Life-Changing Learning Experience that Happened outside of my Comfort Zone

One thing that is significant than any other projects from the previous half of my YAV year is “The Longest Night.” That event changed my perspective about the homelessness. The Longest Night is 24 hours memorial service for the homeless people who have died in the year. Several cities like Los Angeles and New York City do these events every year.

On December 21, 2018, I couldn’t make to the first service at St. Luther because I was working in the tutoring program at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (my work placement), so I missed the march of people carrying the picket signs. All of them were painted with the ages of the deceased persons. Some had names, and others were without names. Few carried a pine box coffin. Around 9 PM, I walked in the rain after I left the church. I walked into the tent to see an advocate giving a speech. I talked to a few allies such as one who is the United Methodist member. I was so excited to meet one. Every once a while, pouring rain caused the roof of our tent almost collapsed. We all worked together to keep the water out by tightening the flaps and using brooms. We as in me, organizers, and homeless people were all under a giant tent. I think there was thirteen of us.

While feeling the coldness, I doubted if I would stay long. Then, I felt a nudge from God saying that I needed to meet the organizer. I asked the nearest person, and this person led me to the organizer. I expressed my ambivalent feeling about either staying all night or going back to the YAV house to the organizer who was homeless. He asked me what my fears were. I was afraid of what I would be like the next day and that I was the only one who has a home inside the tent. I felt uncomfortable at that idea. The organizer asked me, “Where would you learn more? Out of your comfort zone or staying in your comfort zone?” I responded, “Out of my comfort zone.” Then, he got up to the table where many picket signs and a pine box coffin from the march. He picked up several picket signs and handed it to me. One was closer to my age. Then, the organizer found one, and he held it in front of him. He said, “I am the same age as this person.” That moment put all of my thoughts in perspective. I couldn’t voice it how I felt at that moment or shared about it until I wrote it down in this blog.

From that moment with the organizer, I stayed. A different organizer needed someone to entertain an audience for the next few hours with songs. I volunteered and sang Broadway songs. Then, I talked to some of them including the guests of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church’s Radcliffe Room Ministry. Talking to Radcliffe Room guests allow me to know them without me juggling the donated clothes for the women’s closet. I listened as they expressed their needs from the city.

Because of the pouring rain, we couldn’t sleep on the wet ground. I slept for 4 hours while sitting on a hard chair. Aftermath, I have sore knees, and my back was hurting. I was irritated. Imagine for how that must have felt if they had to sleep on the sidewalks or benches around a city for a couple nights.

I asked the organizer, “Why are some of them here instead of going to a shelter?” The organizer said, “They took a risk to be here instead of going to an available bed in a shelter.” I felt anger which was not an appropriate reaction. I believed that their sacrifices were unnecessary and not right because they deserved a night of being comfortable. Then, my organizer explained that the Longest Night event’s purpose is to educate the privileged people about homelessness.

Attending the event is a humble experience. I talked to the people at the tent as being me, not as a volunteer. I was there as a listener and learner. I am thankful that God led me and that I talked to the organizer. Without that conversation with the organizer, I would not have gained my growth.

Moving

Moving by Reflecting

Our teams’ names for Scavenger hunt game are Joan of Arc and Hildegard of Bingen. These women are the Saints who made waves of the feminine movement in God’s name. They are radical and they took steps out of the norms. As I reflect on their names, I remember how I didn’t think about how they can teach me about being a part of the movement.

 

Moving by A Song

The song, “Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly” shows me the significant work when taking actions. I learned that song at the YAV orientation back in August. I found myself singing it in my head after looking at the banners whenever I walked around New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.

 

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A picture was taken by me

 

 

Moving by Performing

I joined an interplay at the Racial Justice festival. Interplay is a free creative expression. It’s like a theatrical improv body movement. When creating movements, I felt self-conscious. Then, I shut my mind off and did it. I found myself connecting well with strangers through the movement workshop. I felt great after that workshop because I got to be creative.

Moving by Seeing

When we went to see “The Hate U Give” movie as a part of our community engagement over Thanksgiving holiday, I sat there with my Closed Caption glasses on. I am glad that I used the glasses. I was able to experience the movie as much as I can. Watching the movie led me to have a reflection time on my privilege and my realities.

Moving by Walking

I saw the Christmas tree from my spot as I walked. I decided to walk toward it. I am glad that I walked toward the tree because it gave me an appreciation of Washington DC and its beauty. I have not had an experience of seeing a giant Christmas tree in the middle of the downtown area back in the mountains, so somehow DC feels home.

 

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A picture was taken by me

 

 

Moving by Stillness

Tara suggested that I bless the clothing donations for Radcliffe Room’s closet. When I blessed every article of the clothes, it caused me to be in the stillness. The time actually flew by when I did that and I accomplished a lot.

Moving by Praying

I did the children’s message teaching them with American Sign Language (ASL). It has been a while since I prayed aloud in ASL to God. The last time was when I was in 11th grade with the ASL teacher praying with us. I am thankful for the experience.

Moving by Reading

I wrote a poem at the Race and Mindfulness festival. My poem is very close and personal to me so I do not want to publish it. I realize that I enjoy writing my poems. Writing poems has so much more freedom than prose. I found myself able to express creatively. One day, I will share it.

 

This is a wonderful opportunity to give donations to the YAV-DC as part of the Giving Tuesday if you feel the call. The goal is $2,000 by January. Your donations will keep our Washington D.C. YAV Site going. Your support and your prayers would help me.

Mail Donation:

Please write checks to National Capital Presbytery

In the memo line include:  Kasey Kelly – YAV

11300 Rockville Pike, Suite 1009
Rockville, MD 20852

Donate online:
https://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/e051477/

When entering a Billing information for Step 3 part of the donation, on comments/instructions section, type: e051477 and Kasey Kelly

Prayers and/or donations are greatly appreciated. Thank you!

 

Lessons and Moments

Last couple weeks and few days, I adjusted and learned in my placement at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (NYAPC). I have been learning and doing something new at my YAV house, a workplace, and a community.

At my YAV house, I looked over at the house’s library and found that it has Harry Potter series. I motivated myself to read the series because this is best time to explore it. Then, I enjoyed it so much and I was reading the fourth book but finished it. I am onto the fifth one, which I have to say that it is difficult one to read. I hope that I can have some supports from Harry Potter Fans as I read the fifth one and I welcome any discussions about the series.

I found a love in watching The Great British Baker. Thanks to my housemate, Emily. Watching The Great British Baker is my new self-care. I find it enjoyable and I feel at ease. I laughed at some parts where I can feel their stresses. I realize that it shows up in my cooking on my first two weeks because I had never cooked for 6 of us. Then, I made a choice to allow myself to cook, just simply cooking and remember to double the recipes. Then, my vegetarian meals came out well. I am still proud of myself when I made panko covered cauliflower and rice.

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Pankos-Covered Cauliflower and Rice

 

At my workplace, I found the joy in doing a database for the community club, the tutoring program. To relax and taking a break, I organize the donations for Radcliffe Closet. For the Radcliffe Room, I get to know the guests. For the Community Club event, I went to the Camp and took a position of arts and crafts including American Sign Language (ASL) Bingo. I learned to make Cobra Lanyard bracelets for arts and crafts. I am thankful for the students and tutors from the Community Club who teach me on how to do the crafts, batting for the softball, and learning about their insights.

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Cobra Lanyard Bracelet (Left) and Knotted Keychain (Right)

 

As a part of my own way of engagement with a community, I feel blessed that I am able to visit National Museum of African American History and Culture. It was powerful and very important history. Some part of their history need to be recognized instead of being invisible. I need to say that I should give them a lot of credits for the U.S. Battles and Economy. I didn’t recognize how much they have done in the military and revolutionary wars. I didn’t learn it in school. I didn’t know until I visited the museum. I didn’t think about it and now, I learn that I need to find and see the forgotten parts hidden among the U.S. history and culture including today’s society.

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Picture taken at National Museum of African American History and Culture

 

I welcome the donations and/or prayers from you. Thank you so much!

Mail Donation:

Please write checks to National Capital Presbytery

In the memo line include:  Kasey Kelly – YAV

11300 Rockville Pike, Suite 1009
Rockville, MD 20852

Donate online:
https://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/e051477/

When entering a Billing information for Step 3 part of the donation, on comments/instructions section, type: e051477 and Kasey Kelly

 

 

God is Involved

I arrived at Stony Point-PCUSA conference center on August 20. Immediately, I felt homesick because it is so different and out of my comfort zone. I cried for minutes and then joined in Kan Jam game. I and my other teammate scored well but we did not win. At least, I managed to dunk a frisbee into a can and threw frisbee smoothly. I was like, finally, I did something new on my first day and did it successfully!

Then, first few days, I sat in the auditorium for hours and hours with 5-10 minutes along with multiples of 1-hour meal break. I was like this was like taking GRE. One session showed me how my identities would impact my work as a volunteer. I was like yeah,  I had to deal with my voice in my head on how other people would think of me when I voice in a certain way. Then, I found the name for what exactly that I did. The speaker said, “I had to policing myself.” This concept is called “Self-Monitoring.” Then, I conclude that God involves in my life because I placed too much on myself.

God involves in my life including in my plan no matter what.

While pondering on how I would do my year on a second week after learning and gaining personal insights, I realized that my relationship with God is not a trusting, deepened relationship. Yes, even me as a Pastor’s kid suffers this. I want to control my plan. Yet, God plays a role in my plans because that is how I got a call to do YAV. However, I had some moments where I had too many “What ifs.” In a perfect timing, my housemates and I met Deacon Shani Mcllwain. Mcllwain showed the importance of praising God at all time. To have faith in God is to place God first ahead of everything. My challenge for this year is to place God first and trust God.

 

Fundraising is important skill to have and lessons for me as I may work in a church or any organizations. I know God has a plan for me but for this year, it is me working in a Presbyterian church at D.C. Your support and your prayers would help me. Your donations help our Washington D.C. Site.

Mail Donation:

Please write checks to National Capital Presbytery

In the memo line include:  Kasey Kelly – YAV

11300 Rockville Pike, Suite 1009
Rockville, MD 20852

Donate online:
https://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/e051477/

When entering a Billing information for Step 3 part of the donation, on comments/instructions section, type: e051477 and Kasey Kelly

 

Prayers and/or donations are greatly appreciated. Thank you!