Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Some Thoughts on Community

Recently I "choose" to put together a page of my thoughts on intentional community per the request of my site supervisor. This is what I produced:

We build communities all throughout our lives. We often join churches, social clubs, or an athletic team. Community is also created in families, and groups of friends. There is a unique type of community that I have come to be apart of that is known as “Intentional Community.”

I am a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV), and I live in an intentional community. I believe that I was called to serve in New Orleans, and to actively be a member of intentional community. I was called to by God to draw closer to him and to get to know myself better through my faith. It was being in intentional community that helped me seek out my personal relationship with God. Hearing other members of my community share their stories, and being able to tell mine pushed me to identify the moments in life where God is present and to remain faithful when He is not present.

Intentional community was described by Henri Nouwen as “[A] fellowship of little people who together make God visible in the world.” This reflects how I feel about my position in my own intentional community. I see my intentional community as not just those whom I live with, but the larger geographic community. I am working intentionally in New Orleans and in Chinese Presbyterian Church (where I work) to show love and compassion to others. It is important to become a force of positivity in the community that exists outside of your home as a source of bonding within the group. To work together as different parts of the body of Christ builds hope not only in us as an intentional community, but we are able to pass on that hope to people we meet so that they may wonder what it is we are a part of.

I know that I have been changed by the members of my intentional community. They have been able to show me where I must grow, and where I have been given gifts of the Spirit. 

I was recently about to embark on a day of service with my community. We had to be up very early, and I was in a negative mood and not at all excited about clearing lots. We arrived at our worksite, and they had set up an area with blankets and books for children of the neighbor hood to come by and enjoy. When we were asked if anyone wanted to help with that, my hand shot up. I was excited to help with reading because I knew I was good at that. However, after some time passed and no children were showing up I was asked to help start on clearing the lot I was next to. I begrudgingly picked up a shovel began to dig up some very deep rooted weeds. After about an hour or so, I was getting tired but the progress with four other women helping was amazing. We had cleared the entire front of the lot, including a large amount of trash and debris that was hidden by all the foliage. I felt so enthuse and accomplished.

That is what intentional community is. We don’t always have the best attitude, and sometimes we enter with some negative baggage. With a request for help and hands dedicated to a similar goal we are able to dig up the deep rooted weeds that bind us and clear away our littered hearts to find something new and amazing in each other and in ourselves. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012: It is now 2012.

So I have not been diligent in my blog posting, this is obvious. However, it is a new year and I am rededicating myself to the process. Therefore, as is the regular fashion we will do a small rewind of 2011/from the last time I blogged.

Last you heard from me I was just beginning my 2nd YAV year. It was the first day of September, and the summer heat was still lingering in the city. I was getting to know my new six roommates which grew to eight. The happiness I felt to be back in my city, and amongst fellow YAVs was strong and vibrant.

Soon, the NFL lockout ended and Who Dat nation was ready and excited! We are now in the second round of playoffs and ready to take another win against the 49ers. On a more personal note I was beginning to get things rolling with my work here at Chinese Presbyterian Church. However, I was struggling with all the work I had done in my last YAV year and finding where my work for this new time would be. I focused on youth and reaching out to the Chinese immigrants in our church.

October peeked into the scene faster than you can say, BOO! And I took our Chinese youth to the pumpkin patch at First Presbyterian Church! 

They had a great time throwing away all the pumpkins that were no longer good, and we did our best to communicate across our language barrier. They are truly joyful and helpful youth.

Following our pumpkin patch outing, I began to hit my own rough patch. I was having a hard time getting all my youth on the same page, and participation was waning. My confidence was also waning.

However, Halloween was close and I knew that my good friend was coming to visit and I would get a chance to have a good time with my roommates as the city would be celebrating. 

Well don't you know it, but next came November. The weather began changing just a little bit. By a little bit I mean the humidity let up and the 70 degrees began to stay the steady temperature. This when my Pastor and I begin to talk more about where I can focus my energy and I start to find a slight momentum in the approaching holiday season. November also means, Fall Retreat!

So all is YAVs and my fellow community members pile into Carlos (our van) and our Site Coordinators spacious prius (that is sarcasm the prius is a tiny yet fuel efficient vehicle.) We head over to Austin, TX for a chance to see Austin Seminary's campus and the wonderful Smoot house where we lodged. We also visited the capitol building!
From left: Eric, Allison, Jillian, Emma (me), Ashley, Lauren, Bueana, Tyrone, Laura. 
It was a great retreat and I was feeling much better about my direction in my year.

Next came December, and I was pulling out poinsettias to decorate then church. There were children's gift bags to assemble and the annual "Journey to Bethlehem" at Parkway Presbyterian. Before I knew it I was on my flight to Raleigh, NC to see my friends and family. It was a beautiful and happy time as usual and after the New Year came I headed off to Montreat, NC for the College Conference. I went to the conference to recruit new YAVs.
I had a great time in Montreat trying to stay warm and learning some new things. I will go into more detail about the conference in my next blog post (I think it deserves it's own page).

Which brings me to today. I had an amazing Skype conversation with the ladies of Cann Memorial Presbyterian. Being a Presbyterian and a member of a church is a special thing. It is easy to lose sight of that with all the day to day difficulties of being a member of a church. But those ladies keep me grounded in a community that shows me love and keeps me going.

I am also running around to get things together for a Martin Luther King Jr. service day, and beginning the plans for a Women's Retreat. So stay with me friends, and pray with me too. It is a jungle out there full of snares and confusing paths but He sends us each other, and that is where we find grace.

Hence my diatribe...and Happy 2012.