It's been a while since I've written, but life has been a little crazy in the meantime! I was in Chicago for U.S. orientation with all of the YAGMs from August 15 to August 21. This was a beautiful week of community building, learning about how the ELCA does mission work, and having our minds overloaded with information about culture and how to build relationships abroad. It was an intense week, but thankfully it was filled with new friendships and lots of down time.
The hardest part of orientation was building these great new relationships with other people my age, who are passionate about many of the same things I am passionate about. The YAGM community got really close over the course of the week, but it was hard going into those relationships knowing that I will not see anyone (besides the rest of the Mexico group) until re-entry next October. Knowing that I want to be close with all these cool people, while also knowing that the goodbyes were imminent. Then came Tuesday night, when the realities of the year set in. A tearful, emotional final worship service, followed by an entertaining talent show, before starting the painful process of saying goodbye to all my new friends. I'm praying that these YAGM friendships will continue to grow throughout the year, as we all are transformed by a year of service in another cultural context.
The Mexico YAGMs left bright and early on August 22 (by early I mean our shuttle left at 5:30), but a few people were awake to see us off! We didn't hit any traffic on the way to O'Hare, and got through security in about 5 minutes. The whole days things just went our way. After a four hour flight (amazing that Mexico City is only 4 hours away from Chicago!), we got through immigration and customs smoothly, and all our bags showed up! Then it was time to say hello to Andrea, our country coordinator, eat lunch, and catch our bus to Cuernavaca. Upon arrival in Cuernavaca, there were more hellos, as we were welcomed by the sisters of the convent (site of orientation), Luke (Andrea's husband), and Olivia (Luke and Andrea's daughter).