27 March 2012


I am speechless.

I just got home from a weekend in South Carolina (congrats, Mark and Emily!) to find that the Mission Committee of my church voted to sponsor me as part of this year's mission budget. That means that with 145 days left until I even leave for orientation, I have already completed half of my fundraising goal.

The people I have met over my last 6 years as a member of Second are truly my family, and I will miss each and every one of them while I'm gone. I can't even wrap my head around what a generous gift I have received on behalf of the PC(USA), but just had to share my gratitude at receiving such exciting news!

Although the cost for a year’s appointment as an International Young Adult Volunteer varies by site location, each volunteer is required to raise $8,000 toward his or her own support. Supplemental funding is provided through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), including a percentage of the annual Pentecost Offering. Any funds exceeding the $8,000 requirement will be used to supplement my year abroad.

I would truly appreciate your support while I'm away. I know not everyone can afford to do so monetarily, but I would still love your encouragement as I continue my journey. I've included a few ideas below:
  • Your prayers - Pray for me and for the people with whom I will live and serve this year.
  • Your interest in my year of service - Follow my experience by reading my blog, and ask me to speak at your church when I return. Tell a friend about the YAV program!
  • Your financial gifts - Give a tax-deductible contribution as a one-time gift or in installments over the course of my year of service. You may give online at http://gamc.pcusa.org/give/E210105/or send a check to the address below. Include on the memo line of the check my name and the number E210105. Please make checks payable to the PC(USA).

P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700

Thank you!

21 March 2012

Thank you!

Oh, wow.

I knew that there would be people out there who would be excited for me to embark on this new adventure, but the outpouring of love I've received is just overwhelming.

Thank you SO much for your support. Check back often for details as I prepare for this exciting adventure! I must say, I'm really glad I have the next few months to get everything completed....

Today's adventure #1: renewing the passport. Pretty exciting! The forms were easy, but the hard part will be decommissioning my beloved first passport. I've been reassured that they will send it back to me, so I guess it's time to work on getting some new memories stamps!

Adventure #2 of the day is a little less exciting: beginning the process of fundraising for my trip. Each Young Adult Volunteer at an International site is responsible for raising $8,000 toward the costs associated with their YAV year. Step one is meeting with my pastor (which I will do this afternoon) to work out a few details before I post a more detailed summary of the process.

On a much less paperwork-focused note, I have had some incredibly amusing suggestions for the title of this blog, and so now I will put it to a very unofficial vote. I can't promise that I'll actually use the winner's title, but I have some remarkably creative friends who deserve some recognition (and friendly competition). Enjoy!

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18 March 2012

My new family

Friends, meet (most of) the 2012-13 YAV class, and a few of our fantastic facilitators!

The placement event was really great. For the past 3 days, 24 potential Young Adult Volunteers spent time getting to know one another, learning more about International site options, and interviewing with site coordinators. The focus of the weekend was on discernment - PC(USA) staff and former YAVs shared their stories of going through the process, which I think really helped us realize we weren't alone in the confusion and difficulty we were experiencing. By the end of it all, we were able to place it all in the hands of God and trust that the placement we received would be the place we could be best utilized within this program. 
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:7-10
Overall, the group got along really well, and I am so glad to be a part of this funny little YAV family. We had a fantastic weekend getting to know each other, and I really look forward to seeing everyone again (and meeting those who weren't at this event) at the orientation in August!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

As of about 9 p.m. tonight, St. Patrick's Day, I learned that I will be spending my next year in Belfast, Northern Ireland! I'm really excited for the opportunities this will offer to work with local churches and youth in a ministry of peacemaking and reconciliation.

I know the first question many of you are wondering is, "what about India"? It's no secret that I was originally drawn to this program because of my desire to live abroad in India. Throughout this weekend, I heard story after story about YAV Alums who had gone into the weekend TOTALLY SURE they would choose one site, and ended up feeling called to another. When it came time to give my preferences, it was actually a harder decision than I expected.

Unfortunately, the India program has been discontinued for the 2012-13 year, as there were not enough applicants to develop the sense of community that YAV is based around. In interviews and conversations I've had throughout the weekend, I feel that the work I'll be doing in Northern Ireland will actually be a great, if not better, fit for my skills and interests.

I'll definitely need your support in the coming months. I would appreciate your consideration and prayer for the people that will become my second family over the next year and a half: Anna, Beth, Courtney, David, Grace, Kathryn, TJ, our site coordinator Doug and all of the other YAVs who have discerned their calling (Kenya! New Orleans! Guatemala! Denver!...) over our past 3 days together.

I am SO excited about traveling with this group. The people I've been placed with in Northern Ireland are seriously amazing and hilarious and Belfast has no idea what it's in for!

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"
© Abbey of Gethsemani 

08 March 2012

So close...

As I type, I am exactly one week away from the YAV placement event held at Law's Lodge here in Louisville. According to Shannon's most recent email, this is what I can reasonably expect from next weekend:
  • Thursday night: dinner, informational meeting, worship, small groups
  • Friday: worship, two informational sessions led by the site coordinators for the two sites you have chosen for interviews, small groups, interviews, social time
  • Saturday: worship, interviews continue, candidate feedback from interviews, worship, information about site placements, small groups, site meetings
  • Sunday morning: nuts and bolts meeting, lunch, departures
My stomach has been in knots about this for weeks now. More accurately, my stomach has been filled with butterflies that have been attacking the knots in my stomach for weeks. I'm SO excited to finally have an answer to those people who have been kindly checking on my progress since I first told my close friends about it last fall (or took it semi-public when I went to session for approval in December). I am SO nervous that the reality is finally sinking in. In just a little over a week, I will know for sure if I have been accepted. I will have to walk into my office where I love to work and tell them that I'll be leaving in just a few short months.

...I have to leave in just a few short months!

Cora and Aunt Tricia. BFFs.
Photo by Kate Chapman

This weekend, my youngest niece Cora (2) ran up to me with her arms wide for a hug. I scooped her up and told my sister that this was the thing I would miss the most while I was away. In the year I'll be gone, my sweet baby will become a 4-year old child, and I'll miss all the giggles and hugs between now and then. I asked Cora if she would miss me if I went away for a long time - she stared at me, shocked, with the saddest brown eyes I've ever seen and begged me not to go.

Yep, I cried.