Thursday, May 26, 2011

Prayer Night

Once a week, here at L'Arche, we have what's called a prayer night. We all gather together in one of the houses and we share a meal together. Then one of the assistants leads a group activity. After the activity, there's a time for announcements and prayer, and then we all mosey back to our houses for nighttime routines.

This last Tuesday was my first Prayer Night as an assistant here at L'Arche. Because of that, during the announcements, Thomas, our community leader, announced that I was finally here in the flesh. People started to clap but then one of the core members from my house said, at an elevated volume, "Hallelujah!"

This caused people to clap louder and to laugh. It was a funny moment (one of many to come, I'm sure) but it was also a heart-warming moment. Hallelujah is a word used to express praise or joy. It's said in thanksgiving to God for what God has done for us. And it was said last night at Prayer Night because I am now a part of the community here at L'Arche Heartland.

Hallelujah. I'm here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

As Long as I Journey

Since making the announcement to my congregation that I would be leaving, my life has been a jumble of emotions. There is great excitement and anticipation about what my future holds. I am eager to go and join this new community and to get to know them and to get situated there and start my life with them. There is also some anxiousness and nervousness. I am hopeful that I will fit in, that I will do good work there, that I will be what this community needs and that they will be what I need. But there is also a lot of sadness. I have been blessed to know some wonderful people here in my current setting. To embark on this new journey means saying good bye to them. Our relationships will never again be the way they are right now. I will not be as much a part of their lives as I have been these past five years. I will have to say good bye to the young people that I've seen grow and change in crazy and amazing ways. I will have to say good bye to people who have invited me into their homes and their lives, who have been my friends and surrogate families while I have been here. It is not easy to say good bye.

So my life has been a crazy experience of emotions lately. I was going to say it has been a roller coaster, but with a roller coaster you have very defined highs and lows. Sometimes my emotions are like that, easy to define and figure out which one I am feeling. But often it has been hard to define my emotions, sometimes I've felt great excitement and sadness at the same time, or great eagerness simultaneously with great nervousness.

The other day I happened to be flipping through our worship hymnal, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, and I came across a hymn that I became familiar with because of my friends Ben and Renee Larson, Jon Larson and Elly McHan. They are friends from seminary who are all very gifted in ministry and music. The first time I heard it was when they were singing it. Ben also happens to be my friend who we tragically lost in the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. This song was sung at his memorial service at Luther College. As I looked through it, I happened to notice that at the bottom it said that it was written by a L'Arche Community. I might have noticed that before, but this time, of course, it jumped out at me.

Then, today, I received a note from a friend who had just read my announcement. He asked if we were going to sing this same song at my final service at church because it was written by a L'Arche Community. It is actually very meaningful and applicable to where I am in my life right now, and so I thought I would share it with you here.

Lord Jesus, You Shall Be My Song
by Les Petites Souers de Jesus and L'Arche Community; tr. Stephan Somerville

Lord Jesus, you shall be my song as I journey;
I'll tell ev'rybody about you wherever I go:
you alone are our life and our peace and our love.
Lord Jesus, you shall be my song as I journey.

Lord Jesus, I'll praise you as long as I journey.
May all of my joy be a faithful reflection of you.
May the earth and the sea and the sky join my song.
Lord Jesus, I'll praise you as long as I journey.

As long as I live, Jesus, make me your servant,
to carry your cross and to share all your burdens and tears.
For you saved me by giving your body and blood.
As long as I live, Jesus, make me your servant.

I fear in the dark and the doubt of my journey;
but courage will come with the sound of your steps by my side.
And with all of the fam'ly you saved by your love,
we'll sing to your dawn at the end of our journey.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Some News to Share

Well, I have announced it at both Sunday services this morning, and so most likely it is all over the greater Belle Plaine area by now. So I would imagine it is safe to share via my blog.

I have accepted a new position as Assistant at L'Arche Heartland in Overland Park, Kansas. L'Arche Heartland is a community centered around adults with developmental disabilities. My responsibilities there will be living and working with these adults, helping them to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives. I am sure they will help me to reach that goal, as well.

That means I will be leaving St John Lutheran Church and Belle Plaine, MN. That has definitely made it a tough decision. These past almost five years of life and ministry here in this place and with these people have been some wonderfully amazing years. I didn't realize you could grow to love people so much in five years, but the people that I have had the opportunity to serve have made it pretty easy. I have been blessed with a very supportive and grace-filled congregation and there are many, many people who will be missed and who I will be carrying with me in my heart.

My last Sunday at St John will be Sunday, May 22nd. After that I will be moving to Overland Park at which point my address will change. I will let you know what that is when I know for sure.

I want to say thank you to all of the people who have made these past five years such a wonderful experience, from the staff and members of St John, to the great youth ministry workers in my local network, to all of the pastors and friends who have supported me and encouraged me and been my friends. I have been wonderfully blessed by all of the people that God has placed in my life, and I know that I haven't even begun to mention them all.

So it is with some sadness but also with joy and excitement that I think about this new adventure in my life. I'm sad to have to say good bye to so many people, but I'm excited about what God has in store for me in this new place.

If you are interested in learning more about what L'Arche is, check out the L'Arche USA website at If you want to learn more about the specific community where I will be working, check out their website at

Thanks for all of your prayers, support, love and kindness these past five years. They have been felt and greatly appreciated.
Peace to you!