Are you going to South Korea to teach English?

I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked that question.

And now I can say: yes, I will be. I will be working at the Sae Um Community Children’s Center (pronounced kind of like “say – oom”). The community center also happens to be a church. They run an after-school program with youth ages 8-14. I will be there several times a week, teaching English, leading games, and participating in other various activities.

I’ll still need to learn Korean. There is an emphasis on academic rigor, and I’ll need to have lesson plans prepared. I’ve been writing lesson plans off and on since high school when we ran a preschool out of our classroom (I taught about fire safety via a book about having a dragon over for tea). I just have to get back into the habit of writing them. Good news: I’ll be writing a lot of them next year!

In addition to my site placement, I’ll also join Jordan, my fellow South Korea-YAV, once a week, helping the homeless and hungry ministry at Saenaru Community Center, washing dishes and eventually helping to distribute food to guests.

For anyone interested in a countdown: 9 weeks until I head off to Korea! 6 weeks until my YAV year in New Orleans is finished. And, 3 weeks and 5 days until my birthday.





That means “hello” in Korean. I’m working on learning the alphabet and it is HARD! It has quite a few letters (19 consonants+21 vowels=40 letters) and I can recognize quite a few of the vowels and consonants already. It’s exciting. I can also spell my name. Which is pretty neat. And, I can almost say “My name is Kalyn” but I’m having a hard time with pronunciation. It’s crazy how a slight change of the shape of your mouth changes everything… Of course, I know this from my years of voice lessons and choir singing… But my gosh it’s hard!

So here are some details:

I will be living in Daejeon, South Korea, on Hannam University’s campus, in an old missionary village (it’s #35 on the map). Fun fact: one of the houses has been preserved just as the last missionary left it in 1994. His clothes, shoes, & books were left just the way he left them. The house my fellow YAVs and I will be living in has been renovated and modernized. Our site coordinators will live across the way from us. And, I’ll be safe. Why do I feel like I’ll be safe? Because our God is awesome. Because the PC (USA) isn’t going to send us into danger, nor will they leave us in danger. And, I have some awesome site coordinators who say the following:

Safety…. Usually, this is the most common concern you will run into when telling you friends and family that you are going to live in Korea for a year. They are afraid that North Korea might start a war and you might be caught in the middle of it. As there has been increased activity at a nuclear site in North Korea, that anxiety will grow leading up to a possible test of another nuclear bomb. Let me assure you that you are in more danger of being a victim of violence in a US city than you are in Korea. There is a growing consensus here in Korea that we understand North Korea is not actually interested in restarting open conflict. There already is a current state of war, as that state of war never ended with a peace treaty. Only an armistice (cease fire) was signed in 1953 by N. Korea and the US and other UN allies (S. Korea never signed it). More and more people recognize that N. Korea is not interested in committing suicide, which is what would happen if they re-ignited open conflict. Even the US military is closing down its bases next to the border with the North and opening up new bases to the South and the East. Nobody here believes N. Korea will actually attack anymore. This will likely be a move similar to the nuclear tests before and the saber rattling last year around this time. US Americans and others around the world got worried last year in April because of statements from N. Korea, while most Koreans recognized it as the same old song and dance. N. Korea will most likely use this coming nuclear test to gain more leverage in aid negotiations and to make the US pay attention to it. Currently, the US is involved in a decades long strategy of isolation and ignoring N. Korea hoping that it will be starved of attention and thus come around. N. Korea hopes to draw the attention of the US in other ways.

All that being said, as your site coordinators, we have made contingency plans anyway, just in case the need arises, for what to do in the event that open conflict starts again. So, we will be ready if that happens to make sure you guys are all safe and out of harms way. We are in constant communication with our partners and watching the US Embassy in Korea’s alerts, so that if you are in actual danger, we can take the appropriate actions. The PC(USA) denomination will not place YAVs in regions of danger if our partners are telling us we will not be safe.

So. I feel safe. And I feel at peace about it. I pray that if it is something that is worrying you that you are blessed with abundant peace.

As for what I’ll be doing in Korea, I’ll be learning the language and I’ll be serving with churches and schools in the Daejeon area, most likely at an after-school program, forming relationships with my Korean neighbors, students, & friends. More specific details (like what the program focuses on i.e the arts orTraditional Korean Culture) about my work placement will follow at a later date!

Here’s what I need from you as my supporters: I need prayer for myself and each person I come in contact with. Pray for me as I finish my year in New Orleans, spending time loving my housemates and the city.

Also, as a Young Adult Volunteer, I am required to fund-raise support. The money I raise will be part of my income over the year I serve. It will provide health care, rent, food, transportation, and a stipend. I would ask that you prayerfully consider giving on my behalf.

My minimum fundraising requirement is $4000.

If you are one of my New Wilmington Presbyterian Church family, you can give money to the church with my name in the memo line of the check or on the envelope as a specified gift. Kay will process it from there. :)

To donate online, please follow the link here.

To donate via check:

Please make the check out to PC(USA) and write YAV Kalyn Stevwing and ECO # <<E210905>> on the check. Send it to:

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Remittance Processing

P.O. Box 643700

Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700

I thank you all for the support you’ve given this year and I thank you in advance for the support I know is to come.

Thank you!


I forget constantly that I do not know what God has planned. I forget constantly that I do not know what the future holds. Time and time again, I listen to God’s whisper, and take off at full speed, forgetting to keep listening to that whisper, and instead I do what I think the whisper should be saying. Every time, I end up knocked off of my feet and find myself sitting on the ground, completely confused at how I got there. I was following God’s call. Right?

YAV uses a process of mutual discernment to determine where an individual will serve. Through interviews first with the YAV staff (they’re awesome and stationed in Louisville, KY) and then through interviews with site coordinators (stationed through out the world) the individual, site coordinators, and the YAV staff determine where the potential YAV is best fitted to. Discernment Event is part of that process for young adults considering international service. It’s a weekend of prayer, emotion, decision-making, encouragement, friend-making, and community-building. It’s a time when the site coordinators, the YAV staff, and a group of Young Adults listen to what God is whispering.

For me last year’s YAV process went like this: I interviewed with Lydia and Richard (YAV staff), and it was determined that I would spend a year as a national YAV and discern if a second year internationally was for me. With international being out of the question for this year, I did not need to go to Discernment. I began interviewing with national sites, and that’s how I ended up in New Orleans. (This makes it sound really really easy. It’s not.)

I tell you all of that to say that I chose to ignore what Lydia, Richard and I discerned to be God’s call. I came to New Orleans and quickly decided that while YAV is great, the next step for me would be seminary. I applied and was so certain that I would get accepted. And when I got a letter at the beginning of February that let me know that I was not accepted, I was devastated. I felt so certain and I was so confident that this was the next step in God’s plan that I found myself sitting on the ground, wondering how I got there. I was listening to that whisper wasn’t I?

The day after I found out, I met with Layne (site coordinator in New Orleans) and we discussed my options. It was in that conversation that I realized that it had been a long time since I last listened to the whisper. I was making the decisions. I also realized that I wasn’t so sure how to listen for that whisper. My mind and heart were filled with feelings and voices telling me that I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t deserve it, I wasn’t smart enough, and that I was wrong. Layne and I also realized that I only had a week to fill out the YAV application for a second year if I wanted to be considered for international placement. I filled it out, sent it in, and thought very little of it.

And then Lydia got in contact with me to schedule an interview and I realized that I needed to be somewhat prepared for such a thing. So, I went to the YAV website and looked at the different sites. I knew that six new sites were opening and so I took a look at each of the new sites and a few of the established sites as well. I decided that Zambia and Thailand were the international sites that I was interested in. Both are new sites and I thought “why not.” I also decided that New Orleans and Miami would be the national sites that I looked at. It was in reading through the descriptions of Zambia’s potential placements that I realized that I was listening to the whisper again. I was stepping in the right direction.

I interviewed with Lydia and shortly after she emailed me to say that I would be getting asked to Discernment Event but asking if I was sure that I wanted to interview with two brand new sites. Wouldn’t it be better to interview with a new one but also an established site? She was right, of course, and so I discerned (that word is ever so annoying sometimes but it is something that we never stop doing!) that I would still interview with Zambia and would interview with South Korea instead of Thailand. Shortly after, I received an email officially inviting me to Discernment Event, I accepted, provided the information for the flight to be booked, and set to enjoying New Orleans in the season of Carnival (Mardi Gras).

This past weekend I traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas to Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center for Discernment Event. I was nervous, excited, fearful, determined… There were many, many emotions and feelings all at once and I could barely contain them all. It was lovely (for me anyway) to discover that I had two roommates, Margaret and Colleen, who seemed as eager to exchange fears and hopes as I was. Colleen came with a bonus gift: her sister Lanita. We spoke of our excitement, our lives we currently lived, our fears, our desires, and much more. I made some friends that I hope to have for life. Colleen and I talked that first night about where we were hoping to serve; for me, Zambia was at the top of the list and for Colleen, New Orleans. I laughed as I explained how incredibly convenient it was that we were roommates and proceeded to tell her about my current YAV year throughout the rest of the weekend. I didn’t need to sell Colleen on it as she was sure she was called to New Orleans, but I like to think I helped a little. hehe. (She’s coming to New Orleans next year and I couldn’t be more excited for Colleen and for New Orleans. Margaret will be serving in Colombia and Lanita will be serving in Hollywood!)

So. Zambia. I was sure that’s where I was heading. After all, Zambia’s page was the one that convinced me that I was listening to God’s call. So surely that’s where I was going to go. Funny thing, I wasn’t listening very well. It wasn’t until my interview with South Korea’s site coordinators that I realized once again that I was only taking part of that persistent whisper into account.

When I interviewed with Layne last year, there was an instant connection. I remember that distinctly. The other site coordinators were awesome people and they had awesome sites. But there was something about Layne and the way we connected that gave me this feeling that I was going to New Orleans. And look where I’m sitting.

It wasn’t any different this year. I just wasn’t listening to the whisper and I was choosing not to pay attention to those gut feelings.

On Friday, I interviewed with Zambia’s site coordinator, Kari. Kari is great and she’s doing amazing things in Zambia like working to develop a Sunday School curriculum specifically created for Zambia. We didn’t really connect and I guessed then that I wasn’t going to Zambia. But I still really really wanted to go to Zambia and I was determined to tell God that I was going to Zambia. It’s really hard to let go of something you’ve convinced yourself of, even if it means telling God he’s wrong. (Though God was not at all wrong.)

On Saturday, I interviewed with South Korea’s site coordinators. Kurt and Hyeyoung started the interview by saying that I was clearly qualified to be there and that I didn’t need to impress them, that I just needed to be me. It instantly relaxed me and I was able to talk to them openly and honestly about my thoughts and fears. There was a connection I didn’t anticipate. And when our official interview ended, we continued talking about Korea and while I had shared with them during the interview my hopes for Zambia, I knew that I wouldn’t be going to Zambia. My gut told me that. But it is really hard to let go of something you’ve set your sights on. It’s hard to let go of something you were once so certain of.

Layne was outside in the lobby when I finished my interview with Kurt and Hyeyoung. It was a relief to find her there-I am an external processor. She asked how it went and I told her that I wouldn’t be upset if I ended up in Korea. She didn’t look too surprised. And then we talked about New Orleans and what was going on in New Orleans and of things that didn’t involve the discussions and letters and feelings that would occur that evening.

Saturday afternoon was torture. We all knew that at about 4:30 all of the site coordinators would gather with the YAV staff and our “fates” would be decided. Also known as, discernment would happen and God’s calling would be listened to. That evening, after worship, we were all handed letters inviting us to serve at different sites. Colleen and I ran off to sit at the bottom of the really long chute/slide that we had ridden that morning; a secluded, quiet space (though most of Ferncliff proved to be just that) with a lot of room for tears and screams that would happen as we opened our letters by the light of my iPhone. We laughed, cried, and hugged, talking about what next year is going to hold for us. We are going where we are being called-right where that whisper has been inviting us to go.

Colleen is coming to New Orleans. I’m going to South Korea for a year. I’ve already started learning the Korean alphabet and once I’m in Korea, I get to take a class to learn to speak Korean. I get to spend my year in a beautiful country, serving with schools and churches in the Daejeon area. I am unbelievably excited. I’m nervous and I’m thrilled.

I’m going to Korea. I’m going to serve alongside brothers and sisters in South Korea. I think perhaps if I say it or type it enough it might seem real to me.

Just as I’ve been reminded so many times by so many other carefully placed people: I am blessed, highly favored and positioned to prosper. God has a plan, and I am carefully placed. I just have to keep listening to that whisper.

Coexisting within the Body of Christ to Coexist within the World

Earlier this month, a couple of my housemates and I had the privilege to attend Montreat’s annual College Conference. It’s a Thursday-Sunday morning conference targeted at young adults in college. Lucky for us NOLA YAVs, there were a few extra spots in a group from Baton Rouge that needed filled, and three of us had the opportunity to go.

The conference’s theme was “At the Well.” The worship services focused on Jesus and the woman at the well and what that pericope can teach us about interfaith dialogue. The keynotes discussed the idea of interfaith dialogue and how amazing it is when interfaith groups work together to help their neighbors. There were examples of faith communities forming a wall around a mosque Muslims could worship after 9/11 and stories about sitting shiva.  I assure you, I believe that interfaith dialogue and cooperation certainly needs to happen if we ever want to achieve “world peace” and care for our neighbors. However, at a conference about interfaith dialogue, there was ONE Muslim woman that spoke to the group of college students. Where were the other faith traditions? It is a topic that does indeed puzzle me. But there’s one that puzzles me more.

How can we talk about coexisting and working with other faiths when we don’t tolerate, dialogue or interact with other Christians? I recently spoke to a pastor who admitted that neither his church nor the other couple of churches within a few blocks interact with each other. They just don’t have time and they do things differently and have a different mission(my words, not his).

Even when churches work together the politics and power struggles keep churches from connecting in a manner that is foundational for the church.

I think it goes deeper than that though. Even within a church building the community is separated and not working together toward feeding His sheep. In secular culture, we are frequently told that we’re individuals, that we should focus on ourselves, we’re all snowflakes, unique, and we all fall to the ground separately, apart from each other. I read an article today from Relevant Magazine that elaborates on this idea. You can read it here. We’re so focused on being individuals that we forget that we’re individuals making up the Body of Christ.

Yes, while it’s important that I develop my faith and my being, it’s also important for me to recognize that I am part of a larger community. I am part of a church community, and that church is part of the church universal, the Body of Christ that includes not only people I like, but people that I disagree with, argue with, desire to be as far away from as possible…

My point is that we shouldn’t let our differences divert us from the task at hand: feeding Christ’s sheep. That’s really what that conference that I mentioned at the beginning was about. Just because we believe, look, speak, learn, think, worship differently does not mean we cannot work together to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the widow; fight for justice where there is injustice.

While we’re working on coexisting with those of different faiths, perhaps we can work to coexist within ourselves, and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s live in peace together whether Christian, Taoist, or Islamic. Let’s strive toward peace together whether Hindu, Buddhist, or Jewish.

Peace, Salaam, Shalom.


That Time I went on a Cruise. Without Salt Water.

Or an all you can eat buffet…

It wasn’t until I visited the fifth (or sixth if you include the layover in Charlotte) place that my cousin suggested that I was on a cruise without water (unless you include snow) or the all-you-eat buffet (unless you include the way people seemed to keep feeding me.) Her suggestion gave me the brilliant idea of amusing you with my journey. All complaints can be directed at her. Ha. Without further ado, I present my itinerary.

Dec 22nd:

9:30am I started the morning by singing in a concert (which took the space of the church service–a cantata of sorts if you will) at St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church where I sat 25 feet in front of John Goodman. We performed with a small orchestra and some marvelous singers I am blessed to call part of my ever expanding choir family (it ranges over three states now!)

2:45pm Hannah (housemate) and I were picked up by Layne (site coordinator) and taken to the airport. During security procedures, I was selected for the fast lane and didn’t need to remove my shoes or have my liquids ready to be examined. This meant that getting checked-in and getting to the gate took me approximately twenty minutes. Did I mention that I left at least an hour earlier than the suggested time frame because Hannah and I were flying out just an hour apart and it was easier to get one person to take both of us to the airport? Yeah. So I sat in the airport for a while. And my flight was delayed by about twenty minutes. By the time I got on the plane, I was wayyyy ready to be off the plane.

6:30pm Finally on the plane, we encountered a lot of turbulence due to the downpour that was happening through most of our flight path. Cue motion sickness, or in the case of a cruise, sea sickness. Luckily I had planned and properly medicated with Dramamine.

10:00pm Running through the Charlotte airport is a great way to panic yourself if you’re trying to catch a plane that’s due to take off five minutes after you arrive. Yay delayed planes & connecting flights! Cue more consumption of Dramamine and bumpy ride.

11:30pm Discovered while on the runway in Pittsburgh that an old friend was on the very same flight. He waited for me to get off the plane and we walked to the baggage claim together catching up on why two kids from middle-no-where-Pennsylvania were on the same flight from Charlotte. Y’all know I’m a YAV in New Orleans. Turns out he was flying in from SEATTLE where he works for Microsoft. Cue the “Small World” theme song. We parted ways at baggage, my sister tackled me in a hug and we drove home.

Dec. 23rd:

Spent the day lounging at my dad’s. I regret nothing. I guess this is akin to the lounging on a deck chair all day and watching the water.

Dec. 24th:

Spent the day at my dad’s. My sister stopped in to visit, we harassed each other while thoroughly enjoying the other’s company, I played with her spoiled dogs (you can see that in the Christmas portion) and then went to church with my dad.


And then I surprised my niece and nephews by having Santa drop me off at their house for Christmas Eve. (again, pictures in the Christmas portion)

Dec. 25th:


Spent the morning opening presents with the kids. It was great fun. All in all Mia received 18 Monster High Dolls and 2 My Little Pony Equestria Girls among some other things. Brandon got a 2 foot tall Power Ranger and Toothless the Dragon paraphernalia. Will got a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine toys. And Creamsicle, the cat, got a box.

All the kidsCream

I didn’t stay at that port very long. My brother and his family had two other ports family houses to visit. My mom picked me up and I spent the day with her. My cousins came to visit and we had a delicious dinner. Then she took me back to my dad’s, where I found my sister visiting. And we lounged out on deck chairs with umbrellas in our drinks, watching the water. Or something like that.


Dec. 26th:

My sister-in-law picked me up and I got to visit with my niece and nephews some more. Goodness do I love & miss those kiddos.

ImageEquestria Doll

Dec. 27th:

I got to have lunch with my dear sorority sister, Emily. It was marvelous and we ventured to Lawerenceville to a delicious little place called “Nied’s Hotel.” Yum. Then I returned to my deck chair and watched the water go by. Or something like that.

Dec. 28th:

My sister met us in Cranberry (yes, it’s a real place) and we traveled to the Grove City area where I grabbed some items I left in PA, and introduced my dad to a new friend, the gracious woman I lived with before becoming a YAV. We had lunch at King’s–the most elegant of all the food I ate on my cruise (an All American Burger)–and then they dropped me off at the half way point where I caught the next boat visited with my dear friend Dora, visited the exotic Walmart in search of exciting souvenirs and played a Scooby-Doo board game with her family. And then my cousin picked me up and transported me to the next port–Port Stow in Ohio.

Dec. 29th:

I’m pretty sure I spent most of the day in my swim suit, on a deck chair, umbrella drink in hand, watching the water roll on by. Or something like that.

Loosely translated, that means I played Disney’s InfINity for the Wii with my cousin’s son, loom knitted a hat, lounged in my pajamas, made a poinsettia out of Hershey’s Kiss wrappers (only seven Hershey Kisses were harmed in the creation of the flower) and observed whether or not it was snowing. It was marvelous. Well, I did get dressed later in the day because my grandpap, aunt, and uncle came by. But then it was back to lounging on that deck chair. I guess that was the formal dinner where we got all dressed up and ate… spaghetti. Ha.


Dec. 30th:

I GOT TO SEE “SAVING MR. BANKS.” If you don’t know, I’ll tell you now: MARY POPPINS IS MY FAVORITE MOVIE! Do the CAPITAL LETTERS make it seem like I’m yelling? Because if I were telling you, it would be in a really loud manner with some singing and a lot of bouncing from excitement. Really, imagine it being yelled so excitedly that all the words run together. It should probably look more like this:


My cousin and I both love Mary Poppins so it is only appropriate that I went to see “Saving Mr. Banks” with her. The only other person (Meg) I could see myself seeing it with wasn’t on the cruise in the same state that I was now visiting so that wasn’t going to work well.

Then we went to eat PIZZA at my aunt & uncle’s house because it was my uncle’s BIRTHDAY!!!! It was probably the second most elegant food eaten on my cruise. I got to spend time with my pap and his bird, Spike. I miss those two guys a lot.

Uncle GA man & his bird






Dec. 31st:

What better way to spend New Year’s Eve than by hanging out in pj’s most of the day only to get showered and dressed around 6pm, go shopping for a bunch of appetizer/snack like things and then play InfINity and watch the ball drop in Time’s Square??

Jan. 1st:


Spent the morning sleeping, and woke up to the Rose Parade. It was peculiar to sit on my deck chair and watch flowers float by in the middle of the ocean. But I sipped my umbrella drink and watched them float on by. And as they made their way around the ship for the second time, a five year old came by and we decided to play InfINity. Later, we returned to my aunt and uncle’s for dinner, worrying about snow. The snow didn’t happen until…

Jan. 2nd:

4:00am time to wake up and get to the airport so that I might reach the next destination, Port Montreat, North Carolina. This is where the snow happened. It was falling, it had accumulated, and my deck chair was not the place to be because it was COLD.

6:05am We made it safely through the snow to the airport! HOORAY!!! AND, MY FLIGHT WASN’T DELAYED! HOORAY!!! Once through security, I only sat in the airport for half an hour.

7:05am The Dramamine did its thing and I happily slept my way to Charlotte, NC.

9:45am Again, a great way to panic yourself is by running through the airport hoping that your flight hasn’t been delayed. Good news, it wasn’t. But the gate did change. Unfortunately, the gate I arrived at was going to Fort Lauderdale (or some other sunny part of Florida) and I was not. Who wants to go to sunny Florida when you can go to the frigid mountains of North Carolina? Surprisingly, a lot of people. I was one of them. So, I waited at the correct gate, E3 (not E9. E9 directly to Sunnyville. Nope. Chillville for me please!) and boarded a tiny itty bitty plane to Asheville.

10:30am Upon my arrival in Asheville, I retrieved my luggage, found a lounge chair, and watched the water roll on by. Until my peeps came to pick me up that is.

Jan. 2nd-4th

This time will be further detailed at a later date. I got to spend time searching for bear grenades. I had the opportunity to observe college students and the dynamics between the students and the elder generation of the church. I also was able to experience what it looks & feels like to be in conversation with both groups, and learned about interfaith dialogue at Montreat’s College Conference.

Jan. 5th

The cruise was over and it was time to go home. TWELVE hours in the car equals SIX Dramamine spaced throughout the trip, pitstops to try and find where I left my land-legs, and roughly 9 hours of sleeping sprinkled throughout.

Jan. 6th

I am so glad that January 6th, 2014 was a Monday. I have Monday’s off. Which means I got an extra day before diving back into the real world and seeing how well my wobbly land-legs would hold up.

Still, I felt a bit like this when I got home.

I’m certain that everyone has stopped reading by now. There’s not much meat to this, just an itinerary that doesn’t really resemble a cruise at all (though you tell me, cause I’ve never been on one.) For the .01% that finished reading this entry, bless you. Here is your reward:

Through all the visiting of family and friends, I realized how totally and completely I am meant to be here in New Orleans. I will return to Western Pennsylvania and those people in August. But right now, God has this great plan and purpose for me here in New Orleans–serving Him by loving each person I encounter: Will Smith, John Goodman, New Orleanians, my volunteers, my coworkers, my housemates, my friends and myself.

Feliciana & Dominoes aka Relaxation & Competition.

I realize many of my posts have been on the heavier side. I want to take a moment to say: I really do enjoy being here in New Orleans. I love my housemates dearly. I enjoy my customers and volunteers at work. The YAV mantra is “A year of service. A lifetime of change.” This year is showing me a lot about myself, things I don’t necessarily like seeing, things I really like, and some things that I’m not sure that I entirely like or dislike. Like my competitive streak. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

Last weekend the New Orleans YAVs went on retreat to Feliciana and spent the next few days without internet or cell phone service. It was marvelous.

Our log cabin was awesome; Colleen kept a fire going pretty consistently (she’s marvelous at lighting one match fires!) and we had no commitments to do anything except eat, and enjoy ourselves. We had three different committees that planned for the retreat. There were the food angels, Jess, Alyssa & Sydney. They made delicious food and had delicious snacks. Did I mention delicious food? Then there were the spiritual angels, myself, Colleen, & Hannah. We prepared 5 separate spiritual activities centered around the advent season and the different candles in the advent wreath, hope, joy, peace, love & the Christ candle. And the fun angels, Alex & Anna Leigh, had different options like decorating ornaments, and games, and the only truly scheduled thing at Feliciana, archery & canoeing. And then there was Charlie… I mean Layne, our site coordinator who showed us how to prepare for retirement home living by teaching us all to play dominoes. (haha! Did you catch the Charlie’s Angels references???)

And that’s where it got intense. We became obsessed. Anna Leigh, while we were out on the grounds shooting at targets with bow and arrow, jokingly made the suggestion that we go back to the cabin to check up on the dominoes–someone might have stolen them! (there is no chance of that at Feliciana. It’s in the middle of NOWHERE and it’s FABULOUS!) When Alex, Alyssa, and I returned from canoeing, Sydney was quite anxious to play again, asking if we wanted to play. Graciously we got time to veg, read books, swing on the front porch, take naps… But soon, it was back to eating and dominoes! A horrible horrible task I tell you! I dreaded that game!

NOT! It was fun. We played, at first not sure of how to play, but once we figured it out–we all discovered our competitive streaks. It’s one that I have suppressed for years, one that only comes out when board games, or dominoes are part of my activities. Yeah, that’s right. I’m competitive. And so are all of my roommates. There was table talk, harassing the other players, messing up each others trains (the legs of the spider looking domino game below), laughter, anger, grace, and mercy. When someone couldn’t start their leg, one of the others often stepped up, and started in their place or started a new, open leg, so that they could actually play.

It made me realize a couple of things. When I’m in “competitive mode” I can be harsh, sneaky, mean, and pushy. The keys are to keep in touch with my compassionate side and start someone’s train for them or avoid leaving them to finish my double, keep in touch with my “good fun” side and just enjoy myself and the company I happen to be keeping, and to keep in touch with the reality that it is only a game and (except in unusual and rare circumstances) NOT a matter of life or death-all will be well, and though someone might be angry that you keep messing up their train (even if you don’t know what you’re doing) it is not the end of the world. If the company you’re with is at all like my housemates and site coordinator, they will still like you & be your friends while not at all plotting “revenge of the dominoes” for the next time the game is played. Or something like that.

And now for some photos taken by my dear housemates (I did not take any… Oops.)

The Log Cabin
Canoeing with Alex & Alyssa
The Dominoes.

For another look at our retreat, check out this post from Alyssa.

home away from home away from home away from home (aka Kalyn’s hairstyles throughout the years)

1) Home #1 is where my family is. It’s where I can goof off with my nieces, nephews, and siblings. It’s when I can hang out and nap on my dad’s couch, or go to Walmart with my mom and put on ridiculous masks.


2) My home away from home has always been Westminster College, the New Wilmington Mission Conference, and my family I met there. From Conference families,



to my best friends, sorority big, and sorority sisters gained from attending college at WC,



Westminster gave me a home.

3) My home away from home away from home is the YAV house here in New Orleans. My housemates are amazing, and so is our site coordinator, Layne.


4) Two weeks ago, the YAVs went to Lafayette. We went to help with a Christmas Basket ministry. It was beautiful. And then… I stayed in Lafayette for two days. Some of my NWMC family live in Lafayette. It was delightful. I got to play with their beautiful 5 month old twin boys and their two year old. I got to have relaxing time, hanging out with family. One of the days I didn’t change out of my pjs. We watched tv, ate, fed & changed kids, all day. And it was wonderful. I have pictures from my weekend, but I cannot post them. The babies will remain anonymous. Just trust that all three are gorgeous.

I’ve been homesick. A lot. I miss my family, I miss my job, I miss my friends, I even miss the Amish and their buggies. I miss my church and the choir (though the church & choir down here in New Orleans are marvelous). I don’t miss the snow. I’ve had a hard time not being able to spend a weekend with my college roommates, and not being able to go to homecoming at Westminster. I’ve hated not being able to go rest on my dad’s couch in companionable silence or mutual laughter. My roommates are fantastic, but I’ve been missing familiar things. I’ve been missing the quiet of New Wilmington.

Lafayette gave me that. Quiet, middle of nowhere silence, laughter, stillness, familiar faces that aren’t my seven housemates. It was marvelous. It gave me a piece of home away from home away from home away from home. Somewhere that when my home in New Orleans is a little too crowded I can escape to. Somewhere that I can cuddle and love on three precious children when I’m away from my little niece and nephews. Somewhere that a little piece of Pennsylvania (though not at all from PA) can be found in Lafayette, LA.

What brings you joy?

It’s a question my site coordinator posed this afternoon as we met for our one-on-one. And I had a hard time giving an answer. I feel joy when I’m with my niece and nephews. When I’m relaxing on the couch at my dad’s. When I’m playing my guitar and/or singing. When I’m out for ice cream and watching others enjoy their ice cream so immensely. Then I feel like I can be joyful. When I’m watching someone else enjoy themselves, I feel their joy. I don’t know if that truly gives me joy but I can say that I am joyful when I see others being so joyful.

And I realized something in the last hour that I’ve been home from that meeting. I put a lot of unintentional pressure on others to make me happy. I somehow expect others to know what I need or what I want from them. I have this fear that if I do express what I want or need they’ll shoot it down so I don’t say what I need or want. And that makes me angry because then I get angry at the person that didn’t do what I wanted them to do because I didn’t tell them I wanted them to do it. Gosh! Doesn’t everyone live inside my head and know what I need and want from them?

The answer is no. And I know that. And yet I unconsciously continue to set people up for failure. And to realize that is frustrating. Not only because of the unrealistic expectations that it poses on others, but also because of the unhappiness I experience as a result of 1) not wanting to burden or bother others with my needs and 2) not getting those need met.

This post comes on the heels of reading “Eat, Pray, Love” by Liz Gilbert. I haven’t seen the movie and honestly probably would not have picked up the book other except that it is required reading for us here at the New Orleans YAV house. She goes on a journey through Italy, India, and Indonesia in search of happiness. In the long run, she realizes that it is through her search for happiness that she finds it. She isn’t spending time waiting for others to meet her needs, but she is intentionally seeking her own happiness. While people help with words of wisdom and support along the way, they aren’t creating her happiness.

I need to start doing that. I need to seek my own happiness, and I need to quit trying to make others telepathically do what I need. Cause it doesn’t work.

So it’s something like this: telepathy would be cool if it worked, but even if it did, it doesn’t mean that I should rely on that as my method of making my needs, feelings, thoughts, wants, or desires known and met.

Almost a Facebook Status.

That’s right. This was almost a Facebook status. And then it got lengthy and wordy or something like that. The reality is, I’m in a super awesome mood. Which is fabulous considering I haven’t been feeling well all week. It’s also fabulous considering I still don’t feel up to par. I digress.

Here are some reasons I’m feeling awesome:

There were donuts at work today. Yum.

I had a satsuma at lunch today. Satsuma’s are delicious. I don’t know if my love of any other citrus can surpass my love of the lemon, but the satsuma is pretty close. Yum.

I just put a home theatre (theater. Whatever) together. By myself. 50″ plasma flat screen, sub woofer, 5 mini speakers, dvd player, Power Center and all. By myself.

I’ve been humming/singing the third movement (Psalm 131) from the Chichester Psalms (Yeaaaaa Hebrew!) most of the day.

It’s a beautiful fall day. With a high of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Fall. 75. Sunny. Gorgeous. Though I do miss the changing leaves a little, I’m loving New Orleans weather.

The Pirates of the Caribbean soundtracks are awesome. And all now reside on my iPhone.

Eric Whitacre is awesome. And as per the last reason I’m feeling awesome, so is Hans Zimmer.

The biggest reasons I’m feeling fabulously awesome are… God is here, God is good. “Sing out love, for all the world! God is here! God is here!”