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Not an Easy Life: US-2s Complete their Work and Choose to Continue Justice, Service, and Love

by Mary Beth Coudal

 
US-2s (left to right) Amanda Thrasher, Aminah Jones, and Heather Bishop shared laughter as they finished their two-year term of missionary service.
US-2s (left to right) Amanda Thrasher, Aminah Jones, and Heather Bishop shared laughter as they finished their two-year term of missionary service.
Image by: Mary Beth Coudal/Communications
Source: GBGM Mission News
US-2 Aminah Jones
US-2 Aminah Jones
Image by: Mary Beth Coudal/Communications
Source: GBGM Mission News

July 8, 2011--This week, three US-2s completed their work as young adult missionaries in the United States and shared with staff and one another the highlights and lowlights of their last two years. Under the leadership of Elizabeth Lee, church executive at Global Ministries, the three debriefed July 5-9 in New York at the United Methodist missionary agency, sharing meals, laughter, and tears. They looked back and forward, and savored their time together.

The US-2s appreciated one another for witnessing and understanding the two-year journey. A common theme of the debriefing was a continual need for honesty and authenticity. They shared the joys and struggles of being a young-adult missionary.

"I just know this is a safe place," Heather Bishop said. Ms. Bishop had been the mission volunteer coordinator at Four Corners Ministry, a Navajo Parish in New Mexico. Originally from Virginia, Ms. Bishop plans to work as a hospital chaplain, possibly in the Midwest.

Ms. Bishop helped organize volunteer teams who visited the Navajo community to construct or repair homes. Bishop found herself reminding the volunteers that their work was not simply about building homes, but about building relationships with neighbors and friends who lived on the reservation.

Building relationships was also a large part of Amihan Jones' work as she served in mission and ministry at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington DC. Foundry is a diverse and large urban community church that cares for and advocates for people who are homeless, learning English, disenfranchised, or excluded, among others.

"You don't' sign up to be a US-2 or a Mission Intern to have an easy life," Ms. Jones said.

Ms. Jones appreciated the "solidarity of having a class (of missionaries). We've all made the sacrifice. We've given up two years of our lives to be totally vulnerable and broken and put back together again."

Originally from Southwest Texas, Ms. Jones will continue her life of service as she travels to Thailand as an Individual Volunteer for a year through the General Board of Global Ministries. Individual Volunteers put faith into action in a global context for a time period between two months and two years. Ms. Jones will work in the orphanage founded by Cindy and Gary Moon, a Global Ministries' missionary couple whom Ms. Jones met when they were all being trained as missionaries two years ago at Stony Point Retreat Center in New York. At the time, Ms. Jones felt an original call to serve in mission internationally and still feels the call.

Amanda Thrasher traveled from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to Hagar's House for Women and Children in New Orleans, Louisiana, to work as a US-2. At times, Ms. Thrasher resided at the home for women and children in transition. Ms. Thrasher shared meals, chores, and referrals to social services with the women and families.

Ms. Thrasher will continue working part-time at Hagar's House, providing hospitality, stability, and a safe place for those who have experienced instability. She will teach instrumental music part-time for a year, at which time Ms. Thrasher plans to study physics at the graduate level.

Ms. Thrasher saw the debriefing in New York this week as a "chance to reflect on the last two years in a community of love and acceptance."

Each of the young adult missionaries agreed that they would recommend the US-2 experience to other young adults. Although their work required sacrifice, they said, the sacrifice was well worth it. Each felt gratitude for the opportunity to grow in faith and learn firsthand about justice and love.

I see
only when you are seen

I hear
only when you are heard

the stories that flow in our veins
vindicated
our memories live, remain
as long as there are those who will listen

vindicated
in the sunlight that reveals
the river flowing within
steadfast
it plunges and emerges
in our shared flesh
more beautiful
because it's yours
because it's mine

remaining in the ears of others
drumming a new beat
on membranes they play
like the echoes of birdsong
reverberating in the leaves of trees

now that it's seen
now that it's heard
it won't wait

it beats out
in the slap of grasping hands
for hands that would
would dare to clasp

it beats out unafraid
it beats out in the street carts of vendors
purveyors of reality
in their mundane
rising and setting with the sun
to break even
the world over
for bread
for one love

it beats out in the pounding of bare feet
like hands on the skin
pulled taut
the earth a drum
for the stomping
for the dancing

messengers of mourning
messengers of celebration

all the world over
it won't wait
because we are today
drumming out a new beat

For more poetry and photos from former US-2 Heather Bishop, visit her blog holymischiefmanaged.

Your local church may choose to enter into a multi-year Covenant Relationship with or other United Methodist missionaries, for ongoing support of their work. For further information, please contact:

The Advance
General Board of Global Ministries
475 Riverside Dr, #350
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Phone: 212-870-3718
Fax: 212-870-3775

Email:
covenant@gbgm-umc.org

Web: advancinghope.org

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Make a secure gift online: Visit Global Ministries Online Giving

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Date posted: Jul 12, 2011