Part of the reason I don't update anything more often is that there is very little to update on. Things don't change much, from day to day. The other part is that I don't often have internet access. The third and final is that, as my readers will know, when I've gone a long time without blogging, I tend to go a longer time without blogging, because I don't feel like doing a "catch-up post." But, to the best of my abilities, a catch-up post is what I'm going to write.
I am at The Mission. I am at The Mission seven days a week. The Mission is basically the entirety of my existence, and nothing that happens to me is unrelated to The Mission. Even after Mission hours, the only people I spend time with are Mission people, partly by default, but also partly because they are my Friends. Which is weird.
There are, essentially, two facets to my existence at The Mission: the work/ministry facet, which is the entirety of my purpose in being here, and the people-I-spend-time-with facet, which can, at times, be a textbook case of distracting. It's such an emotionally draining situation, being here and the kind of work we do, and you come to rely on the people around you more than you would in normal life. Partially because we have to have people close around us in order to cope with the emotional demands on us every day of our lives. We have to have people to vent to, recharge from, trust with everything, go to for an understanding ear, feed off of, lean on when we're exhausted. This is especially true for those of us who are under twenty-five, because we're all coping with the strain of being away from our families as well. So, those of us who are under twenty-five spend a lot of time together, after office hours. We're, almost by necessity, very close-knit, very emotionally open with each other, very transparent. There are times when, I think, we do things on a weeknight just because none of us can bear the thought of going home and being alone, not when we could be talking and laughing and all making each other feel stronger and better and more human. This is good. This is human fellowship the way it's supposed to be. But that doesn't mean it's always easy, or the kindest thing for our hearts. And I know that, for my own part, I can get caught up in the in's and out's of a social dynamic quicker than a heartbeat, learn it inside out. And I'm so, so blessed that they count me as one of them. Life would be unbearable if I felt out of place around them all, but I don't, and if you know me, you know that that is absolute insanity after just a month. I'm the most socially awkward human being alive, and for me to be as completely comfortable and welcome as I am around these people really does speak volumes about the situation. It's bizarre, is what it is. It's funny, I pictured myself coming here and stepping into a vacuum, a holy-ground kind of pilgrimage that would be a one-way ticket to feeling closer to God and figuring out what He wants me to do with my life. What's scary is how quickly this has become normal life, how quickly this has started to feel like it's what I've always done and like my day-to-day existence. And it's so hard to be the intentional, seeking person I want to be in the middle of a day-to-day existence.
The work/ministry facet is, well, just that. It's the missions work I'm here to do. And it also can divide into two sub-headings. The Front Room, and Bible Study. The Front Room is where people come in from the highways and byways for assistance from The Mission with everything from food to obtaining birth certificates. I spend much of my time there. Lots of paperwork, lots of names and dates of birth and how-can-we-help-you-today and can-I-pray-with-you-before-you-go. Lots of life's stories and sometimes some tears and kleenex and sometimes bruised pride and embarrassment and sometimes an entitlement complex and sometimes only anger.
Bible Study is Bible Study. Mondays and Wednesdays I do "afterschool" program at one apartment complex, with an ever-changing group of people loosely referred to as my "team," and really only one steady person loosely and by a small number of people referred to as my partner. Afterschool program refers to snacks and homework help and if you're lucky a Bible lesson and I just really, really love my kids. Tuesdays and Thursdays I do the same thing at a different place, with rather a more background role, which is a welcome break. Wednesday nights I go to a "proper church" and teach a class of elementary school kids with whom I've been behind the eight-ball from the beginning because I'm their third new teacher this school year, and mostly what I meet with is resistance and anger, and if things are getting better, they're getting better slowly, but I'm almost defiant in how much I want to get through to them and make a difference in their lives. Sunday mornings I go to the same place and do whatever needs doing. I've been everywhere from the youth group to the nursery, not sure that could get much wider/ Saturdays are too complicated to exist right now, but I'll keep you updated.
So, line-up: Mondays-Thursdays, front room until it's time for afterschool. Wednesday night Bible Study. Fridays, front room until it closes at five, then pretending to know what I'm doing in the Abyss referred to as The Bins (where donation-sorting happens, because, as I say a thousand and one times a day, "we're run entirely off of private donations. If it exists, we've probably had it at some point, it's just a matter of if we have it right now.), until The Mission closes at seven. Saturdays, too complicated to exist (this month, taking a busload of My Kids to go and play basketball, in the future, Bible Study at another property). Sundays, church in the morning, lend an extra pair of hands at another Bible study with some friends, Mission-wide worship service with all the volunteers and staff and missionaries, Bins until seven. Mondays run it back and start it all over again.
And, it's all-encompassing. It's all I have time for, it's all I have space on my emotional hard drive for. This is the kind of place where people blink. You know what I mean, right? You blink, and all of a sudden twenty years have passed? Yeah. It's the daily schedule, it's the next special event, it's planning for Vacation Bible School, and it's so easy to get caught up in. I'm scaring myself, really. It'll be in the middle of the most casual conversation, and I'll catch myself making a comment that makes it sound like I'm planning to be here forever. Me and a friend were talking about how much harder middle school is than elementary, and I mentioned how much I'm not looking forward to when two of my girls, both of whom are only in fourth grade, get to middle school. I'm Not Going to Be Here when these girls get to middle school. No, really. Then I was talking to another friend, one who's currently in the process of moving, about how good moving is for cleaning out and throwing away stuff, and I said, "we should just all switch houses every few years." We, being the operative word there. Not you guys, not y'all. We. Not gonna be here. Very much not gonna be here a few years from now. And yet these things keep slipping out of my mouth.
What I actually need to do is figure out what I'm doing when I'm done here. Like, actually actively, have-a-concrete-plan figure it out. Because otherwise...well, I guess I'm not going to finish that thought. Otherwise, I don't know what's going to happen.