Through my internship with AFSC, I have been able to learn from experienced organizers and activists. I have been primarily assisting AFSC’s Peace Program, which is focused on community peace-building and empowerment, as well as Project Voice, an immigrant rights program. I have been given opportunities to be on committees, planning for city-wide events like the May Day march, as well as speak at conferences and write grant proposals. More importantly, though, I was able to help with a program at Jefferson High School where I got to witness youth seeing the need for non-violent action and living it out in their communities.
In Portland, a Convergent stronghold, I’ve seen cross-branch cooperation unlike I’ve ever encountered before. The willingness for Liberal and Evangelical Friends to fellowship and learn from one another is a beautiful gift that the QVS house has been able to benefit from. The diversity of theology and spiritual practice among the supporting meetings has been the perfect space to explore what Quakerism means to me.
And, of course, I lived with five others I am proud to call my housemates—Ally, Carson, Rachel, Emily, and Kathleen—all of whom are brilliant, hard-working, compassionate human beings. These people are my community. I will not pretend that living in community has been easy. We have had to work towards being a community, and it remained a work in progress till the end. I will say that it has been worth it. I’ve had a ton to learn about communication, especially as somebody who avoids confrontation at all costs. Quaker values have undoubtedly held our community together, as we sought to not just co-exist in a house but dealt with hurts and misunderstandings with sincere intentions of peace-building.
We ended our year together on a retreat near Hood River, deep in the country. All around us were orchards, the forest, and a beautiful view of Mt. Hood. The time we spent together was meaningful, to say the least, and one of the deepest experiences I’ve had of “feeling seen”. I can confidently say that our retreat was beautifully crafted by both our local coordinator Sarah Klatt-Dickerson and the Spirit. Those moments will undoubtedly be defining for my experience in QVS.
I need to say thank you to everybody who has held me in the Light, prayed for me, encouraged me, and donated to me. You made this experience of QVS what it was. I still need to raise about $1,500, for the sake of paying off loans (which was included in my fundraising goal) and finishing my QVS payments. Any and every donation counts. You can donate on my GoFundMe or on paypal (firstname.lastname@example.org). That said, I cannot deny that I have been blessed immensely and I know I will look back to this year in the future and see it as formative and vital to my story.
As much as this transition hurts, I am ready for my next chapter. Hold me in the Light as I settle in Philadelphia and figure out my next steps. Also, I have a special prayer request for my family as there have been some painful repercussions from my post a few weeks back, “My Strange Relationship with the Mooniverse.” I do not want to go into details, but I know my actions, namely coming out as the founder and administrator of How Well Do You Know Your Moon, has put pressure on them. It does not help that last week I posted a video of one of Moon’s concubine’s sons telling his mother’s story, as well as sharing some of his own. It has been reaching the Unification community, reaching 3,000 hits in five days. Pray for me as I discern what my role in this work should look like and figure out how to be prophetic and in line with the Spirit. Thank you, Friends.