As October appeared out of nowhere, I found myself bouncing around the East Coast visiting family, serving in Virginia on a mission trip and prepared for my Volunteer in Mission service in Tanzania with an UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteers in Mission) training session in NYC! It’s hard to believe that in less than 48 hours, I’ll be backpacking through Glacier Nat’l Park in Montana (more on that later) but I figured I’d explain what else I’ve been up to lately while I have time!

2010 MS Tour To Tanglewood: GO TEAM CANTERBURY!

Three weekends ago, I had the honor of riding in a 100-mile Bike Ride called the Tour To Tanglewood which raises awareness and money for MS (Multiple Sclerosis) research. I rode in honor of my Aunt (which the team was called TEAM CANTERBURY) and it was quite the challenging ride. Challenging partly because it was 100 miles on a bicycle and partly because I hadn’t trained for the event at all (last time I had been on a bike was about a year ago). But I finished the 100 miles and spent a great weekend with parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and more! My parents also rode in this event which was great sharing an experience that they had already been a part of for 5 or 6 years. Also, after riding 50 miles on a bike, things like water and oranges never tasted so good!

ASP: Appalachian Service Project, Year 2!

The following weekend I had another privilege to serve (for the 2nd year in a row) with the Myers Park Young Adults in Jonesville, Virginia repairing and winterizing homes for local residents. It was basically the same crew minus one plus seven! We split into two teams and our team demolished and constructed a wheelchair ramp as well as installed the gutters on the front of the house. See!

We dug out the holes and laid them in cement. Those posts of course will be cut down for a railing by the next group. I know it doesn’t look vastly different but in 2 days we got a lot done. AND we had fun while doing it! Plus, our evening activities were again a hit! Corn Maze on one night and bowling on the last night. The interesting part about this bowling alley was that you keep your own score. Who knows how to add up a bowling score? Well, go to Pennington Gap, Virginia and learn firsthand! I loved returning to the hills of Virginia and above all the crew from MPUMC made the trip well worth it!

Volunteers in Mission: a NYC experience!

Finally, this past weekend, I flew up to NYC for a training session on being a long term volunteer with the United Methodist Church. I flew up early to adventure through the city and here are some of the sites I saw:

I walked to Chinatown and Little Italy then I took the Metro to Central Park and Times Square and walked around some more. I really enjoyed the walking as the weather was perfect and the city was a great place to meander. I even made it down to the World Trade Center site to lift up in prayer the many lives lost almost 10 years ago. Here’s what it looked like:

I stayed in Greenwich Village with 12 other Volunteers in Training at the Alma Matthews House (a Methodist Retreat Center) and had a wonderful weekend reflecting on God, our perceptions of serving in and with another culture and other practical matters about living in another culture. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know other soon-to-be volunteers as we have all heard similar callings from God.  My thoughts on servanthood, labeling of others as “poor” or not and even misconceptions of serving within another culture have been changed for the better and I’m one step closer to fulfilling the calling that God has placed in my life. And just as quickly as I got there I found myself in LaGuardia Airport at the tail end of my journey.

I want to close this blog with a story from a book I’ve been reading by Duane Elmer called, Cross-Cultural Servanthood:

“Walking with Mark one night, I noticed a lady at the corner ahead. She was scantily clad. I turned to him and said in a voice the lady would not hear, “Is she a prostitute?” He paused; I remember thinking, Why the pause? It’s obvious. Then he said firmly, “No! That’s not a prostitute. That’s a person…in prostitution.” His profound statement affects me to this day. When I saw this woman, I saw a prostitute. When Mark saw her, he saw a human being.” (p. 64)

So, what do you see? The prostitute or the human being?

The “poor person in need of my help” or a human being loved by God just like me?

I think the difference between those two perceptions can dramatically change the way you interact with everyone you meet in life…

Mpaka wakati halafu…