I started this blog to keep my church, friends and family updated on my year volunteering in Katrina recovery with the Presbyterian Church (USA). I've now signed on for a second year working in disaster recovery and another year living in Mississippi. It's getting good....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007


After weeks of goodbyes, two closing retreats, two moves, five states, a weekend full of precautionary evacuation preparations, one new office, and a whole new but still the same life back and starting, I thought it was about time that I throw something up on the ole blog. Bear with me though, because my head is still spinning and I am typing around boxes to procrastinate unpacking.

As the three people who read this blog know, I have completed my year as a volunteer with the Presbyterian Church on the Gulf Coast and I have started a year working with the Presbyterian Church on the Gulf Coast.

It's a change. It's not a change.

It's a transition. It is hard and lovely and confusing and exciting and terrifying and fun.

Just as there is no way to sum up an entire year's worth of feelings, memories, learnings, relationships, etc., there is no way I can properly describe how this transition is going for me, so I've avoided it. And I've re-written it fifteen times in my head. I so want to share every bit of this experience with you who love me, but I can't come close to finding the words to explain it. I have had no free time to sort out my feelings, but I have had too much time talking with friends to sort out my feelings. I've processed and avoided and run those laps around several times over.

Here's what I can figure, what I can admit, what I can offer and what I can share:

Leaving the apartment sucked. I miss my roommates terribly. I miss our random chats and eating meals together. But I am loving some quiet and alone time in the trailer. I love having my own space! And on my first day at Orange Grove I received a package of artwork and well wishes from the kids back at DMPC (my home church) that made me feel so loved, right off the bat. I'm not used to the bugs yet, though. Seriously, the cockroaches?!

Leaving the Presbytery was complicated. I'd struggled so much working there, but I loved the I homeowners I worked with dearly, I believe in what is getting done, and I'd put my heart and soul into that place for almost a year. It wasn't a pleasant goodbye and that still breaks my heart. My spirits were wiped when I arrived at my new post. Completely drained. But coming to PDA has been incredible. They have been so supportive and excited to have me on board. I'm just getting my feet wet and there is so much to learn, but they trust that I will learn and figure it out and that support is remarkable.

Leaving Handsboro Church/St. Peter's By The Sea isn't happening, but it is. I'm only living a few minutes away, but I'm not there every day and already I feel like a stranger when I drive by the church. Edward and Sarah, the priests at St. Peter's and my two great rocks of spiritual support this past year have both moved in the past two months. I was so blessed to have their love, support, advice, friendship and example in my life this year and I really don't know how to live on the coast without them. They are my models of God's Love down here, and while I know there are a million other angels working on the coast, many of whom I already know and love, transitioning out of the Edward and Sarah days has brought me to tears quite a few times already.

With my volunteer program ending, many of my friends have moved away. Brenna and Linda have been gone for weeks and I miss them all the time. Sarah Ann's departure had me crying in the McDonald's parking lot last weekend. It's been more than a week since I spoke to George and I no longer have funny morning conversations with Kerry before we go to work. I have no idea when I will see some of my dear friends (Linger, Sue, Jaymie) again. On the other hand, I've already gotten to know Becca and Melodie better, Lauren is about to move to within 30 miles of me, and the three of them welcomed me to trailer life with a rockin' girl's night party that I really believe will set the tone for the next few months! And, I am ready to be done with some of the drama and to receive a real pay check again. Soon the new volunteer batch will be here and I will transition into be a has-been. Yay, my crow's feet are thrilled!

This transition is full of little changes and big changes and no changes and I'm still in the middle of it. The beauty is that there is beauty on both sides. I have lovely memories to smile about and plenty of opportunity to look forward to. Thanks to God, indeed.

If I could just force myself to unpack those last few boxes......

Photos above:
1. Hiking at our YAV closing retreat in New Mexico with my roommates.
2. PDA party.
3. and 4. Girl's night in my new trailer.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


much more to come....

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Some photos from our closing retreat in Pensacola

Thanks to Linger and Laur for sharing these pics!

A letter to DMPC

I sent this letter to my church this morning to be read by my sister during worship, as she does with all my updates. It got me thinking, though, that I have so many people to thank. To all of you who've been there this year, I love you! This letter is for you too...(more personal notes to come, as soon as I get done with all the airplanes!)

Dear Friends,

Good morning! I am writing to you this morning from the sunny beaches of Pensacola, Florida. I am here on my volunteer group’s closing retreat. We’ve enjoyed a weekend full of worship, fellowship, fun and sun. It is really just the first step, however, in processing the closing of our year of service. The next few days will be very busy for each of us, and me in particular. I suppose that is where I should start today: with the big news!

When my program ends on Aug. 15th I won’t be packing my car and hitting the long road back to Maryland. That trip will now be delayed as I have accepted a call to stay on the coast and serve our great church for another year. Actually, I am leaving Florida this afternoon to head out to Louisville, Kentucky to attend orientation at the PC(USA) headquarters. I will start my new position as Case Management Liaison with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance on August 16th. I am overwhelmingly thrilled about this new opportunity to continue doing work I love with people I love and be able to contribute God’s Gulf Coast recovery plan.

But before I get too far ahead, let me first back up… The only way I could even consider signing on for another year in Mississippi was because of the incredible support and love you shared with me that made my first year here so great. I’ll never be able to thank each of you properly for all that your words, thoughts, prayers, financial contributions, packages, notes, emails, and visits meant to me. I’ve always found it so easy to give. One of the many lessons that you and the great people of the Gulf Coast taught me this year is how to receive. I’ve never been comfortable receiving prayers, donations, or well wishes, but this year I really needed that care and it felt wonderful to accept your love and generosity. It is because of that love and generosity that I have the energy, heart, and strength to continue on in service here, knowing that you will lift me up so that I may lift up others, and God will carry us all. It’s amazing! Thank you for loving me. Thank you for loving the coast.

As I turn to the next steps- orientation in Louisville, one day back at the apartment to pack, a closing retreat with all of the PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteers in New Mexico, moving, saying goodbye to friends and homeowners, and starting the new job- please keep me and my fellow Gulf Coast Mission volunteers in your prayers. And look for many more updates to come from a displaced Dickeyvillian who’s missing you dearly….

All my love,