A letter to someone maybe possibly considering a YAV year

06 February 2015

Dear Reader,

Whoever you are I am glad you have stumbled upon this blog post because I know February a year ago I wanted to collect as much information as possible about Miami, the YAV program, the current YAVs, and what they were doing. Reflecting back on this last sentence I sound a little crazy, but I’m not crazy as much as last February I was in a place in my life where I was leaving a full time job in a beautiful place with beautiful very dear friends. Leaving was not going to be an easy decision, so I really needed to know everything I could possibly know. It was odd, because I felt like I learned a little from the current YAVs blog post and that they didn’t blog enough. I wasn’t getting a lot of information.

And then I got here. So much has happened to me. Should I write every detail, every emotion I have experienced, and about the people I have met that have shaped, molded, and re-shaped who I am and my beliefs we would be here all night.

So here is a short list. And it’s a list I’m titling, “A list of ten things that if you had told me a year ago that these things would happen to me, I would have laughed at you and said, ‘whatever’ and ‘nunh-hunh’ in my most sarcastic voice.” Reader, I hope you find humor, more questions, and more doubts in this list. But above all, I hope you find answers.

1.) that my roommates and I would participate in a dance party with Eve Ensler.
2.) that I’d be hands deep in twenty plus pounds of frozen chicken legs and thighs.
3.) that I would “pick up” and be concerned about my grasp of the Spanish language.
4.) that I would spend four months relying on public transportation with a myriad of stories one of which beginning in, “he don’t got no gun.” First day on the bus, might I add.
5.) that I’d begin to grasp concepts of root causes of poverty.
6.) dance the wobble in front of 100 volunteers at our paint and beatification event. I’m still embarrassed.
7.) that I would begin to grasp and embrace thoughts on privilege.
8.) that I’d have friends whose families were victims of gun violence.
9.) that I would meet change makers, movers, shakers, and non-profit workers working too hard for too little money to causes I didn’t even know existed but are beyond important.
10.) this is big. That come December (four months) into my year of service that I’d be discerning a call to seminary–something I NEVER expected from this year. But hey, they don’t have that whole “spiritual discernment” clause in the YAV mission statement for nothing! So, I’m just saying, it happened to me and it could happen to you, too.

Be open, be bold, be resilient, listen before you speak, but when you do speak speak loudly, be ready to not “go with the flow,” be loud, be quiet, but most of all never forget the number one rule, “don’t short…(just kidding that’s an inside joke),” don’t get lost.

Hope this helps,
Russ