28 May 2012

Saying goodbye...

So I touched on it briefly in my last post - the difficulty of saying goodbye.

(I write this post in the interest of transparency I've promised to this blog and my experiences with the YAV program - but I'm going to save it until I get back to Kentucky. Mostly because I don't know that I can hold it together if my mom reads this before I go. Mom, you've been warned.)

On each trip to Orlando, I typically try to find time to visit some places that hold special significance: a walk through part of the neighborhood I've lived in since preschool, a trip to the park or my old home church. During this particular trip, however, these experiences were especially poignant - as many felt like a final farewell.

So much has changed in my hometown in the 10+ years since I've moved to Kentucky, and the strong memories I hold with these places are beginning to fade (the true testament to this being that I actually got lost driving home by a once-familiar route).

This time, I walked past the house my grandparents lived in for 40+ years and remembered all the little details of growing up there. I looked at the front door, and muscle memory told me exactly what it would feel like to open the latch. Even though my grandparents moved out years ago, seeing a For Sale sign in the yard made me feel like I'd never see the house again.

On Sunday, I visited the church I attended from birth through college... and recognized a total of about 5 people in the 3,950 member congregation. The sermon highlighting their recent switch from PC(USA) to EPC made me feel like even more of an outsider. I quietly said my goodbyes after the service, and honestly don't know that I'll ever go back.
Saying goodbye to places is tough, but I've begun to realize how monumentally difficult it will be to say goodbye to my family. Typically stoic, I completely lost it this evening when I dropped my grandma at her apartment after dinner and it hit me that I won't be back home for almost a year and a half.

I know there will be more goodbyes in the months to come. I've even taught my mom to Skype. Part of me hopes that my other goodbyes will go smoothly and tear-free (which is much more my style, actually) - but the other part of me feels blessed to have these relationships that make it so difficult to leave.

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."
-Carol Sobieski, Annie

Slán go fóill

We're raising our glasses to Tricia,
She's leaving and that is our issue,
Have fun in Belfast,
But hurry back fast,
'Cause while you are gone we will miss ya!
- Jake C.
Tonight, my mom and stepdad hosted a fantastic party, full of people I've known throughout my life: old friends and new, cousins, coworkers and significant others... all gathered in my honor for my last visit to Orlando before I leave for Belfast. It was wonderful and humbling to be surrounded in love by these people who have known me my entire life. Of course, as usual, my mother cooked far too much food and a good time was had by all!

The title of this post is slán go fóill - which means in English, "Good bye for now". While it will be difficult to leave my family and friends (3 months to the day from today), I will carry with me the hopes, love and prayers of those who have shaped me over the years and left an indelible mark on my heart in the process. It is truly awesome to have the support of so many as I prepare for this journey. But for now I head to bed, happy and with a new sense of purpose.  I feel that I can't say it enough, but I'll say it again:


15 May 2012


Things have been moving forward at a steady, if uneventful pace since the last time I wrote: preparing to transition my work responsibilities, sorting through my storage unit to determine what gets kept / sold and donations rolling in (now at over $5,600 - you guys ROCK)!

In the midst of this, I got some exciting news this morning that I wanted to share with you guys... our site coordinator Doug has matched us with our placements for next year! This not only means that I now know where I'll be working, but it also means I know where I'll be living / who I'll be living with, and I can begin the process to apply for my visa!

Sooo... drumroll please!

My new job(s):

Fortwilliam and Mcrory Presbyterian Church
Fortwilliam and Macrory Presbyterian Church, in a mixed part of North Belfast, is actively engaging with all sections of the community – regardless of political or religious affiliation.  This post involves support for young people in the congregation through Sunday morning Bible Class and Sunday evening youth fellowship.  There is also work with a youth club primarily attended by those outside the congregation. 

The Vine Centre
The Vine Community and Advice Centre is in a low-income inter-face area in North Belfast.   This involves work with after-schools tutoring/study support, a senior citizen’s lunch, a children’s outreach programme called JAFFA (Jesus A Friend For ALL) and a parent/ toddler group.

My new home:

Anna is super psyched to be my roomie, and is also quite proud of my computer / superimposing skills. She may or may not think this is the best photo of her EVER. And yes, I now have my address and phone number for next year... but we've gotta leave a little mystery for another post!