Monday, April 29, 2013

For your viewing pleasure

I've been pretty busy with stuff not related to YASC over the past two weeks.  If rumors are true, then I should have an important update to share sometime later this week!  Until then, please enjoy this awesome video showing current YASCers in their placements in Africa!

Young Adult Service Corps in South Africa

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It's really happening!

A lot has happened within the past week.  I've started fundraising for my mission, told my employer of my plans to go overseas for a year, and created this blog.  Up until now, when I talked about YASC, everything was theoretical.  In the past few days, I've caught myself saying "when I'm in Africa" whereas before I would say "if I go to Africa".  The "if" is gone.  YASC is becoming very real. 

On one hand, I'm excited to finally be making solid plans to go on a trip that I have been dreaming about for years.  But I'm also very anxious.  I think a lot of my anxiety comes from not knowing the details of where I'll be next year.  Will I be in Lesotho, where the hospital is a 45 minute walk from anything resembling a town, most of the people nearby do not have running water, indoor plumbing, or electricity, and I will likely be the only non-local for miles?  Will I be in Cape Town, a stunningly gorgeous, vibrant, modern city that is still nowhere near recovered from decades of hatred?  Or will I be somewhere completely different?  Kenya?  Ghana?  Tanzania?  I don't know!  What kind of work will I be doing?  Will I deliver babies?  Will I teach a health class at a school?  Again, I have no idea. 

What makes all this uncertainty so hard is that part of me wonders if I've made the right decision.  Am I going to miss my husband so much that I lose sight of why I'm doing this in the first place, or will knowing I have someone who supports me no matter what make the transition easier?  Will my dog think I've abandoned her, or will she even notice I'm gone?  Do my family and friends really understand the reasons I'm going?  I feel like all of this will work out, but I have no way to know for sure.

My rector preached a great sermon last Sunday.  It focused on doubting Thomas, but it was really more about how Jesus handled Thomas's doubts.  Instead of reprimanding Thomas for his skepticism, Jesus allowed Thomas to see Him and touch Him.  Jesus offered Thomas exactly the proof he had asked for.  Jesus used Thomas's doubts as an opportunity to grow his faith rather than to cut him down.  The message I got out of all this is that God meets us where we are.  Sure, I'm finding it a little hard to wait and trust that I'm going to end up where I need to be, but I think that's OK.  A little anxiety won't kill me, and it's not going to stop me from moving forward.

Jesus commanded Thomas, "Do not doubt but believe!" This week, I'm praying that God will turn my doubts into belief and calm my anxious thoughts.  I know in the end I will not be led astray.  I am going on a life-changing mission to do awesome work in a place where it is needed.  All the rest is just details.

Friday, April 5, 2013

This is how it starts

This isn't really the beginning of a journey for me.  I'm already on it. 

Sometime this summer, I will be leaving behind my awesome loving husband, my dog, my cat, my house, and the city I grew up in to move to Africa.  I am going to spend a year working as a missionary and health care aid volunteer with the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) program of the Episcopal Church.  The details of my placement aren't finalized yet, so I don't even know what country I'll be in!  What I do know is this is going to be an awesome journey that will change my life forever. 

This all started years ago for me.  When I was in middle and high school, my church would take yearly mission trips around the country.  We would run a vacation Bible school for a week or help build houses.  Those trips were some of the best times of my early life.  In college, I did a service trip to Nicaragua through an organization called Bridges to Communities.  The cool thing about Bridges is that American college students are paired with a group of Nicaraguan college students, and you all go together to a rural village to help build water and waste systems.  The Nicaragua trip was also really frustrating for me because of the type of work we were doing.  There I was trying to build a latrine, and I couldn't even hold the hammer right!  I decided then and there that I would do another service trip, and this time I would use the skills I had been given in a place where they were needed. 

Fast forward a few years, and I am now a registered nurse.  One of the reasons I chose to become a nurse was that the skill set I have is applicable in almost any environment.  I work in labor and delivery now, but I am also trained to teach lay people about diseases, perform health assessments, give medication... all great skills that can be used abroad!  I chose the Young Adult Service Corps program because not only will it give me a great opportunity to use my skills, but it also allows me to be a missionary from my home diocese to the Church in a foreign country.  What a unique opportunity!  I can't wait to learn more about where I will be going and the type of work I will be doing.

Please join me in this mission by checking back often to find out how it's going!