I have made it to Chicago!
Today I left Grand Forks for the beginning of my grand adventure into Mexico. I will be here in Chicago staying at LSTC for a week long orientation program that will cover many things including talking about our journeys, differences between cultures, well being & self-care, engaging global issues through our faith, and how to communicate our experiences.
After the excited reunions of all the 50 YAGM volunteers, checking into our rooms, and eating, we were able to meet a few volunteers who had just returned a few weeks ago from their own missions and a few others who had returned in years before. It was a fun welcome and opening to the orientation.
The end of the night we worshiped in the Augustana Chapel which is a space used by both students and faculty of the seminary to plan and host worship services. It was a welcome thing for me to open my heart and clear my mind to what is going to be coming over the next year.
The service reaffirmed my need and desire to be here walking this journey. Most moving was a piece called "For the Healing of the Nations". In this song, a cantor sings through the countries of the world and the congregation responds with the words "Peace be yours." After a bit, the refrain is sung: "For the healing of the nations, we pray to you, O God." As each of our countries were named, we volunteers were invited to light a tea-light and place it onto our country of service.
I loved this song and everything about it. There is just something about an act as simple as praying for healing and peace to each nation that I found inspiring. The fact that fifty young adults from across the nation can pray and hope for the very peace and justice that God desires and then go to work for it is powerful! We must seek to enact the very change we pray for.
We also --thankfully-- did Eucharist. We gathered in a (big) circle around the table and communed each other around the group. The very bread that is given from to us from God was shared by each of us. It helped to define ourselves as a community who is willing to invite everyone to the table and share in the goodness of God. We seek to accompany the world and in doing so, we come to understand that God's spirit not only works through us, but can be shared with one another. Shared as easily as the bread and wine we shared tonight.
So tonight, I shall go to bed early since it will be a full week of activities. I am thankful for each of your prayers, not only for me, but also for the countries of the world. Pray for that we each can learn to love the world and its people. That we can each walk alongside each other and share freely of the gifts and relationships we each have.
Share this Bread.