I am currently sitting in the airport, waiting for yet another departure from the United States. This time I will be headed for the town of La Plata, Argentina for a different kind of adventure. For the next 11 months or so, I will be working as part of the ELCA’s Young Adults on Global Mission program. I will be working on three different assignments: (1) Helping with young adult programs at a local Lutheran church (2) An after-school program for children living in poverty situations and (3)Helping plan the Lutheran Church’s annual assembly for the region.
As I prepare to arrive, I find myself swamped by a craziest range of emotions I’ve ever experienced. I am of course extremely excited by what this next year will bring and the relationships I will form. However, I am also nervous, anxious, and surprisingly sad.
Why am I sad? I am of course sad to say goodbye to my family, friends, and the home I feel like I just returned to. I am sad to leave the comfort of this place I know so well and the people who so well know me. I am sad for the times of celebrations I will miss: the weddings, the birthdays, the births. But these are just small sadnesses. Most of all I am sad to say goodbye to the people I fear will not be here to welcome me back. I am sad to say goodbye to the grandfather and other role models who have been such a huge part of my life since before I can remember who are now entering a time in their lives where they are preparing to meet their Father in heaven. I am sad to think I will not be home to both mourn and celebrate the lives of these individuals who God as blessed my life so richly through. It breaks my heart to know that when I walked away from my grandfather last week, it is quite surely the last time I will see him until we meet in heaven.
These thoughts are very difficult for me as I leave, but then I remember that it is because of my grandparents and the others that I am where I am. They raised me with a faith in the Lord and with prayers in my heart to be led where He calls. He has called me to this year of service and that’s where I must go. I praise Him for the time I have had with those I love and the love he poured into me through them and through all of you, friends and family, who have enriched my life so greatly. Thank you!
It was also sad to leave the new relationships formed through the YAGM orientation this past week in Chicago. There are 60 amazing young adults partaking in this program, and it was such a joy to get to know them the past seven days. Six of that 60 will be traveling to Argentina/Uruguay along with me and I am so grateful to be spending another week with them in Buenos Aires before continuing on to our site placements. I look forward to the ways that God will use each of us throughout this next year. To find out more about the YAGM program, you can visit www.elca.org/yagm.
We had many great discussions throughout orientation. Some of them revolved around with the way we personally, as well as others viewed our time in the program. Frustrations were shared about our time being referred to as a “trip” or “a year off”. It will not be a vacation or a break from real life, this is real life. I am continuing my life in Argentina. Someone used the term “season of life”, which I thought was a great way to refer to our time with this program.
We also wrestled with the idea of thinking of ourselves as missionaries. I’ve had a hard time using this word when referring to my year. In my mind, a missionary is someone with a religious education, like a pastor. How can I be a missionary? It made a lot more sense to me when someone brought up the point that we are in fact answering God’s call to carryout His mission in our lives. But with that, all Christians are called to be missionaries. One does not have to be a missionary halfway around the world in an undeveloped country. We are all called to a mission of our own, even (or maybe especially) in our everyday lives. One should be a missionary in their home, in their office, within their community. I think this is something that I can so easily lose focus of throughout my daily living and something I am excited to refocus on throughout this next year.
As I wrap up this post, I ask that you keep the YAGM(ers?) in your prayers as we venture around the world. We carry such a range of emotions with us, so we could use both safety and the Lord’s peace as we journey to our placement sites. I will use this blog to share stories and lessons that I learn throughout my year. I look forward to continuing to update you on this “season of my life” as it unfolds!
Team Argentina/Uruguay waiting to depart!