Sunday, June 30, 2013

"We're meant to be on the road."

On June 18th, I was blessed and honored to met Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA. She said something, one of many things that effected me over the two weeks. She was talking to the YASC group, therefore a group of Christians who are about to embark on adventures the world over. "We're meant to be on the road," she said. As Christians sitting down and being complacent with our personal faith is not enough. Though at times that is perfectly acceptable. The apostles and first disciples did not do this. Albeit they needed a kick from the Holy Spirit, but they eventually got to work in spreading The Gospel across the 1st century world. Today missionary work has changed. We are not going to evangelize and proselytize to the masses, like some certain groups do when you're trying to sleep in on Saturdays. Instead we are going abroad to integrate ourselves into a different Anglican community to change ourselves and do the work we have been assigned to effect change, no matter how small it may seem to us at first.

For the past two weeks I have been at Stony Point Retreat Center in an grey area of Metro New York City and Upstate New York. I had the opportunity to grow and build relationships with about 26 other YASCers and adult missionaries. We ate together, had a roommate, took trips into the city, did lectures and training together. And through all of these things we learned that to be a missionary today one does not go around with tracts and Bibles but through work, love, and understanding. We should not talk but we need to listen. We should not do, do, do, but always be in present. It was hard leaving them yesterday. My eyes watering as the two early groups left. Most of whom I will not see again until later next year. But we all will be together in spirit and our love for one another with be taken with each of us to our mission fields.

Photos above:
1) My fellow YASCers conversing on the main lawn of the Stony Point Retreat Center
2) Welcome sign at St. Paul's Chapel -Downtown Manhatten
3) Stained glass window at Eldridge Street Synagogue-Lower East Side, Manhattan
4) "The Cross is the World's Medicine", Holy Cross Monestary, West Park, NY

Saturday, June 15, 2013

New York, New York!

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I am leaving for Stony Point, NY a small city on the Hudson River about an hour drive north from the City. This is, as someone described it to me this week, boot camp. A nicer word would be "training and orientation". I will be re-convening with my YASCers (and meet some new ones who couldn't make it down to Florida for discernment weekend in February). This will take place over a period of about two weeks, until June 29. It is then we shall goodbye and bon voyage and on our way, more or less, to our respective placements. Some will be leaving as soon as a couple weeks after, others like me won't have to leave until the end of summer. I am excited to see my fellow YASCers and eager to build stronger relationships and friendships with them. Through God's grace and blessings we are going to learn what is to come and help us better understand each other and the world.

Bye! A bientot!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

So I realized I haven't been posting diligently posting on where and what I'll be doing.

I will be placed in the Haitian port city of Les Cayes, Haiti. Les Cayes (luh KAI) is located on the southern peninsula of Haiti about 3 hours west of the capital, Port au Prince. Even though it's a port city, it's still small with a population of around 70,000. It wasn't immune to the 2010 earthquake, and like the rest of Haiti reliable infrastructure is still needed.

I will be primarily teaching English at the Bishop Tharp Institute of Business and Technology. It is set up like an American community college, so I'm very excited to teach students are my age or younger. Below is the website.

Haiti, as most of know, is a poor county. Unlike its neighbor, the Dominican Republic, it truly never gained a tourism industry (though that is changing) therefore many average Westerners have had little concern for Haiti. Sugarcane, mangoes, and coffee are the big commodities that the economy in Haiti relies on.

However, Haitians are rebuilding. The amount of western support that poured out after the earthquake and the rebuilding efforts have been slowly but surely coming along. Haitian will need a new generation of business and technology leaders that will take Haiti into the 21st century hopefully becoming a competitive Caribbean nation. What is the international language of business? English. They need English skills so they can go into the international business world and seek ideas, support, and input for their projects home and abroad.

Won't you join me on this mission?
Well today is my birthday. I am now 24 years old. I was finally back home at St. Luke's today, my home parish. And it truly was home, felt so present and knew I was where I should be. Unfortunately it was a bit of a layover as I'll be leaving for Stony Point, NY next Sunday for two weeks. This is for orientation and training for the 2013-2014 YASC class. I have no idea what to expect but I'm excited to see all of my YASC friends.

Fundraising is going great! I scoffed when we were told that it adds up fast but it truly does. The thermometer is current to what I have been collecting and told. Remember all the funds are being handled by St. Luke's as I can have little contact with the account. However I do receive information on who has given and how much has been raised.

It is never too late to support the mission. Any amount is appreciated. If you know me personally (and not from St. Luke's) you can give money or checks to me. If you don't know me personally or we have little day-to-day interaction and would like to give, you can mail checks to:

St. Luke's Episcopal Church
540 W. Lewiston Ave.
Ferndale, MI 48220

Checks to be made out to "St. Luke's Episcopal Church" and memo'd as "Zachary Baker-YASC Fund". 

I can also give you forms that you can send to the mission office New York as they also have an account for me (that one will eventually be the "official" one).

As you might have guessed now, on-line fundraising is not much a possibility. A personal PayPal account is considered "personal income" and therefore taxable. St. Luke's does not have a PayPal account either. But this is all good because with the way I'm going I don't think it's much needed anymore.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I have been told that I shall be the first native Michigander going on mission through the Young Adult Service Corps. There have been 2 previous YASCers out of our diocese but both were not native Michiganders. Where I am come, Metro Detroit and Michigan, there is an odd paradox and being proud being from here and disdain sometimes in being from here. I cannot say I don't hold this paradox. Sometimes the breathtaking scenery of Up North, the waterfront of the Detroit River, and excitement of our sports teams (GO TIGERS!) makes me immensely proud. And other times the complete ignorance of some of my fellow Metro Detroiters makes me dumbfounded as to why God placed me here. But here we are. I will be the first native Michigander serving in YASC and I shall proudly wear that badge upon my chest.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hello all!

Well, WOW! These past two Sundays have truly been a blessing. Today I visited the great folks at All Saints East Lansing, by far the largest congregation I have visited yet. Nervous, was I? Yes. As usual. But they were very warm and welcoming, and I got a great response from all the people. Thank you to Kit, Andrew, and Sarah (whose sermon hit close to what I'm about to do) for welcoming and offering me great words of encouragement and advice. And thank you to all the people there for the same. I can't wait to come back again and share with you what we did in Haiti.

For those of you who don't know, All Saints already does medical mission work in Haiti in Mirebalais. Correct me if I'm wrong All Saints. But now they have an education missioner!

Thanks again St. Paul's Brighton and All Saints East Lansing!

Next stop: back home at St. Luke's in time to celebrate my birthday! But the week after that on June 16th, I will be flying to New York for the two weeks of orientation and training and get to see all my YASCer friends! Every time I think about I get overly excited and unfocused. But the next two weeks are sure to fly by fast.

Your fellow servant in Christ,
Zach Baker