|Trying a slack-line between training sessions|
After months of waiting, I am so ready to begin my work in Honduras that at first I was not looking forward to an entire week of training.
Because I will be working at AJS through Mennonite Central Committee’s SALT program [see next blog post for descriptions of acronyms], I was required to attend the SALT orientation alongside other young adults from the U.S.A. and Canada. We also shared our orientation with an equal number of young adults from all over the world who are coming to spend a year serving in the United States.
I didn’t think it was possible for six days of trainings to be interesting, let alone as life-giving as they have been.
But there is something electric about a room full of young people passionate about bringing peace to God’s world. Brothers and sisters from the United States, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Indonesia, Germany, Cambodia, and many more countries are gathered here, and we are teaching and learning from each other.
The orientation is about more than tax forms and program policies. In groups, but also over dinner or hanging out before bed, we are asking each other hard questions about privilege and power, about communications, expectations, gender roles, religion, and culture in each other’s countries.
I have worshiped this week in Spanish, Ndebele, and Croatian. I’ve played Korean games and danced until a new friend from Uganda fell to her knees laughing so hard tears came from her eyes. “But,” she gasped, “Do all Americans dance off-beat?”
I love this idea of an exchange – that as I go to Honduras, someone else is traveling from Kenya to Illinois, or from Colombia to Pennsylvania. It reminds me of a deeper reason why we go – not only to do the good work prepared for us, but to bring the ends of the earth closer together.
After this week, I have so many more tools to bring with me on my journey – tips for cross-cultural understanding, spiritual nourishment, self-care – but I also better appreciate the scope of the church that is sending me, a church that is already present and active in the continents where we go.
On Wednesday morning before the crack of dawn, I’ll set off for the next step of my adventure. I’ll have more days of country-specific orientation, two weeks of language school, and then I will finally begin. Perhaps to use that time most wisely I could sign up for some dancing lessons?