A lot has changed since I last wrote. Mostly in my placement. I was working a split placement... One at Inman Center and one at House of Teens.
As everyone knows and most are feeling by now, the economy in the US is hurting. Due to this Inman Christian Center was making major cutbacks, they discontinued all of their programming except the childcare (which is where I was working). With these cutbacks they also "let go" all of the administration and any excess workers (groundskeeper, janitor... two directors... the list goes on). The person who ended up in charge after all of these changes would have been number four in charge at the beginning. Also, with all of the chaos they forgot a few very important things when it came to my presence. Background checks were not completed (nothing to find, but still) I was never sent to training or first aid classes that are required for childcare... The new person in charge finally figured all of this out and not so nicely asked why I hadn't questioned the fact that all of this wasn't done. And so began a two week period of hell! Every day 5 mins before I left the center I would be called into the office and told all of the things I did wrong that day. They were also having such financial problems that any chance we had at payment was out the window. I spoke to my site leader and we attempted to mend all of this, but in the end we all came to the same conclusion... Maybe I was best suited for a different placement. I was very sad to leave the beautiful children I had spent my months with. All they need is love. Love that they don't get at home. They just wanted someone to care and give them positive attention. Check out the pictures link to see how cute they all are!! My little favorite kiddo gave me huge hugs and was very confused as to why I was leaving... I will be checking in on them from time to time though.
The changes at Inman came at an interesting time for House of Teens. Andrew, a former Mennonite Volunteer, had been running H.o.T. for about 4 years, plus the year he volunteered there. He was offered a job closer to his wife's family out of state. They have a young son and raising him near family was important to them and it offered a great oppertunity for Drew. He took the job and his last week was the first week of December. With this there was some staffing change. Lauren moved up from assistant director to full director and H.o.T. was in need of someone to spend more time. Worked out quite nicely that Inman wasn't going well. I don't really believe in coinsidence, I choose to believe that God had His plan going the whole time! So starting in this new year, I moved full time to H.o.T.!! Now one might ask, how does someone work full time for an after school program?? The answer is simple: Grant Writing. Along with some other necessary office work and planning and such I am now writing grants. House of Teens is completly supported by donation and grants and this will be a great oppertunity for me to hone in on a skill I was taught minimally about in college. Plus working two placements was leading to a lack of presence in either place. Week one is over of the new hours and I feel so much better. I am able to give the kids more attention and engergy and be more helpful in general.
While home on Christmas break (which was weird to begin with, YAV has changed me and not my family and friends... go figure!) I had good chance to talk with friends and family about the goings on in this country. I also received a book from a church member that has brought up some interesting points of thought for me. The book is called Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.
"I think Jesus feels strongly about communicating the idea of our brokenness, and I think it is worth reflection. Nothing is going to change in the Congo until you and I figure out what is wrong with the person in the mirror."- Blue Like Jazz
I find it hard to verbalize how this year has changed me so far. But it has. For the better I think. I know that other YAVs will understand this feeling, but I find it hard now to be in my "other world" away from YAV. My perspective on life has changed. I feel like the bubble I grew up in is not somewhere I want to be. I struggled with seeing people who are still in the bubble, I'm not saying they are ignorant to the world beyond, but I had a hard time even feeling comfortable in situations I would have felt at home in just 4 months ago. I missed my community, my new church, my kids, my support system. Hell I missed Mexican food and speaking Spanish. The idea that YAV is just one year and I will have to move on after was a thought that was constant. What do I do now that I know social justice is such an important thing for me?? Where do I go from here? Where is God calling me? and how does this fit in to what I already have lived? So many questions!! To let go and let God is a very terrifying and freeing experience. I know He will provide, but it is a little scary to put myself out there. The world has such beauty in it, and such distruction. How do we focus on the beauty without loosing sight of the brokenness? Living in the Westside community I am faced with brokenness all day. I struggle to see the beauty sometimes, but the strength of this culture speaks for itself. The things that I from my background see as "broken" in reflection are just things that I haven't experienced. My job here is not to change them, it is to let them change me. Seems backwards sometimes to me, but you know what? There are millions of ways to live life. Everyone struggles. Everyone succeeds. Every life story is different and beautiful. This need for "fixing" is becoming a pet peeve of mine. Who says it needs to be fixed? Is it me? There is always room for improvement, but just because something isn't going how I want it does not mean it is broken. I can't tell someone that my way is right and their way is wrong. I can learn and make a new way. A blend. I agree with Donald Miller in that I think Jesus wants us to see the brokenness and that it is worth giving thought to. I also agree that the change has to start in me. However, I think that the change has to happen IN me. It has to begin and end in me, in the "mirror" as Miller states. Those difficult to verbalize changes have begun in me and I'm sure will continue for my entire life. People aren't static. I wish to be a sponge in the world and become the most full human being I can. This is meerly the beginning.
Peace and Blessings,