Mission Year http://missionyear.org One Year Can Change Everything Thu, 25 Jun 2015 20:39:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Jobs vs. Year-Long Programs, pt 4http://missionyear.org/jobs-vs-year-long-programs-pt-4/ http://missionyear.org/jobs-vs-year-long-programs-pt-4/#respond Thu, 25 Jun 2015 08:25:23 +0000 http://missionyear.org/?p=514 Read More]]> We get a lot of questions about why someone might choose to do a year-long program like Mission Year, instead of getting a job right out of college, or why someone might step away from a job in their 20’s, for a year. We asked one of our alumni her thoughts.


1. Did you feel pressure when you chose a year-long program instead of a job? If so, what made you not give in? 
I decided to do Mission Year in the middle of college. I felt a deep desire to serve in an urban neighborhood but didn’t know how to do that or in what context. After a bit of searching and prayer I connected with Mission Year. I think deep down I knew this is where God had called me and it felt right, a new experiencce and something exciting! The harder part was convincing my parents that taking a year off and moving to a new state was a good decision!


2. Did Mission Year help you realize/solidify your
 passions and skills? Did we connect you to network of organizations, skills, and opportunities you didn’t know or have before? 
Mission Year for sure helped me realize passions that I had no idea I desired before coming. I had settled on studying environmental science in college before M.Y. and after my second year (being an Alum Leader) I realized that I desired to work with people and chose social work as my field of study. I served at a homeless shelter (Star of Hope Missions) for 2 years, and that was a big part that shaped my decision. Having served with the same organization, attended the same church, and lived in the same neighborhood for 2 years helped me build lasting relationships in all three areas. I have many connections to different service sites that are always telling me that they would love to have me come back to do a field practicum (requirement of social work) as well as a job in the future. Because of my involvment with the differnet organizations I gained valuable first hand experience that prompted future life decisions.


3. What would you say to others who are graduating/leaving a job and thinking what to do?
Anyone who is unsure of the decision to make, I always say, “go for it.” What are you going to lose? There is only a short window of opportunity in life to explore things you are passionate about and year long volunteer programs are a great stepping stone to get an in depth look at different ways in which God is working in so many different capacities around the city, country, and world. It is in the leaps of faith and trust in God that we, as individuals and the body, are invited into something bigger and unimaginable that only can be divinely ordained. New relationships, different career paths, and deep passions and callings are uncovered when we step out in faith.



IMG_0627Abigail Bartlett is currently a student at Texas Southern University studying Social Work. She works at a community development center where she works along side others living a missional lifestyle that aims to empower others while loving people in different stages of life. She lives in Third Ward, Houston continuing to practice daily what it means to live a life of intentionality and faith.

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Juneteenth Reflectionhttp://missionyear.org/juneteenth-reflection/ http://missionyear.org/juneteenth-reflection/#respond Fri, 19 Jun 2015 15:44:21 +0000 http://missionyear.org/?p=501 Read More]]> Today is Juneteenth, a holiday to remember the emancipation of African American slaves in our country. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was announced, many slaves in the south were not made aware of it until 2 and a half years later.

Today we celebrate the victory of freedom and justice over centuries of institutional chattel slavery. An institution fiercely defended by whites, justified by Christians, and accepted as the way it is by society.

Today we are reminded that economic exploitation and antiblackness is at the root of our nation’s moral pathology and will continue to persist and take new forms if not resisted at every turn.

Today we profess that God is a God of freedom and justice. “For I, the Lord, love justice,” wrote the prophet Isaiah. “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free,” declared the apostle Paul. We are reminded that we worship a God who does not stand for slavery, imprisonment, racism and violence.

Today we are challenged to continue that fight for freedom – not a militaristic fight of destructive violence but a spiritual and moral resolve, not a logic of freedom as a shallow protection of our comfortable lifestyle but a freedom that is first and foremost directed toward the poor and oppressed, the most degraded and discarded among us.

Today we lament that the “land of liberty” incarcerates more people – the majority of whom are black, brown and poor – than any other nation. We lament the brutal treatment of black lives by those entrusted to protect and serve. We lament the silent suffering and economic exploitation of migrant workers who labor in unbearable conditions with little protections.

Today we remember our work is not done. We hold the tension of hope and lament together. We ask God for mercy as we seek justice. We see resistance as a faithful Christian response to injustice. We pray and we protest. We call out our nation not because we are ungrateful for what we have but because we know there’s more that we are called to be.


Image Credit: Death to the Stock Photo

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Wisdomhttp://missionyear.org/wisdom/ http://missionyear.org/wisdom/#respond Thu, 18 Jun 2015 20:31:42 +0000 http://missionyear.org/?p=493 Read More]]> As he bebops around our living room, break-dancing to one of today’s popular rap songs on the radio… I realize how much I have come to care for this 5 year old. Earlier we had been sitting on the porch listening to one of my teammates play the guitar, and while he was singing about loving Jesus, I asked him why he loved God. It seemed like a practical question at the time to me, although my teammate probably thought I was a little crazy for asking such a deep question towards a mere babe. His answer, though very simple, astounded us both. He said “I love God because he made all nature! He made all those loud birds,” he pointed to the mass of starlings on the power lines, “and God, He loves all of nature.” At 5, he understands the power of loving Christ for He first loved us.

Finally he starts to get a little tired from all his break-dancing  and plops down beside me in our massive blue bean bag chair. He asks me if i’m gonna be cool when I’m old. I laugh and tell him I hope so. As he picks up a book to read I decide to ask him another question. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” His eyes light up as he tells me he wants to be a Cooker. A Chef. I tell him that sounds like a lot of fun, and we talk about foods that we like. But when I ask him about owning his own restaurant and having other people work for him, he frowns and adamantly shouts “NO!” I was pretty perplexed. “You don’t want to have your own restaurant?” He shakes his head and says no again. “But don’t you want to Have a big restaurant and have people work for you?”. He pauses, putting his little hand atop his head. “No Miss Bella… I wanna work at a restaurant, but I don’t want people to work for me.” I still didn’t get it. “But why?” He lets out an exasperated sigh and says “Because I dont want people to be all like ‘ahw man, I got this man I gotta go work for. I don’t wanna work for this man!’ I wanna work with people so we can say we work together.”

I was left dumbfounded. In the midst of Mission Year and all our discussions about Community, simplicity, Loving God, Loving People, and what it truly means to be a good neighbor…. I find that a 5 year old little boy from what is looked at as one of the worst areas of inner city Houston… has totally grasped and understands what it is that we are trying to learn and achieve ourselves.

God’s messages to us, are usually very simple… we are the ones who make it complicated. Maybe this is why Jesus said “let the little children come to me” and referenced “childlike faith”. Once we get older we have a tendency to view things through a more complicated lens; but children view the world through a very simple format. There is true wisdom in this kind of simplicity…. Out of the mouth of babes.


Image credit: Death to the stock Photo


bellaIsabella Fout is a Mission Year 2012-’13 Houston alumni & was a 2013-’14 Philadelphia Alum Leader. Bella lives in Philadelphia with her husband Freddie, continually looking for ways to pursue Jesus and love in her community. Bella is passionate about youth and young adult empowerment, reconciliation, and exploring racial identity. Read more from her here.

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Sometimes, I Don’t Want to Choose Joyhttp://missionyear.org/sometimes-i-dont-want-to-choose-joy/ http://missionyear.org/sometimes-i-dont-want-to-choose-joy/#respond Tue, 16 Jun 2015 08:10:21 +0000 http://missionyear.org/?p=486 Read More]]> Over the past several months, our Mission Year family has talked a lot about seeking “deep joy” over “cheap fun,” and when we gather together, we share the ways that we’ve experienced joy during the week. Sometimes, these are real challenges. Sometimes, “cheap fun” just seems more fun, and sometimes there are weeks when it seems like everything went wrong and I just don’t have anything joyful to share.

There are a lot of sayings out there about “choosing” joy. I’ve always thought that it sounds nice, but seems unrealistic most of the time.  I mean, if someone is sad, why can’t they just be sad? Or angry? Or hurt?

….what about depressed?


Why do we have to choose joy when things are difficult? Can’t things just be difficult?

Living in community, I’ve learned a lot about choosing love. When we’re having the same tense conversation about dishes for the thousandth time, when one or two or all six of my roommates are getting on my nerves, when I can’t seem to find just five minutes of peace and quiet, I have to choose love. We have to choose love. Do we do it perfectly? Nope. But we are committed to each other, and so we stay. We choose each other, we come back. Over and over and over.

So, if I can choose love, can I choose joy? Can I choose joy when I’m frustrated? Can I choose joy when I really just don’t feel like it? When everything going on around me seems anything but joyful? I think that I can. Joy doesn’t have to mean walking around everywhere with a huge smile on your face all the time. I am learning that for me, joy is the feeling I get when I think about the future that I will get to spend with Christ in eternity. That is my truth, and it’s my truth even when I’m not feeling particularly happy.

So, for me, choosing joy means living as if I really believe that truth–even and especially when things are difficult. Feeling sad or angry or anxious or whatever I’m feeling is important–I don’t want to replace those feelings with artificial happiness. What I do want is to start practicing choosing joy. Choosing to feel and know and believe, deep down, that I am loved and valued infinitely by the God of the universe.

I think that when we start to figure out what our truth is–who we are and who we’re becoming–we find a place for joy, right alongside grief and heartache and even just the mundane. We can choose joy even as we choose sadness.

I hope that I can remember to choose joy, just like I need to remember to choose love.


Image Credit: Death to the Stock Photo


katieduffyKatie Duffy currently serves on Mission Year Houston’s City if Refuge team. A University of Pittsburgh graduate, she’s originally from Chadds Ford, PA. Read more of her writing on her blog.

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A Social Activist’s Repent of Racismhttp://missionyear.org/a-social-activists-repent-of-racism/ http://missionyear.org/a-social-activists-repent-of-racism/#respond Thu, 11 Jun 2015 08:49:13 +0000 http://missionyear.org/?p=478 Read More]]> This last year has seen an increase in publicity of the conflicts in black and brown communities. For some, this exposure has raised awareness of the hardships of black and brown people. But regardless of truths being revealed, there has also been a refusal to recognize and accept that these problems are not new. White Americans and Christians continue to separate themselves from these communities by either being unwilling to understand systematic racism, or saying that they are not racist and therefore alleviating their responsibility to help. In December 2014 Shawn Casselberry the Executive Director of Mission Year, released a statement that was a call to arms for people to join the movement of justice. An excerpt from the article said, “It’s a moment to speak truth, acknowledge inequality, repent of racism, and do the deep work of justice.” After reading this, I could not stop thinking about the pointed command to repent of racism.

Repent of racism.

Repenting of racism is a hard process to comprehend. It means first acknowledging not only that racism exists but the role that you have played in racism as a white person—how you have helped turn the wheels that have crushed people for hundreds of years. Then you have to repent.

But what does that mean—to repent? My parents taught me that repenting was more than just feeling sorry for yourself or for your actions. I agree with this definition. Repenting should not be just a feeling, but an action. Once you come to terms that you have been the instrument of wrongdoing, you cannot just denounce it. You must turn away and fight against it.

Enlightenment and courage are necessary to admit our deep-seated prejudices and to reform those thoughts and our thought processes. It took me a very long time to look inside myself and see my prejudices for what they were, existing for no other reason except that I was a sponge of my culture.

When I was younger, no one would have called me racist. I had friends of all races and I enjoyed their company and valued their friendship. If anyone had called me a racist, I would have pointed to my lunch table at all the different types of people there as my proof.

But now that I am older and have a little bit more understanding than I did before, I see that I was racist. I said hurtful things. I thought belittling things. I furthered the cause of racism. I also participated in “playful racism,” which is internalized racism that manifests itself in the form of humor. The disguise of humor makes it easily justifiable as only a joke and therefore not actually racist, so the joke teller never has to consider why the jokes are funny. In my own playful racism, I said words that I never should have spoken. Jokes and words and assumptions that I am reminded of whenever I try to correct playful racist language that my friends and family use: “You used to say this too!”

I know I did. And I was wrong.

My playful racism is probably why I lost most of my friends of color from high school when we reached college. At college they learned more about their identity and were empowered to not have to listen to their racist white friends anymore. Me. Their nice neighborhood racist white friend. Me, who was working against them. My ignorance, narcissism, and privilege was an ugly and powerful weapon. It IS an ugly and powerful weapon. It took many years and education to realize my own role in my friends’ pain and the damage that I added to a society that I wanted to better.

Something that I combat now with my white family members and friends is a response I often get when I talk about these subjects: I only feel this way because I lived in Chicago; I only feel this way because I’m a left-wing nut who doesn’t know what I’m talking about; I’m misguided, regardless of education, research, and personal experience; I only feel this way because of white guilt. Parts of these claims are true. If I never moved to Chicago, I probably would still be operating in my day-to-day carelessness and ignorance of my role in a racist society. But where the claims become incorrect is the reason why I am passionate about racial reconciliation. It is not because I am suffering from white guilt. It is because I recognize the trends in our society and I recognize my role in my racist society. I am passionate about racial reconciliation because I understand that this is how it should be. People in positions of power should always be fighting for the oppressed. I have been given the gift of enlightenment and accidental power and I intend to use these gifts to further my society in the way of justice, until I am no longer considered privileged from the circumstances of my birth.

But my racism is not something of the past. I AM racist and I benefit from my racist society. I apologize for my actions. I apologize for opportunities and rewards I have received that may have not have been rightfully mine. I repent of my racism. I repent of my actions when I was younger against people of color and the actions in the last three years against people of color and my actions yesterday against people of color. I repent of the situations where I chose to be comfortable over what is right and just. I repent of the many times that I remained silent when I should have been confronting.

This is a call to action. Let us continue these hard conversations even after #icantbreathe, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Baltimore posts are no longer trending. Repentance is more than just recognizing a fault and feeling bad for it. And while these conversations are very important to have, with members of the same race and across racial divides, it is vital that we do more than talk. We must vote against racist laws. We must speak out against racist institutions. We must educate our friends, families, children, and neighbors. We must remove racist politicians from office. We must remove individuals in positions of power who wish to harm people of color. White people must learn how to best assist this movement and learn how to not speak over the people of color we are trying to help, but lift them up so their voices will be heard.

We must remember: repenting is turning away and working against your wrongdoing.

I promise to actively turn away from my racist heritage and to work against my racist thoughts and actions.



lizElizabeth Price is a Mission Year Chicago alumni who served on the East Garfield Park Team. Elizabeth earned a bachelor of science in English Education and now lives in Flagstaff, AZ where she is a master’s student of English Literature and teaches freshman composition at Northern Arizona University. She is passionate about justice, learning, illuminating unseen narratives, and her dog Topanga.

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What Do I Do at Work?http://missionyear.org/what-do-i-do-at-work/ http://missionyear.org/what-do-i-do-at-work/#respond Thu, 04 Jun 2015 08:10:37 +0000 http://missionyear.org/?p=447 Read More]]>

“If somebody said show me the Kingdom of God on Earth, I would hope that you could say, ‘Go visit Lawndale, that’s the kingdom.'”

-Wayne “Coach” Gordon (Pastor at Lawndale Community Church)

I still remember when I first saw this video around my second week of working at Lawndale Christian Health Center. I was in awe of this ministry that I had a chance to volunteer with for the year. Even though I did not know much about the health world, I knew the history of Lawndale Community Church and how much of an impact the health center was having on local residents. I didn’t know what God had in store for me this year, but I knew he would move in a lot of different ways.

I work with the marketing department at LCHC (Lawndale Christian Health Center), which ended up being the place where I would work with some of the most creative people at LCHC (God definitely knew where to place me!). Day to day we figure out how  to tell our neighbors about how LCHC can help them, but also help the health center look as good as the service we provide. Whether it’s the awesome photographs that fill up the health center, the advertisements seen around the city, or the social media posts- we have the honor of showing how God is moving through LCHC and that he is being glorified in our work.

Since working at LCHC I have met some amazing people. Whether it’s the amazing interns that have helped make my time at LCHC even more awesome, staff that have been around for years teaching me what years of dedication and hard work look like (all while loving God and loving people), or the people who never thought they would be where they are now and praise God for it- I have been extremely blessed by the people I have met at LCHC. I’ve recently had the opportunity to tell the story of one employee of the Green Tomato Cafe (a ministry of LCHC) for our spring newsletter that we send to donors. It was an honor to get to tell how God has moved in his life. Telling other people’s stories is actually my favorite thing to do as a writer. You can read Arnold’s story (2nd story down) and other employees and patient’s stories in our spring newsletter! The marketing and development team worked hard to put this together and I am proud of how it turned out!

As I finish out my time at LCHC, I am in awe of how much I have grown but also the people that I have had the chance to meet that have either been blessed by LCHC’s 30 years of service or who have been around for 30 years laboring to continue to love God and love people through LCHC.


Image credit: Death to the Stock Photo


songine Songine’ Clarke currently serves on Mission Year Chicago’s East Garfield Park team. She was born in New York, raised in North Carolina, and attended Columbia College in Chicago.

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A Tale of Two Citieshttp://missionyear.org/a-tale-of-two-cities/ http://missionyear.org/a-tale-of-two-cities/#respond Tue, 02 Jun 2015 15:16:46 +0000 http://missionyear.org/?p=441 Read More]]> When you go through Mission Year you end up self reflecting more than you even knew possible. I had no idea there was so much in the depth of my soul that allowed me to tap into who God has fully created me to be. The more I learn about myself, the more I fall in love with God. A God who knows every detail of my heart, my spirit, and my passions, obviously loves me more than I could possibly understand.

Self reflecting reveals a lot about oneself. Sometimes you have a revelation, and you feel like jumping from the buildings and screaming from the mountains when you discover a precious phrase, word, or gift God’s written on your heart especially for you. Other times a lot of crap hits the ceiling fan and you end up sifting through past garbage before you get to the latter revelation. The funny thing is, this isn’t what I intended to write about.

I would like to say that my family knows I’ve always loved the city. When I was little, and living in Indianapolis, my fondest memories are of walking around downtown with my dad on his lunch break, traveling to the theater with my mom, visiting the zoo and various museums, walking the canal, or going to Indians games with my brother. When I think of the happiest experiences of my childhood they more often than not involve the city. I have a vague memory of gaping at the tall towers and finding myself amazed that I could pinpoint exact buildings from the long stretch of Rockville Road (that’s Indiana for you). Due to age, a lack of understanding of myself, and various other reasons, I never made the connection that I felt really at ease in cities. I likely found myself loving the city because that’s where all of the exciting and fun events happened. There wasn’t much depth or understanding of why I felt so comfortable in urban environments.

Fast forward a few years and I move to Greater Cincinnati. The seven years I lived in Cincy, I spent most of them comparing the two cities and lacking the appreciation of all that the city had to offer me. The buildings were older, I thought there was a lack of appreciation for the arts, and found myself disliking all that I’ve come to love about the city now. I was always eager to remove myself from the city over that time span. I loved traveling outside of it, but couldn’t find it within me to care about the environment that was figuratively in my backyard.

Then Mission Year happened. Whoohoo! I’m moving to Houston! Fourth largest city in the U.S! God had been working on my heart leading up to this point, and revealing my passion for urban ministry and desire for deep intentional community within myself. I was still stubbornly blind to all that Cincinnati had to offer me, and all that my home city had been creating to make the area more inviting.

Houston is wonderful. I’ve fallen in love with Houston. My heart loves the people, the Third Ward. The brokenhearted that so openly admit that they can’t go on alone. The community that forms so naturally because everyone silently knows that you take care of one another, no matter your past or background. I love it all.

Living in Houston has opened my eyes to how I could have been seeking all of this from home as well. I see so much growth and potential back home. I see gentrification that has happened in Over the Rhine. The folks who aren’t even given a chance to defend themselves in Covington or Walnut Hills. Those neighborhoods are just deemed “dangerous”, and I myself have been quick to judge. Now I see so much potential for relationship, and hearts that want to be known, and voices that want to be heard. I see a city that is nearing a revival, and a downtown that is buzzing with people now that they no longer run from the skyscrapers after rush hour.

So this is me saying that I’m deciding to return home after Mission Year. I had so many thoughts about staying in Houston because my soul finds so much rest here. I think it’s time for me to seek what rest my soul can find in Cincinnati for a few months or a few years, whatever amount of time God wants me there.

This doesn’t mean I won’t ever return to Houston. I’m committing to a year back home again, just like I committed a year to Houston. So much growth can happen in the span of twelve months.

Only two more months of growth, and community, and a structure that I’ve learned to value. Three more months of figuring out how I can take these values I’ve learned back home. I figured it was time for me to start looking into decision making.


Image credit: Abbey Barthauer


abbeybAbbey Barthauer currently serves on Mission Year Houston’s St. John’s team. Originally from Cincinnati, OH, she is passionate about  vegan cooking, painting, and making sure people know they are loved. Read more on her blog.

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Rainhttp://missionyear.org/rain/ http://missionyear.org/rain/#respond Wed, 27 May 2015 09:39:31 +0000 http://missionyear.org/?p=428 Read More]]> We’ve all (probably) heard the cliched phrase, “April showers bring May flowers,” right? Well, this has recently become a fervent prayer of mine…. literally! It seems like it has rained every day for the past two or three weeks here in Houston; in fact, as I write this, I can hear rumbles of thunder and rain pounding on the window. Nowadays, when I leave the house, I can pretty much guarantee my hair frizzing out and my shoes getting wet before I get wherever I’m going. Needless to say, it’s a mess.

Then, a few days ago, the sun came out for a few hours when we got home from work, so a few teammates and I went to the park down the street. As I was walking home, waving to the people sitting outside or mowing their lawns, I was struck by the simple truth of how much I love my neighborhood. Our neighbors are some of the friendliest, most generous people I know, and it’s clear just walking down the street.

When I first moved here, I was nervous for a while, because I didn’t know the people living nearby. Now, I can’t imagine life without the excited greetings of Mr. Joe and his two chihuahuas, the daily teasing from Mr. Leslie, and the tight hugs from Ms. Yvonne. Even, and especially when, walking through the rainy seasons of life, these souls are the ones who remind me of the sunlight that always eventually peeks out from the clouds.

I just finished Anne Lamott’s book Traveling Mercies, and really appreciated the creative and quirky perspective she gives to the experiences of life. When writing about her hair, she describes the challenges she faces in humidity and rain, and compares this struggle of hers to the often uncomfortable and messy journey of following God:

“It’s about full immersion, about falling into something elemental and wet. Most of what we do in worldly life is geared toward our staying dry, looking good, not going under. But in baptism, in lakes and rain and tanks and founts, you agree to do something that’s a little sloppy because at the same time it’s also holy, and absurd.  It’s about surrender, giving in to all those things we can’t control; it’s a willingness to let go of balance and decorum and get drenched.”

The rain really will bring new life, but we have to be willing to get drenched in the process. This is something I am learning to do, in small ways, every day. Getting to know these precious neighbors was practice in getting drenched, and I haven’t regretted it for a second.

Will you walk out here in the downpour with me?


** Join us as we think about and pray for Houston neighborhoods, which are currently experiencing flooding and storms. 


katieduffyKatie Duffy currently serves on Mission Year Houston’s City if Refuge team. A University of Pittsburgh graduate, she’s originally from Chadds Ford, PA. Read more of her writing on her blog.

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Jobs vs. Year-Long Programs, pt 3http://missionyear.org/jobs-vs-year-long-programs-pt-3/ http://missionyear.org/jobs-vs-year-long-programs-pt-3/#respond Thu, 21 May 2015 16:08:13 +0000 http://missionyear.org/?p=378 Read More]]>
We get a lot of questions about why someone might choose to do a year-long program like Mission Year, instead of getting a job right out of college, or why someone might step away from a job in their 20’s, for a year. We asked one of our second year (MY2) program participants his thoughts.


1. Did you feel pressure when you chose a year-long program instead of a job, or if you left a job to do MY2? If so, what made you not give in? 
When I applied to Year One of Mission Year I was in college. Despite experimenting with different majors I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life as far as direction and vocation go. I knew I wanted to serve, and to make a difference, but you can’t really major in those things. I had heard a lot about Mission Year from people who had done it, and I loved the idea of it. So I figured if I couldn’t figure out direction in college then might as well try in the Missionary field. It was a great decision for me because it did end up giving me direction that resonated with my heart and thoughts on what a good life looks like.


Year 2 was a different story. Right after my first year ended I accepted a Christian Education Coordinator position at a church close to where I grew up. It was a great job since it was service oriented, was full time, paid well, had benefits, and I already had relationships with a few of the youth I would be working with. I was there for two years, but I knew after a few months that my experience during Mission Year had gotten under my skin. I knew I would ultimately go back to the city. You can’t see the things that Mission Year exposes you to and feel right about going back to living a “normal” life. In that time I also became engaged to a woman who is also a Mission Year alumni and she wanted to go back to Camden, where she did the program, after she graduated from college. So after she graduated we made the decision to move to Camden to try to live the lifestyle we were trained to live by Mission Year.


The challenge for me became trying to find a job and a place to live, essentially getting my foot into the door in Camden. After weeks of applying to jobs I was getting frustrated. I had a conversation with my fiancée, Ellen about how I was frustrated, that if God wanted me in the city then why was it so difficult to do? It was ultimately a prayer for help in this. The answer to that prayer came a week later when I heard of Mission Year’s Year Two program (MY2). It made complete sense. It was my doorway back into community living and into inner city living. I applied the week I heard about it and was soon accepted.


All that being said there wasn’t really pressure in choosing a year long program (twice) over a job because Mission Year takes care of the essential needs I had (food, shelter) to better enable me to be present in the neighborhood. It has been a great gateway into the city, allowing me to establish relationships with people and potential employers while still serving the city. Which is way more effective and efficient use of time than lobbing job applications from afar and trying to choose housing in a city I knew little about.


2. How does it feel getting a job during your second year? 
It’s huge. The stability of income and scheduling I will have from the job I was offered will enable me and my partner to stay in the city and better plan how to immerse ourselves in the neighborhood. It’s what I was hoping would happen.


3. Did Mission Year help you realize/solidify your passions and skills? Did we connect you to network of organizations and opportunities you didn’t know before? 
Year one gave me direction and training to better serve in the city. MY2 connected me to my service site who eventually decided to hire me on full time. Being part of the Mission Year organization also means I have access to a lot of great minds and great leaders in the world of Christian Community Development. I don’t know where else I would have established that kind of network.


4. What would you say to others who are graduating/leaving a job and thinking what to do?

It would depend on the circumstance for that person. In general I would say that if they are looking to live in the city (especially one that is new to them) Mission Year is a good program to go through to establish social and business networks while learning the city and ways to serve the people in it. The program doesn’t do the work for you, but it gives you a lot of opportunity if you are willing to work hard.



unnamed (1)Adam Bacher  is currently a Mission Year 2 (MY2) Philly team member and a2011-12 New Orleans alumni. Originally from Penn Yan, NY he is passionate about true human connection and the things the facilitate it.
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What Does the Journey Look Like?http://missionyear.org/what-does-the-journey-look-like/ http://missionyear.org/what-does-the-journey-look-like/#respond Tue, 19 May 2015 07:00:48 +0000 http://missionyear.org/?p=371 Read More]]> I have been asked to imagine several things this year: What do I envision God to look like? How would I rather envision God? Where is God in relation to me? What does my spiritual journey look like? These are questions I had never been asked, and had never asked myself, but have been of great importance to me in better understanding my relationship with God.

The first week of Mission Year, during a training, we were asked about our image of God. I realized, somewhat unsurprisingly, that I envisioned an old, bearded white man in the sky looking down at me and shaking his finger. One of the women from my small group calls this the “Santa God” image, and I was discontented with the picture. So throughout the next few months, I was encouraged to re-create the image I had of God. The one I came up with was of my then-two-year-old nephew, Lucas (he’s now three!). Specifically, it was of him running up to me with a huge grin and with his bright blue eyes shining, almost shrieking “Auntie Sarah!” and grabbing my legs in the biggest hug a two-year-old can manage. When I look into those big eyes, I know he’s not judging me, and that he really couldn’t care less about whether I overdid the Dr. Pepper or not. In fact, he would probably be happy to help me out.

Tuesday, at my Bible study group, we closed our eyes and imagined where we were in our spiritual journeys as represented by landscapes. We were asked to include three characters in our landscapes: ourselves, God and the Enemy. From the darkness grew a scene that looked like a rough, oval-shaped ring of mountains with many tall trees and other greenery cascading down its uneven slopes. In the center was a large, still lake like a great mirror, with two flowers floating in the middle, one purple and one blue, each resting upon a lily pad and creating a single ripple which gently overlapped one another’s. Lurking beneath the water’s edge was a golden calf.

The golden calf is the Enemy; it represents the false images of God that I have tried, and find myself still tying, to love and worship. Thinking of God as “Santa”, a ruthless giant-lord in the sky, has led me to think of myself as an enemy, constantly anticipating being stepped on rather than as a daughter coming to sit at the King’s feet. The flowers represent God and me, both simply being – existing – together, side by side, in this serene setting. The ripples are a sort of caress: a subtle, but intimate gesture of movement towards each other. Although I have made a great shift in my image of God, I think this represents not so much where I am in my journey now, but where I strive to be: sitting in the love and presence of God. I think this desire for intimacy with God is only possible when I sink the golden calf in the water and recognize the true beauty and splendor of a God that deeply loves me.

What about you? What does your landscape look like?


Image Credit: Claire Waterman


sarahmichSarah- Michelle Laddusaw is originally from Plano, TX and attended Baylor University. She currently serves on Mission Year Philly’s Hunting Park team.

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