Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Year of Service for A Lifetime of Change

"But I want you to continue to follow what you have learned. Don't give up what you are sure of. You know the people you learned it from. You have known the Holy Scriptures ever since you were a little child. They are able to teach you how to be saved by believing in Christ Jesus. God has breathed life into all of Scripture. It is useful for teaching us what is true. It is useful for correcting our mistakes. It is useful for making our lives whole again. It is useful for training us to do what is right. By using Scripture, a man of God can be completely prepared to do every good thing." (2 Timothy 3:14-17 NIRV)

Today is my last day in Belfast. So when I woke up this morning I turned to my daily devotional app and a verse from this chapter turned up. Now I am not filmilar with this book of the Bible so I read the whole chapter. It seemed appropriate for what I needed to hear today. In this section Paul's words are meant for Timothy but I found them inspirational to me as well. This passage raised the question "what have you learned this year?" I realised that instead of me focusing on the fact that I'm leaving this passage reminded me of why I came in the first place, to learn, to help others, and to experience life. I wanted to do the YAV program because I wanted to learn more about myself through discernment but also learn more about the world around me. I want to make a difference in the world so the first step is to learn more about the world. I have learned a lot this year. It truely has been a year of service for a lifetime of change. 

As I look back on my year so much has changed. I started this year working at Dundonald Methodist and DFCI and I finished this year at Dundonald Methodist and Friendship House. At both sites I have had a wonderful experience and enjoyed the work I did and the people I met. 

At the beginning of the year I was unsure of who I was, now I know who I am. ( I may not know what I'm meant to do or who im meant to be, but I know who I am.) I have gained confidence in myself, gained perspective and have grown in my faith. But most importantly I have gained community. 

The friends I have made here have had such an impact on me and they probably don't even realise it. They have changed me for the better. They make me believe that I can be the person I want to be and they challenge and inspire me to become that person everyday. So to them I say thank you! I really appericate all that you have done for me this year. I want you all to know how my I have enjoyed getting to know you! You all have really made me feel at home this year. You accepted me and made me feel apart of your lives from day one and for that I am truly thankful! I have had such an amazing year thanks to everyone! I have gained so much from this experience! I will truly miss you all! 

Finally, I have a few quotes that you may have heard before but have really struck home with me this year. 

Be the change that you wish to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandhi

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. - Mother Teresa

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. – Mark Twain

Once a year go someplace you've never been before. - Dalai Lama 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Someone Else

I came across this reading a few years ago and thought it was brilliant! I finally found it again so I'd share it with you. To encourage you to take up any leadership roles that may have crossed your mind or may have been presented to you, in hopes that you might be inspired.

Obituary for Someone Else
Our church was saddened to learn this week of the death of one of our most valued members, Someone Else.
Someone's passing creates a vacancy that will be difficult to fill. Else has been with us for many years and for every one of those years,Someone did far more than a normal person's share of the work.
Whenever there was a job to do, a class to teach, or a meeting to attend, one name was on everyone's list, "Let Someone Else do it."
Whenever leadership was mentioned, this wonderful person was looked to for inspiration as well as results; "Someone Else can work with that group." It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the most liberal givers in our church. Whenever there was a financial need, everyone just assumed Someone Else would make up the difference.
Someone Else was a wonderful person; sometimes appearing superhuman. Were the truth known, everybody expected too much of Someone Else. Now Someone Else is gone! We wonder what we are going to do. Someone Else left a wonderful example to follow, but who is going to follow it? Who is going to do the things Someone Else did?
When you are asked to help this year, remember - we can't depend on Someone Else anymore.
"Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances." Proverbs 11:14 (The Message). 
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV). 

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season, 
a time for every action under heaven. 
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest. 
A time to kill and a time to heal. 
A time to tear down and a time to build up. 
A time to cry and a time to laugh. 
A time to grieve and a time to dance. 
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. 
A time to embrace and a time to turn away. 
A time to search and a time to quit searching. 
A time to keep and a time to throw away. 
A time to tear and a time to mend. 
A time to be quiet and a time to speak. 
A time to love and a time to hate. 
A time for war and a time for peace. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NLT)

This passage is probably familiar to lots of people. I find that every time I read it a different verse stands out to me, and its always a verse that applies to my life at that moment. I think this passage is a good reminder that its important to take the bad with the good. Everything has a time and we need to give the time that it requires. 

As things wind up here I am reminded of how precious time truly is. I realize my time here is ending quickly but a new time in my life is beginning. I know that I will go on to do more of God's amazing work just as I have this year. However, I'm not quite sure what is in store for me, but only time will tell. 

Time is a strange thing. Its amazing how I can have so much time and yet not enough. It can pass quickly or very slowly. But no matter, we always seem to want more time. "If I only had more time I could..." Fill in the blank. What would you do with more time? Learn something new? Work out? Spend more time with loved ones? The list goes on and on. What about spending more time with God? 

I know I'm guilty of not making enough time for God in my everyday life. I find its so easy to get distracted by everyday life. But if something is important you make time, if not you make excuses. We could keep making excuses that we don't have enough time for God or we could do something about it. One easy way it to pray. Its so simple and yet so effective. Make time to pray. You can pray in the car, on the bus, while walking the dog, during a commercial break, etc. It doesn't have to be just before a meal or right before you go to bed. Make time.

"Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart." Colossians 4:2 (NLT)  

I sometimes forget the power of prayer. Not just for others but the act of praying is beneficial to my well being. Its a time of healing between me and God. When asking for forgiveness or just telling the troubles on my mind, it's support, comfort and encouragement from God that helps to put my mind at rest. Prayer helps me to focus and be calm. Its not one of my strengths but God doesn't care. He would rather I pray "poorly" than not at all. 

So as these next few months fly by I will try to remember to take time to stop and pray. Not only for the  benefit of those around me but also for myself. 

There is a time for everything, a time to worship, a time to serve, and a time to pray. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Crocheting is Cool

In case anyone is wondering how I'm doing, I just want you to know that I am still very much enjoying my year. Just yesterday I was at Friendship House and one of the ladies from the seniors group taught me how to crochet. It was a really special experience for me because my Grandma used to sew, and crochet and it was a nice way to remember her. Also its a great way for me to bond more with the ladies and I actually do enjoy it! It's therapeutic in a sense, doing the same repetitive steps over and over again. Plus it gives you a sense of achievement seeing the finished project. Next week I'm going to learn how to do a corner and then from there how to make a blanket.

Once I do start making blankets I will probably send them to the same place that these women in the seniors group do. They make blankets and send them to children all over the world. I think its a great ministry. One, because it gives blankets to children in need, and two, because it gives these women another reason to knit and crochet. And this way they don't end up with a bunch of blankets that no one ever uses.

I love working with these women because every week they inspire me. I was talking to another one of the ladies  who was a doctor and spent a few years living in India. She helped start a charity that gave children of lepers an education.  She told me about her experiences and that even if they had been cured people with leprosy were outcasts. So, those who had been cured were given the opportunity to teach the children of lepers and then those children went on to get real jobs and better futures. These women inspire me to stay strong and dream big. "Age may slow you down but it cannot diminish the purpose and meaning of your life." (Michael L.A.)

They all are a great bunch and I am fortunate to get the opportunity to work with them and get to know them this year. It's funny because I thought I would have difficulty working with seniors but it has been a pleasant experience, one that I know I will always cherish.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Passover Remembered

Here is a poem by Alla Bozarth-Campbell that was read a lot during YAV orientation. It has been on my mind lately and in the season of Easter, I thought I might share it with you. Its an amazing poem that I find applies to my year.

Passover Remembered

Pack nothing.

Bring only your determination to serve
and your willingness to be free.

Don't wait for the bread to rise.
Take nourishment for the journey, but eat standing,
be ready to move at a moment's notice.

Do not hesitate to leave your old ways behind–
fear, silence, submission.
Only surrender to the need of the time–
to love tenderly, act justly and walk humbly with your God. 

Do not take time to explain to the neighbors.
Tell only a few trusted friends and family members.
Then begin quickly, before you have time to sink
back into old slavery.
Set out in the dark.
I will send fire to warm and encourage you.
I will be with you in the fire and I will be with you in the cloud.

You will learn to eat new food and find refuge in new places.
I will give you dreams in the desert to guide you safely home
to that place you have not yet seen.
The stories you tell one another around the fires in the dark will make you strong and wise.

Outsiders will attack you, and some will follow you,
and at times you will get weary and turn on each other
from fear and fatigue and blind forgetfulness.
You have been preparing for this for hundreds of years.
I am sending you into the wilderness to make a new way
and to learn my ways more deeply.

Some of you will be so changed by weathers and wanderings
that even your closest friends will have to learn your features
as though for the first time.
Some of you will not change at all.

Some will be abandoned by your dearest love
and misunderstood by those who have known you since birth
and feel abandoned by you.
Some will find new friendships and unlikely faces,
and old friends as faithful and true as a pillar of God's flame.

Sing songs as you go, and hold close together.
You may at times grow confused and lose your way.
Continue to call each other by the names I've given you,
to help remember who you are.
Touch each other and keep telling stories. 

Make maps as you go,
remembering the way back from before you were born.

So you will be only the first of many waves of deliverance
on the desert seas.
It is the first of many beginnings–your Paschaltide.
Remain true to this mystery.

Pass on the whole story. Do not go back.
I am with you now and I am waiting for you.

–Alla Bozarth-Campbell

Thursday, March 14, 2013

St. Patrick

With St. Patrick's Day coming up on Sunday I thought I would post about him and my trip to Downpatrick, Northern Ireland.

Yesterday I went with a group from Friendship House to Downpatrick where we visited the Saint Patrick Centre and the Down Cathedral where St. Patrick is buried. While I was there I learned a lot about his life. So I am going to tell you about what I learned.

Saint Patrick Centre in Downpatrick

Patrick was born somewhere in Great Britain, so he was British not Irish. At age 16 he was captured by pirates and taken as a slave to Ireland. He was enslaved for 6 years then he escaped. Later in his life he became a priest and then a bishop. After that he decided to become a missionary and return to Ireland. While he didn't bring Christianity to Ireland, as a missionary he played a major part in converting the Irish into Christians. He is the patron saint of Ireland.  He also didn't drive the snakes out of Ireland, that's just a myth. He supposedly died on the 17th of March, which is the day we celebrate his life. What we know about his life comes mostly from his writings; however, much of his life is still unknown. (Saint Patrick Centre) (BBC website)
Me at St. Patrick's Grave
My trip was brilliant! It was a lovely town and I learned so much. It's really cool to think about Patrick and his life. I can't even imagine being captured, put into slavery and then escape just to have God call you back to save the very people who enslaved you. That takes a great deal of forgiveness and compassion. To have to trust God and follow his call no matter where it leads is a task that many people, including myself, still struggle with today. But when we follow God's call He can lead us to do great things. If Patrick hadn't listened to God history would be completely different. We probably wouldn't celebrate St. Patrick's Day. 

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I wanted to say thank you to everyone that has been supporting me thought this year. It really means a lot! I'm just a little over have way finished. Its so hard to believe that at this time last year I didn't know much about Northern Ireland or the YAV program. It just goes to show you how much time changes things even in just a few short months.

I remember thinking this time last year about what I wanted to do with my life after I graduated, I had no idea (and I still have no idea) what would come next for me. I just remember praying about it and giving it to God, letting him handle it and then one day I an opportunity came knocking. After a few weeks later, on March 17th, 2012, I received a letter saying that I had been accepted into the PC(USA) YAV program in Northern Ireland and my life changed.

I thank God that I am able to be here in this place and to be given such an amazing opportunity that wouldn't be possible without all of you. I am truly grateful for all the many blessings God has given me but especially this chance to grow and serve. "A year of service for a lifetime of change." (YAV slogan) I couldn't agree more.

If anyone is thinking about becoming a YAV or about to undergo any other big life changing decisions, I encourage you to not be afraid. If God is calling you to something, don't run away from it like Jonah. We all know how that ended, inside a giant whale. It takes a lot of courage but, as cheesy as it sounds, anything is possible with God. Remember, God wouldn't be calling you if he didn't think you weren't right for the job. He doesn't make mistakes. If I can do it so can you.

A little update on me, I have currently raised over $6,000! I still have a ways to go but I'm getting really close. I'm also thinking about my options for when I go back home. So I appreciate the continuing support.

I thought I would include some pictures of my site to update, inspire and thank you.

Art project I made with my Beaver boys!
Senior group at Friendship House
Crafting with the after-schools club at Friendship House