Friday, August 27, 2010


Hi everyone, Becky here. As you may or may not know, all of us national and international YAVs are currently having a week of orientation at Stony Point, NY, before heading out to our respective sites. So far, the experience has been nothing but good! It’s all been sunshine, good food, and good company. Oh, and Jesus too. It’s an indescribably amazing experience to live 24/7 among people who really get the importance of faith to you and your feeling of being compelled to act on it, to seek out more. Up until now, I had really never known that. Faith and religion and God aren’t things I can talk to even my greatest friends about – not without making them profoundly uncomfortable. They, students at a liberal college in the northeast, (understandably) see religion as the source of many of the things that plague our society: the paranoid discrimination against those who are different; the irrational clinging to old ways of thinking and the unwillingness to accept new one; the hypocrisy of pretending to serve others while serving only oneself. They see nothing positive about religion and are proud to proclaim that they have none. And while I love all of them to death, their attitudes mean that I’m always holding a part of myself back. They just don’t grasp how I grew up in a community of faith, eating and breathing my religion, and that to shy away from it is to shy away from a part of me.

This is different, though. Finally I feel like I’ve found my people.

The typical schedule includes a morning devotion and Bible study. The rest of the morning and the afternoon are dedicated to seminars on difficult topics we are bound to encounter during our year of service. Then at night we have a vespers service, where instead of a sermon or Bible lesson, former YAVs share the stories of some of the experiences that have transformed them.

And let’s not forget small group time! I was placed with other international YAVs going to Kenya, India, Guatemala, and Peru, and every day we’ve had time set aside just to talk and get out our feelings about the whole process. All of them are amazing people, and if you have the time, I highly recommend going to check out theirs and other YAV blogs. There are so many interesting stories that are about to be told this year!

This morning, the amazing Rick Ufford-Chase (whom some of you may remember as Moderator of GA, and who is now co-director of Stony Point Center) gave us a great lesson in globalization. I honestly think I learned more about economics -- and the politics that allow and aggravate economic disasters -- in the two hours he spoke to us than in the rest of my life combined. Heck, you could apply that statement generally to this entire week; it’s all been an extreme learning experience. On Tuesday, we took a long hard look at race and how race relations dominate our culture; on Wednesday, we discussed self-care, both physical and psychological, during a time of stress and culture shock; yesterday, we had a lesson in cross-cultural conflict resolution, where we were forced to think about whether our way of dealing with problems was always the best one. We’ve also talked about vocational discernment, interpreting experiences, and oh, by the way, let’s not forget God. It’s been pretty mentally grueling . . . although definitely in a good way.

So, what’s next? Well, all of us are heading to churches in this presbytery for commissioning services this Sunday. It’s great that there are so many congregations that are willing to welcome us into their homes and give us their support! Katie, Jenny, and I (the Korea gang) are going to Gilead Presbyterian Church, where we will tell our stories of who were are, where we’re going, and how we came to the YAV program. Then it’s back to Stony Point to pack one last time, because we ship out on Monday.

All in all, we expect it will be about 24 hours of nonstop traveling until we reach Daejeon. Then we’ll be moving into our new home, starting intensive language training, and looking for job placements. I’m super excited about everything, but I wanted to let you know that it may be a few days before I’m fully settled in and able to take some time to write about it. I won’t forget, though, and I hope everybody back home will keep an eye out for the next update!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What's new with YAV

Hi again, everyone! I thought you might like an update on the process so far. I am pleased to report that I (finally) got my work visa -- thanks to Simon and Haejung for all their help with that! I am also doing very well in my fundraising. Thanks to everyone's generous support, I have already raised around $7,000 towards my $9,000 goal! I hope that the word will continue to spread within the presbytery, not just for the sake of my fundraising, but to let people know about this fantastic program. There are presbyteries out there who regularly publicize this and send their young people to do mission work with the program, and I'd love it if our presbytery could be one of them someday!

I leave in just a few weeks -- orientation begins on August 23. All the YAVs for all the sites will be together at Stony Point, NY, for a week of discussion, reflection, and learning for the year ahead. I have homework, too: before I go, I have to read up on mission work and cross-cultural conflict (or rather, how to avoid/defuse it). From orientation, we will be departing directly to our places of service around the world. We're flying out of JFK on Air Nippon and landing in Tokyo, and from there we'll hop another flight to Seoul and then travel south to Daejeon.

I'd also like to take this chance to introduce the Parks to you. Haejung Park is the coordinator for the new Korean YAV site, and she and her husband Simon are just about the two nicest people on planet Earth. They are so dedicated and so enthusiastic and so caring, and I am so blessed to be able to work with them in this upcoming year. They have been serving in mission for years, and you can read about them and their work on the PC(USA)'s website at Their letters are also posted there, and I think that many of you will find them to be of interest.

It's getting close to that time now, and I just can't wait! I'll post new info here when I have it. Look forward to it!

(To my Crossroads readers: I hope you will all attend my commissioning service on August 15! The lovely Rev. Christine Caton will be presiding, and we're working on what we will hope will be a meaningful service for all of you, as well as some special refreshments!)