Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mozying around

Waiting for the train from a cool shaded spot. It's good to be back in Cape Town! I've missed its lovely people, sunshine, and beautiful bright blue skies! It doesn't hurt that I'm on a properly lazy holiday, either ;)

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Packet to Celebrate

THIS is a photo to celebrate, if ever I saw one!

Today, I mailed these items in that large envelope to the Dakotas Conference Office of Leadership Development, where it will be passed on to my Board of Ordained Ministry. I have prayed, written, preached, prayed, lost sleep, smiled for pictures, and prayed some more over this packet and all it means to and for my life. Mailing this packet means I have indeed taken the next step on my journey: provided my interview goes well next month and my Bishop and her cabinet find an appointment for me, I will begin my service as an elder in The United Methodist Church this coming fall.

As intimidating as that sounds, I also can't help but to feel one thing: excitement! Excitement that assures me that this is indeed the right next step for me. God has called, and so I do my best to answer.

Here I am, Lord: Send me!

Going Home

I travel a lot for work, and the next 6 months will be no exception. I do not anticipate being home for more than 2 consecutive weeks (even 2 weeks is unusual!) at any given time between now and when I pack up to move back to the Dakotas in August. This is a blessing and a curse: I get to meet a lot of people and see a lot of friends along the road: and I love flying, traveling, and visiting new places.

As much as I love seeing new places, though, there's nothing like visiting an old place I know and love

While in Tampa for a conference two weeks ago, I overheard the conversation of a couple other staff members. I didn't hear much, but the one word that stuck out to me was an important one: Harare. I immediately chimed in to a conversation that was not my own, "I want to go to Harare!" I was kidding, of course, and they smiled at me and carried on their conversation as I carried on with whatever else I was doing.

2 minutes later my boss comes over and says to me, "so: do you really want to go to Harare?"

Long story short: it has been decided that my own travel and life experiences would be a great asset to the trip being planned to Harare. Fortunately, our Board of Directors also agreed, and so in 2 days, I leave for Harare, Zimbabwe.

After a few more days in Mutare, Zimbabwe and a visit I've always wanted to make to Africa University, we will board our flights home. Only: our flights back to the US stop over in Johannesburg, and I can't say no to that kind of temptation. As excited as I am for the opportunity to go to Zimbabwe, I am even more excited about my upcoming vacation in South Africa!!

I'll be spending only one night in Johannesburg and 9 days in Cape Town. Which means it will feel like a very quick trip, but I'll take an unexpected quick trip any day compared to the alternative of no trip at all!!

A photo of Table Mountain I took
on a camping trip in January 2010
This unexpected adventure has brought a boost to my spirit I did not otherwise realize I needed. I could not be happier than to be not just going on vacation, but returning "home."I hope to do a whole lot of nothing: to cook and laugh and watch movies with my family. To meet the new additions to family (wink, nudge Lisa!). To have tea at Kirstenbosch Gardens or go camping. To stroll on the beach and eat the best fish in the world at Kalky's. Proably have a braai, too, since a South African summer isn't complete without it. These are very important tasks...

I hope to update here a time or two while I'm on my journey... but don't get hopes up too much: visits home tend to be very busy with all the socializing and such... so I'm just not sure I'll be able to manage it all. Oh, the conundrum... :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dear 16-year-old me

I came across a video on Facebook tonight that made me stop and reflect on life a bit.

To be honest, its something I don't think about often. I don't even think of myself as a cancer survivor. Yet in 2010, the month of December felt like it could have been 3 years long.

That was the month I went in to have a mole that was bothering me checked out. The time the doctor told me it was fine and nothing to worry about. The time I knew my body well enough to say that's fine, but can you remove it anyway: at least then I'll stop fretting over it. That was the time the doctor called me back and asked to see me right away; it was the time I saw the doctor in an hour though last time I had to wait over a week to see him. This is what led to the time I had surgery to have the rest of the malignant melanoma removed from my face.

December 2010 was other things too: the time I realized how lucky I was to have great family to support me while I lived in another country and went through one of the scariest and most unexpected things of my life. The time I laid awake, alone and claustrophobic for two hours during a surgical procedure because I did not have the money for the procedure that should have been done in a proper OR under general anesthesia.

December 2010 ended with the time the lab results came back and lifted a burden that took a while to set in:
This was the time I was fortunate enough to catch it early so that once my surgery was done, I did not have to go back for chemo or radiation. The time I knew I was going to be okay, and I got to walk away once my wounds healed.

I don't think about this often, but this is who I am. I would not be where I am today, who I am today, or alive as I am today if my doctor had not been able to say to me, "we caught it early."

Watch this video. Check your skin. and for heaven's sake: use sunscreen.
Dear 16-year-old me: you'll be 26...


9 months ago, I was asked to take part in a vision-casting “Design Team” put together per request of the Leadership Table. I spent my first full day living in DC at this gathering of strangers with no idea what to expect. It wasn't long before these strangers became friends, though, and our energy was contagious as we shared visions and dreams of what a new, exciting, and innovative opportunity for young adults might look like.

Lots of long, difficult days and a couple of meetings later, we had an outline of something new. A few months later and it was suddenly 2012 as I found myself flying into Nashville to meet with the team that will carry forward this project. I am really excited about how this project has taken shape. Somehow, this end project simultaneously looks nothing like what we expected, and yet it is full of everything we hoped for. This end project is what is now being called “Spark 12.”

I couldn’t be more excited about Spark12. It feels like the church could finally be doing something right here! How so? For starters: it is young adult led. Not just led, but it is actually being implemented by young adults on staff at multiple general boards and agencies. Who knew: Methodists can play nice AND trust young people to carry it through! (jokes, jokes)

So what exactly is Spark 12? In short, it is being described as a social justice “incubator.” It is a short (12-week) opportunity for young adults to take their own innovative ideas and receive funding to run with them. These ideas are lived out and given a running start with the support of community and the feedback of mentors and experts in a related field. My favorite part of all of it? That we are finally building something new that is, by design, intended to not be US-centric. We are a global church, and its time we start acting like it. That was one of the many clear, non-negotiable themes we had throughout all of our discussions. I for one can’t wait to see what that looks like when the applications start rolling in and the current Design team gets to help the fellows implement it. Watch out, world: Spark12 is about to catch onfire. (sorry, I couldn’t resist)

One last thing: it is never too early to start thinking about being a part of something new. Applications open up on April 1, so I invite you to spend time thinking about how your idea could be launched with Spark 12!

For more information on Spark12, be sure to check out their website, follow them on Twitter, and “like” their Facebook page. You can also check out other articles such as this one by UMNS.

I have cross-posted this blog with the UMOnFire site. I invite you to check out all the great work and excellent blogging going on there! (plus: they're better at updating than I am. Let's be honest: this update comes courtesy of their request for this blog for that site.)