Loving, Embracing, and Accepting my Neighbors

It is a true blessing when relationships and connections begin to blossom. The past few weeks that I have had here in Austin have incorporated a lot of love, embrace, and acceptance for those around me. I am getting to know not only my surroundings, but those who surround me.

Each week at Justice For Our Neighbors I find myself more and more invested in what I am doing. The more I do, the more questions I have about immigration policy, what the form I am completing actually means, and learning along the way how my work directly encourages loving, embracing, and accepting my neighbors. I have been scanning, researching, watching, reading, filing, organizing, asking, and taking things in to the best of my ability these past few weeks and I am finally feeling some comfort at work. Piper, my co-worker, is now convinced that I am the good luck charm in the office because since I have been working at JFON our number of accepted Special Immigrant Juvenile statuses went from two to four and now eight! Granted, they did all of the hard work for these clients before I got there, but being there when getting notified of the hard work that has been done is an incredible feeling. A few screams, claps, and jumps are exchanged despite the fact that we are in the middle of the church building where we work. It is in these moments that I find myself loving, embracing, and accepting my co-workers and each of our new neighbors that now have a piece of paper that grants them something that they never thought they would have. This week marks my fourth week at JFON, which is crazy! I am intrigued to see what will come next.

The AYAVA community, which includes the Young Adult Volunteers, Episcopal Service Corps, and Americorps members, had our first retreat together this past weekend at Lake Dunlap in New Braunfels. Check out this beautiful place!

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I love that my community incorporates other service programs. We are diverse in every aspect, creating a community that breaks down barriers, challenges what I think I already know, and incorporates my ability of loving, embracing, and accepting my neighbors (and in this case my housemates). There are a lot of us in one community (eleven) and this provides for a lot of fun mafia games, card games, dance parties, and just plain running around. But, it also means that I have ten other people who are going to challenge me, put me to the test, make me vulnerable, help me to try new things… But it is these same individuals who will love, embrace, and accept me throughout this coming year. They listened to me when I began to share the beginning of my spiritual autobiography and listened to me whenever I felt called to speak this past weekend. I have truly gained a new comfort with everyone in my community from this past weekend. We can be complete goofballs yet we can sit down and really dig deep into what we are thinking. I love this. Plus, they really do challenge me and invite me to new things and exploration! I have been running with Austen, learning how to do head stands with Chris, slack lining with Erin, learning to cook real meals with Rebecca and Marianne, and SO much more.

LOOK AT THIS AMAZING GROUP!  (Not pictured: KC, Ben, and Christy)

LOOK AT THIS AMAZING GROUP!
(Not pictured: KC, Ben, and Christy)

As always, here are some photos of adventuring and experiencing new things in Austin!

Adventuring around Austin and free museum day:

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REALLY close to accomplishing a head stand! Thanks to Chris (in picture) for teaching me.

REALLY close to accomplishing a head stand! Thanks to Chris (in picture) for teaching me.

And… the BIG announcement… I have signed up to run a half marathon in December! Cannot wait to work hard and cross that finish line.

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Thanks so much for reading, y’all! Your support means the world.

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