Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. ~Hebrews 12:1

Saturday, August 24, 2013

the laundry view

My fellow YAGMs and I just did laundry on the rooftop of the Sabah Theological Seminary and let me tell you, the view didn't suck. It was hands-down the most enjoyable laundry experience I've ever had.

Lots has already taken place already during our time in Kota Kinabalu; however, our country coordinator, Peter, has been gracious and flexible with our jet lag and general need for adjustment to this new place. We arrived two days ago (at about 1AM) and here are just a handful of things we've learned, seen and been puzzled by:

- STS: Sabah Theological Seminary; our first "home base" as we go through our first week of orientation in East Malaysia on the island of Borneo in the city of KK and the state of Sabah
- KK: Kota Kinabalu; a pretty large city that will be my home for the next 11 months and our first stop as a YAGM Malaysia group; you can find everything here from local fish markets to movie theaters to Coach stores (who knew??)
- Laksa: a superb dish some of us had at a restaurant in the "City Center" that comprised of a broth, spices, tofu, shrimp, chicken, cilantro and deliciousness
- Umbra juice:  I called it "guac juice" or a "garden in a glass" a very strange concoction of avocado, something sour and lots and lots of greeny goodness; the glass was passed around the group and there were many shocked, disturbed and delighted faces - a wide array of reactions to say the least
- "Squaty potties": the bathroom situation is still puzzling many of the women; there's a bucket with water (sometimes), no toilet paper and no instructions on what you're supposed to do. More on this topic, later.
- Fellow Americans!! Tonight, we met a family of ELCA long-term missionaries who teach here at the seminary in Sabah. My ears perked up when I heard a woman say to two young boys, "Do you see the YAGMs?" ha - it was a welcome comfort to hear someone refer to us as "YAGMs"
- Terima Kaisah: [tah-ree-mah kah-sea] "thank you" in Malay; the first thing we learned! :)
- Mount Kinabalu: the tallest mountain in Malaysia; this morning, we had an incredible view of the thing on our run and tomorrow we head there to do some hiking. We can't wait!

Can't wait to share more, soon! One of the YAGMs, Sean, suggested an "electronic free" time on our retreat to Mount Kinabalu (an excellent idea!), so we will be MIA for the next few days.

In the meantime, please pray for everyone's continued adjustment to this new place. We have some bodies in the group that are trying to get over colds, some trying to get more/better rest and minds that are very full and over-stimulated by new things. We are very blessed and thankful to be here and trying to enjoy every moment with healthy bodies, minds and spirits.

[peace, blessings, joy]
~Jenna B.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Home with clean underwear

A wise friend of mine once said, "Home is where you have the most clean underwear."

This sense of "home" is one I've been toying around with all summer, because in May I moved out of my apartment and took my clean underwear many places throughout the summer. I did not have a place to call my own, but I was welcomed into the homes of many - graciously, lovingly and without question.

In Shane Claiborne's book, "The Irresistible Revolution," he questions whether or not Jesus was "homeless." True, he didn't have a place with a dresser where he kept his undies (not even sure if Jesus wore underwear...but we don't need to go there); however, throughout His ministry Jesus always had a place to enjoy a meal and lay His head at night. Friends and family took Him in everywhere He went - even from the humble beginnings of a stable. The important thing is not that people were there to invite Him into their home, but more importantly into their hearts and into their lives.

Throughout the summer, I was invited into many lives. From extended stays with friends to impromptu nights with church members, familiar grounds in the Northern Minnesota woods to foreign space amidst the Sequoia's in California, I was welcomed by my brothers and sisters in a way that made me feel deeply cared for and loved - in a place of home. I was never without a home, because I was never without the comfort of knowing there is a great cloud surrounding me.

I come from a place of great privilege where I chose to be without a roof over my head for a short time, but the experience was eye-opening none-the-less. I wish to thank everyone who invited me into their homes at some point this summer and everyone who invited me into a place of home, into their very lives.

As I sit here at the airport in Seoul, South Korea with my eight brothers and sisters with whom I travel to Malaysia, I feel whole. I have already grown to love them in a way that makes me feel at home. I can't wait to meet my host community and find yet another place of home when we arrive at our placement sites in a few short weeks to love, engage, hear stories and unpack our underwear.