Sunday, July 26, 2009

starting with stories

so, my letters to everyone asking for support could really only touch briefly on why i feel so called to slovakia this year. that, i suppose, is what this is for. i have a wonderful story to share with you about ... stories:)

the way yagm (young adults in global mission - the program of the elca that i am working with) works is that once you apply, if they think they can connect you with a country, you are invited to a discernment retreat, or dip (don't ask me what these letters stand for). at the retreat, you interview with two countries. i interviewed with the slovakia/hungary program and the south africa program.

i had just been to south africa and in the interview, i voiced my hesitations about going back there, but doing work in a different area and how the relationships i had developed would work with people in capetown. overall, the interview went well, but it was nothing to write home about.

in the interview with slovakia/hungary, to put it simply: i fell in love. as one of my friends put it, the difference between south africa and slovakia is that i had to go to south africa to fall in love with it, but i didn't even have to go to slovakia to fall in love with it. so, anyway, the interview:

while we were talking about stuff, i somehow mentioned stories and how much i love them. then dick, the person based in hungary that works with the roma-gadje dialogue through service (the program i'll be working with), told me that his organization has been trying to find a way to share roma stories and asked if i had any ideas as to how that could be done.

i said: well, if i were ever to win the nobel peace prize, here's how i'd do it. i'd collect stories from people. i'd collect them however they wanted to share them, it would just have to be something i could take with me. so, it could be art, it could be orally recorded, videotaped, powerpoints, (and then, i said something that i had never thought of before, but that had just popped into my head) or even a dress that was somebody's grandma's mother's aunt's and has a story. and i'd collect them and bring them to new groups and have them share stories and learn the stories i had.

when i had finished with my brief explanation, dick said, well, we've been doing a museum, it's really just a room that we're trying to get roma people to drop there stuff at, and in one corner of the museum is a dress. it's become the focal piece of the museum and it wasn't this woman's dress, but it has become a way for her to share her story. at this, i was overjoyed. after the interview i called my mom and said, "mom, i know where i have to be next year."

although i didn't get ultimate say, i did end up in the slovakia/hungary program and then in the slovakia group. it is so very clearly the work of the holy spirit and i am so overjoyed to be embarking on this adventure, especially with all of the support that has been given to me through love and encouragement from friends and family. i am excited for all of the ups, downs, and all arounds that this new adventure in my life will bring and i am excited to share these with you:)

peace and blessings.