Tuesday, August 31, 2010


We have arived! After almost 40 hours of travel (19 hours in the air on 3 different planes with a long stopover in Frankfurt and a 7 hour time difference) the 11 YAGM who are serving in South Africa for the enxt year stepped out of het ariport in Durban, South Africa to the enthusiastic greetings and hugs from Brian and Kristen, our country coordinators!

Internet access has been very limited, but I hope to check in more detail soon- will be traveling to Carolina on Monday!

Monday, August 23, 2010


Big thanks to my very first round of generous donors who decided to Support a Missionary for a Day!

August 16- Grandpa Doidge
In celebration of his 85th birthday this year!

August 28- Sue & Jack Hammond
Thinking of you as you walk the mountain this weekend in the annual Portland to Coast relay race! 


All new ideas take some getting used to... although I've known for months that I am headed to South Africa for a year of service, it finally took until this week for the idea to start to sink in.

We've spent the last few days of orientation talking about Accompaniment, Culture, Community, and Mission. We've talked about the logistics of airfare, personal security, and medical assistance. Essentially, we're doing lots of talking and sharing and building relationships. That's a lot of Doing. In fact, it's been mentioned in our sessions that as Americans, that's one of the things that we think is best. Doing.

Take a look at the current ELCA tagline: God's Work, Our Hands.
Take a look at the name of my blog: Our Handiwork.

We like to Do. I need to learn how to Be.

Pastor Jim Gonia, Global Mission Program Director for West Africa, Tanzania, and Madagascar, has been teaching us how to "Pack our Spiritual Backpack". He has been sharing different spiritual practices with us in the hope that they will be helpful to us during our year of service. Many of them focus on revealing our God-given essence through our Mind, Heart, and Body. The challenge lies in recognizing the Mind's control, letting go of the Heart's emotions, and sensing the Body's response. When we do that we will simply Be ourselves, as God intended.

Focused Meditation on an image or word is one spiritual practice that we've been, well, practicing. I find that the image of a tree is very meaningful to me during these exercises. A tree is a great example of Grace, the core Lutheran concept that can be defined as God's Rootedness And Christ's Expansiveness. (Get it? It spells G-R-A-C-E). A tree is rooted at it's base, while also being expansive and open to the world. We should also strive to be grounded in God's love and share that love with those around us. The image below resonates strongly with me because it shows how the tree is supporting life and new growth while continually drawing strength from its solid foundation.

Tree of Life II, Natasha Wescoat

I hope to learn how to Be through this YAGM experience. If nothing else, I'd like to learn to Be a tree. Have you tried focused meditation? What images or words help you? What would you like to Be?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Okay, so I'm not quite leaving for the Southern Hemisphere yet... but it's getting close! I leave tomorrow morning for a week of orientation in Chicago, and then it's on to South Africa!

I am looking forward to meeting my fellow participants and forming with them the new community of YAGM 2010 and M.U.D.3. (M.U.D. is the name of the YAGM program in South Africa... if you haven't checked out the group blog, there's a link in the sidebar to the right). My country coordinator has also informed me that my supervisor in Carolina "lives with passion and energy in ways that I have not seen during my time in South Africa". Apparently he has a penchant for trying new adventures... sounds like we may get along splendidly!

Also, in case you're wondering, at this point I'm not too worried about logistics, but am hoping to sit back and enjoy the ride (unfortunately I think all of you know that I don't do that very well, but I'm trying!) Besides, if I forgot something it's too late- I don't have any more room in my bags, anyway! (Though I am rather pleased that I managed to fit a years worth of stuff into a backpack, a duffel bag, and a small satchel!)

I'll be checking in when I can, but for now am enjoying what is probably my last view in awhile of the Northern Sky and the Big and Little Dippers...


I asked for many of you to help me raise funds for my upcoming mission trip by choosing to "Sponsor A Missionary For A Day". My goal was to raise a minimum of $4,000, but thanks to your generosity, we were able to raise a whopping $7,982!!

Thank you all so much for your support of this program. I will be recognizing donors on my blog on a monthly basis, but for right now I'd like to say a big thanks to all of the folks below!

Keith & Joyce Amundson, Margie Antico, William & Sandra Arbaugh, Jules & Carol Auger, Cody & Emily Black, Carl & Dorothy Cottingham, Laura Cumming, Joel Davis & Kathleen McDonald, Charles Doidge, John & Marlaine Doidge, Rosie & Tracy Ebmeyer, ELCA Oregon Synod Global Mission Committee, Russ Finley, Jim Flachsbart, Cindy & David Folin, JoAnn Goldhammer, Bob & Gerry Grover, Jack & Sue Hammond, Julie Hatch, LaVon Holden, Carl & Julie Huetteman, Dar & Mary Ellen Isensee, Alex & Anne Karel, Kutschera Family, Rebecca & Keith Long, LRS Architects, Gene Maier, Lia Makousky, Colin & Darcie McConnaha, Debbie & Duane Meagher, Doug & Jayne Montgomery, Don & Lori Neptun, Don & Judy Nielsen, Linda Rickert, Shirley Roggen, David & Donna Rundquist, Tom Schmidt, Joe & Judith Smith, St. James Choir Members, St. James Endowment Board, Vicki Terry, Ann & Charlie Tohlen, Sue & Brad Tucker, Ken & Dena Turner, Dick Wegner, Jen Wright, Alex Zimmer

Many of you have contributed your support in other ways; prayer, travel tips, hugs, journals and maps, book suggestions, etc. These are just as appreciated as the financial contributions (and I've received far too many to keep track of!) Thanks everyone!

Friday, August 6, 2010


Ah, City of Roses, I will miss you! After a rather flurried week of farewells, my sister and I drove out of Portland on Saturday July 31 (is that already two weeks ago?!) I'd like to say we drove off into the sunset with the top down, but as we were headed east towards Minnesota (in a car with a roof), the romantic version of cutting town isn't quite the right picture. It is a bit ironic though, that Mpumalanga, the province to which I am ultimately headed to in South Africa, means "the place where the sun rises". So perhaps leaving Portland is not a matter of anything really ending, but rather of many new things beginning.

PDX is an amazing city and certainly will hold a special place in my heart this year that I am away. Rebecca and I managed to squeeze in one more trip to the Rose Garden before we left, and I sadly watched Mt. Hood recede through the rearview mirror as we headed east through the Columbia River Gorge. I will miss my bicycle and the organic food and the "It's Portland" attitude that pervades everything. I will miss the weather and the friends and the community I have called home for five years. I will miss you.

After many days on the road I have arrived in Minnesota and am spending some quality time with family and friends before departing for Chicago on August 18. I will spend a week there in orientation with fellow participants, then board a plane on August 25th for a life-changing adventure!

It has not been easy to say good-bye to the things and people that I love in Portland. Over the next few weeks I will say good-bye once again to friends and family in the Midwest.

Goodbye, PDX; Hello, Rainbow Nation!