Serve Well Blog

April 2017 Entries

4.26.17

Holding Life and Death Together

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Urban America, Healthcare, Post-Service Term Reflections, Sustaining Service

 


 

Facing death everyday while working in hospice for a year took Bridget Hinton ‘14 "to a deep place of mystery," she says. "Living day in and day out with sadness was a challenge but I also saw a lot of hope and love."

For the spiritual care office of Providence Memorial Hospital in Hood River, Oregon, the Jesuit volunteer would visit people receiving palliative care, drive them to appointments, run errands, do a little housekeeping, and often just sit and listen.

In the deepest, darkest moments, when she wasn't at all sure what to say, "I tried to put myself out of own comfort zone and just hold space, be comfortable with slowness and silence, even when I didn't know exactly how to relate to someone three generations beyond me."

Ongoing cross-cultural training with the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship that includes recognizing the significance of generational, socio-economic, geographic and cultural nuances helped Bridget in these moments. Recognizing how her urban, diverse upbringing had shaped her lens helped her have empathy for the circumstances of her patients and listen without making assumptions, even when some of what she heard offended her.

She came to see that phrases like "they are here to take our jobs" reflected the frustrations of the rural and economically challenged Columbia Gorge community. "I would never use the words ‘I disagree' but sometimes I would push back slightly," she says. "I had to engage in conversation, but I tried not to prove anything. That was the art of the work, to not prove anything."

Now an Education Program assistant for Oregon State University extension, she teaches cooking classes and gives presentations on nutrition to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients. She also is volunteer facilitator for a grief group of teens who have lost loved ones.

"The winter Debriefing Weekend affirmed my choice to take a break and take care of myself, but I still feel a calling to hospice social work," she says.

"I wanted a full-force hospice experience and that's what I got. Through the debriefing weekend, I could deeply pay attention to my service and admit that they were really hard years," she says. "I was yearning to reflect, and now I am yearning for service. That's when I lean into the Krista community, which says yes to applying service to life in every possible way."

4.26.17

The Wisdom Gift of Holding Mixed Emotions

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press, Developing Nations, Transitions Home & Beyond

 


 

After a year in the Lutheran Volunteer Corps serving as Community Health Advocate for the Hepatitis Education Project in Seattle, Linda Chastine '16 embraced an international service year through Young Adults in Global Mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Eager to expand her public health experience, she was looking forward to serving in a community health clinic in Rwanda. When she found herself teaching English to children living on the street at Centre Marembo instead, her confidence was shattered. "I was feeling wholly unprepared to be a leader in that way, and there were so many expectations that as an American I would know how to teach English," she remembers. "A lot of that pressure made me feel very insecure about my position."

Insecurity was only one of a dizzying array of emotions she described in her newsletter:

"In the time that I have volunteered at Centre Marembo I have cried, I have laughed, I have danced, I have sang, I have been confused, I have felt isolated, I have realized that I am completely and wholly welcomed and loved in a much different way than before. The people at Marembo have opened their gates, their arms, their hearts, and their life to me. They have taught me so much more about self-acceptance, patience, and faith. As hard as it may seem, we must be open and patient with the changes that God brings in our life. From them, can spring wondrous, unexpected, and much needed gifts."

It wasn't easy to recognize and hold all these emotions at the same time. "As a black woman, I don't think that I've gotten permission to hold different emotions, especially not at the same time," she says. "If I'm enraged or sad or angry, I'm not supposed to also be joyful or hopeful or optimistic. I have to be one or the other."

"Just be free," her Rwandan colleagues would urge. "Just be free." While everyone around her was giving her permission to embrace her mixed emotions, "I was restricting myself to have to be or act in a certain way." Finally, their message got through.

"Being in Rwanda taught me that I'm able to experience a plethora of emotions and experiences all at one time, and that I don't need to separate those things," she says. Now living in Washington DC and searching for opportunities in community health, Linda is incorporating what she learned.

"Suppressing emotions doesn't produce self-reflection, self-awareness, or any clarity in the end. Recognizing and appreciating all the emotions I was experiencing helped me."

4.26.17

Where I'm From

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press

To discern where you're goingeven, sometimes, where you areyou need to know where you're from. At the Winter Debriefing and Discernment event, colleagues compose "Where I'm From" poems that unpack the places, people and experiences that form their service journey. Here's a taste of the paths of three colleagues who debriefed this year.

 

Bridget Hinton ‘16

I am from benvenutos, bienvenidos and welcomes,
from hot bike rides through sunflower fields,
from swimsuits and splashes
from morning sips of coffee, fried eggplant, rosemary bushes, mozzarella balls and too many ciao bellas that broke my heart.
I'm from unspoken family trauma,
From deep wonder, church pews, stained glass windows, lit candles and family prayer time.

I'm from evergreens planted to the soft cold sand on the gray harbor.
From rain pants, canned beef stew, pea salad, long lines waiting for lunch and beautiful faces.

I'm from rivers and mountains, from long stories of the past, from soft and wrinkly skin full of wisdom on its way to the stars, leaving the rest of the world in mystery and love.

Spencer Uemura ‘16

I'm from a distant place, but my heart has found a home
in rock-studded shores, tree-lined streets
in breakneck, widemouthed, downhill bike rides, and scraped palms.
I am from a good, and quiet, and hardworking people.

I'm from a distant place, but my heart has found a home
in the biggest skies and the widest plains
in unexpected, bountiful, and plentiful friendships.

I'm from a distant place, but my heart has found a home
in jagged peaks indomitable, snowy valleys impenetrable, a culture invaluable
in tears and blood, but mostly sweat,
poured into the Mother's womb, to be rebirthed anew
in lessons learned from secret sages
to whom the world would do well to listen.

Lauren Amundson ‘14

I'm from Vikings and lefsa,
from pea salad and lakeside
from chocolate roll and mosquitoes

I'm from sunshine and ocean
from oak trees and waterfalls
from orchids and cactus to things that can't grow

I'm from yard sales and Jesus
from thrift stores and gold
From privilege and power to places unknown

To familia y tequila
with a new home that loves
filled with people that aren't connected by blood

I'm from failing and learning
from growth and from hope
to a world of connection that includes one and all.