A Girl Scout Dropout… Fourteen Years Later

I write to you not from the Eastern Shore of Virginia, as you were probably expecting based on my last post, but rather, from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I made the difficult decision on Friday to say “no” to a summer with YouthWorks and “yes” to myself.

After a week of training in Birmingham, Alabama, I called Southwest Airlines, changed my return flight ticket for 73 days earlier than originally scheduled, and came home.

I realized I didn’t actually want to spend my summer traveling, working long days, and meeting new people.  As exciting and rewarding these new places and relationships might be, I decided that it would also be draining for me (someone who is as introverted as they come, according to the Myers-Briggs). I realized that I am so blessed by the friendships and relationships I have in Michigan and I want to spend my summer with those people instead.

I realized that all of my stresses– obtaining my visa, not having enough time to prepare to go to Spain, limited communication, etcetera– weren’t going to change once I left training in Birmingham and got to Virginia.  (Side-note for any of my 18 followers who don’t know yet: I received a Fulbright grant to teach English in Spain and am planning to leave in early September).  I realized that Fulbright is a once-in-a-lifetime chance and I need to be prepared– physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually– for this opportunity and dream of mine.

I had accepted the job with YouthWorks in February, long before I found out about Fulbright, and never looked back.  I never gave myself the opportunity to reconsider or the chance to rethink my decision.  I didn’t want to be a quitter.

I was trying to think really hard about if I’d ever “quit” anything before.  At first I couldn’t think of anything…but then I realized, I quit Girl Scouts after second grade!  The Thin Mints were stellar and the patches on my brown sash were a source of pride, but it was simply too much for me.  After a long day of school, the last thing I wanted to do was sit in a circle in the art room after school, singing songs and saying the Girl Scout pledge with all the other second grade girls.  It was just too much.

I felt the same way about YouthWorks. Too much.  Maybe “quit” is a strong a word.  Someone told me that I should think of it as making a choice, and choosing to do something for myself.

So, now I’m back in Grand Rapids, with no job and no car and no plans for the next three months.  And it feels right.

“I did something that no self-respecting, over achieving, college bound, honors student would do.  I quit something…This year I have decided to quit Spanish in order to do what I really want to do, what I actually want to learn…If you are passionate about something and pursue it, that does not make you less of a student.  It makes you different, unique.  If you aren’t doing what makes you happy now, maybe you should reconsider your priorities of the moment.  I’m not saying that everyone should ‘yolo’ it up and not consider their futures at all, but it’s perfectly acceptable to make decisions that make you happy right now.” – Wise words from Lydia Angell, which appeared in The East Vision (EGR High School’s newspaper) Volume XXIV on May 23, 2013


The Next Great Adventure

Dear friends and family,

I am beyond excited to be starting this blog anew, as I head off to the Eastern Shore of Virginia for the summer, where I will be employed by YouthWorks, a non profit organization that provides Christ-centered, short term mission trip experiences for church youth groups.  YouthWorks maintains relationships with 70+ communities across the U.S. throughout the year, and hires staff to run mission trips in these cities each summer. I have been assigned to the Eastern Shore site, along with three other staff members. Each of us have been hired to fulfill a unique role: Lucy will run the Kids Club (a VBS-type program for community kids); John will be in charge of organizing works projects (painting and light construction); Joseph is our Program Coordinator (morning devotionals, evening activities and worship); and I have been hired as the Site Director (still not quite sure what this means…something along the lines of head honcho and/or organizer extraordinaire).  Market Street United Methodist Church, located in the small town of Onancock on the Chesapeake Bay, will be our home base this summer. We’ll be sleeping, eating, serving, working, and worshipping there, alongside the visiting youth groups.

The Eastern Shore is a Spanish-speaking site, which means all the staff hired are proficient in Spanish.  Many of the community members are Hispanic, and Spanish is the first language of most of the Kids Club participants.  I’m excited for the opportunity to live in a new place and meet new people, and a little anxious about all of the unknowns.  But mostly excited!

But before I move to VA, I will be heading down to Birmingham, Alabama (home to Claire Angell and Samford University, woot woot!) for a week of training with all of the YouthWorks staff who have been assigned to the Southeast Region.  From there, my staff and I will drive up to Onancock and begin our week of preparations.

My hope is to keep ya’ll updated (see, I’m already adapting to Southern culture! Actually, I have no idea if they even say “ya’ll” in Virginia…but I’ll let you know!) with a blog post once every week or two (or three).

Prayers for safe travels, staff friendships, and community relationships would be appreciated during these next few weeks.  Thank you so much for journeying alongside me, on the next great adventure.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3