Greetings from Stony Point, New York!
I am now more than halfway done with Global Mission Fellows US-2 missionary training! During this time, we have learned more about the logistics of the program, engaged in difficult conversations about social justice issues, discovered new information about the United Methodist Church, tried out new spiritual practices, and shared our mission experiences with each other and with churches in New York City. I am especially grateful for the ways that training has helped us to understand social justice and current issues through Biblical context.
While in New York City, Rachel, Catherine, and I visited Church of the Village, a very welcoming and justice-oriented United Methodist community. I had the opportunity to pray with and anoint a few members of the congregation. One man who approached the prayer station where I was standing spoke “poco English” but still chose to participate fully in worship. I felt God’s presence in that moment as the man communicated his prayer requests with me, and as I prayed with him in Spanish. The only downside? After my head was anointed with oil, I wiped it off (smeared it around), and my forehead got pretty sunburned that day.
Another moment from this journey that stands out to me is when I met Emmett. Emmett was panhandling in Manhattan, and his face lit up when I knelt down, looked into his eyes, and talked with him briefly. Though for a fleeting moment, our interaction gave me hope that we can make this world a better place if we treat each other as human beings who have sacred worth and deserve respect and dignity, it also reminded me that I could have just as easily chosen to ignore Emmett, as I did to countless other people experiencing homelessness in New York City. We need social justice; we need to dismantle structural sin because, as a flawed human being, I will continue to sin personally. Only then will the world be a better place for all of creation.
As I finish up training this week, I will head to the Upstate New York Annual Conference. I will stay with a host family (and play with their 3 cats!) and will have another opportunity to share part of my journey with a nearby church.
Next week, we will return to the Stony Point Retreat Center for more training, time with God, good home-grown food, and (hopefully) beautiful weather.
I will be commissioned as a United Methodist Church missionary on July 30, 2015 in New York City.
Then I will head home to Westerville, Ohio, where I will have time to itinerate and to share some of my journey with others.
Finally, at the end of August, I will be move to Miami, Florida, where I will begin my work with undocumented immigrants and South Florida Justice for Our Neighbors.
I look forward to sharing this journey with you. And as always, I covet your prayers.
– Emily Kvalheim