Saturday, September 5, 2009

Finally I can blog!!! The past two weeks have been like being in a whirlwind! It's been amazing and frightening and horrifying and beautiful all at once. I arrived in Philadelphia two weeks ago yesterday and met my City Director, Caz, as well as the other team captains. We stopped by the Mission Year office before heading to where we would be staying for the week and who should walk down the stairs but Shane Claiborne, author and founder of The Simple Way! Lindsay, one of the other team captains and I felt completely star struck (which wore off later in the week when we realized he is just a normal guy after we had dinner at Caz's house and played Catch Phrase with him). But still, it was pretty cool. :)

So we stayed in Logan (North Philadelphia) for the whole week on mattresses in the living room with four fans and the window air conditioning unit blowing right on us because it was so hot upstairs in the bedrooms. And I thought I was moving north!!! Caz took us all over Philadelphia and introduced us to the amazing goodness of Water a snow cone but SO MUCH BETTER! The entire week was spent learning how to navigate Philadelphia as well as our neighborhoods. I spent a day with a MY alum wandering around Camden, Lindsay around Wilmington, and Rah around Logan and Center City Philly. There is another team in Southwest, Philly but the team captain wasn't able to come early like we were.

Last Thursday, my team arrived and we spent two days just setting up our apartment and getting to know each other and our neighborhood a bit. Then off to Atlanta for Mission Year bootcamp where we met all the other teams from Chicago, Houston, and Atlanta as well as the whole MY staff. We heard lots of speakers, ate lots of food, discussed lots of different subjects, and worshipped together. It was incredible...minus the gigantic spiders.

So about Caz. This woman is incredbile. We've had a number of hiccups these past two weeks and I have yet to see her handle any situation with anything less than absolute grace and patience. She is so incredibly calm and collected and I've already learned so much from her. She gives every person she meets dignity and it is a beautiful thing to observe. Through her, other MY staff, the other team captains, and my own team, Jesus has already taught me so much about what it means to "love my neighbors," to see Him in every face, and to give every person dignity regardless of who they are or the circumstances they are in. I can't believe I'm only two weeks in this and I've still got almost a year to go! That is absolutely thrilling to me.

My teammates: One word...HILARIOUS! So far, we have truly been enjoying each other so much. They crack me up and we have already had a number of adventures that ended in lots of laughter. They are so passionate about loving Jesus and people and have already been such an inspiration to me. They have been very gracious and supportive to me as team captain as well and I am so grateful that God picked each one of them to walk with me in this journey this year. I'm not naive enough to think that things will always be easy and fun; I'm sure that we will have our fair share of conflict. But I trust that if we are all seeking Jesus as our first love, we will handle those conflicts with love and compassion.

Neighbors: We've also met a handful of our neighbors within our apartment complex. All of them have been very kind and willing to help us with anything we need. They helped us move in, carry groceries up the stairs, collect our mail when we were in training in Atlanta, etc. So yeah, basically they are awesome and we can't wait to get to know them better. The neighborhood itself is pretty nice too, not at all what I expected. Walk a half mile to the left of our apartment and you get into fancy shmancy Merchantville. Walk a half mile to the right and that's where it gets rough. But even in the rougher areas, people have been really nice.

(I have 7 minutes left on this computer so I'm gonna wrap it up even though I've got so much more to tell!) Basically, I'm loving it here. I'll be sending out the 2nd round of newsletters soon as well so if I don't have your address already you can message me on facebook or write me a letter!

My address is:
Stevie Neale
4313 B. Maple Ave
Pennsauken, NJ 08109

But no packages there please! I have a different address for that I can give if anyone wants along with the guidelines for what they can contain.

Also I still am in need as far as support raising goes! You can give easily at my launch page:

Thanks a lot! Love you all!