Be Brave in 2014

Hey Y’all! Greetings from Georgia! I arrived to Athens January 6th and head to D.C. the 18th where I’m volunteering with the Southeast White House! Working with the SEWH is something I’ve wanted to do for a year now so I’m very excited and grateful! More to come on that later!

Since arriving in Georgia I’ve been staying with the Woodcock/Hydrick families and have spent my time exploring and having fun! I went to Chick-fil-A for the first time in my life and discovered that I love waffle fries! Calli and I also impulse pierced our ears and that involved lots of laughter and left us with a great memory! I’ve decided that while gap years are for learning and growing and discovering, they are also for having fun and living life! While in Georgia, Calli and I helped volunteer a few times at a youth ministry at UGA so that was a great experience!

The main reason for this blog post though, is to tell you about being accepted to College of Charleston! I wanted to give you a little bit of the back-story behind my acceptance because it taught me quite a bit about where I find my worth!

About a year ago, a good friend challenged me to write down 3 things that I thought were impossible. Here is what I wrote:

  1. Finding a person to take a gap year with
  2. Going to Nepal-working with the sisters of Charity
  3. Being accepted to a good college where I will have friends (College of Charleston)

On the bottom of the card was written, “For nothing is impossible with God” Luke 1:37

A year later and two of these “impossible” things turned out to be not so impossible! And while I’m not traveling to Nepal this year, I am traveling to Ethiopia where I am working at an orphanage/hospital/school! I remember actually shaking as I wrote these 3 wishes because I realized they were out of my control in many ways. I also remember contemplating if I should even write down College of Charleston as the school I wanted to go to because I was so fearful of possible rejection.

So this past fall, when it came time for early admission, I decided to apply to College of Charleston. The process didn’t come without some tears though, because once again, the fear of failure was present in my life. I had put a huge pressure on myself to prove to those who had told me I was stupid because I was homeschooled, or who had assured me that taking a gap year would look bad on an application, that I could in fact get into one of the top universities in the country.

And so during the application process I lost sight of the fact that applying and being accepted to a college has to be for me and not something I just do so that I can prove my worth to someone else!

Now, looking back, applying to college hasn’t been the only time I’ve tried to base my value on what I could achieve. I realized I’m learning that what the world puts value in and what I put value in are not at all what Jesus puts value in! Whether I had been accepted or rejected from school, Jesus would love me exactly the same!

I found this quote the other day: We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit. (EE Cummings)

How loud this quote rings true on my own life! I hope in the upcoming year I am able to believe in myself and love myself not because I have accomplished anything or because I even deserve it, but because I know Jesus loves me. If I could really believe that, I think I will be able to take more chances, try more things and live more wholey because I wouldn’t be consumed with the fear of failure!

May we all find the courage to put ourselves out there when need be, to base our worth in Jesus, and to not let our fears hold us back from following whatever we believe to be impossible!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

And, because I love this song and these women embody the word “brave” to me, here is a lovely bing commercial!

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The Belle of Chicago

Greetings from the windy city! I head back to Michigan to celebrate Christmas and New Years at home! I’m extremely excited considering I haven’t spent more than a week at home in the past few months.

While in Chicago, Calli and I stayed with two different families: the Kimpans and the Bilbreys. Both are very involved with the Marin Foundation and were extremely kind and welcoming to Calli and me! I feel so blessed by the way they involved us in their daily lives and opened up their homes to us!

For those of you who don’t know why I was in Chicago, I came here because of my interest in the work that the Marin Foundation does! For a long time now I have wanted to visit Boystown (the first officially recognized gay neighborhood) and learn more about the LGBT community here by volunteering with the Marin Foundation. To sum it up, the Marin Foundation is a group of people who work towards reconciliation between the LGBT community and the Church. For more information on them and the work they do, here is the link to their page: http://www.themarinfoundation.org

So I arrived in Chicago two Tuesdays ago (the third) and I’ve been helping the Marin Foundation by transcribing interviews that were conducted with Christian parents’ of LGBT children. The written interviews are then sent to Loyola University where the information is compiled. The point of this research is to learn more about parents’ initial concerns, how they responded to their children and what seemed to benefit or harm the parent-child relationship. So I just helped by listening to the recordings of the interviews and then writing out the parents’ answers. It was actually really fascinating to hear real stories of children coming out. It was also very sad to hear how many parents responded.

Calli and I worked during the day at the Marin Foundation and then in the evenings we were able to do a variety of activities! We ate at some great vegetarian restaurants, we watched two documentaries: Brother Outsider which was about Bayard Rustin and the second was We Were Here which talked about the AIDS crisis in San Francisco. We took a tour of The Center on Halsted, which is a community center for LGBT people. It was so encouraging to see that there is a place where people who have often been kicked out of their homes and ostracized from their families feel comfortable being themselves!  We also did the Legacy Walk which is an “outdoor museum celebrating the lives and accomplishments of GLBT people.”

A few highlights from the trip were shopping along the Magnificent Mile, going to see the Bean, visiting the Skydeck, taking a little tour around Loyola, going on the santa express and attending a Living in the Tension gathering. This is a time when people from all different backgrounds come together and listen to one person as they tell their story. Afterwards there is a time to ask questions which I think it so amazing because it allows for two different people to really hear one another! This past week a woman shared about how her son came out to her and how her faith has played a role in the way she loves him. There was a gay, Jewish, atheist there and while these two individuals would obviously have different beliefs, they both were completely respectful to one another and it was just a time of learning and compassion!

While in Chicago I’ve also learned a lot about what it means to be transgender which is something I had next to zero knowledge about before coming here! I’m really happy I was able to learn more about this because I believe it’s really important to learn about others so as to better relate!

I knew that what I was looking for in coming to Boystown was the chance to learn more about the LGBT community here and to gain a greater compassion for the pain that a lot of the people here have had to deal with because of the way others have treated them. I really believe I was able to accomplish this, not in one big sweep, but in hearing others’ stories, by seeing one man lay his head on another and by learning what terminology I should avoid using. Most of all, I learned how I’m just as much at fault for stereotyping as anybody else is.

So although I can’t say that I’ve suddenly had an epiphany and now have all the answers to reconciliation between the Christian and LGBT communities, here’s what I know for sure:

  1. We are all made in the image of God
  2. You don’t have to be progressive to love, so why do we make it seem like to love someone who is different than ourselves we must be very liberal in our thinking? (By the way, not my idea, thanks Jason:))
  3.  I want to love people the same way I want to be loved no matter a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. God didn’t call people to be straight and love him. He didn’t call people to be gay and love him. He just called people to love him. For now, that’s enough of an answer for me!

Here is a video on the Marin Founation: http://vimeo.com/17097255

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Opinions Are Great! Feelings Are Okay Too.

Hello friends! I am so sorry I haven’t been blogging regularly! I am on my way to Chicago to learn more about the Marin Foundation, so more to come on that soon! I wanted to give a brief update on what I’ve been up to since New York!

After New York I went to D.C. where I was able to attend the National Student Leadership Forum. It was a really great experience and I had a blast celebrating my 19th birthday there! I met some amazing people and enjoyed the different panel discussions and speakers!

After the forum, I stayed in D.C. and did a variety of things including volunteering! I learned more about the International Justice Mission and the amazing work they do overseas working to stop slavery and sex trafficking. I am grateful I was able to learn more about this organization and different ways I can get involved.

While in D.C. I also had the chance to meet with some incredible people who challenged my thinking. One woman I met with encouraged me to do a few things every where I go this year:

1-    be balanced (ask questions and answer questions)

2-    have an attitude of gratefulness and service (what can I do for you)

3-    either leave a blessing or shake the dust off your feet and move on (not everywhere I go will be an amazing experience, it’s important to recognize that and move on)

These were three very good reminders for me because it’s super easy to get caught up in this year and take for granted that people are opening their homes to Calli and me and letting us into their life!

Lastly, this woman encouraged Calli and me to not be scared of conflict and rather welcome it and view it as an opportunity for resolution. Before this year I always thought that I didn’t have a problem with conflict because I was outspoken. What I’ve learned is that it’s much easier for me to talk about what I believe rather than what I feel. And that is where the problem arises. So I’m learning how to be intentional with relationships and ask 3 questions:

1-Have I hurt you today?

2-Have I sinned today?

3-How are we doing?

Just thinking of asking these questions makes me nervous because these questions and their answers require vulnerability and being open to improvement. Here is a video on vulnerability that I found really insightful in case anyone would like to check it out! http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

After D.C. I was able to come back to Rochester for a week and celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. It was so great to be back home and catch up with friends! I feel a bit torn leaving because I feel as if I’m in that funny stage of being excited about the future but still missing the comfort of home. It’s hard to figure out how those two worlds fit together.

For more information on IJM, here is a link to their page: http://www.ijm.org

Celebrating my 19th in D.C.

Celebrating my 19th in D.C.

 

Some People Don’t Like Starbucks

Hello! It’s my last day in New York so I’m going to do one more blog update!

Last weekend Calli, Lane and I celebrated my birthday early since I will be at the National Student Leadership Forum during my real birthday and won’t have any down time! We went to some of my all time favorite restaurants like Serendipity and Café Lalo and then spent the rest of the afternoon shopping, so that was fun!

This past week Calli and I helped a lot in the kitchen at the rescue mission! We absolutely LOVED how involved we were able to be. I made friends with some of the residents who are in a yearlong program to help them get back on their feet! They are truly some of the sweetest people I have ever met and they never failed to bring a smile to my face and make me laugh uncontrollably. Two of the men at the mission took their GED test today so Calli and I made them care packages. It felt really good to encourage someone else and I could tell it meant so much to them! Two of the other nights Calli and I worked at the mission during dinner, which is when they serve a couple hundred homeless people a meal. That was a very eye-opening experience. It really broke my heart to see these men and women, who seem to be very alone, stuffing apples and bread into their pockets. It taught me I need to be a lot more appreciative for all I have (especially a loving family).   

I had an interesting experience walking from Lane’s dorm room to my aunt and uncle’s so I’ll share:

 I saw an older man lying on the sidewalk. It was really cold and rainy that day and I just felt so sad because I can only imagine what it feels like to lay on cold cement. I didn’t have any cash on me that I could give to him, but I wanted to do something. I walked for another block before I heard Jesus tell me that I should get him something hot to drink. So I found a Starbucks nearby and was about to order him a small hot chocolate when I realized that if I were buying this for myself, I would get a medium, so I decided to change the size. So I bought the hot chocolate and went back to find the man. I sheepishly approached him and said, “Excuse me sir I wa—“ when he looked at me and loudly said, “NO, NO, NO, NO, no thank youuuu!” So I kind of just turned around (very embarrassed) and shuffled away. I was actually so stunned I crossed the street so I wouldn’t have to walk by him again, haha. So that plan backfired but I figured I would find another person to give the drink to but after about 6 blocks I still hadn’t which is weird considering usually it wouldn’t be difficult. At first I was kind of angry because I thought, “here I am, trying to be a good Samaritan and he won’t take this drink even though he has nothing!!” Then I started thinking about it and realized that just because someone doesn’t have many physical belongings doesn’t mean he will just automatically want anything offered to him. It’s unfair to just assume. So my intentions were good but I was/am naïve in my thinking. I’m not really sure why Jesus told me to give him a hot drink, but maybe it was to teach me to listen and obey even when things aren’t exactly unfolding like I had planned for.

 

This past week Calli and I went to the MET and Ground Zero. Both were very educational and really breathtakingly beautiful! Other then that, we have just been relaxing and preparing for tomorrow, which is when we leave for the NSLF! Can’t believe this NY trip is done; I won’t forget all the amazing people I met and had the honor of serving! 

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I Know the Difference Between Uptown and Downtown!

Greetings from the big apple! Calli and I arrived to New York, New York this past Saturday (the 2nd). We are staying with my lovely aunt and uncle and volunteering at the New York City Rescue Mission because as it turns out, my uncle just so happens to be the director at the mission! It has been such a great trip so far, especially since Lane lives here and it’s always great to get that sissie bonding time! Here is an update:

Sunday: We went to Communitas, a church my aunt and uncle started. My aunt spoke that morning and it was really great! That morning she shared a quote that really stuck out to me, it’s from Alice and Wonderland:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

“I don’t much care where –”

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

Although I have watched Alice and Wonderland many times, I have never thought about what this quote means to me. At this point, it’s very evident that postponing college is allowing me to experience a lot of different beliefs and lifestyles. This isn’t to say that going to college right away is bad or that I wouldn’t have experienced great things, but I’m so happy with my decision. I’m only a little way through this year and I already see myself learning so much about myself and others. I just think this quote is a great reminder that it pays to be intentional about how I spend my time and what people and activities I invest into! This year kind of forced me to do this with all the planning it took, but I’m happy it did and I want to continue this as I go to college and get a job etc., etc.!

After church, a group of people from Communitas went to cheer on my uncle who was running in the New York City Marathon!! The environment was really fun and there is something super inspirational about seeing all 45,000 people run. I saw one man in a wheelchair and another with only one leg. The motivation that takes is really just mind boggling to me. Anyways, congratulations to my amazing uncle who put in years of work and ended up finishing with an unbelievable time!!

Monday: We started our work at the New York City Rescue Mission! Right now, the building is under some major construction so things are crowded but everyone is so nice and I can tell they are all very passionate about their jobs and really enjoy each other! Calli and I helped with some office work and then we got very, very, very lucky because we were offered free tickets to Madison Square Garden to watch the Rangers play! So that evening my uncle, Calli, Lane and I went to see the rangers take on the mighty ducks (and my dad was very jealous). Realistically, I figure this will be the last time I am ever in MSG. That is, unless of course I happen to score some tickets to see Ed Sheeran Thursday night. That’s unlikely though.

Tuesday: Calli and I helped with more office work at the mission and then headed over to China Town afterwards and that was really fun. Later that night we visited Lane at her dorm and watched New Girl! Daaaaa best.

Wednesday: Today we helped in the office by going through the mission’s website and suggesting some changes! We also helped a bit by making a press kit. Later in the afternoon we sat in on a staff meeting where the men who are in a year long program at the mission joined. During lunch, Calli and I eat in the cafeteria and it’s been really great because we have gotten to talk to a lot of really amazing people. Today we talked with a man named Martin who is the intake director. I hate to admit it, but I have always had the notion that people who are homeless must not be smart or that they are responsible for where they are. I feel sad that I ever thought this way because after talking with a lot of the men at the mission, I realize they are very smart, kind and generous people who are deeply loved and who unfortunately made some poor decisions. Martin was telling us how he was a drug addict for many years and how the first time he saw his daughter after years apart, he went home and got high. But, Martin graduated from Columbia business school and this fact that a drug addict could have a college education doesn’t fit the stereotypes I’ve created for homeless people. And Martin isn’t the only one doesn’t fit into my messed up stereotypes. One homeless man speaks 7 languages. Another man who was an alcoholic and went through the yearlong program at the mission is now in charge of public and corporate relations. I’ve just realized how I look at someone and judge them without taking time to listen to them and gain compassion.  Hearing these men’s stories also made me realize how a few bad decisions have the power to really destroy a life. Once again, it’s a great reminder to be intentional about what I’m spending my time on.

So, it’s been a great time of learning and I’m excited for tomorrow because Calli and I are serving in the soup kitchen! More updates to come!

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Peace, Paix, Salam, Paz, Shalom

Hello! I know it’s been quite a while since I last blogged and I apologize; I’ve been keeping myself busy! As
my Kansas and Colorado trips have both ended, I wanted to give a brief update on how the last part of my journey went! 

As you know, Calli and I drove from Quinter, Kansas to Fort Collins, Colorado where we stayed with the Suchowski family for a week! I thought I would just give a short summary of each day!

Sunday & Monday:  We arrived Sunday night to Colorado and the next day Heather took us out to lunch and to get manicures! It was just a really fun day catching up and exploring the city! That evening the Suchowski’s had their neighbors over and we had a great dinner with them. The woman, Jody, happens to be the dean of admissions at Colorado State University and gave Calli and I some really valuable advice about college (introduce yourself to your teachers, take advantage of the resources available and always sit in the ‘T” section of the classroom).

 Tuesday: We walked around downtown Fort Collins which is absolutely beautiful and has tons of fun boutiques and great restaurants. That evening Mike and Heather left for Montana so Calli and I began our week of hanging out with their kids (Jake = 10, Kate = 8).

Wednesday & Thursday: Calli and I went back downtown to explore some more and also picked the kids up from school, helped with homework and made dinner!

Friday: We went hiking along the A Trail which overlooks Fort Collins and its reservoir! The elevation made hiking a bit more challenging so I was out of breath by the end! We also ate at a great restaurant called Rainbow that has amazing vegetarian food! That evening we went to see a movie with the kids! 

Saturday: We went to this really cool place called the Lyric where you can get cereal and then watch old cartoons! We also went to the park which is absolutely beautiful! That evening Mike and Heather returned home and took us out for dinner which consisted of delicious burritos and great conversation! I want to share a few things that really stood out to me:

            1. Oftentimes when we accept something or take it on, we deny something else, instead of just letting it be.

            2. I realized that I have a hard time deciphering the difference between thoughts from Jesus or thoughts from the church. While I know Jesus operates through love, I sometimes want to change my beliefs out of fear of what people or the church may think, rather then sticking to the beliefs I formed out of compassion in the first place. Gotta find that peace from within! 

            3. If a relationship is not give and take and most of the time you are worried about pleasing the other person or how they will react if you upset them, then that would be classified as a co-dependent relationship.

Early Sunday morning we took Calli to the ER and that was a bit scary. She is feeling a lot better now but prayers are appreciated!

Later Sunday we left for HolyOke, Colorado (another farming community)! We arrived that night to the Sperber farm where they raise cattle. Mr. and Mrs. Sperber were so unbelievably welcoming to Calli and me! The next day, Mr. Sperber gave us a tour of the town and we were able to learn about the environmental factors affecting the farming community. For example, we learned how the increase of prairie dogs has created serious problems because rattlesnakes live in their holes and the uneven ground created by the prairie dog’s digging makes it easier for the animals to fall. We also learned about how the government planted evergreens to create more carbon and provide safety for animals. Later that day, I was able to help feed the cattle and that was really fun! It was sad to know the cattle would be sent to slaughterhouses in a little less then a month. As a vegetarian, I wanted to talk to someone who was involved in the meat industry and Mr. Sperber was very informative! I learned about the process of killing the animals and how you know when an animal is sick. Even though I obviously don’t support the meat industry, it was great to see someone who was involved with it and who still treated his animals kindly.

That evening, Mrs. Sperber shared an interesting thought: When a person dies, a library is lost. Let me confirm that Mr. and Mrs. Sperber are just this: libraries. We learned about lots of different things from canning peaches to one-room schoolhouses. I’m so glad I had the chance to meet these two incredible people, I can’t stress enough how sweet and welcoming they were towards us.

We left the Sperbers Tuesday morning and traveled to Des Moines, Iowa where we stayed with the Stec family. Neither Calli nor I had ever met them so we were a bit nervous but they were so great and made us feel right at home! We arrived back to Michigan late Wednesday night and it was hard to believe that this first trip, which took a lot of planning, had already ended. Needless to say, I was happy to be back and had a marvelous time carving a pumpkin and trick-or-treating as the Morton salt girl (you are never too old for some free candy)!

We leave for New York City tomorrow so I’m very excited! I’ll try to post more regularly from now on:)

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Palms Up

Hello! Here is a small update before we leave for Colorado this afternoon!

Yesterday (Saturday) Calli and I drove to this BEAUTIFUL lookout point called Castle Rock to watch the sunrise! The area really does look like a fortress made of rocks and it completely took my breath away with how stunning it is! We have a goal to watch sunrise every place we stay (long term) this year, so this was the first for the year! Funny story, we had to get up pretty early to drive to Castle Rock and in my sleepy state I forgot to put on shoes, so I ended up climbing Castle Rock in my slippers! Calli and I just sat and took in the scenery but it was just SO peaceful and a great time to meditate. Calli also shared that in one of the books she is reading there is a chapter on keeping your palms up during a conversation that you don’t necessarily agree with. I like this idea a lot because of what it stands for. I think for me keeping my palms up would be a great way to consciously make the decision to be open to what people are saying!

On Saturday afternoon, we went horseback riding which was super fun because it was my first time! I was given a beautiful, older horse named Marshmellow! She was very good to me and we were kind of friends by the end, with her nuzzling my face:) It was also especially fun to actually trot with the horse; I had never done anything like that before!!

Today we are going to the Mann’s church for the morning and afternoon and then we will head out for Colorado shortly after that!

This first trip has been great so I am excited for what Colorado holds!

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Netflix Isn’t Big In Quinter

Howdy y’all! Well, Calli and I are about halfway through our Kansas trip so I thought I would give an update!

We started our travels Sunday morning when we drove about 10 hours to to St. Louis, Missouri. We stayed with some family friends of Calli’s for the night! The next morning we got up and drove about 9 hours to Quinter, Kansas! I was a bit shocked when we actually arrived in Quinter because of how unbelievably small it is. I have never once thought that I grew up in the city, but compared to Quinter, Rochester is like NYC! To give you an idea of how small Quinter is, in their high school, which is 7th through 12th grade, there are about 90 students. For the 10th grade, there are only 13 students. Quinter is made up of roughly 900 people, which is not even half my high school, so that’s just kind of hard to take in. Quinter also only has two restaurants, the main one being Dairy Queen which is really the hot spot of the town. While at first I was completely taken back, I’ve really grown to love Quinter and all that is has to offer! The people here are so, so friendly and everyone knows everyone! Quinter is also incredibly peaceful, you walk outside and it’s so quiet and when I look around I just see cows and horses grazing in these huge pastures and it’s really just so beautiful! People in Quinter are a very close-knit community so that’s really cool because they will all go to the high school football games and most the kids work with their parents on their farm, so it’s not like the people are just sitting around, there is actually quite a lot to do! Also, I have yet to meet one person who says they don’t like Quinter. While many say they think they will leave for a little while, they all say how they know one day they will end up back here because they love it so much and it will always be their home!

Calli and I arrived to the Mann’s home Monday evening! They live on a beautiful  crop farm with tons of animals including bulls, horses and cats! They have been so great about welcoming us into their home and making us feel so comfortable; I feel very blessed! Tuesday was our first full day with Mr. and Mrs. Mann so we got a full tour of their farm and watched bulls getting their hooves trimmed (quite the experience). We learned so much about crop harvesting and a lot more about the farming community, which was the whole point of this trip so that was really great! We also had lunch at Dairy Queen where the whole town kind of comes together so that was cool! We also discovered that quilting is a HUGE part of this farming community, so Calli and I helped some of the women quilt blankets for an auction that is coming up. I’m pretty sure they will have to take out my stitches and completely redo them because I am terrible and I wasn’t even sure if I was quilting a girl or bear by the end.  But hey, I guess it’s the thought that counts!

Something else we found out about farming communities is that religion is at the center. While the whole community is very close, there are many different denominations of churches, especially for such a small town. One of the main denominations is called Old German Baptist Brethren. I knew nothing about this church coming in so I was a bit surprised to see that the woman wear a bonnet (or what they call a prayer covering), dresses that include an apron and cape. The men have beards, no mustaches, and pretty much dress identical (overalls and boots). The members of this church also don’t wear jewelry, they have no tv, no radio, no movies, no music and no smart phones (but phones strictly for calling are okay). The women marry very young (about 16 and up) and are expected to marry within the church. The women are also not encouraged to pursue a secondary education and the men aren’t really either. Initially when I heard all this, I was taken back. Anyone who knows me knows my belief in women’s rights and my belief that people should have the freedom to choose how they want to live. This religion prohibits both of these beliefs which was/is hard for me to understand.

The Manns set up a day for Calli and me to spend with one of the most conservative families of this church. I was initially very nervous because I was scared I would say something wrong or my clothing wouldn’t be appropriate or that they would judge me. But after spending the day with the amazing Jamison family, I am so grateful because they are truly remarkable people!! They were SO, SO unbelievably sweet to us and they answered all our questions (do you vote? No, why are you so against the internet? We admit it is good, but there is so much evil too, why is it important to dress the way you do, we want to differentiate ourselves as Christians, what do you miss about “the world?” country music). I’m not saying I agree with any of their beliefs, because truthfully, most things we disagree on. However, I now have a great understanding and respect for the people of this brethren! They are so family centered and are really hard workers! On top of this, I didn’t feel judged in the slightest by them! They wanted to know about what college I wanted to go to and what I wanted to study. When I told them I wanted to pursue sociology (a clearly more liberal path) all they did was smile and tell me how good I would do! They asked about our families and what we believed (they also tried to understand why I was vegetarian). While my life is clearly very different than theirs, they weren’t concerned with that and genuinely kind people! They clearly are passionate about their beliefs (which is very admirable) yet they don’t expect everyone to understand or agree.

By the end of the night we were all playing cards after dinner and laughing together, specifically about Calli and I trying to explain what Netflix was. Despite our considerable differences, I think we both came to understand one another better and gain a greater respect for each other! The Jamison family lives on a cow farm so I was able to feed a baby calf and watch cows getting milked! I truly feel so lucky to have been able to go and spend a day with this family, the experience made me realize how I am so quick to judge others based on appearance without taking any time to talk to them and get to understand their beliefs! Also, My sister shared this quote with me, and it meant so much and really encouraged me before going to meet the Jamisons so I have to share!

It would be a terrible mistake to go through life thinking that people are the sum total of what you see.

Jonathan Tropper

On Wednesday Calli and I also got to visit a farm where there were lots of cats, pigs, sheep, ducks and bunnies, so pretty much I was in animal heaven! We also went to a horse farm and I got to pet all those beauties and even walk some of them to a new pasture. I’m really looking forward to Saturday because we are going back to this farm to learn how to horse back ride (let’s hope I suddenly become very coordinated).

On Thursday Calli and I went to the Quinter High School and that was really crazy! The lockers don’t have locks on them and the students aren’t required to take the ACT, so everything was just different than what I’m used to! One class I sat in on only had 4 students! It was really cool to talk to the students and hear more about Quinter from a younger generation’s perspective! They talked about how while there is drama, everyone is pretty much forced into reconciling because sooner or later you will have to work pretty closely with this person.

On Thursday afternoon Calli and I met up with a woman named Donna. She told us how she was previously part of the Old German Baptist Brothren but decided to leave within the past 2 years. She talked about why she decided to leave this church and the double standards that she felt were unfair and hypocritical. I understood what she was saying because one thing that really stuck out to me while talking to the Jamison family is how literal they take certain passages from the Bible. However, they do believe communion is only symbolic of Jesus’s body and blood. It seems like if you were to take anything literally, it would be this. But I still know very little and this is just my initial thought!

We also met a one-armed pilot named Dick who offered to take us up in his very, very tiny little plane. I was pretty terrified to be honest but figured if I died at least I would be happy! I ended up living, so that is good, plus it was a beautiful plane ride! We were swooping which made Calli and me feel nauseated but it was definitely worth it!

I’m uploading some pictures from the trip thus far as well! Love you all and thanks for reading!

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Quinter High School

Quinter High School

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