It is hard to believe I depart for Chicago in only 5 days! My family and I are currently enjoying the last few days of our summer vacation at Kiawah Island, SC with my uncle, cousins, and grandmother. It has been a very relaxing vacation, which will hopefully help us prepare for an emotionally difficult weekend. We move my younger brother Christian into his dorm for his first year studying engineering at NC State University this Sunday, and I depart bright and early this upcoming Tuesday for a week and a half-long orientation with nearly 80 other YAGM volunteers at the University from Chicago. (Prayers for my parents please!) On August 24th, my fellow YAGMexico volunteers and I will fly from Chicago to meet our country coordinators in Mexico. Our first few weeks in Mexico will consist of in-country orientation, where we will have the chance to get to know each other, our country coordinators, and have the unique opportunity to visit other site placements.
For anyone unfamiliar with YAGM and what I will be doing this year, YAGM stands for Young Adults in Global Missions and is run through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It gives young adults ages 21-29 the opportunity to serve in a variety of countries, including the UK, Cambodia, South African, and Australia, among many others. The idea behind YAGM is to give young adults the opportunity to accompany communities and learn with and from the people they live, serve, and walk with. In the Mexico country program, YAGM volunteers work with a variety of social-justice minded organizations that work in a variety of areas, including immigration/migration issues, education, environmental sustainability, women's advocacy, and more. The site placements range throughout a variety of cities and towns throughout the south-central part of the country. Throughout the year, we will reconvene for group retreats, including an immersive border retreat in February, where we will travel to the US/Mexican border and spend time learning more about immigration and migration issues.
I will be serving with the Centro de Esudios Ecumenicos (CEE) in Mexico City. CEE works with a variety of grassroot social issues throughout the country, and helps organize different church bodies and groups to put their faith into action. I will be assisting with various administrative tasks with various projects including researching information for grants, translating, monitoring news sources, reporting on staff trips, and updating website and social media outlets. I will also be able to travel with the staff to visit and support ecumenical projects in Puebla and Oaxaca.
I will be living with my host family in the central part of Mexico City, where my host parents are actively involved at the Buen Pastor Lutheran church in Mexico City. I am extremely excited to live and explore a city that has been praised for it's culture, art, museums, and growing reputation as an international culinary hot spot. I am equally grateful to have the opportunity to join a faith community and get to know the congregation.
Although I am nervous and know that the goodbyes this weekend will be heart-wrenching, I couldn't be happier with my placement. I am excited to be working with an ecumenical organization that seeks to combine faith, love, and justice to work for a more equitable and just society. As a travel fanatic, I am pumped that I will be able to travel with this organization and learn more about various areas of Mexico, as well as further develop my communication skills. As someone interested in the possibilities of a career in ecumenical ministry, I could not think of a better fit.
I am continuously humbled by the immense support people have shown for my YAGM year. From prayers, kind notes, and extremely generous financial support towards my year, I know I have the support of numerous people cheering me on at home. I know I will take every step of this year surrounded by "the cloud of saints", and that this year will be more transformative and impactful than I can currently imagine.
For the time being, prayers for my parents, safe travels to Chicago, and strength and endurance for myself and my fellow YAGM as we take this huge leap of faith. If you would like to be added to a bi-monthly email newsletter of my YAGM year, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Facebook. If you are interested in financial support of my YAGM year, please visit my online page at http://support.elca.org/site/TR?px=1039580&fr_id=1181&pg=personal.
Plaza de la Constitucion, in the heart of my soon-to-be home