Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Viaje a Seattle

Just got back from my quick whirlwind of a trip to Seattle. To give you an idea of the travel involved: On Monday morning I took a 3:30 AM shuttle to the Seattle-Tacoma airport, flew from Seattle to Phoenix, had a one hour layover, flew from Phoenix to Guadalajara, took a taxi from the airport to the bus station, took a bus from Guadalajara to Lagos de Moreno, and finally walked up the long steep hill to our apartment in Lagos. Phew! Still, the fact that you can travel all the way from the Pacific Northwest to Central Mexico in only one day of travel is definitely a modern marvel. I am both exhausted and amazed.

And what a weekend it was! Landing was like arriving at another planet. I leave the deserts of Jalisco in the morning, and by the afternoon we begin a descent over Mount Rainier (!!!!!!!) and then down into endless pine trees and the clear waters of the Puget Sound. Incredible. How is any one place allowed to be this gorgeous? And I thought there was only one West Coast state this cool... California, you're on notice.

Of course, I'll be spending most of my time doing the hard work of internship, with my time divided between St. John United Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Public Policy Office (LPPO) of Washington State. After visiting, I'm even more excited about both places.

In the summer of 2007, I did my CPE work in a homeless shelter on Chicago's north side. It was one of my best experiences at seminary, a time when everything I was learning was coming together in something that felt more like ministry than anything else I did in my first two years at LSTC. I missed having those experiences during my second year, when life was full of books and papers. But I find it all coming back to me now. St. John's, my internship parish, hosts a soup kitchen and overnight shelter for homeless men twice a week, and has close relationships with several people who live in vans in the surrounding area. This outreach, these relationships, are an important part of who they - we - are.

And only the night before I found myself back in conversation about the policy debates around homelessness. Proposals poorly implemented by too-eager local governments, funding shortages, the "not-in-my-backyard" syndrome - all of these are familiar from the months I studied them closely just two years ago. I can't believe I'll be able to be a part of these relationships and policy conversations again!

Of course, this is only one of many areas of ministry I learned about this weekend that seemed so encouraging, so indicative of the possibility of an great internship year. I have no doubt there will be real challenges and rough patches ahead. But here at the beginning of things, I am full of energy and excitement. I think that's a good place to be. :)

Below are some pictures I took from the weekend, as well as a map showing where we'll be in the Emerald City. Enjoy!

This is the church where I'll be working next year.

An image outside the church. I like the words in it, which you can read if you click on the image to make it bigger.

This is the view from my future office. See the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains in the background (you can just see the white snow outlines through the power lines)? Wow. :)

The congregation's community garden. This is too cool.

There is a BBQ joint across the street from our apartment. Seriously. My mouth is already watering. If they have sweet tea I'm going to eat here every day.

I stayed overnight with my supervisor's family. They live on the Puget Sound north of Seattle. This is the view from their living room. Really.

This tree is in their backyard. It's like, 500 years old. In Mexico we have churches that are 500 years old. In the Pacific Northwest they have trees that are even older. Probably this tree was here on the shore of the Puget Sound when this area was "discovered" by Europeans. Unbelievable.

While I was there Seattle was hosting its annual Northwest Folklife Festival. It's full of dozens of "official" performers at dozens of stages, but also welcomes informal street performers to set up shop throughout the park. This was a bluegrassy kind of band that was really good. I couldn't help but think of the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago...as if the Old Town School suddenly spilled out into Millenium Park for the weekend. Just. Too. Cool.

At the Folklife Festival they were celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909. This was one of the clever posters for the AYP commemoration.

And they have a big ol' public fountain too! (The fountain, as some of you may know, is my absolute favorite thing in Millenium Park in Chicago.)

Seattle is just too cool. Below you can see where in it we'll be living. Click on the blue markers to see what each one represents.

View Internship 2008-09 in a larger map


Zach & Hannah Parris said...

That looks sooo awesome! We can't wait to come visit you!

From Michigan with Love said...

Glad you had a great trip! I was blown away by the beauty and speed of Seattle! You are going to have such a great internship! Hope all is well!