We all need things – food, water, air, shelter, companionship, happiness. The culture I was immersed in growing up was one that tells us that we should be in control of our needs at all time, and that if we plan enough we can get it all. However, my adventures continue to remind me that there is a difference between wants and needs, that I usually have no idea what I need, and that the what/where/when/how aspects of these needs are never predictable. And God always provides.
After a few weeks of teaching literacy in Peckham, I finally got to see the other nine YAGM volunteers for the first time since our arrival in England. We met up in Derbyshire where we’re enrolled in a two-week course called “Christian Life and Mission” at Cliff College with fifteen or so of our British partners who serve as church workers, youth workers, teachers’ aides, and non-profit interns. Together, we studied what it means to be a disciple of Christ, and we’ll reconvene for a week in March to study the meaning of mission. And it’s worth mentioning that if you want some eye candy, just do a Google image search for “Derbyshire Peak District” to see some of the views we got. 🙂
God fed me so much:
I was given the intellectual stimulation of being back in a classroom, and we were given theological knowledge we could apply to our lives right now. We had each other – I made so many new friends who can relate to having no idea what we’re doing as we discern what God calls us to be and do. We prayed for each other – I was able to entrust my struggles to others to bring to God, and I was able to act in the same loving way in return. We had spontaneous worships with a guitar and some joyful voices…and a drum set, keyboard, and speakers in the college’s chapel! We hiked up a cliff and I got to jump and scamper around in the wild wearing my “barefoot running shoes.” Best of all, I made new friends who understand my sci-fi/Pokemon/Shane Claiborne references, don’t stare at me like I have three heads when I sing in funny voices or dance at random times, and who made deep conversation feel incredibly natural with them. People who “get me” is something I forgot I needed, and I’m so grateful I have yet another abundant network of empathy and love as I venture onward.
To be honest, it was really hard to leave. I mean seriously, look at these pictures! Who doesn’t want to hang out with these people? 😉
But now I’m back in Peckham and this feeling of being understood and held in community is something God continues to reveal to me. Like at church on Sunday when the scripture passage was from 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, which talks about how we are all part of the body of Christ, and that each of us has a unique role in which to give and receive from the world – EXACTLY what I needed to hear. First, all I could think of was the “Big Toe Skit” from my summers doing ministry at Good Earth Village. We act out this exact passage to the kids by being various body parts, excluding Big Toe from our club, and then realizing we can’t walk without him. But I was also reminded of the larger community body of which I am a part, and that I have needs AND can meet others’ needs. After church, God affirmed this lesson as I took a long route home. I teach literacy to children – but their parents could be the smiley man who called me “darling” when he sold me apples at his outdoor produce stand, the helpful woman I bought dried pomegranate seeds from in the Persian shop, or the man I talked with in the Islamic shop while we were admiring books. And as I finish up another week of teaching literacy, I realize how much I have grown in relationship with my students, centre managers, and fellow volunteers since I arrived.
Let’s hope I can allow myself to be vulnerable enough to let God continue to grow me inward and outward.
Blessings to you!
P.S. Tune in next week for a post about what a so-called “normal” week looks like for Emily! Each of my weeks has been different, so wish me luck in communicating some kind of a quasi-routine with you. 🙂