Tuesday, June 2, 2015

With Gladness and Singleness of Heart

Eternal God, heavenly Father,
you have graciously accepted us as living members
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ,
and you have fed us with spiritual food
in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
Send us now into the world in peace,
and grant us strength and courage
to love and serve you
with gladness and singleness of heart;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Last night, I spoke with former YASC member, Becky Gleason, who was also placed in Tela two years ago. Becky and I talked on the phone for two hours about her time in Tela-- both the good experiences and the bad. She was kind enough to fill me in on the challenges of transitioning to life in the third world, where very few people speak your language, the water and electricity are shut off once a week, and every month feels like summer time. After our conversation, reality began to sink in. My mind flooded with fearful thoughts as I contemplated, "what have I gotten myself into?" 

I began to calm down as I thought about how often she said "You're going to love it there!" or "I'm so excited for you!" I reflected on stories about the friends she made, how much she loved her students, all of the cool places she traveled to, and of course, all of the wonderful food she ate. "Okay," I told myself, "This isn't going to be so bad." 

Taking a year off to travel to a foreign country and serve in an underserved community often appears to be some glamorous adventure.  Adventurous? Maybe. Glamorous? Probably not. In fact, chances are that the situation will be far from glamorous, and it will probably be a bit (or more than a bit) scary. But a mission trip is not supposed to be about the glamor-- it's supposed to be about serving God and one's neighbor, and I think before I leave, it's important that I ask myself, "how can I fulfill God's purpose in this new place?"

Sometimes fulfilling God's purpose seems easy-- love your neighbor as yourself right? I think I'm a generally nice person, that's easy enough. Things I've done with the church over the years--  being a camp counselor, working with the mentally and physically disabled, helping out with events for my college ministry-- I love those things, those things are easy, and if I could, I would do them everyday. On the other hand, my conversation with Becky really made me reconsider what it truly means to be God's humble servant. 

Becky did more than just her assigned job when she got to Tela-- in addition to teaching several sections high school English, she also volunteered with kids at a church in the surrounding community, helped prepare students who wanted to go to college in the United States, led chapel services, and offered language lessons to teachers in the school who struggled with their English. She made sure that her main purpose in being there was to improve the community in as many ways as she was able. Her stories reminded me that as much as I love what I do with the church, and even if those are good things, doing God's will is not always easy. In fact, if it is easy, that probably means that I am not searching for new ways to challenge myself and my commitment to bettering my community. 

Her dedication reminded me of the prayer mentioned at the beginning of this post. It is one of my favorite prayers, and as an Episcopalian, I have the chance to say it after Eucharist every Sunday. This part in particular always stands out to me: "Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart." 

Sometimes, truly committing yourself to the service of others is not as easy as it seems, and oftentimes, it takes courage, humility, and intentionality to truly impact a community. This year is going to be a hard one, but it will help to remind myself that the purpose of serving others is to serve God and his mission "with gladness and singleness of heart."  

6 comments:

  1. Hey Miss Emily Street. Congratulations on your appointment to the wonderful country of Honduras and how lucky you are to get Tela. It's smoking hot, but the school and the people are fantastic. It's difficult to be glamorous with a sweat sheen, but Becky pulled it off and i'm sure you will as well. Sooo love me some Becky Gleason!
    My name is Bob Canter and I trained with the Yacsters about a year ago and I am living in Siguatepeque. Not a Yacster, I'm 62. But my love affair with Honduras started when I was about your age and I am now living my dream of living and working here full time. My year is up. I'm not going anywhere. I'm applying for residency papers. I coordinate short term mission teams for most of the country and I am also project director for the construction of a new school building in Siguatepeque. Right now I am sitting by the pool of a gorgeous hotel in Copan waiting for the arrival of my next group. I love Honduras! What is your arrival date? I can meet you at the airport if it fits in my schedule which remains a little crazy. You are going to be surrounded by supportive people in Tela, but if you ever need anything, I'm just a phone call away.
    My first year here was hard. My job is too big for one person. I had a lot to learn. But I tell you, the main thing I've learned, is that in the end, it easier to trust in the all powerful hand of God who holds our right hand and promises to give us all we need. Great blog post. Your heart is in the right place and God will really bless you this next year. Can't wait to meet you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob--

      Great to hear from you! Thanks so much for reaching out to me. I'd love to meet up at some point and learn more about what you do. I've officially set my departure date for August 5th-- coming up soon! I'll let you know more when I receive more details about my arrival.

      Thanks again for reaching out to me-- I look forward to meeting you soon!

      - Emilie Street

      Delete
  2. Hi Emilie,

    Glad to hear you are going to Honduras. I worked with Holy Spirit School when we received our first YASC volunteer many years ago. We spent 18 years in Honduras, and I worked with the diocesan schools for 12 of those years.
    Your time there will be challenging, exciting, frustrating, and not what you expected. Just remember--
    "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not get bent out of shape." and
    Even when things are out of our control, they are never out of God's control."
    Blessings on your new adventure.
    Susan Delgado-Park

    ReplyDelete
  3. Replies
    1. Bob-

      I am here! I havent had wifi until recently, and i have some on my phone. I've got a Honduran phone, so please send me an email, and we can exchange numbers. My email is emiliestreet@gmail.com.

      Look forward to hearing from you soon!

      -Emilie

      Delete
  4. Emily,
    We are looking forward to more updates from you.
    Ken

    ReplyDelete