"Now the summer is gone, You had to go back home"
Trip Start Aug 15, 2012
20Trip End Aug 15, 2013
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You had to go back home."
These lyrics to the Aqua song called Dr Jones have become very true for me these last two weeks. I left Grand Forks to spend time with my mom in Minneapolis and my dad in Eveleth. Although it has been fun to see my family it is also really hard to say good bye. Leaving for a year doesn't seem real yet. I am packing and saying good bye, yet I don' t think that it will feel real until I land in Mexico next week!
Also during my time at my mom's house I spoke at her church, Spirit Garage. I have had several requests for a copy of my part of the sermon so I decided to post it here. Here you go!
My name is Colleen Maki and my mother, Becky, and grandmother, Pat, are members here at Spirit GarageUniversity of North Dakota in Grand Forks with a double major in political science and religion and a minor in women and gender studies. As a recent graduate, I find myself quickly approaching my next stage in life and the next leg of my faith journey.
Throughout my time in college I developed a strong passion for social justice. I was the president of the Friends of Fair Trade student organization and had the opportunity to share with other students what an impact buying fair trade products and shopping locally has on our neighbors. Also during my time at UND I served as a student intern at the Lutheran campus ministry center. This experience allowed me to grow in faith by learning more about how a church functions and how radical hospitality works. In my religion classes I was able to participate in many discussions surrounding human nature and the ways in which culture and religion are intertwined.
Both my classes and my experiences outside of the classroom allowed me to learn what I am passionate about and it seems that I am most passionate about issues surrounding sexuality and gender equality, hence the quick edition of a women and gender studies minor in my final year of college. But honestly, it seems that I am interested in almost everything!
This is part of the reason why I decided to apply to be a missionary through Young Adults in Global Mission program so that I might have the opportunity to encounter new people, a different culture, to learn about myself and to learn about what God might have in store me and my gifts. I have such a passion for social justice but I am not sure what vocation I am called to. I am excited for the opportunity to be a missionary to see where my gifts can be most useful. I want to see where I fit in with the phrase, God's work our hands.
Now I would like to tell you a little bit about the Young Adults in Global Mission program. It is sponsored by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and allows young adults, ages 19-29, the opportunity to serve as a missionary in another country for one year. Through a discernment and interview process I was placed in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Cuernavaca is approximately 2,000 miles from Minneapolis and located just south west of Mexico City. 57 other young adults were placed in 7 other countries this year through Young Adults in Global Mission program.
Young Adults in Global Mission works off a model of mission called accompaniment, which is defined as "walking together in solidarity that practices interdependence and mutuality." That is a mouthful. What this means is that during my time in Mexico I will be walking along side our global neighbors in Christ. I will not be bringing God to them, rather, I will be discovering and participating in what God is already up to in Mexico. My time as a missionary will be largely focused on relationships, community, and cultural immersion… but that is not to say I won't be doing work!
I will be working full time at an organization called DDESER. Their objective is "to promote and defend the reproductive rights of women and young people in Mexico." In my placement email I was told I will be doing a lot of office work and possibly some sex education, but I won’t know my exact job responsibilities until I arrive in Mexico.
There are many unknowns for me in this up coming year. I still don’t know my host family. I am not fluent in Spanish. I am not sure how to talk about sex education in Spanish. There are many more unknowns that I could share with you but for now I would like to focus on these thoughts… This next year I will grow in my faith and my knowledge of a culture beyond my own will be greatly expanded. I will add so many people to the group that I call family.
Jesus calls us to love our neighbors and during my year of missionary work in Mexico I am sure my definition of neighbor will continue to expand beyond physical proximity. We are all sisters and brothers in Christ and I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet my Mexican sisters and brothers and see and participate in how God is already working in and through them.
I am sure you are asking your self, “well, what can I do to support Colleen?” I have a few answers to your question.
I would like to invite you to pray for me and the 57 other young adults serving as missionaries this year. As excited as I am to serve as a missionary, I am also scared. I am scared to leave my friends and family for a year. Your prayers would be so greatly appreciated for my anxiety.
I would also like to invite you to visit my blog to see what I am up to through out this next year, I plan to post at least once a week while I am in Mexico. I think Pastor Rob will email out the link.
Finally I would like you to prayerfully consider supporting me financially. It costs the Evangelical Lutheran Church $11,000 to fully support a missionary for one year. I am asked to fundraise $4000 of this money. This money goes towards transportation, housing, food, pocket money, health insurance, language training, and orientation.
Yesterday afternoon my family and I attended the Hubert Humphrey Memorial unveiling program at the State Capitol. Vice President Humphrey was a champion for civil rights and many of his quotes seem to resonate with me and my upcoming year of service. Humphrey said, “The moral test of Government is how that Government treats those who are in the dawn of life, children: those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick and needy, the handicapped.” Government may not be my current avenue for helping people but I will continue to keep Vice President Humphrey’s words in my mind as walk along side my sisters and brothers in Mexico.
Today, I would like to leave you with a challenge, just as I do in many of my blog posts. On this day I challenge you to think about whom you consider your neighbor and remember the Jesus calls us to love all people.
I would like to close with a quote from Spirit Garage’s Good Samaritan Project, which my mother shared with me this morning.
“I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something; and I will not let what I cannot do, interfere with what I can do.”
Thank you for letting me share a little bit about myself and my faith with you today. When I return in August 2013 I hope to come back and share my experiences with you.