary School. Best mural ever.


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*whitty and controversial comment about Unions*

Man, the world really seems so large when you’re young. This place that was so familiar almost felt like I was walking around in a doll’s universe. All the spaces and distances seemed a lot smaller than I had last remembered them.

All in, it was a solid trip. I haven’t been to London since I was in high school (lol forever ago). It was good to see old sights and people who are home to me.

When we got back to Glasgow I was absolutely shattered. It didn’t feel like a restful trip as we were kind of running about the entire weekend. I was also at the tail end of a pretty nasty ear infection/flu situation and just general tiredness from the weeks past. Originally I was going to plan the trip meticulously and have a mapped out, fully-illustrated itinerary for the girls. That didn’t happen for many reasons, namely me being tired af. One thing that is becoming more apparent to me is that I’ve got to chill out. I really do give myself a hard time when things don’t pan out the way I was expecting.

The title of this blog were words spoken to me by my site coordinator. We have like 4 weeks of holiday that we gotta take (which is a lot of freakin’ time fam). Today in church we talked (Christopher is super into asking the congregation questions during his sermon *gasp*) a little bit about feeling “down” and the importance of being able to take time away for renewal and reflection. In the word ‘holiday’ we see the words ‘holy’ and ‘day.’ That is a day or period that is holy. A sacred period set aside by God. Now in looking back at my trip, I feel so relaxed and lighter, if that makes sense. It makes me really excited for future trips planned and unplanned around Scotland and the UK over the course of this year.

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Advent Review: Reflections on a Crazy and Stressful Month at the End of a Crazy and Stressful Year

I started this blog post on December 27th or 28th. As the title states, rough month with lots of good bits sprinkled in. I definitely over-extended myself on responsibilities and events for the month so 100% all my bad. I entered Advent knowing it was going to be crazy cuz duh, church, but yeah, still a toughie.  Post-Advent proved to be a continuation of not-so-smooth sailing so this update did not get finished at the time I was intending it to be. But a blog for another day… So here’s my wee Advent reflection:

I love Advent. It’s a month full of reflection and anticipation at the coming of the Lord. The fulfilment of God’s promise to us. His Son is coming, and we gotta wait. I think there’s something special in the repetitive nature of Advent (and our Church’s calendar). We kind of know what to expect so we can’t be surprised. That being said, I’m sure very few people can say that their Advent experiences are always the same.

This Advent I volunteered to take all the services for the month. For the most part, I think I was quite comfortable planning out each Sunday. I even got to try my hand at a Lessons and Carols service! I’m grateful for Christopher giving me the opportunity to do this.

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Colston Milton Christmas tree as decorated during the 2nd Sunday in Advent by the weens!

The 1st Sunday of Advent also happened to coincide with Thanksgiving weekend (as it frequently does). So after worship at our various churches, the YAVs converged upon Lynn’s house to prepare a Thanksgiving meal to share with all our supervisors from our various sites. I think we managed to fit like 18 people in Lynn’s kitchen. It was wonderful to be able to share this American tradition with our new Scottish family.

The day before was a special one for the Milton Arts Project (MAP), one of the projects I’m working on. Colston Milton is home to MAP and MAP75, a record label. The old boiler room of the church was converted into a soundproof recording space. To launch this wonderful new space for the community the whole MAP crew transformed the church hall into a wonderful venue space. The day started with a song writing workshop, led to an interview with the Scottish writer James Kelman (I’ll need to find a video of the interview cuz WOWZERS! Also, I asked him a question that left him speechless!) and ended with a gig with some of the participants of the Music Sessions (adults) and the Racket (weans) showcasing their talent and hard work. It was a truly magical night, and that such things happen within the four walls of the church I think is a wonderful sign of the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Another adventure I found myself on The GK Experience’s Cash for Kids drive. The GK Experience is a youth work organization that some of the YAVs get to cross paths with in our work (and social lives, they know how to party, which is much appreciated). It’s also really cool that their fearless leader Alex was a volunteer in Milton (like myself) many moons ago and I love that our paths cross so often through both work and play! During the crazy Christmas season, GK undertakes in a project called “Cash for Kids” which provides cash grants and Christmas presents for some of the most disadvantaged youth in Glasgow and the West, many of whom we work with. It’s a huge undertaking which involved a cold warehouse, more toys than the mind can conceive, many shopping trips, a master spreadsheet lots of sorting and THE BEST HOME VISIT EVAR. It was so wonderful to get to experience this project. There is much to be said about the materialism that has come to be associated with Christmas, however, for many families the tangibility that comes with presents at Christmas is a huge part of the season. To be in a situation where you can provide that for families, truly is a blessing that I will always cherish.

Other things sprinkled into my Advent included caroling, getting to know the recording studio with Iain as a few folks get in to work on songs they’ve written, and some difficult conversations with a couple of people. All in, I’m really glad that Advent is over. Post Advent comes Christmas and the New Year which for me, bring redemption, new beginnings and even more so on this YAV journey, new adventures.

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W/ OG Scotland YAV Julie at the PA/Anderston Christmas Night Out!

Originally I was going to add some of my fave Christmas tunes. But self-control and Epiphany innit? So instead I’ll leave you with a wee prayer. Kanye gives us many blessings, and this one (on which he’s not in) follows up on his single “Ultralight Beam” and features the musical stylings of Kirk Franklin and sista Kelly Price. Enjoy!