Friday, July 8, 2011

It was pretty obvious.

So its has been a while since I updated, so here it is. I am going great. I love my job, hard. Driving around is amazing. Hanging out and helping my staffs is really exciting and keeps me on my toes. I am watching "Love Actually" and loved the funeral at the beginning so I thought that I should ensure my funeral is equally awesome.

  • These are my wishes
    1. Regardless of how old I am "Only the good die young" should be played. 
    2. Everyone should cry once, but be happy most of the time
    3. I want to be cremated. 
    4. Tanner Smith, Chuck Geary, and Chris Corbin are currently in charge of arrangements, (this is subject to change as I will probably outlive most of them).
    5. God be with you till we meet again should be played. 
Kudos to Keri Smith and my Mommy who are the only people to have sent me mail so far. Get on it people. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Regarding last night.

Week two has been pretty good to me and had a little bit more active chaplaining. I was finishing up my route, but Wednesday I had to switch it up to shoot back to the top of my circuit. One of my staffers had to go home for the summer to be with their family and grandfather, and it was just a stressful week on the staff. I wanted to make it up here to see the staffer off, but I was late. Fortunately, they called me on my way and we had a convo. They had been struggling with this for a while and were confident in their decision. I got here to see the staff and talk to a few of the staffers and the liaison that came in to take the open spot. All said, I lost one of my favorite staffers and liaison’s in one swoop. The liaison went to a staff I am serving, but she is not tech on support staff anymore, the point is she won’t be at our crazy support parties. It is a lot of fun to come to a staff where I feel like I can help. I brought stress-free toys, bubbles, puppy coloring books and silly putty (thanks Keri and Pam for guidance) for them to play with and get de-stressed. All in all I have confidence that they will come out the other side looking like champs.

Next week is the first week of making my own schedule, which is daunting. What if I make the wrong decision and go to a site that needs me less than another site? I will have to take my Internship supervisor at his word that “no one is going to live or die because a Chaplain did or did not visit.” Well… maybe this is not a direct quote but it sums up my experience at GMC. Still my job is to help and support staffers and I would like to do that well. So scheduling and prioritizing staff visits is somewhat of a intimidating task.

Tomorrow I am heading to the Breaks Interstate Park. It seems to be a pretty important ASP tradition. Most the staff will be there and everyone is really excited. I don’t know what to expect... but I think that I am excited.( I wrote this before I went). The breaks were cool but awkward considering I only know my staffs names so we had more people than I actually know there. The sunset was pretty and I got to swim. So win.

My new iPod arrived, this is good news because cd’s are annoying and I can now expand beyond what my staffs gave me (even though those mixes are great). My mommy ordered me some overalls, which means I will be even lazier when dressing and also fit in with my “overall wearing” staffers.

Days without showering 7
Projected days till next shower 3-4

My air-matterss is starting to feel like a real bed.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Devo I am using for my first county visit. (I will give this devo 10 times)

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus
 1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.  4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Now you are probably wondering why I am reading the story of Christmas in June. It is becuase I think that the story of Christ's birth parallels what you are doing here in Appalachia. When God picked the location of his son's birth, of the realization of a promise made to Israel, he picked a backwoods town. Bethlehem was a minor blip on the map, the small town to Jerusalem's big city. Just like this town here in the middle of no where Kentucky (or Virginia if I am in Keokee). God has chosen this town as a place where his promise will come into the world. And that promise will come through you. God is using to to make his love and his promise real  to the volunteers, group leaders, fellow staffers, and families that you serve. God's promise and love are revealed through your work, and the work you lead groups to do.

In Celtic theology there is a vision of a veil that separates the divine realm from the earthly realm. In some places that veil is thinner and the separation of God and Man is nonexistent. In these places God is heavily felt. Part of what you are doing here is chiseling away at that veil, thinning it out and making the presence of God a palpable experience through your work. It is possible that some of your families haven't felt God ever, or ever felt that anyone cared for them. You are changing that, you are making God's love and promise a tangible reality.

This is a terrifying thought. What we learn from the shepherds is that that is ok. There is a reason that when angels appear in the bible the first words out of their mouths are "do not be afraid." Getting something from God is terrifying. And there will be days where this job seems incredibly daunting, when you have a volunteer group that isn't getting it, a Group leader who always seems to have a problem, or when the staff are just driving you insane this job will seem impossible, and that is terrifying.

Fortunately there will be days when you feel more like the shepherds at the end of the story, when you have seen the promise fulfilled, when a family gets work finished on their house, when a volunteer group leaves feeling like they accomplished something, when you close out a project that has taken weeks to finish. And you will walk away glorifying God and you will feel so filled up.

Regardless of where you are on the spectrum, terrified or fulfilled you are bringing the promise to these people. God is working through you. Remind yourself of that fact every day, God is using you to make the promise real. This is amazing, wake up everyday and remember that, becuase of you these people will see and feel God's promise and love. Knowing that you will be able to push yourself through terrifying days and understand the days of promise.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Muddy Boots and Sweat

These first few days have been interesting. I have been at the Harlan center helping them get ready for groups. The Harlan center is an abandoned school that has not been occupied for 4 years, so it needed some work. Andy (one of the Staff Liasons) and I have been helping out with a lot of the cleaning and non- job specific stuff, which has entailed a lot of moving things and mopping. I wish I had before and after pictures to show, becuase this place was straight out of a horror movie on Thursday. We had to move about 200 bags of packing Styrofoam beads and about 100 desks out of the gym. It took two+ moppings of the gym in order to tell that the color of the floor was beige. Today we constructed a bank of showers in what used to be the schools coal room, and I now consider myself proficient in PVC plumbing.

It has been a hard three days, but on the eve of groups we have it livable and ready. I can see how people coming in might be shocked by the conditions, but it looks amazing compared to what it was and while still a little rough (no ac's and suspect plumbing) it is ready.

Tomorrow I will be heading out of Harlan and to Magoffin County's center in Salyersville, Ky. While I love the Harlan county center and staff it will be nice to be on the road moving towards AC, showers, and laundry. It will also be nice to start doing more chaplaincy than menial labour, though sometimes menial labour is a part of chaplaincy. I think my willingness to do this kind of stuff earned me some cred with the Harlan county staff.

This next week marks my first week on a circuit, this week I will be in Magoffin, Breathitt, Knott, Jeff, and Chavies. Five counties in five days. I am starting at the top of my counties and working my way back down, the week after I will hit my other 5 counties. It is gonna be Mountain Methodist Madness.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dear Friends,

I enjoy mail, as some of you are probably aware. So here is my address, send me things. If I sent you a post card last summer I know who you are.

ASP Perry Co. Center- Chavies
Jonathan Gaylord
P.O. Box 324
Chavies, KY 41727

I enjoy gummy candies.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Owl City cannot ruin Fireflies.

I am in Maggie Valley, North Carolina spending time with my friend Pam (and Keri who left today). It is really pretty, but still something of a culture shock. North Carolina has survived post-timber/ coal boom by turning to tourism that never traveled up to eastern Tennessee, West Virginia, western Virginia, and eastern Kentucky. While it still has its own issues they are covered over by relocated retirees, tourists, ski/ mountain resorts and national park traffic. It is definitely different, it is fun. 

These last few days have been a whirlwind of work and relaxation. Friday was load up day in Johnston City, the chaplains were posted loading administrative material into the vans (as far away from the tools as possible). We loaded 28 vans over 3 hours. It was a model of efficiency. Plus we found a million and a half old staff t-shirts that one of the admin said we could take them. So... free t-shirts. Yesterday everyone left for counties so half of support staff went to Middelboro, Ky to see X-Men: First Class. It was great to relax with some support staff, but the movie was terrible. It was like someone saw "Electra" or "Daredevil" and said "I can make a worse comic book movie." This is not a overstatement, it is quite simply a waste of time. However I only paid 3 dollars, so it was worth the money to sit in the air conditioning. 

Tomorrow Pam and I are going to venture to the World Heritage Methodist Museum at Lake Junaluska and possibly hit up some Blue Ridge PKWY. It will be a Methodist Mountain day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Observations from the Porch

These last few days have been really relaxed punctuated by an hour every now and then running around with my head cut off. The Chaplains, and support staff in general, really don't have a whole lot to do right now. We sit around talking to each other while the "traditional" staff is in construction training and the like, while we could sit in on these sessions it seems best we not. The Chaplains are never going to be asked to step in and supervise construction and they Admin team seems to want to firmly define our role as one of spiritual support and not allow us the temptation of being distracted by construction.  This comes from hiring past summer staffers to be Chaplains, as opposed to seminary students. Scott, Jeremy and I don't have any ASP or construction background so we have to focus on the spiritual well being of the staff. In all honesty, that is completely fine with us.

It does lead to a lot of during the day down time. For the last few days we were planning a worship service and a session on the summers theme. But we did the theme session yesterday and the worship service today. Both went really well, I was surprised at how well the Worship service came together. I picked the songs based on what the staff already knew and songs that would be easy to learn and only glanced at content, but they lined up perfectly as to where they fell in the readings and in relationship to Scott's sermon.

But now that 2/3 of our timed responsibilities are done we don't have anything to plan till next Saturday, so we nap and surf the internet and wait for the staff to have free time so we can talk with them. All in all its been really fun.

A couple days ago the Chaplains got bored so we went into the bustling metropolis of Jonesville, Va for lunch... only to find out Jonesville has .5 restaurants. This number includes 2 gas station delis and a subway attached to a gas station. We wound up driving out a little ways to the tiniest pizza buffet ever. But in between we did discover that Jonesville has 5 salons. I think that salons are the only business that can survive with out incorporating something else into it. Most gas stations double as delis or coffee shops. One called Papa Bear's is a Gas Station, Pizza Parlor, Deli, and Video Rental Shop, but it has a cool name, so redemption points there.

The First Years and Returning Staff don't know what counties they will be in yet. The Center Directors just found out their staffs last night, so they have been going around messing with the rest of the staff making jokes like "man it will be so great to have a guitar player on my staff" or "with you and me we will have the prettiest staff" and the like. Its interesting, There is a lot of importance placed on county staffs, because that is who they will work with, so everyone is really excited. Its like waiting for Support at Warren Willis to come check off your cabin and tell you what team you are on... only this team is all summer and Support doesn't (usually) draw out the tension (for long). Its a ASP culture thing.  The rest of staff finds out where they will be serving tonight at some big reveal.... mostly its also a cook out and I am excited about the food, but I can see the excitement in everyone about finding out staffs. After they find out where they will be training becomes more staff centric and more about their roles at their sites.

I have known my counties since before I got here. Then I got here and Jeremy asked if he and I could switch so he can be closer to home and as such his wife, I was more than happy to do so... so now My counties are all in Kentucky and one Virginia. I will be serving the staffs in Breathitt, Clay, Magoffin, Knott, Perry: Chaivs, Leslie, Knox (KY), Harlan, and Perry: Jeff in Kentucky and Lee: Keoke in Virginia.  If you want to look it up Harlan county has several songs about it including the oft covered "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive." Apparently Harlan earned its nickname Bloody Harlan County thanks to a series of Coal strike/ riots in the 20's and 70's. It may be my best bet to find moonshine.

I have been given an unofficial list of topics not to broach with locals, it includes coal and timber. I don't want to see what happens if I talk about this with the wrong person. I assume Obama-care, and racial diversity are also topics to skillfully dance around.

All in all its shaping up to be an awesome summer.