Three weeks – amount of time I’ve been in Houston post-Mission Year
Two weeks – how long I’ve been employed in Houston
The time passes slowly some days, and quickly on others.
One morning last week, I noticed how quickly I was walking to catch my ride to work. Suddenly I had the thought – “just slow down.” By this time, I know that my ride is never on time (and by that I mean I don’t have to expect it to show up early). Yet, my instinct at this point in my life is to show up early (always) and to rush – to hurry – to worry.
On that morning though, the idea of slowing down just stuck. In that moment, I could slow my pace and enjoy the rest of the walk. And in regards to my worries? Slow down brain!! Don’t feel like you have a community yet? You’ve only been in this new season for three weeks – and you’re not even in your “permanent” location yet! Work still seems unfamiliar? You’ve only been there two weeks… and school doesn’t start until Monday!
All too often I want quick answers. And moving quickly will get me to answers/resolution sooner, right? Wrong. I’m being reminded that life is about processes… and being present, enjoying the process, the relationships as they form, the moments of laughter.
There’s more to say. But I need to start somewhere, or words will never be put on page/screen.
It seems like the entire month of July was spent on the idea of transitioning well and/or finishing strong. Questions were asked such as:
- What relationships can you push into these last weeks – at home, service sites, church, in the neighborhood? And how do you say goodbye well?
- Which of the Mission Year values have you been drawn to more? How will I continue those after Mission Year is over?
- What makes me come alive? What and where am I feeling called to?
- What does it mean to finish strong with my teammates? How can we continue to be honest at the end? What does communication look like once the year is over? How can we celebrate this year together?
All that to say, there was a lot of reflecting and conversating during July. Lots of celebrations – breakfast one last time with Uncle, lunch @ Marcelina’s, meals with co-workers, an open-house at our place,”the last” affirmations and devo.
This culminated in Closing Retreat. Plenty of stories to share from our time in New Braunfels, but suffice to say – much laughter, more reflecting, relaxing by the river, good food, great conversations.
Now, the part many of you have been waiting to hear – I know because it’s the question I’ve been asked since May? April even? – What are you doing next, Kevin?!?!?
Well, turns out I’m staying in Houston! Through a series of events, I applied and was offered a job at my service site, Raul Yzaguirre School for Success as Teacher’s Aide in English at the Primary Academy. Currently looking for housing, staying with some friends. Though I can’t say I love the weather here, I’m excited to continue to mold young minds, explore Houston, enjoy the arts/culture and invest in relationships that I’ve made this year.
Stay tuned for more Houston adventures!
Coming into my year in Houston, solidarity seemed pretty straight forward – Do things the way people around you are doing them. Live as close to possible the same lifestyle, to better understand and come alongside my neighbors. So what did this look like?
It meant taking Metro (or walking) as my means of transportation. Many of my neighbors had their own car, but on our budget it was either Metro or a super cheap, shared car for the house. Using Metro meant not always being able to get where I needed to go – more walking! And being on a somewhat unpredictable schedule – a continuing, built-in lesson in flexibility and patience for the year. I also experienced the inconvenience of riding the bus with the week’s groceries because there is no grocery store within walking distance. Many of my neighbors would complain about this as well – especially the older neighbors. Why is there no easily accessible food in our neighborhood?!?
Speaking of food, my team and I lived on a budget.Each week we had a limited amount to spend on groceries, which meant some strategic meal planning. This forced us to make choices on what is important – when do we get more toilet paper, dish soap, lights? It also put us in a place to rely on the “provision of the Lord.” And while that sounds “Christian-y,” there were many times when our needs were met (and exceeded) by food leftover from a Food Fair or somebody offering to drive some of us home from work.
Solidarity meant using the Washateria (laundromat) instead of a washer and dryer in our house. This, again, forced me to consider my budget, making sure I would be able to have clean clothes for the month. And it also showed me the relationships that can form through solidarity. Often I would witness neighbors connecting & catching up with each other while doing their laundry. The Wash is a place to find out neighborhood news and re-connect with friends you haven’t seen in a while.
And, as I write this post-Mission Year, I continue to think what solidarity can look like in my life. Where will I chose to spend money? What kind of balance can I make between using Metro and a car? How does my money impact the people and community around me (shopping/eating local vs. chain)? Does the place I live fit me – and does that support the gentrification of a neighborhood? Plenty to consider.