The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Yav Group picThis is my first time doing anything like a blog so we will see how it goes together. The last few days have been intense—I just got back from our week of YAV orientation and it was a hard week. Not that it didn’t have its upsides because it did. I got to meet all the other first year YAVs. It was great to get to know them and just be with people who are all on this journey with me. It was hard, there were many hard conversations, a lot of hard realizations about myself and the world that we live in. It was hard to be away from my family and friends… it was hard. The first thing that we talked about when we got to the conference center, after about 13 hours of travel by car, plane, and train, was how we were not needed. Not needed. The places that we all are going to this year do not need us. If we all stopped and didn’t go, they would keep chugging along and keep doing the good work that they do so well. We are not needed. Hearing that was shocking—here I am about to go on a year of mission work and I am told we are not needed. If we are not needed, why am I going? The answer: even if I am not needed there, that does not mean that I still shouldn’t go. It was hard to hear that and that was only in the first hour of being there. Over the week we had long, hard talks about racism and sexism and privilege and institutional white privilege and many other hard topics that make you question the why’s and how’s of our country and world. And that was just Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, we went into New York City in small groups and looked around and noticed. We noticed the visible and invisible boundaries throughout the city and that was hard and uncomfortable and that was the point. The point was to make us notice these things and to be uncomfortable in them as we should be. This week was hard and it was good. We laughed and we cried. We learned and we changed. We made bonds that will last a lifetime and we did all of this together as an intentional Christian community that pushes each of us to be better and to look inside and outside of ourselves for growth and change. It was a wonderful week, and I don’t think I will be able to look at things the same and that is important. I am now in New Orleans and all settled in and ready to start. Tomorrow I am meeting my new bosses and will learn exactly what I am doing this year and I can’t wait to get started.

Peace be with you
Patrick Long

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