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So tonight ended a saga. The food/chores saga. I’m beaming that it’s figured out for the most part. But it took a lot longer than I had expected.

So part of Discipleship Year means that I live with six other people for the year. Each month, we each put in a certain amount of money to the community fund for food and other needed household items. It sounds easy. Well, at least it sounded easy to me. Before I moved into the community, I envisioned the food conversation taking up maybe a few hours and then poof, it’d be finished. We’d just shop each week and we would all have nourishment. But I was wrong.

There was so much I overlooked at first. Where we shop is huge and after the discussion happened, it made so much sense to me. We have people coming from all different backgrounds. Some have been living on their own for a while and have used a community supported agriculture to get their food (a CSA is where you get a certain amount of produce delivered to you from an area farm each week). Others have just gotten out of college, so a meal plan is probably more familiar to them. Some are more comfortable in co-ops and farmers markets and others prefer the supermarket. And at first glance, this seems crazy. Judgement is liable to happen. People may feel their needs are not met or are overlooked.

So the second food talk we had, we began the discussion with everyone sharing their personal stories i.e. why they came to DC, where they are on their journey and what and why they care about certain things. Through this, the food differences began to make sense. Preferences often came from a deep place, a place of passion. And when I think about it now, it makes sense. I mean it’s food. Food is so crucial so of course people have their ways and concerns.

But to balance that out, we also came to the understanding that living in community means you don’t always get exactly what you want. If you want things to be about you, then don’t live in community. At the beginning, people were using the phrase “my money.” We came to the realization that that’s not healthy for community. Once each person puts their monthly amount in, it’s no longer theirs. And it can be a hard thing to let go, but that’s where faith in your community comes in. Of course, if there are specific things that certain people must have, that’s one thing. But the shopping list is a community thing, not something decided solely by one member. I really like what one of my community members said. We need to go from thinking “my money to our money to eventually God’s money.” To get into the idea we need to be a good steward of said community money.

Tonight we had our final meeting to iron out the process. We came to a compromise on the whole local/grocery store food issue. And I have the job of list master! Each week people are to get their requests to me for the next week. I will then distribute said list to shopper and he or she will have a budget. I will detail why each food is on the list, that way the shopper can make judgement calls if the list ends up going over budget.

So for the most part, things have been ironed out. I’m sure we’ll learn a lot more as we shop and see how the process works. It’s sort of like the constitution and amendments. We have a process but there’s always room to change it if needed.

Oh and the cleaning talk was way shorter in comparison to food. We just wrote down chores and divided them up. Sigh. That was a relief.

I’m glad the food talk happened as it did. While it was painful at times, I felt it helped us to grow as a community. And now I know.. food isn’t super simple.

So much

Hey readers,

Wow.. life has traveled fast. Moving in seems like yesterday. Fast forward about 14 days and you’ll find a Nina sitting on the second floor of a row house in DC, half Facebooking and half blogging.

A lot has changed. This is now the sixth time I’ve held the title of intern. When is Nina going to make money, you’re probably asking. Ha, good question. Of course this internship has many awesome benefits.. living in the district, living in community, taking seminary-like classes (Servant Leadership School!), etc. I’m interning through a year-long service program where all the essentials are covered in a monthly stipend (housing, heath insurance, food, personal spending, etc.) So don’t worry about me folks. I can eat and I eat pretty well. I’m also now a saucy city biker and I commute to work on my pedals.ย I have six new roommates, ages ranging from 22-36. I’ve also worshipped at a few new churches.. New Community Church in the Shaw neighborhood, the Festival Church and the Friends of Jesus Church. All are through Church of the Savior. Oh and now I’ve attended a few rallies as a resident. I attended two very different rallies last Saturday. I’ll let you guess which ones ๐Ÿ˜‰

Orientation week ended Tuesday and now I’m in the grind. I wake up around 7:45 am every day and am out the door at 8:30 am on my bike, dodging cars and getting a workout. What I do each day at the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns varies from day to day. So Maryknoll as an organization is an order of sisters, brothers and fathers in the Catholic church and then lay missioners. There are people serving in America and abroad. The office I’m working for was created as a way for Maryknoll to influence global policy as many of the missioners see changes that need to happen every day but can’t really advocate for them being miles and miles from Washington. So that is my job!

In some ways, part of my job is doing what I already do. I already try to stay up-to-date with current global events. I’m already on e-mail listservs for tons of groups working on social justice issues. And I’m already looking out for rallies to attend about the issues I care about… most of which are in line with what Maryknoll advocates for. And I’m allowed to attend rallies as a part of my work day. Awesome!

Another cool part of my job is that I get to blend writing and communication with advocacy and activism. I’ve always said I would love to do writing and communications for a non-profit, specifically a faith-based advocacy organization in Washington DC. And now that dream has come true! Thank you, Lord! Thank you! You are good ๐Ÿ™‚

Now I’m really craving a bowl of cereal. So I must do that.

Love,

Nene

Ps. I got a camera. I still need a memory card though. But look forward to blogs with pictures in the future.

A torrential downpour

Sunday afternoon around 2:30 p.m. I’m sitting on a megabus parked on Penn Station in New York City amidst a monsoon. Okay, it wasn’t quite a monsoon but it was definitely worlds away from a light sprinkle. I had moved into the Disciple House on Saturday and Sunday morning I took a bus to the NYC to see a few friends. After all, the beginning orientation for DY wasn’t until Tuesday.

I walk through the rain with my teeny, tiny umbrella praying to Jesus to stop the rain. It seemed like a forever and a day walk. My Toms got soaked. Yes, friends who think I talk about my Toms too much… I’m talking about my Toms!!!! Deal with it.

In the city I hung out with my friends. We had food and drinks and laughs. Overall, it was lots and lots of fun.

However Monday afternoon as I board a megabus back to the district, I’m just overwhelmed with joy that I live in DC rather than New York.

Sometimes I wonder what 16-year-old Nina would think of 23-year-old Nina. When I was 16, my dad brought me to New York for a business trip. I fell in love. I decided that I would go to college and then get a job at a magazine in New York. I envisioned living in a trendy loft in Greenwich Village and living like the cast of “Friends.”

That dream has lost it’s allure. There are a lot of people in New York but not a whole lot of community. I’m not saying community is an impossible thing in that city and I’m sure it exists somewhere there. It just doesn’t seem as apparent.

However I LOVE the district. Being a part of Discipleship Year automatically puts me in community. Plus in DC, I’ve already met tons of nice and loving people. DC is just.. nice. Oh and the metro is simple compared to the New York subway with all those letters and numbers that confuse me.

So I guess in all this reflection, I’m happy to be where I am. And I really have no idea what to expect for this year ๐Ÿ™‚

At this time tomorrow…

Hey family and friends!

So at this time tomorrow I will be living in the Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant neighborhood of our nation’s capital (I imagined Forrest Gump saying that as I wrote it. Just so you know). I’ll be living with 6 other Christians and we’ll all be serving at DC non-profits, taking classes at the servant leadership school and just learning more about what it means to follow Jesus. While that probably sounds glamourous to you, I already know it won’t always be easy. Yes, we all love the Lord. But that doesn’t mean conflicts won’t arise and we won’t always be perfect. But with Christ as our model, we’ll have guidance and grace.

So you’re probably wondering why I’m in DC, right? Let me take you on a flash back about three years ago. So fall of 2007 was my junior year of college. I had been really following Christ for about two years. I was living in an apartment, attending WKU and working for the student newspaper. Everything seemed to make sense except these weird dreams I kept having. I had several where I was in the middle of an inner city neighborhood and I was terrified. I thought they were odd and I told a few friends about them but that was it. I kept living my life.

As spring approached, I tried super hard to find a summer journalism internship. Nothing panned out. I was confused. The last two summers I had gotten journalism internships. What in the heck was God’s plan, I wondered. Little did I know what amazing, mind-blowing things the Lord had instore for me.

So I ended up working at a day camp for teens with special needs that summer in Cincinnati and I interned at Cincinnati Magazine that fall. I took a semester break from college and lived with my parents. Okay, so maybe God still wants me to do the journalism thing.

Once I was home, I had to find a new church. And at the same time, the Lord was putting homeless people on my heart. Like how did they end up that way? And where did they get the card board and marker for their sign? (that seriously was something I wondered). But what’s more, so many people walk right past them and think nothing. But they are God’s children too! They are no better or worse than me and just as much in need of grace as I am. So I was praying that the Lord would bless me with Christian community, a church and a way to serve the homeless.

That fall I began attending University Christian Church. A friend I made there had been doing a homeless outreach every Sunday in Over-the-Rhine for a few years. And so I started helping out every Sunday. The Lord also started putting issues of social justice on my heart. I started reading Sojourners and looking into ways to take action.

Then January 2009 rolled around and it was time for me to go back to college. That semester off had changed me. I just felt.. different. I started getting involved with environmental and other global issues on campus and in the community. I became part of the wonderful community that congregated around Charlie’s Beardy Poe, which would become my home my last semester of school.

I love it in Bowling Green, but I was hungry for a Christian community I really could connect with. So he blessed me with a job working with the homeless right after I graduated (seemed a bit too perfect to just happen by chance). I moved back home with my parents that winter and began serving the homeless in Northern Kentucky through AmeriCorps.

I started attending several house church communities through friends I knew. These communities are made up of some of the most passionate and genuine Christ-followers I’ve ever known. They are just so hungry for the Lord. They really try to be the church through gatherings, sporadic worship nights and just in general being in each other’s lives. ย These words really cannot fully show what I’ve experienced over the past nine months. You really have to live life with these people to really know what I’m talking about. But to sum it up, it was blessing. Something I couldn’t have even dreamt up when I was praying for Christian community two years ago. The Lord is so faithful in answering our prayers!

And so now my AmeriCorps term has ended and I’m embarking on a new journey.. living in the capital. I’m working for the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, a faith-based social justice organization. My job will be to write and research. This job, like my AmeriCorps job, seemed a bit too perfect for me to find all on my own.

I’m working for Maryknoll through Discipleship Year, a year-long service program through Church of the Savior. I’m committed until August 5, 2011. After that, we’ll see where the Lord leads me. It could mean staying in DC, moving back to Cincinnati, moving somewhere else in America or moving abroad. The Lord knows and his plans are perfect.

So this blog will be about anything and everything that happens to me in the district. ๐Ÿ™‚

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