The Basics of Being Basic ( ironically long)
Trip Start Aug 22, 2012
20Trip End Jul 24, 2013
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Where I stayed
The Gentes Inn
What I did
Friends, family, and the beach.
So, in every entry I will include a new word that I've learned in Spanish.
WORD OF THE DAY: Socks (English), Calcetines (Spanish)
Say it with me: Socks. Socks. (sounds like sox).
Now in Spanish: Calcetines. Calcetines. (sounds like cal-say-teen-es) Calcetines.
Let's get the basics of this thing down.
FAQs (frequently asked questions) Asked and answered in the form of a conversation with myself.
Q: Where are you going?
A: Cuernavaca, Mexico. (Pronounced Cwerna-vaca). It's about 50 miles south of Mexico City. Honestly, wikipedia I don't know that much about it yet, but I'll update you as I learn ;) I will have the pleasure of staying with a Mexican host family.
Q: When are you leaving?
A: August 15, 2012 for a week of training in Chicago, and August 22, for Mexico.
Q: Why in the world do you want to go to Mexico?
A: I've always wanted to work abroad, or more specifically teach. Mexico was the right choice for me because I've always enjoyed learning the culture, and I will get the chance to finish learning the language. The final reason is that's where I was called. I left the decision up to the wise coordinators of Young Adults in Global Missions, and Mexico was where they thought I'd serve best.
Q: Aaron, you took three years of high school, do you remember any of the language?
A: Surprisingly, si. I've gotta thank Senora Ruch, of the St. Pete High IB program for being a task master. I was a straight C student, but somehow I've retained quite a bit (the basics at least). I also practice with my co worker from El Salvador (between my broken Spanish and his broken English we get along grandly.)
Q: What is this Young Adults in Global Missions you speak of?
A: It's awesome, that's all I can say about it. Well, that's not really all. Young Adults in Global Missions or YAGM as I will mostly refer to it as, is part of the Global Missions Program of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America). YAGM has grown each year, and this year we have nearly 60 volunteers going throughout the world to countries such as Malaysia, South Africa, Jerusalem/West-bank, Central Europe, the UK, Mexico, and Argentina.
In my opinion their basic philosophy on missions is absolutely beautiful. I understand their focus to be sustainability and accompaniment. Rather impose, we learn and build sustainable relationships, while helping spread God's love in what ever ways possible. Please read more googling YAGM.
Q: So Aaron, what are you going to be doing down there, siesta-ing and eating?
A: Maybe, but I'll be experiencing a much larger part of their culture than what we typically think of. I'll also be working at a couple of volunteer sites which will be assigned when arrive in the country. Two of the sites that I am reallly (extra "l" for emphasis) interested in are an agricultural site that teaches sustainable farming techniques to locals, and the other is a school for children unable to go to normal schools. Anywhere I I wind up, I know it'll be good. I just know it, ya know?
To put it simply, I'll be learning to live simple. I will be blessed, and I say blessed sincerely, to be given a stipend of about $100 a month. That is the minimum wage for a Mexican family to live on. Incredible. It's the basics of being basic.
Q: You know there's a lot of violence down there? Like people getting killed?
A: I know that the organization that I am traveling cares for its volunteers as if we are their children. The YAGM coordinators and directors would not send us to an area where they thought that our lives were in severe danger. I am aware of the narco-violence, how ever the media often focuses on this violence and portrays the entire country as being unsafe. In reality Cuernavaca is one of the safer areas, and I will be living within a bus ride of my site coordinator and eight other fellow volunteers. The attacks are focused from one cartel to another, and rarely do they wish to involve a US citizen. Yes, there are risks in where I am going, but I will act according to God's wisdom, my site coordinator's knowledge, and my own street smarts (yes I have street smarts). For all of the years YAGM has been in Mexico, there have been no incidents of violence directed towards a volunteer. (Doesn't mean you shouldn't still pray for me.)
Q: Well Aaron, you've answered my questions with detail and wit... but, why are you going?
A: It's been a long time dream. I want to not only see another culture, but to become part of it. I want perspective. I believe this experience will make me not only a better teacher, but a more empathetic person. Start using this phrase please, I want the credit for coining it- "Always wear socks because you never know when you'll need to put yourself in someone else's shoes"
™ . I feel like God has always called me to serve in some form another. I've served in Sunday Schools, sleep away camps, day camps, and youth groups. Even my job jobs have been serving others (waiter and bag boy extraordinaire). I'm not meant to be here in Florida any more, at least not for right now. I need a year away, to grow, to learn, and to serve. If you know me, like legit know me- you know this will be the best thing that could happen for me.
Q: Sounds like you've got this pretty well thought out... I'm running out of questions. Do you have any goals for the year?
A: Yes, this has been a bit lengthy, but most of my entries will not be this thorough, for your sake and my own. And yes I do have some goals in no particular order-
*To learn to Speak and understand fluently at a conversational level
* To gain some new healthy habits and quit some old bad ones (diet, exercise, social, sleep, messing with my hair).
* To experience Mexico's culture to the best I can. I want to be be part of the family and the community, while working hard when I'm needed to. I want to try new foods and hobbies, whatever I can.
* I want to gain basic soccer skills (or futbol)
* I want to make an impact that is sustainable, and I want to be impacted.
I can not pretend to know what God has in store for me and the people I come into contact with, but I know that it will be a beautiful life. It's all about perspective.
* I want to be open and willing to what ever God has in store for me!
* This is sadly hard for me, not because I'm unloving, but just because I'm not the best at long distance communication, but I want to maintain my end of the relationship with my family and friends. They've been so good to me, they deserve it.
Q: Are you scared about leaving for a whole year, or are you having any second thoughts?
A: One of the people who I love and respect the most out of the whole world (though I don't show it 1/10 of what I should), with his ever clear voice of logic asked me "Are you having any second thoughts about going?"... I abruptly answered no, when I should have said "Second thoughts? I haven't really had any first ones." In all honesty, it hits me every few days for about two seconds, I will be living in another country, away from those that I love, and away from my sweet little box of a comfort zone. As I like to say (and you can start using this one too, trademark pending) "home is where the shoes are". Consider the lilies of the field, friends.
Q: Last, question. How are you getting down there? What's it going to take?
A: I thought you'd never ask, and if you made it to this point of the conversation, I hope you'll take part in my journey by contributing in some fashion, whether it be financially or simple encouragement and prayer.
$11 a day keeps Aaron away. The average cost for a YAGM volunteer is $11,000 a year. I am asked to raise for $4,000 of this (which comes down to $11 per day while I'm gone). The money goes towards travel expenses, a stipend for the family, and a very small stipend for myself to live on. You can sponsor me for a day, a week, or what ever you feel led by sending the money to the ELCA. Any cash that I receive personally for this mission, will be given to a third party who will put it into an account and write a check for the amount of cash to the ELCA.
To make a contribution:
***In the memo line put my name "Aaron Schaedler" and YAGM
Make your check payable to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.Evangelical Lutheran Church in AmericaPO Box 71764Chicago, IL 60694-1764
I will assign each donor a specific day(s) and will be praying for them specifically for that time. I will also shout there name in the streets at sunset if the would like (if my host family allows).
So far my Grandma and Grandpa Johnson, Uncle Dean and Aunt Helen, Grandma Jan and Peter, and the Pullen Family have sponsored me for the first four months! Only $2,650 to go!! Thank you all, you have no idea how much this means to me, and how much stress it has taken off of my mind.
Oh, and if anyone has a newer laptop for sale or donation, let me know, it would be much appreciated.
Even if you can't donate or just plain don't like me enough to give me money, please continue reading my blogs. I'll promise to try and make them interesting, and informing while giving you a look into another world of sorts.
Now, I go through the summer, getting ready physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I'll be spending my time at the church with a congregation that I love, and a restaurant job that I've seemingly worked at forever (but have met soo many wonderful people). I'm enrolled in one class to keep me sharp, and I'll be visiting the sea side as much as I can before I go. Do you want to go to the seaside? Come visit with me, let's talk some life.
Last thing, (this is really important to me) I have a special thank you list of people who have loved me, put up with me, and pushed me to this point. I'm sure it's incomplete, but I'll add to it as I continue to blog.
Thanks mom and dad for your unconditional love. Thanks little bro, I hope you've learned some things from me (like what not to do sometimes).
To my whole family for always being supportive and encouraging.
Thanks to the congregations of Seminole Assembly of God, and Grace Lutheran Tampa, especially the Ryder/Rousonellous family, Nadine, and Pastor Hilmer. You all gave this kid a chance to learn and grow. I appreciate you more than you know.
To Grace Youth!
Thanks to my Aunt Helen, Uncle Dean, and Steph for letting me live with you for an entire year. Now it's Mexico's turn.
Thanks to the Gentes family, Renee, Lyndsey, Max, and Mike. You all are saints. I'll try and not eat all of the cookies.
To the two most supportive and durable friends I've ever had, Mike Gentes, and Maria SHADURLO. I don't know how you all do it sometimes.
To those who inspired me to YAGM, Jeff, Cass, and Erin. Hopefully it was a good idea ;)
To those life long friends, who have and seemingly always will be: Jimmy, Maria B., Uncle Kurt and Vanessa.
To those who put me up and put up with me for a good bit: Julianne and Christa , Alyson & Ina.
To those Steak N Shakers like John and Melissa, you made that job possible for me.
To any Steak N Shake customer that is reading this now, wow thanks. You all made that job worthwhile (and your good tips ;). Mr. Pullens, I'm trying to live out your advice.
To my fellow YAGMs new and old, yesssssssss.
I thank God for all of you, he used you (in a good way).
Thanks everyone for the love, and for reading this ridiculously long blog entry.