I’ve been gone from my lovely home in Wilmington, Delaware for 14 days and a lot can happen in 14 days.
My YAV year technically started August 21st but my journey began on the 17th when my mom and I departed in my Honda Accord for New Orleans. I was so anxious. I was so anxious that my face was breaking out and there were ulcers in my mouth. What would my new housemates be like? Would I get along with my roommate? And the most stressful question going on in my head, Did I pack too much stuff?? But throughout all these anxieties, my excitement shined through. My mom and I hopped in the car at 6:30am Thursday morning and began our 3-day road trip. We had an awesome trip where we spent one night in Knoxville, Tennessee and a night in Huntsville, Alabama. We made some fun stops along the way such as the Natural Bridge in Virginia, a tour of the Grand Ol’ Opry in Nashville, and the Rocket and Space Museum in Huntsville. On the 19th, my mom and I arrive in New Orleans mid-day. I got settled into the house and meet a handful of my awesome future housemates. That night, my mom and I had dinner in the French Quarter and she showed me some of the traditional New Orleans’ sites. It was a fabulous last night together filled with a stroll down Bourbon street and beignets from Café Du Monde.
On Monday morning before sunrise, 4 New Orleans’ YAVs set off for orientation in Stony Point, New York. Yes, we all had just arrived after long road trips and were now departing for a week away from the new city we would soon call home. Our long day of traveling consisted of a drive to the airport, two flights, two terminal AirTran rides, two train rides, and a yellow school bus drive to arrive at the Stony Point Center (a Presbyterian conference center that houses missionaries and travelers from all over). At this center, all 62 YAV of the 2017-2018 year who are serving in about 20 different locations across the world, along with a dozen YAV alumni and YAV staff members, came together. This week was filled with new friendships, deep conversations, and preparation for our year of service. The week was renamed ‘Disorientation week’ as it made us think about our role in this program and what it truly means to be a YAV volunteer in this damaged world. We learned that although we might not make a huge impact with just one year of serve, our actions will have a ripple effect. We learned that we are going into places that are already filled with God’s love and that we have so much to learn from the people in these places. We, as YAVs, are doing a year of service for a lifetime change.
This past week definitely disoriented me but I feel it also made me more aware of the challenges individuals face day in and day out. I am safely back in New Orleans with the 6 other YAVs I will be serving with this year. We live in a two-story house together in Gentilly, which is a high elevated area in the city (we are all currently safe with no flooding). We will spend the next week learning about New Orleans, its history, and navigating around our new city. I will begin my site work next Tuesday and am super excited to begin this new journey in this beautiful, lively city.
If you wish to donate to this amazing program, we now have an online donation site https://www.neworleansyav.com/donate
Or you can send a check to Presbytery of South Louisiana (please put the name Kristen Reisor on the memo line). Mail to: NOLA YAV, PO Box 8666, New Orleans, LA, 70182.
Thank you so much for your love, support and prayers