Ending Reflection + New Blog Site! So Long Lone Star…

It’s 4:11 PM on a Monday. I’m sitting down at my new living room table drinking a horrifyingly bad cup of coffee.  Despite the utter disappointment of my beverage along with the built up anticipation that comes with a new year and a new city, I can’t help but reminisce on my time in the big TX.  And so, rather than ending my blog on the random note of a top ten list, I think I’ll provide the closure that I’m sure SO MANY of you were looking for,”When will it end? WHEN???”

All jokes aside, here’s how some things ended up…in BULLET POINTS:

  • Back in late January, I organized the first ever statewide Habitat College Conference where student Habitat leaders met for a weekend of advocacy, education, and connection with their fellow Habitat College folk. It was an incredibly special weekend and I feel both proud and humble to have been a part of this experience.  See…I did stuff!
  • Speaking of stuff, I helped finish up my time at Habitat Texas with our large scale annual education training conference. Zero casualties. Woopdigit.
  • During our community time, I facilitated several community discussions about communication and the lost art of democratic debate.
  • I devoured my 587th breakfast taco, a feat which generates emotions of pride and…yeah mostly pride.
  • I developed tendinitis in my right knee, which along with an MRI and some questionable medical fees (oh it looks like you drove your car past our office last month, that’ll be $89 now) I was off the frisbee field for the rest of my YAV year. I’ll discuss this fun narrative with more detail on my new site.
  • While injured, I keenly refocused my efforts, switched sports, and became a 4X darts double’s belt holder at our local tavern. This means something and I can die happy.

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Studs.

  • Finally, I successfully left the city of infinite bike lanes, hoppy beer, and newcomer animosity.  As a seasoned Austinite, I was getting tired of all of the new people anyways. Ugh, terrible.

A big portion of my time in Austin was concentrated on intentional community, much of which took the form of weekly meetings. During these visits we would engage in material and activities that was of interest, whether it from our coordinator or one of the AYAVA Members.  Here’s some reflection pieces of what I took away from these discussions.

Our first item of our agenda for the year was reading Marshall Rosenburg’s, Nonviolent Communication.  This work offers constructive and peaceful strategies of navigating through conflict, emphasizing your articulation of your emotions.  Rosenberg disproves through the practice of separating our mention from conflict.  Rather than stifling our feelings, non-violent communication urges us to cut to the core of conflicts by giving us the tools to clearly express what we feel and how to monitor the judgements we place on others. While expressing our emotions is a tiresome and skeptical act for some, I believe this method is incredibly useful in living honestly and openly. In struggling with expressing my own voice, the resource helped me understand the value of my own needs and emotions, and as I’ve said, gives me the language I need to deliver these emotions at ease with greater clarity.  It is not irrelevant that Rosenburg also worked with Carl Rogers, the founder of humanistic counseling. His work resonates with me in both an academic sense and personal sense, and Rosenburg carries Roger’s work on honorably.  Even though our community sometimes struggled to adopt its standards, I’ll always remember the value it has bestowed upon my life.
While hard to intake, The New Jim Crow was a resource of vast informational importance, that is of unparalleled relevance to our society at this date and time in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement.  Knowing the historic significance of the corruption, greed, and debilitation of the systemically racist society we live in today was both jaw dropping and necessarily informative. The political disenfranchisement of the black population of our society is a popular notion of extreme denial from whites, and the more information on this harsh reality we can bring to the surface of our culture, the more the people in our society can understand and begin to work in destroying the stealthy poison that is implicit racism. Perhaps one of the most hurtful and ethically-desensitizing processes this system of racism damages is empathy. It is my belief that much of our culture has lost the human gift of empathizing with our fellow man based on notions the system hammers into us (they’re simply lazy, we all start out on the same playing field, they made their choices, they’re not oppressed they’re complainers, they’re thugs, criminals, convicts, dirty, etc.).  It’s easy to equate an individual’s position in life off to accessible personal choices and work ethic, but while this may give validation upon our own sense of “superior positioning”, this divine sense of ethical reasoning is both false and harmful.  Fueling our minds with these appealing notions justifies us to cease generating empathy, or engage in the theory of mind (putting ourselves in others shoes), crucial components of our humanity.  In my opinion, fundamental attribution error (basing one’s circumstances on personal decisions rather than situational occurrence) has become the fast food of ethical thought, and we must learn to fight thinking like this on as large a scale as possible. A common misconception is that white people cannot help these matters, but this is simply not true. We poses the ability to use our privileged to the advantage of the least of our brothers (ex. talking to other privileged white groups about what is truly beneath the surface), and I will do my best to continue this for my future.

Some other takeaways came from the significance of the personality quiz that is the Enneagram, visiting a Unitarian Universalist church, discussing the meaning behind our cultural grasp of gender, attempting to listen to my inner voice, and brisket.

I’ve learned many useful life skills in the past year such as amateur cooking, a sense of direction (both navigationally and spiritually), self-care, how to write a decent email, make a box of spaghetti last for four days and also one day, and of course a little of how to live in a diverse intentional community and still be standing mentally intact…mostly.  I’ve met so many wonderful folks, had the typical ups and downs, and have so much more to learn, eat, struggle with, laugh, cry, and live in my young and naive existence. But, I can’t help but think my cup is a little fuller and my heart a little heavier as I part ways with the most dynamic experience of my life. So Long Lone Star…I’ll carry a silver of your crazed passion with me always, for better or worse.

For those who have been with me on this journey, thank you so much. You support me in ways you might not even realize, and it means so much.

Fast forward to present day!

NEW YAV YEAR=NEW BLOG SITE!

Join me on my voyage of volunteering in the land of Honky Tonk aka Nasvhille, TN.  This time with…what’s that? Consistent and more specific blog updates? OH I CAN BARELY RESTRAIN MY EVERLASTING JOY!!!

Link-nashvillenavigation.wordpress.com

Enjoy and please stick around.

Thank you again.

Peace. Love. and Tex Mex,

Sam.

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10 Big Time Capitol Office Tips (For the Pros)

Way back in January, I had the chance to deliver some invitations for a Habitat reception to all of the different offices in the Texas State Capitol. What a time this was. While at first I was but a young inexperienced pup in the vast, mesmerizing, and often times smelly headquarters of local politics, after three days of frantically throwing invitations at people, I walked out of that place a full grown capitol wiz (I also got a free calendar along with some surprisingly tasteful Zionistic cult paraphernalia). In any case, if you’re gonna be talking/distributing material/doing anything in a capitol office, it’s important to keep these tips in mind.

  1. Wear Clothes-Preferably nice clothes. The more you look you like you belong sipping on scotch in a 1950s executive advertiser’s employee lounge the better.
  1. Shave-Just shave everywhere. If you can’t pull off a beard on the same par as Geoffrey Lyons from the well known 80s classic, The Hounds of the Baskervilles, then its time to put Scruf Mcgruf away and step out of the middle school gym.
  1. Look Determined-Whatever you do look like you meant to do it. This goes from tripping on your own shoelaces to blatantly walking into the women’s restroom (and vise versa). You meant to do these things, don’t back down now- just put the toilet seat down, engage in some minor gossip about Janice’s new hair-piece, and go on your merry way.
  1. Hold something that looks both professional and leather (briefcase, folder etc.)-it doesn’t matter what’s in the thing, simply look like your carrying around something important, even if it is a satchel full of expired ring pops and portraits of antelopes in ski suits.
  1. Hand Shakes-Always shake hands- it doesn’t matter if the person is building a house of cards while juggling C02 Canisters, confidently hold your hand in front of them and they will get to it sooner than you think.
  1. Firm Hand Shakes-It’s good to view a business handshake through the lens of a Taiwanese Dragon Python and squeeze the ever-loving life out of your acquaintance’s hand. Once you’re locked in, give a confident smile while you crush your opponent’s bones with unbridled ferocity (yes this is now an officially declared cubicle battle). This asserts dominance and shows that you mean business. People will respect that. A handshake in the political world is as impressionable as the state of interior of your car on a first date; your very fate hinges on this. It doesn’t matter if you’re the guy who invented the water cooler, if you don’t have a tight grip, your about as useful as Gary the Intern-“I said 1% Gary! What am I a cow???” Silly Gary.
  1. Refine your pitch-For God’s sake speak as little as possible. Treat every word as a precious resource in the scarce and cutthroat world of capitol politics. Simply get to the point and have the other person do as little as possible. Any bush beating and you will be thrown aside as a worthless heaping pile of wordy garbage.
  1. Appear busy…no matter what-Walk really fast, look really impatient waiting for the elevator, check your watch you don’t have, heck even hold fake phone conversations, “Damnit Jackson! If I don’t get those reports by 3 PM this merger is screwed! You hear me? SCREWED! If I wanted someone to sit around all day I’d hire my wife’s therapist.” I do this more often than you would think.
  1. Don’t look like a noob in the cafeteria-Man, is there anything more embarrassing than struggling to grasp how to pay for your soft serve and raisin bran in a cafe full of political juggernaut important people? IT’S NOT GRAPHICAL INTERFACE MORON! Also, speaking of yogurt, always buy yogurt. I swear it’s the new rib eye of the political spectrum. I was in the capitol cafeteria one time and it looked like a freakin Dannon convention. I was expecting Jamie Lee Curtis to pop out shooting the stuff from her eyeballs any minute.
  1. Business Cards-This is the Kicker. The Icing on the Cake. The Cheese on the Hot Dog. Oh Baby. Start passing these out and you’ll be on your way to the set of Mad Men in no time. Nothing tops off a business discussion better than handing somebody a 3.5 X 2 inch piece of paper that will imminently spend the rest of its days in the bowels of a desk drawer. The phrase, “Here, take my card” implicitly means, “It’s Business! It’s Business T—yeah you get the picture.

Well there it is. Follow these tips like your 401K depended on it and you’ll be sure to walk out of there feeling like a champ. In all seriousness, my experiences there really did give me a bit of grounding to my long lasting perceptions about government work. We often view the world of politics as some distant faraway land, but the reality remains that they are right here with the rest of us. As I was reminded during a Worker Defense Rally, the folks in capitol buildings are there to work for us, not the other way around. So let’s hope they can keep that in mind…no matter how many raspberry parfaits it takes.

…and we’re back

For whatever reason, often times we distance ourselves from the things we love. The artist distances himself from his art for perspective, the psychiatrist distances himself from his patients for professionalism, and the dolphin trainer distances himself from his dolphins because being a dolphin trainer sucks and no one should ever do it. For me, my distance with writing did not occur due to some keen and necessary realization. I treated it as a child who tires of his first stuffed koala. Sure, at first it was all fun and games with Professor Fuzzy-Face. You had a few thrills, throwing him against the wall, dragging him across the floor, and overall treating him like a subservient dishrag. But, after a while, your tortuous behavior towards your furry friend begins to tire. Throttling his fragile little neck doesn’t yield the same fresh gratification as it used to, and eventually you release your demonic ownership of the animal by throwing him in an old dust bin somewhere to live out the rest of his days, only to eventually be dismantled by a garbage truck (CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP).

This adorable, yet slightly was disturbing metaphor still speaks truth to my relationship with this blog, but there were more factors in this separation rather than just my inattentive apathy. My December could probably be best described by phrase “eh”. Work was slow as Habitat shuts down more or less around the holiday season, folks in the house were ready to for the break, and I was mopeier than your local zoo lion. Rather than seeking out more fulfilling ways to spend my time, I took part in the age-old activity of not really doing anything. It was stupid and after a very busy two Month period at Habitat Texas that’s over now.

It’s time for a re-centering, To take a deep look at why I’m called to be here for five and a half more months, but not only looking inward- looking outward into the world as well and its plethora of needs.

Recaps, summarizations, and many quirky bullet pointed lists of things to come folks! We’re back in business!

Super on time Halloween update/Staying at the table

It’s time for a SPOOKY edition of sam’s austin expedition! (Cue lightning, Real Lightning!)

I’ve never been convinced that ghost stories and special effects were really that convincingly frightening, so I’ve come up with a more realistic approach that’ll hopefully put a chill down your spine.

Scared of spider attacks? statistics say that you are actually more likely to get murdered by a pig than by a poisonous arachnid. Good ole Babe doesn’t seem like such a precious protagonist now does he? OINK, OINK, MOTHER-Moving on.

What about shark attacks? Those are pretty freakin FREQUENT RIGHT? That would be true, except more people die from falling coconuts each year! “put da lime in da coconut and shak-MURDER! MURDER IN THE STREETS!”

Like browsing your favorite church website for a transcript of last Sunday’s touching sermon? (I just love it when they read Psalm 23 eleventy billion times)

Well guess what? Turns out you are more likely to get a computer virus from a church website than from another non-descriptive inappropriate website! If only loving Jesus had the benefit of protecting us from spyware…Maybe that’ll be in the next Ilovejesus software update.

What’s that? Oh, Halloween was last week? Ah well, I was just gonna talk about the deprivation of social security and how dangerous baby deer were anyways…phooey.

Ah well, your probably wondering how Austin’s goin right?

Well, its still a city, and you’d probably find better parking inside a tube of toothpaste…I really hate the parking here.

Something that’s been on the dome as of late:

A few months ago I was just doin some typical Facebook scrollin, and I came across something that I felt to be fairly shocking. Basically, one of my Facebook “friends” wrote a status assuming some very false and offensive beliefs about the religion of Islam (classifying the religion as one of violence and hatred), in light of the recent ISIS activity.   Now like most educated people, I know this to be untrue (don’t mean to sound like a snob here but this is simply reality). Back in undergrad I actually took a course on Islam, and while that certainly doesn’t make me any expert, it doesn’t take a lot of research and time to realize that these kinds of statements are simply fearful, emotion filled assumptions about a religion that is largely misrepresented by American media. Offended at this disrespectful statement, I thought to myself, “Ima unfriend this prejudice meathead!”. Perhaps some of you can relate to similar experiences.

Well, just as I scrolled over to the unfriend icon, something came to my mind.

“Is this it? I’m simply going to unfriend this person without even attempting a conversation?” How worthy is my justification for “unfriending” people whom I simply don’t agree with?

Now, while talking to this person was probably the last thing I wanted to do, I decided to resist my righteous impulse and hold off on the unfriending…at least for now.   But that got me thinking about other conflicts, specifically those within a topic I don’t find being discussed a whole lot, and since I am dedicating a year to a Christian volunteer program, I feel that this is only like extremely relevant.

Let’s take a look at Inter-Christian conflict.

WHOAH SLOW YOUR ROLL BRO!

Yeah, I know this stuff can get pretty intense, so I’ll try to stray away from the controversialies.

In the modern day, I feel like Inter-Christian/denominational conflict (or however you wanna put it) is laid out kind of like this when something controversial comes up:

On one side…

RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!! TAKE YOUR CHILDREN! DON’T LET THE PROGRESSIVES TOUCH YOU! THEIR REFORMED THEOLOGY WILL SEIZE OUR PUPPIES AND CAUSE THEM TO BE LIBERAL PUPPY OVERLORD DEMON RULERS NOOOOO!!!!!!

aaannnd the other side…

TAKE TO THE HILLS MEN!!! THEIR CONSERVATIVE TAKE ON THEOLOGY WILL CAUSE US TO RESORT TO LIVING BACK IN THE GRECO ROMAN ERA! I DON’T KNOW HOW TO PLOW A FIELD??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? SPRINT!

Yeah I know I got a little carried away there, but I don’t really see a lot of respectful Christian to Christian discussion nowadays, especially when they come from different denominations.  Rather, Christians are a lot like those ions we learned about in 8th grade chemistry, often times, two like charges seem to repel.  Science may rule, but this doesn’t.

Is there more to Inter-Christian/Denominational disagreement than fearful and prideful isolation?

Of course denominations will continue to exist, diverse progressive and conservative views will also remain and continue to separate us from each other. All I propose us to think about is the idea that we even though we may have our spiritual roots in different places, we don’t have to allow these differences to further alienate us from embracing God’s love for one another, especially during moments of heated conflict and dissolution. Perhaps there is an irony in that although we separate to maintain a certain understanding of God, we lose something by simply walking away from.

Others might use the justification that this separation is simply necessary to preserve what they believe to be true, but might there be some “truth” to staying at the table?

I’ve been a part of this frantic scatter many a time, and mainly I just feel like we’re missing a piece by going into our own little corners.

During Montreat College Conference this year (you know that place you mistakenly mentioned to a Presbyterian that one time before literally being mauled to death with a panic attack of sheer nostalgic ecstasy), the big theme was on interfaith relations. I thought that while the topic was well intentioned, there was little discussion directed to how we actually interact with those with different beliefs within our own faith.

To be honest, I don’t know Christian expect to interact with other faiths if we can’t have meaningful interactions with those in our own. That would be like asking a young Larry King to interview a cockatoo before interviewing like a town mayor or something.  And believe me, Larry King could interview the hell out of a cockatoo:

“So it sounds like there might be something problematic about all those feathers?”

“Squak, Squak, Squak,”

“Yeah, I hear ya. My wife tells me that all the time”

Not that I’m directly comparing those in other faiths to cockatoos, I’m just merely troubled by the fact that the issue of disgruntled inter-christian relations seems to be largely overlooked when we try to jump on the interfaith relation choo choo train.

Hey let’s see what ya got for us bible:

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 

 Ephesians 4:31-4:32

Interesting.

Am I over simplifying this?  Probably. Definitely.  But in all honesty, I am so tired of the disrespectful ways which we’ve grown accustom to addressing those on the other side of the fence that I at least want to acknowledge the hypocritical dilemma in which we find ourselves in.  Our relations toward our fellow Christians matter, and at the very least we’ve got to stop ignoring the way we view at each other when the tempers start flaring.

Well, in the hopes that one day I’ll partake in a meaningful and (hopefully) violent free conversation with the aforementioned individual, I’ve decided to keep him on the friend list for now. Tentatively. I know these things are difficult, but maybe if we could muster some of that divine patience and simply stay for a discussion, we could work through some of our differences and start looking toward our similarities.

I say let’s get out the kindness guns and start firing away!…figuratively speaking…Don’t just label a gun “kindness” and actually start shooting live ammunition.  That would be bad.

Coming Soon! I talk about video games in a post that you will totally care about!

Yay relevancy!

Real “Y.A.V. Like” Substance

..and that’s how you properly season an east coast bristlenosed catfish.  Tune in next week to find out how put the “fond” back in fondue, mmmmmmmmmmm.

Oh, that was just me finishing my weekly cooking segment, “Savoring the sizzles with Sammy”; the word press gurus say that it’s extraordinarily important to maintain a diverse and colorful blog repertoire, even if you don’t really know what you’re talking about…ANYWHO, Hey! Great to see ya again!

Wow, has it been a month already? Man, time flies. It feels like just yesterday when we were waving goodbye to our furry friend in the fried fish joint (see last post)…I miss him.  To catch up on all the hullaballoo, you should check out my freshly created about page as well as my first official post…hey three links are better than one.

So, what’s happened?  Let’s consult some bullet points! Oh boy!

  • Officially started my work at Habitat Texas-Special Projects Coordinator Extraordinaire.
  • Started sending out invites to Habitat Texas’s first ever College Chapter Conference—ya know, NBD!
  • 

Was for fortunate enough to see two of my favorite brass bands (Rebirth and the Soul Rebels-I looked really cool dancing during both of those shows)
  • Signed up most of the AYAVA House, A.K.A. “Quads of Fury” (so angry arrggh) for a black light 5k run, which I’m pretty sure is just an excuse to cover yourself in glow stick residue while pretending to actually run competitively for 3 miles
  • 
Broke an ice tray, and consequently made two travel size ice trays, you know, when you need some good ole fashion homemade ice for those long hot days on the road …mmmm just like mom used to make
  • Successfully consumed 17 breakfast tacos in nine days (score!)

A quick note folks…

As you might have picked up on my on my clearly sufficient strides to expand my already extensive word press capabilities, I have placed an awkwardly cropped a picture at the top of the page (I’ll be a master in no time).  In this photograph, you’ll find four strapping young adults, all with promising and bright futures ahead of them, filled with unlimited and untapped potential.   Now, let me bring your attention to the two lads at the far ends below the totally normal sized Texas mascot.  On the far right, the gentleman sporting the Santa Fe Fuego Cap (an item from an expansive and not weirdly specific collection of New Mexican minor league baseball memorabilia) is yours truly. The much more attractive man wearing the festive, yet subtle white V neck tee is my good buddy, companion, life coach, and future world visionary, Samuel Wismer. Now there appears to be some confusion regarding the author of this blog, and believe me folks-although I’m sure Sam would love to take credit for this scholarly and insightful literary gift to the internet, he’s just not that kind of guy, truly modeling a humble and genuine human being (he’s also single ladies…go get you a hunk of dat Wis…)

Right, so anyways, you can find Sam Wismer’s blog here, and while he might not have published anything yet, I’m sure he’s just harnessing all of that creative energy from the divines above…man he’s so cool.

Moving on!

Time for Some Real “Y.A.V. Like” Substance

Lollipops! No, that’s not it. Maybe I should have started with this? I don’t know, it’s a blog right? There’s no structure in these things.  Anyways, I’ve been looking into some blogs posted by some fellow yavers, and I have picked up some commonalities .  Each selection of writing consists of unique observations, stories, and experiences  that are filled with critical and anecdotal reflection, illustrating how a yav’s year of service is shaping their various individual capacities (physical, emotional, spiritual etc.), but also, tying in how their role is linked to the global scale as well.  Needless to say, I’ve come to find this peculiar essence to be what I call “YAV like” substance, seeing that all YAVs (at least from the blogs I have had the pleasure to read) tend to include these elements in their online entries.

Now, while I do no think that this kind of writing is entirely YAV operated of course, I still would like to make the inference that we do share a connection through this kind of thoughtful and engaging writing.  The really intriguing aspect of this whole shebang is that although we  all bring the Y.A.V. like essence, the way it is crafted is completely idiosyncratic.

Alright, so what’s the point?  I know I’ve been using a lot of “we’s” here, but to be honest, I feel like I’m missing some of this YAV juice (for this blog as well as the year so far).  I know on here we share some laughs and timely chuckles, but sometimes I experience a rather acute feeling of urgency to discuss a subject that rests far beneath the surface of breakfast tacos and shenanigans (although I do love both of those things dearly).  As far as my service goes, I spend a lot of time at a computer.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s important work and I do find it satisfying ; I simply sense that I am a little more distant to the issues that I am working for than I should be.

I know, me me me right?  I am so blessed to even have this opportunity, and I thank God every day for being able to serve in this position.  Maybe some of my “YAV like” substance might present itself off the beaten path?

Perhaps Mr. Emerson can sum it up better than I can:

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”                                    -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Its at least worth a try right?

Sometimes you just gotta put your face in some dirt…literally, I hear its good for your skin…

Well dang, didn’t see all that comin…I need a slurpee.

More to come folks. Don’t worry! Deep breaths! (as if you were ever concerned that the internet had a shortage of blog media)

As always, thanks a ton and see ya soon!

PS: the shenanigans ain’t goin nowhere.

Disorientation, jet lag, and first impressions

HEY!

It’s good to see ya… No really, it is.  I honestly thought you wouldn’t make it here.   You know with school, your job, and that one dude who always stares at you like he wants to harness your pancreas for its “biological sustenance”…I really didn’t think you’d manage to find yourself on my blog page.  So, whether or not you have one or more of these normal or peculiar concerns, I wanted to take a brief moment or “mo” as the kids these days call it (they just leave off letters from words these days haha, isn’t that great?) and say thank you.  I hope that you will find my blog to be insightful, humorous, and thought provoking…Really, I just hope you find it to be what it is…a blog, because if you honestly don’t know that you are reading a blog right now, you should probably do some serious reevaluation in the whole “having the capability to discern between categories of information department”…it’s an important one.  So all bad and long winded jokes aside, let us begin.


After several lengthy increments of sitting in the sky, I arrived in New York to meet up with the other Young Adult Volunteers, flying in from all over the place.  After a peculiar dinner, several half-hearted introductions that made it quite obvious that I was running on a solid 45 minutes of sleep, and blatantly running into a screen door (thankfully no one saw oh wait nope that’s embarrassing), I was certainly ready to catch some much needed z’s in order to prepare for the hectic and information packed week ahead.

I could honestly write two to three posts about the events of orientation week. But, since you have probably dedicated your day to something other than reading my blog (how FRICKIN dare you), I’ll keep it to just a brief list of highlights.  However, because I found many of the events, discussions, and themes of orientation to be immensely insightful, I will most likely find their way back into my mind sooner than I think.

  • In the beginning, Richard quickly informed us that our orientation should actually be considered a “disorientation” noting that as YAVs we are called to engage in several new and humble approaches to life such as the aspect of “simple living”
  • Our Cultural Competency training shed light on the subtle yet overwhelming force of “institutional racism” and “systematic discrimination” and asked us to contemplate our upbringings in this iniquitous system as well as to consider how our own societal position might affect our experiences as a YAV working with those whom the system has ostracized…Tuesday was rough y’all.
  • A day trip to New York City allowed me to experience how it felt to be an outsider, and I learned that even a little tiny church in Harlem could make big steps in outreach and advocacy in a community.
  • Doug from the Presbyterian Mission Agency encouraged us to revisit the word “evangelism”, as it has become confused with “proselytism”, attempting to convert people to another religion.  Doug explained that to Presbyterians evangelism simply means that we are called to share our faith journey with others, perhaps something that young Presbyterians (as well as my self) find difficult to articulate in the modern day.
  • Finally, through a touching and charming testimony, Glen Balzer inspired us to attempt to be comfortable in the uncomfortable, for no growth can occur from a year of eating Hot Cheetos and coming up with better endings to “How I Met Your Mother” because the first one didn’t give you enough “closure”…the shows over folks, just let it die.

There was also many deep small group discussions, late nights of intense card playing, YAV almuni constantly reminding me that I had 15 minutes to eat my dinner (you know, just in case I didn’t know how that whole time thing works) lots of hugs, slamming tiny discs into a bag, repeating the same songs to the point in which I almost dry heaved, and good ole sauerkraut….mmm.  All in all, orientation was kind of like a baby antelope in a Long John Silvers, pretty strange at first, but then you just get used to it.  Soon, it becomes a part of your normal fried fish eating routine. And then, just as you see his little hooves walk out that door, you wake up and you’re in Austin, Texas.

You guys ever have weird dreams on planes?  Anyways, after some more sleep deprived convincing introductions with my new housemates, the gang decided to have a solid first taste of Austin culture, which basically consisted of us sitting in different places saying, “Holy crap…” We did manage to score some sick free t-shirts though.

Well, I think I’ve thoroughly expired your attention span by this point, which basically an excuse for me to cease writing for now.  More to come! Including, laughs, thrills, action, romance, irregular bowel movements (hopefully not), and lots of YAV things…yeah!

Till next time

Thanks so much!

Coming soon!

Here is where I will begin documenting my time in volunteering in Austin, Texas.  To be honest, I have no idea what this blog will be like, but you can expect content such as daily life updates, lavish and very exaggerated story telling, opinions, controversy, danger (oooh), witty banter, quoting, unnecessarily long passive aggressive rants about how my barista doesn’t make eye contact with me while making my double, non fat, triple, caramel, chocolate, pumpkin spice, caffeine explosion of a latte, comedy, relationship advice, overly vehement music tastes, I was really just kidding about the relationship advice thing, and vocational discernment.  See you in August!