Sunday, August 26, 2012

What a welcome!

Hurricanes, attempts to steal cars, and more support than I feel I deserve. Let’s recap, shall we?

-Hurricane Isaac:
You see, I have no prior experience with any sort of, how you say, hurricane, tropical storm, or anything in that region of natural disasters. You also need to understand that my roommates & I have been joking about the fact that we are cut off from the outside world currently. We do not have any TV channels, we have to travel to nearby locations and steal their Internet, and our only time listening to the radio is in our cars on the way to campus (more about said car later in the post). This hurricane thing is coming out of nowhere, I’m telling you! People sending out warning messages, schools getting cancelled, hurricane safety and preparation craziness popping up. This is the real deal, people. Our hurricane shutters are in position & ready to roll! We’ll see how this whole thing goes down…

Right as I was leaving for the drive to Miami, I was saying farewell to my wonderful friend Ryan & he made up a great song/rap for me. At one point, he starts spelling out my name & when he gets to R he says “R is for the rain…because she brings the rain”. How right he is. The rain is a-comin’!

-Poor, poor car:
Just your normal Saturday morning—you wake up to a cancelled beach day due to your good friend Isaac (see above), and after getting dressed and brushing your teeth you stroll on out to the street to hop in your car and drive to get some Internet & do some work. Harmless. Oh, but what’s that? Registration and car papers strewn about? Arm rest console items thrown haphazardly into the back seat? All potential hiding places for valuables left open and empty? Woah. I thankfully realize that nothing of worth was in my car & that nothing was taken. I mean, what’s someone to do with written out directions from Boone to Miami, an ice scraper (there’s not even a hope for snow here, y’all…still coming to terms with that one), and a small figurine of a sea lion? Not a whole lot. But then you look over & realize that your ignition is torn to shreds and sitting in pieces on the floorboards. Your car can’t start. And you begin to realize that it wasn’t just a break in, but an unsuccessful attempt to steal the car itself. The rest of the day becomes this blur of phone call after phone call to the police, insurance agency, family, boss, repeat, repeat, repeat.

A great deal of shock and fear came out of yesterday to be honest. It’s an overwhelming day for your mind when it does not stop racing for hours on end. However, the car has been towed to my boss’ house to take a break from life’s excitement until Monday when hopefully I can figure out where it needs to go to be able to work again. Things are figuring themselves out slowly but surely.

-Shout outs:
My mother is incredible. I spoke with her more times in one day than lizards I see scamper when I open the front door. Now that’s a lot! I am so thankful for her & the wonderful, strong, supportive, loving woman that she is. I have roommates that make up songs to sing and dances to dance, who give me hugs and support and care. I have the deepest caring friends who will sit on the phone with me for hours and listen to the craziness that has been this transition. I even have a boss who will drive out to my house while suffering from laryngitis, unable to speak, to help me attempt to unsuccessfully push my car around the corner into our janky old garage. Who are these people? Why are they so great to me? All I know is that I feel so loved, supported, and encouraged. And what more can you hope for in such a crazy transition…plus some unexpected dashes of additional crazy along the way?

Excuse my language…or don’t…but the people aren’t kidding when they say that shit happens. Because wow-ee, does it! But thank good golly goodness gracious that there is so much more that surrounds us. It really is there, even if sometimes it is hiding under all that other stuff.

Waddup, Miami. Keep the excitement coming. Let’s do this thing.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Start

Things are a-happenin' here! I'm wrapped up in this crazy vortex of the start of the new year here at FIU, the start of this new job, being in a new home, meeting all new, new, new, new! (That word looks crazy when you think about it too long. I just sat here for a second questioning whether or not it was spelled correctly.) It's a situation where I just want to learn and fit and find my place in all of this. And this is a good thing, because I am excited and eager and itching to get things rolling. At the moment, though, I think I need to give myself permission to realize that 'belonging' and 'finding your place' does not happen overnight. I'm allowed to get lost, I'm allowed to tell students that I don't know the campus when they ask me where the chemistry building is, I'm allowed to admit that I have been here less than 2 weeks and don't know how things work, I'm allowed to not know the ins and outs of the campus ministry yet. It's okay. It's allowed.

The Wesley Foundation has immersed itself in all of the start of the year hullabaloo at Florida International University. We helped out with freshman move in day on Friday, have been 'tabling' on campus providing information to students who are interested in the campus ministry, talking to other clubs and organizations about some of the stuff we do, etc. There has been a club/student organization fair the past few days & a co-worker and I have been raising awareness about two awesome aspects of the Wesley Foundation. Starting last year, Wesley began a campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking to the campus and students here and had an amazing response! This year, The Freedom Campaign will occur again in October and she went around telling other clubs about it and gaining a lot of support. It's really awesome! I also went around to various clubs who focus on service, social justice, work in the community/abroad and told them about Wesley's grant program. It's a really cool initiative to provide funding to students or student organizations who are passionate about making a difference and encouraging change for the better. I am so excited about this & am thrilled to have this under my wing...I can't wait to see the applications and the creativity that will come from these students and organizations in order to bring about good in situations that need good.

We also had our first worship, or Community Night, on Monday. Again, it is so interesting to be involved in a new and unfamiliar campus ministry and learn the ropes of how they do their thing here. We are having a glow in the dark ultimate frisbee game in the housing quad tonight (wee!!!) and will be taking a trip to the beach on Saturday for anyone who is either new to Miami & wants to experience the area more (raises hand) or simply wants to go with some new friends to the ocean and play (raises other hand).

In other news, this past Sunday proved to be an amazing experience. I was borrowing internet from a nearby restaurant (hush hush) and realized that I wanted to try out some churches in the area. Having no prior knowledge, no awareness of the area, really, I typed in "progressive churches in the Miami area" and came upon a very cool place. I went by myself and tried it Sunday morning & was immediately thrown into such a warm welcome. What a passionate group of people who are really seeking to love, to include, to seek out good. I liked it so much. I am excited to go back this weekend and continue learning more and more about what they do and what they're about.

I am about to wrap this thing up. My goal for this evening before glow in the dark ultimate frisbee is to walk around and hopefully meet some neighbors. This also means speaking all Spanish. I hear people around 'Little Havana' where we live are quite gracious towards trying...I am already quite appreciative of this.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Welcome to Miami! Bienvenido a Miami!

I'm here! After a couple days of driving, a sleepover with a wonderful family and their dogs, some bitter first run ins with an extravagant presence of toll roads in this city, getting a tad turned around, and realizing just how much Spanish I really need to brush up on, Miami is where I am. This is my new home, people.

Something that is important for everyone to know right off the bat: there are more lizards here than you can even understand. Please join me in imagining a large amount of these small reptiles running around in your yard, on the walls, behind all things, etc. Yes, okay, good try...but you have underestimated. They are taking over. But I like them. I also saw some iguanas! Yeah!

After a couple days of driving, Jeff & I arrived in Miami to warm greetings & hospitality from my new housemates and friends. The next morning, after Mr. Verner was dropped off to continue another trek of bus traveling that would lead back to NC, I met up with the rest of the Wesley staff & leadership to drive to Key West for their leadership retreat. I am so thankful to have been a part of that. What a great time to get to know other new friends, while also getting the low down on this new campus ministry that I am now a part of. These people are so cool...and from everywhere! I just want to sit and listen to everyone and learn about their lives and cultures and experiences. It is going to be so exciting to find my place here and really figure out how to bring these passions for social justice and service into this new group of people. Adventures!

Upon returning to Miami, the next day was moving day and it was in full force. The Wesley Foundation has intentional living communities that they call the Wesley houses. Yesterday the mission was to completely move out all of the things in the old Wesley house into two new Wesley of which I am a resident. What a crazy day, but golly it feels so good to be in a permanent residence. I am in "The Blue House" with 4 other women. My roommates are wonderful. I am so excited to share life with these friends and make this house such a fun and great place to be. After proudly arranging our living room, putting together some bed frames, and admitting complete and utter exhaustion, we went to our first ever "family dinner" and it was so pleasant. I like these people.

I also saw FIU for the first time today! I've admitted to feeling like a freshman, coming for the first time and feeling a bit helpless, lost, and scared. I'll fit right in next week when all of the students start classes. But you better believe that I am going to conquer this campus and these crazy streets of Miami one of these days and it is going to be glorious...even if there will be a couple turn arounds along the way.

Now, I am going to journey for my first trip to the grocery store. And guess what? I'm not even going to get lost. (We'll see.) Maybe I can even practice some Spanish along the way. Thanks to everyone for all of the support, encouragement, and thoughts that have been sent my way through this transition. I am so very grateful!