Sunday, June 10, 2012

Making Connections

Hello friends!

We have been busy, busy, busy since our last post. After returning from our trip West, Doug and I have been hard at work organizing more church visits and fundraisers. By the way, Montana was awesome! Both schools have wonderful programs to offer and a unique culture that Doug and I would love to be a part of! Good thing we have a whole year to make a decision!! Meanwhile, I turned 22, (Happy Birthday to me!) and Doug and I spent my birthday together for the first time ever! Summer plans and travels have kept us apart up until now! So that was just wonderful.

Last week was the first week of summer camp at Camp Mitchell. Doug and I volunteered for the primary session (grades 1-3) and were blessed to spend time with some really special people, friends old and new. The theme for the summer is "Making Connections," illustrated by the hands of God and Adam in the Creation of Adam by Michelangelo. Throughout the week we discussed how important it is to make connections, whether it be with other people, the earth, God, or even within ourselves. For the kiddos, we incorporated the wisdom of Dr. Seuss to help illustrate these ideas. Doug and I found the stories and liturgy to be incredibly pertinent to our own lives and upcoming mission work.

Our job title in Japan is "volunteer," and our job description is as follows: "Our dedicated volunteers support the training of our participants by living and working at ARI. They live simply and work humbly, but find great rewards in their time. Their hard work offers volunteers a chance to grow as individuals, as leaders and as valuable community members." So in essence, we are going to Japan to support the work and mission of the Asian Rural Institute. But as we've discovered through the YASC discernment weekends and our own reflections, we are also going to Japan to make connections--to help people see the interconnectedness and dependencies of everybody's livelihood and happiness.

One of our personal goals for our year abroad is to instill a genuine concern in ourselves for all the peoples of the world, and for that concern to inform our everyday life so that we may live in such a way that uplifts all of God's Creation. We are so grateful for the opportunity to have spent a week at camp. It was relaxing, refreshing, as well as exhausting, but it was a much needed time in a "thin" place (a term coined by our friend, Brooks, to refer to a place where God's presence is so very apparent and amazingly overwhelming).

Before I sign off for today, I'd like to update you all on our fundraising efforts. Last weekend, June 3, we visited St. Mark's, Little Rock. It was discretionary Sunday so all the loose offerings went towards our mission. We do not yet have a count from that but the love and verbal support that we received was incredible! We are so thankful for the opportunity to have had the chance to visit St. Mark's. And today, June 10, we visited St. Francis, Heber Springs! Doug grew up in Heber Springs, and even though he was Methodist as a kid, it was nice to be at St. Francis, it felt like home. :) We received a lot of love and support at St. Francis as well and we will hopefully have an updated total for you here in the next week!

In other news, we have two new fundraisers to tell you about! One will be an EYC lock-in in Little Rock on Friday, July 27 (the weekend before we leave!!). The location is TBA but will definitely be in Little Rock (either Trinity or St. Mark's). The cost is $20/kid, but the fun will be priceless!! As is the fun at all lock-ins! So if you are a kid, have a kid, or know a kid, mark this one down on the calendar! It should be tons of funs, friends are, of course, always welcome. More details to come.

The other fundraiser is going to be some kind of Agape supper. It will be at St. Peter's, Conway on Friday, August 3. The dinner/service specifics are in the works, but this will be a special Japanese themed meal with a sending-off service incorporated within. This will also be the last chance to spend time with friends before we leave on that Sunday, August 5. Please consider yourself formally invited. We would love to share a meal with everyone before we leave.

I'll leave you with some Hey Seuss wisdom as well as some pictures from our recent travels and adventures.

"I'll just have to save him because after all, a person's a person no matter how small."

"We've got to make noises in greater amounts, so open your mouth lad, for every voice counts."

"But McBean was quite wrong, I'm quite happy to say, the Sneetches got quite a bit smarter that day. That day, they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches, and no kind of Sneetch is the BEST on the beaches. That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars, and whether they had one or not upon thars."

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not."

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