Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fundraising Update!

I am very close to my fundraising goal of $6,500 for my year in New Orleans, so I am trying to make this final push in order to raise the rest of my funds!

If you have been thinking to yourself "Oh, yeah! I was going to donate to Lauren's YAV year, but I keep forgetting!" then there you're in luck! There is still very much a need for your financial support for my year!

Tax-deductible donations can be sent to
Katy Lee
YAV Coordinator
3700 Gentilly Blvd
New Orleans, LA 70122

Checks should be made payable to The Presbytery of South Louisiana with my name in the memo line.

More than anything else I need you prayerful support! This week will be our final week of preparations before we hit the ground running with about 50 volunteers! I am so excited to get working, but there is still a lot to be worked out!

I will be posting a more extensive update pretty soon, so stay tuned!

Monday, September 13, 2010

She works hard for the money!

So I have officially had my first week of work and after moving office furniture for two days straight, I am ready to take on my responsibilities at the volunteer village! I wish we were getting volunteers sooner than September 26 because I’M SO EXCITED!!

“But, Lauren, what is your job?” you may find yourself asking. Well, my official title is ‘Village Manager’ for Project Homecoming, and what that actually means is that from Sunday night until Friday morning of each week, I get the privilege of serving, talking to, and being with people from around the country that come to New Orleans to help in the recovery efforts. Most of the volunteers stay at Olive Tree, a dorm-style volunteer village setup by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA). Each morning the volunteers will be greeted by my fellow village managers, Tasha and Danielle, and sent off to their worksites, and each evening they will spend their time (if they so choose) with me! In the paragraph following this, I will explain more of the specifics of my job responsibilities.

Ok, so here are a few of my responsibilities of my job:

-On Sunday nights, I will meet the volunteers and welcome them to the city and help them get settled into their new home for the week!

-Each evening I, along with the 2 PDA Village Managers (at least until December), will be a resource for volunteers to learn more about the city and the recovery efforts. I am also hoping to do spiritual programming for groups that don’t already have their own.

-In my down time when volunteers are at their worksites, I will start working on a summer youth mission trip program that we hope to start for Summer ’11!! I am SOOO pumped for this! I will be putting together proposals to present to Presbytery, and then do promoting and all the other things it takes! This will be a more intensive evening schedule that would use keynoting and fun and spiritual activities to provide youth groups with a worthwhile mission trip without killing their youth directors to come up with it on their own (basically everything I wished for when I was a youth director!!). So needless to say I’M STOKED!!!! I will be sure to post on my progress because I’m sure it will be a long road

-Keeping up with the grounds at Olive Tree… :/ Fun Fact about Lauren: She’s never mowed a lawn before. Before you judge, please remember that I have an older brother, so that was his job. So, it looks like I’ll learn how to use a lawn mower this year. We’ll see how that goes…

I’m so excited to start working with volunteers, but unfortunately that won’t happen until October :( My need for instant gratification is once again making me restless!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Road to 5K

So as some of you may know, it is in my 5-year plan to run a 5k. Well, under the influence of my site-coordinator, I have signed up for the New Orleans Race for the Cure on October 23. That is just 8 short weeks to get my out-of-shape, lazy, and exercise hating butt ready to go.

I am writing this post after my first full week of 5k training using the Couch to 5K program (cause let's face it, I'm a couch potato...) to chart my progress. The program is setup for the exercise-challenged and works to build endurance (of which I have none) over time. For the next 9 weeks, I will (in theory) be running 3 times a week.

So far this is what I've learned:

-Jack's Mannequin radio on Pandora is a great running tool. It's just enough energy without really making me hate that I'm up at 6am.

-Running in circles for 9 weeks would drive me crazy, I'm running in a park that allows me to change up my route daily to allow my creative mind to never have a full routine.

-There is absolutely no point to wear a clean shirt every time I run. It may sound gross, but I think I hate doing laundry more than running.

Challenges that I have yet to overcome:

-New Orleans is HOT! I know what you're thinking, and, yes, I did know this prior to coming down here, but you don't understand! I get up at the crack of dawn and it's STILL hot! And if I move to slow to get out the door in the morning, it's even hotter. I thought I had proper heat training what with growing up in Texas, but the humidity is just ridiculous. This is one girl that can't wait for fall!

-I still hate....
~getting up early
all of which are vital to my training.

Needless to say, this will be a long road, but maybe by the end, I will not be so mad at myself for my stubbornness to do this. And let's be honest, if I wasn't so stubborn, I would have quit by now...

Also, if you would like to support me in my 5k, you can donate online by clicking this text!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beauty in the Burdens

So much has happened since my last blog post! Here’s a summary of the last 2 weeks of my life:

1. Moved into the Blue House! (see picture below) It is a wonderful duplex that I live in with 5 other young adult Christians who have also called God’s call to be in New Orleans this year!

Sitting on the new levees next to the lower ninth
From Left to Right: Maegen, Katie, Evan, Emma, Tasha, Me

2. Last week we went to YAV orientation at Stony Point in New York. We experienced worship, discussions of culture, race, self-care, and many other things we needed to hear before headed off to our sites! More importantly (to me at least) we all had a chance to be in fellowship with each other! I had a blast getting to know other YAVs and continuing the relationships with those I had already met! So wonderful!

(At Stony Point State Park off the Hudson River)

3. The six of us are back at the Blue House and ready to get to work! (Although we’ll probably eat our words a couple months from now)

Here’s is the Blue House Top 5 (things we do most often):

5. Watching Youtube videos

4. Dancing

3. Eating

2. Laughing

1. Napping!!

Now for the meatier portion of this blog post:

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile." Jeremiah 29:11-14

We read this Bible verse today. Not a particularly uncommon verse, but today it spoke to me in a completely different way. Usually when I hear this passage, I think of all the wonderful plans God has set down for me and how much I trust in the ways he will lead me to prosper, but today I picked up a new part of the passage. God proclaims that He will bring me out of the places where He banished me and back out of exile that He carried me to. I had never thought about the places of exile and banishment as a place God has carried me to. I’ve only thought about God carrying us out of those places.

Lately I’ve felt pretty disconnected, and I don’t really know how to handle it. This passage helped me to see that maybe this isn’t a place where I am straying from the path, but just a stop along the way. God is so much bigger than me, and just because I can’t find Him or connect right now, doesn’t mean I’m not sitting in His hands. It’s hard to think that God would want to put us in a place of banishment of exile, but who are we to say what’s best for us. I can’t say that I like it here or resent the place I am in my life, but maybe I can learn to find beauty in the burdens.