Here’s an update from Carlee Wood, who is serving with the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission during the 2017 – 2018 program year. Members of this year’s Synod Assembly met Carlee when she addressed the assembly about her mission. You can help Carlee meet her fundraising goal here, and keep up with her blog here.
Hola! Les mando un gran saludo desde Tepoztlan, Morelos, México, a pueblo mágico just south of México City. It is a beautifully green town with mountains on all sides and a tranquil, cozy, and refreshing atmosphere. We arrived here on Sunday to spend a week taking Spanish classes and to have a trial run at staying with host families. My time here has been filled with quesadillas de queso de Oaxaca and telenovelas, which I have found out I LOVE. This is my first update and there are a lot of nerves and worries going on while writing this, but I hope that you have patience with me while I find the words to say and the best way to write them.
Stateside orientation in Chicago was a whirlwind of intensity and fun. We discussed racism in the United States, we looked inward (and outward, hello white skin) at privilege and what that may look like in a global context, and we learned about what it means to be people of faith caring about the world’s issues. In the midst of the heavy stuff like though-provoking sessions and loads of logistics with the Global Mission staff, we were able to fun as well as a group of 93 young adults about to set off on quite a journey. We enjoyed meaningful worships full of international praise songs, adventures around Chicago, a bonfire on the edge of Lake Michigan, and a “talent” show on our last night where country groups and brave souls performed (shout out to the men of YAGM for their backstreet boys piece). It is truly a privilege to be serving alongside a group of amazing young adults; please pray for all of them as they accompany communities in Argentina/Uruguay, Australia, Cambodia, Central Europe, Jerusalem/West Bank, Madagascar, Rwanda, Southern Africa, Senegal, and the United Kingdom.
It’s hard to believe that I have been in Mexico for nine days already! The days feel long, but looking back the time has flown by. Our in-country orientation has been filled with conversation about what life in Mexico looks like, failed attempts at making jokes in Spanish, and getting to know the culture that we soon will be immersed in. We have visited some must-see sights in Mexico City, stayed in a convent with the hermanas guadalupanas, and mastered (I am using this word loosely here) the Mexico City metro system. After a few days in the capital, we traveled to where we are now, Tepoztlan, and have been able to enjoy fresh air, a beautiful view from Tepozteco (a pyramid at the top of a mountain), and visits to two of this year’s volunteer sites – La jugarreta and Baticine. This in-country orientation is like a trial run of the rest of the year, but with training wheels, helmets, elbow pads and all. In just a little over a week, our orientation will be over and we’ll be settling into our towns and beginning to serve at our sites! How scary/exciting!
A moment of truth: quite often, I feel like I am in way over my head. On other days, I know that I am right where I am supposed to be. But the majority of the time, I have faith that God has my back and my confidence is restored knowing that I have a community back home and around the world that are on this journey with me. Thank you for your continued love and encouragement. This experience would not be possible without you!
PS – If you are interested in hearing about other YAGM experiences all over the world, check out this blog post.