Thursday, July 26, 2012

PLACEMENT...and more fundraising!

This past Sunday was a pretty exciting day for my preparations for Mexico!

I gave the "Ministry Spotlight" at Pointe of Grace, a partner congregation to my home congregation.  It was my first time visiting Pointe of Grace, but my visit went great!  I was able to talk to a lot of different people about YAGM and what I knew so far about my service in Cuernavaca, I added several people to my email list, and raised over $600!  This puts my fundraising total at right about $4000, which is great news!

I am feeling so supported by my communities, and I'm excited to be able to share my stories from Mexico with everyone.

On to other placement!  After coming home from church on Sunday, I received an email with my work placement from Andrea, which just added to my great day!

I'm going to be working part-time at two different organizations.  My first site is the Centro de Estudios, Difusión e Investigación en Sexulidad Humana A.C. (CEDISH, aka the Center for Studies, Spread, and Investigation of Human Sexuality).  CEDISH is a new organization (I'll be the first YAGM volunteer) that provides workshops on sexuality to different parts of the population.  Lately, these workshops have focused on working with people with Down Syndrome and the deaf population.  The workshops mainly focus on the connections between human rights, gender, sexuality, disability, and violence.

My second site is Autonomía, Libertad en Movimiento (ALEM, aka Autonomy, Liberty/Freedom, and Movement).  ALEM is a sort of community center for many people with disabilities, and they also make wheelchairs.  I will possibly be helping to develop some sort of exercise routine that people can do sitting down or in their wheelchairs.

I'm a little nervous about these placements, as they seem a little outside of my comfort zone and unlike anything I've ever done before.  But I'm also excited!  They seem challenging, but I'm hopeful that, with my supervisors, we can find a good fit for me.  My placement is also making my upcoming year in Mexico a lot more tangible, as I now have a better idea of what I will be doing for most of the year.  While this helps fuel my enthusiasm, it also adds to the anxiety of such a huge life change, because this is all becoming so much more real!

Less than 3 weeks to orientation in Chicago, and less than 4 weeks until I will be landing in Mexico City!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

one month...

It's July 15th, which means only one month until YAGM orientation in Chicago!  I leave on Wednesday August 15 at 6 am for Chicago.  I know at least one other YAGM volunteer will be on my flight with me, and probably another one or two.

 It's coming up!  The next month will go by fast!  My sister Erin comes home in two weeks from her YAGM year in Uruguay.  She's going to get a couple days at home before we leave on a family vacation, and then we'll all be home for a couple of days before I leave.  SO SOON!!!

Items on my packing list and to-do list are slowly being checked off, but this week is when I get to really power through and get a lot done!  Next week I'll be giving the "Mission Moment" at the partner congregation for my church, which will hopefully help me raise the last $700 or so that I need to raise by August 1st.  Otherwise, all is going well!

Monday, July 2, 2012

When you think Mexico, what comes to mind?

Mexico is a big place, and as one of the U.S.'s neighbors, many Americans think they "know" Mexico.  But what Mexico do you think about?  A country of beach resorts like Cancún, Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco?  A country to avoid because of the recent narco-violence?  A country connected to "unwanted" illegal immigrants to the U.S.?

I've been to Mexico once before.  In 2008 I traveled to Hermosillo, Sonora (in northern Mexico, only a couple of hours south of Nogales) with people from my youth group on a mission trip.  We partnered with a pastor my youth pastor had known for a while.  Every day we worked on construction for a new church building and assisted the congregation's youth in running an outreach program at different parks around the city.  In between this work we ate delicious food and were showered with hospitality from the families we stayed with. 
2008 Mexico Mission Team - we all look so young!
I stayed in a host family with two other girls.  Staying with a host family was quite an experience.  No on in my family spoke any English, the two girls who stayed with me knew no Spanish, so I ended up translating during the week because I had taken two years of high school Spanish.  Needless to say, there was a lot of smiling and nodding on both sides.  This was my first experience with a host family, and it's going to come full circle with my host family in Cuernavaca!

I loved my first trip to Mexico, and it has helped to shape me.  But I'm trying to go into my year with YAGM without any preconceived notions.  I know the cities aren't going to be the same, I will (hopefully!) be able to communicate much better in Spanish, and the things I will be doing are going to be very different.  But it's hard to not take those romanticized ideals of Mexico with me! 

I sometimes dream about what my life in Cuernavaca is going to be like.  In my perfect world, I will instantly pick up my Spanish, connect well with my host family, feel like I have meaningful work, visit the pyramids, go to soccer games, learn how to salsa dance, etc.  But that's not necessarily going to be my reality.  I don't know what the mountains in Cuernavaca are going to be like or if they're going to make me homesick for the Olympic and Cascade mountains (after all, I had a view of Mt. Rainier from my apartment all last year).  In all likelihood, I will struggle with my Spanish, and will feel awkward around my host family for a while.  I will get homesick (maybe even sick), and probably wonder why I decided to move to Mexico for a year.  That's what makes my preparations for Mexico so difficult at times.  I go in stages; at times I am really excited about everything, and at other times I get terrified at the thought of being in another new city where I am not very comfortable with the language and the culture.  What terrible mistakes will I make?  But I'm confident that this is where I'm supposed to be for a year, and I'm incredibly thankful for all the support I am receiving from all my family and friends!

Sidenote: Mexico elected a new president on Sunday.  Read about their new president here!