Journeys Part 3: HEAM

I guess this is kind of a continuation of thoughts and feels on the journeys series so this will be the 3rd one!

Mama bear and her cubs all back together after a year apart! S/O to the Hoover Dam for this killer view. And the lady who saw the selfie stick that saved us…

In Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, our epic hero Odysseus journeys home after being gone for 10 years, fighting in the Trojan war. His journey home, takes him another 10 years and is filled  enough adventure and drama to last a lifetime. Now, I ain’t no Odysseus, but the past 11 months have definitely felt longer, and maybe parts of the story would fit better in an MTV reality show (I’m serious!), but at the end we all make it back home.

This blog is coming to ya live from Denton, TX, from the comfort of my bed. I’m entering week 3 of reentry into the States and my post-YAV year life. It does feel weird to be home… So much is the same, (2-4 is still happy hour at Sonic, American presidents are still announcing troop deployments to the middle east (maybe, what was that???), Texas is hot), yet so much is different. Idk, words fail me in this regard.

Rachel and I shared a flight from LDN to Dallas. We ran into fellow 16-17 YAV Simon (South Korea) in customs!!

People asked me a ton what I missed the most about home, and I’ve struggled to answer this question, but I think now that I’m back I can most definitely say trap music (Bodak Yellow isn’t a musical masterpiece but it is nevertheless a BOP as the kids like to say #Cardi4President), the smell of my family’s house, and just feeling like I belong here…

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The last month of my YAV year felt completely nuts… So instead of words here are some pics of some of the shenanigans I got into during the month of July!

 

Day trip to Cumbrae w/ #teamCastlemilk

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Day out to Helensburgh w/ some of my JLU family

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I always seem to end up in open church buildings and this is what I found during this adventure in Helensburgh!

 

 

I went camping for the 1st time w/ O for my ‘actual’ birthday!

 

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WEDDING IN MILTON (yes, there were kilts)

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Randomly (or not) 2 of my favorite Scotsmen are also magicians. You can’t take Craig and David anywhere w/o then pulling out a deck of cards. Poor Jack here wasn’t ready!!

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Finally made it to this spot for a few pints!

 

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crashing the GK retreat on our last night. Serenaded by a couple of the Young Leaders

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David Borland, cheif YAV driver, bestest pal, making tea for us on our last night. Thanks for being a part of our crazy. WE LOVE YOU TO PIECES

Everyone wants to know what I’ll be doing now that I’m home. A very well-intentioned pastor asked me “what my vocation was going to be” the other day and other than say ‘GIRLLLLL,” I politely answered that I was still trying to figure it out. Which is totally a lie. I know exactly what I want to be doing with my life and where I see my journey continuing. But I think one of the things that keeps falling into my path is that I’ve gotta chill out and slow down, and also I should be careful about how I make my plans with the universe and myself. So in October of last year, I told myself that I was going to push back my plans until I was done with this year. Which is terrifying and extremely anxiety provoking. But I’m only a couple of weeks in so we’ll see how it goes. I will say that I know that I want to continue my work life in an adventure that will allow me to continue to foster healthy relationships and work environments. Whether that’s sitting at a desk answering calls, running around after children, or even working in a church again, only time will tell. I will keep y’all updated though. We did a reflection with Lynn a while back, I think on Iona, and there was this great quote to the effect of ‘if you don’t know the end goal, you can’t call it traveling.’ I LOVE THAT.

But at least for the next month (only, hopefully), I’m firing out applications, typing up cover letters until my fingers cramp up, catching up on American TV that I’ve missed out on, exploring Denton again, and drinking margaritas!
As I mentioned in my last blog, I’m going back to Scotland next month. MAP will be hosting the inaugural Milton Music Festival and I have the opportunity to go back for it (if you’ll be in Glasgow on September 16th, GET YA TICKETS FAM). It’ll be a whirlwind of a week, but I’m getting more and more excited as the calendar draws near. And then, less than 12 hours after I return from Scotland, I’ll be heading on another plane to Colorado, for our YAV transition retreat. I cannot wait to see my peeps again (if you ask my YAV sisters, this is a GIANT shift from how I was feeling about the month of September a couple of months ago…). Closure is such a privilege, so that we will get this space to decompress, hear each other’s stories and begin to find tools to truly be finished with this stage of our journeys is a blessing.

On the topic of home: Scotland has totally become that for me. I’ve gotten to live in some pretty amazing places over the course of my short life. The beauty of being in relationship with people and places is that they all seem to happen at a place in your life when they need to (or not sometimes…). I’m so grateful for some of the people in Scotland that I’ve gotten to be in relationship with. I know my life is fuller for it. Everyone keeps asking me when I’m coming back permanently, and that I shouldn’t worry about a place to stay etc. My public answer is, “chill out, I need to go home.”

 

 

 


Okay, that’s enough rambling… here’s a playlist. Songs about home. I clearly got distracted as I was making this one, but anyways…

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Journeys: Part 2

One of the greatest reality TV moments of all time. S/O to better days of MTV and the legend Puff Daddy. This makes more sense with the playlist featured at the end…

Endings aren’t meant to be easy. Leaving one thing to start another is often exhilarating, terrifying, and extremely saddening all at the same time.

“But you get to leave…”

These are words, spoken to us during our orientation last August (!!) have stuck with me throughout the course of my year here in Scotland. I’ve had my return flight booked since November. The YAV Program lasts for 11 months. Pretty clear cut time lines. Which in life, seem to happen very rarely. The amount of time and it’s clarity have totes been a comfort to me in the year full of uncertainty, fast and slow-paced changes and not a lot of hyper-organized structure (I’m obviously rethinking my love and adoration for the latter as for some reason I keep running towards things that are definitely not, lol).

If I’m being honest, I’ve been ready for the end of this YAV year for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I will always cherish this experience. This year has been absolutely bonkers. I’m not sure if I yet have the words to begin to tell some of how I’ve felt about some of what I’ve experienced. I will say that the thing I’ve missed most about home is a sense of familiarity. Smells, sights, sounds and people that I’m used to. I often feel way out of my element here, a feeling that is uncomfortable and shakes my confidence more than I’m maybe willing to admit…

On a similar yet unrelated note on endings, the YAVs did a super cool and wonderful thing yesterday. We had the opportunity to make a silk print yesterday. We have encountered these beautiful and awe inspiring works in the various places we work. Pauline who works for the Transformation Team in the Priority Areas office led us in the process I can only describe as transcribing the stories from our year using silk. Pauline has led workshops doing these silk prints in churches and groups all over. It was such a wonderful process. Thanks Pauline! We love love love ya! We were also joined by Carolina Trevino who is the YAV site coordinator for the Austin site.


After our silk print dries, it will be cut up into six pieces and we will each get a chance to take home a piece of our creation home with us. Much excites…


So here’s a breakup playlist of sorts. Songs about endings, relationships and some stuff in-between. Falling in love with a place and people who you know you have to leave does feel a little bit like ending a romantic relationship. So I may have found myself in some state while making this playlist. Also I was listening to the 2003 masterpiece album Confessions by Usher….

4th of July Ramblings

The only song you need on you Independence playlists tbh…

One of the biggest challenges about being away from home has been celebrating. Being away from family, friends and the comforts of home doesn’t make wanting to keep traditions and such easy. A lot of times after a stressful day or week, all we want to do is lay in bed, in our PJ s and eat ice cream, call and text home, or like cry.

Today is the 4th of July. This is how my morning started…

 


I really appreciate being surrounded by folks who not only work extremely hard, but party even harder. So much of the time, with life and the things it’s so important that we create some wee pockets of sunshine. I so much appreciate the GK crew (whom I have willingly sold my soul to for the week!).

I feel like the Scotland YAVs have done a pretty stellar job of celebrating stuff this year. From our post-Christmas sister day, to birthday stuffs to just leaving the flat cuz it’s a healthy thing to do.

So here are some pics from our 4th of July picnic in the park this evening (I’m pretty sure it stopped raining just for us). I like celebrating with this gang. I’m very glad we’ve had so much to celebrate over the past 10 months *cries*

 

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Happy 4th to all the shawds @ home. Enjoy your day off.

 

 

 

 

 

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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