Thursday, August 15, 2013

BVS Orientation

          As I completed my two and a half week orientation for Brethren Volunteer Service on Saturday, I had many thoughts running through my head. One of them was that I needed sleep. I could not wait to be in my own bed and have some time away from other people. Being with twenty-six other people pretty much constantly for that long was draining my energy and I was ready to depart and have a break before beginning my time of service. However, as glad as I was to have orientation end, I began to miss people on my way home. You see, I met some pretty amazing people in my orientation. I heard a lot of inspiring stories and experienced new things. As little time as it was, orientation taught me quite a few things, things that will be essential as I move on to my time of service.
          I have been asked many times what I did for two and a half weeks. And the answer is a whole variety of things. We had special speakers come in to talk about different subjects related to service and the Church of the Brethren. We watched documentaries and performed acts of service in the community. We travelled to Harrisburg, PA for a weekend. We ate together, cooked together (under a really tight budget!), and hung out together. And it was in this togetherness where I learned more about myself and the workings of God (or the universe) in others. 
         The most important part of orientation for me was the sharing of our faith journeys. We all had to visually represent our faith journeys on a piece of paper, then share with the whole group our story. I have done this activity several times before, but it is always meaningful. And this time even the more so. Honestly, I often forget that everyone else has a story with hard things they have dealt with.  I get so wrapped up in my own worries and life journey, that I do not realize that hardships others have gone through/are going through. Learning people's journeys of faith changed the dynamics of the group, at least for me. I saw people more than just who I had seen them be, but as a the person they have emerged into. We had created a safe space and people were very vulnerable with what they shared. And I appreciated them all the more for it.
         And now it is my job to help plan and run the next BVS orientation. I am just finishing up my first week here in Elgin in the BVS office. Although I am a little exhausted from the transition and getting used to a new job, place, house, and housemates, I am enjoying it. Orientation was a meaningful time for me and I look forward to trying to create the same environment for the next group. 

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