Note: This is the second time I’m writing this. Thanks, computer.
After spending some time at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne this morning, I am sitting in my new room at our townhouse in Cutler Bay, FL.
The past eleven days have flown by. I landed at Miami International Airport on August 26, hoping to move into a townhouse with Caitlin and Drew (who are also Global Mission Fellow US-2s in the 2015-2017 class) and Sarah (who is a YAMM Young Adult Missional Fellow for the Florida Conference). Our housing was not ready yet, so we spent the night at the Florida Conference Young Adult Missional Movement director, Heidi’s house. We were graciously welcomed there by her mother, Sarah, her father, Conrad, and their dog, Luther. They were a joy to be around.
On August 27, we traveled four hours north to the Life Enrichment Center in Leesburg/Fruitland Park, FL for orientation with the Young Adult Missional Movement (YAMM) of the Florida Annual Conference. While at orientation, we learned about safe sanctuary policies, community organizing, and partnership development. (If you would like to join me on this journey financially, as well, please visit my GBGM Advance page. It was great to meet the other Young Adult Missional Fellows serving in Orlando, Immokalee, and Jacksonville, as well as to visit with Nick and Vicki, who are the GMF US-2s serving in Jacksonville. During worship we sang “Seasons Change” by United Pursuit:
“Though the music changes
And the songs we sing
We still lift our praises to our loving God and King
Though the seasons change
Your love remains
Your love remains
Lord you’ve been faithful to plant the seeds
And you will be faithful to always send your rain.”
God does not change, but God is the God of change. Amen.
We were supposed to return to Miami on August 30, but we left a day early to avoid driving through Tropical Storm Erika (which was Hurricane Erika and was headed directly for Miami at the time). We spent another two nights at Heidi’s house while waiting for our electricity to be turned on, so we could move into our townhouse and buy groceries, etc. The first day we did not have running water, so we brought jugs of water to pour into the tops of the toilets, a trick I learned while flushing in Nicaragua.
We attended worship at Branches UMC on August 30. It was an incredibly welcoming, justice-oriented, multi-cultural service: some people spoke Spanish, some people spoke English, and some people spoke Creole, but everyone was friendly. Almost as soon as I sat down, someone handed me a stranger’s baby to hold. I felt immediately at home.
Caitlin and I started working with Janet and South Florida Justice for our Neighbors (JFON) on September 1. I am the new Community Relations Coordinator. Likely I will be attending community events, assisting with interpretation/translation/language access for Spanish-speaking clients at our free legal clinics, and working with Redland Community UMC to explore how we can be more involved with mission work. I am sure I will learn more about my role during the next few weeks.
We have spent our remaining time cleaning (this place was filthy when we arrived), bug killing (the bugs are huge here), running to Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity’s Restore to buy cheap furniture (I even drove the huge white van), shopping at Ikea, Target, and Publix, and moving our stuff into our rooms, bathrooms, kitchen/laundry room, and living room. Yesterday I spray painted my new dresser with silver glitter before finding several carpenter ants inside (it seems like we got rid of all of them—whew!). I have more things arriving on Tuesday, but I feel comfortable for now, even a little bit relieved to have what is here put away.
It will probably be a few weeks before I feel adjusted to this new little world. For now, I am grateful for everyone who has supported me until this point, for my new housemates who wanted to watch Harry Potter in Spanish last night, and for the time I spent at the beach today.
I look forward to worshiping at Redland Community UMC tomorrow morning.