Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Stewardship and Stew Bear

So when I was five years old all the way through ten years old the Director of Christian Education Miatta Wilson would lend out a stuffed bear.

From what I recall the bear was made of a green fabric stitched together by hand with a small amount of cotton inside and buttons for eyes. He came in a fabric bag with exercise sheets that talked about stewardship and giving back and helping others. He had the coarse feeling of being made from hand or bought in a Dollar store, but maybe that was the mileage and not the years speaking. His name was Stew Bear.

But, so every Sunday during Lent one kid from the church would get chosen at random to take Stew Bear home with us. What we were supposed to do is go perform acts of service with Stew Bear, document them, and share them with the other kids the following Sunday when we all got back together.

Me being me, I completely missed the point and assumed Stew Bear was a popular guy who's time was only so valuable. He went to soccer games. He went to my imaginary moon. He hung out with my sisters some too, but Stew Bear was my bro and bros are never far apart. (My mother is a saint for having dealt with nine year old me.)

The lesson for us kids was simple: Stewardship means helping others and Lent is the christian time to dedicate ourselves daily anew to it. It took me awhile to learn that. I always thought service was a number of hours I had to complete each trimester of school in order to graduate high school. For me, mandatory service made my experience disheartening. How could I give back when I felt so upset that I had no choice? Maybe it's my personality type, but making me do something only upsets me. It makes me want to do the opposite.

When I think of service I remember the lesson from Jesus
Matthew 5: 7
"You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."
Bible Gateway

I found it my prerogative to clean up my act and the world closest to me before I truly dedicated myself to helping out the world at large. Now that was in high school so my perspective was a bit limited.
Regardless of what needs to happen first service is primary in Jesus' teachings. Jesus lived as a servant, even when people told him not to. He honored servants. He loved those who helped others. (Well, he loved everyone, but he had a fondness for servants too.)

I don't think of it as my obligation. I think of it as my privilege to serve others through my talents. Money hasn't always been my strong suit and 10% of what I make can roughly be anywhere from $5 to fifty cents. My time and my hard work are the best ways I can give back right now. I intend to use them as much as possible through my YAV year of service.

I am beyond excited to be going to Peru to serve others. It's an opportunity I think more people could benefit from. I expect (and hope) that it will shape who I am as a person drastically. I hope more than anything to be beneficial. I look forward to obstacles and roadblocks. I just gotta get there first.

Stew Bear, wherever you are, I hope you read this. I'd love for you to come visit me sometime. We can hang out like we used to. Send me your email address so I can send you some pics!

 - Daniel Pappas - 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Beginning

"Little by little, one travels far." - J.R.R. Tolkien

The idea of leaving the country was always a foreign one (ha ha!) to me until I was sixteen years old. The prospect of flying outside of my home in Texas seemed too expensive or I was too young. In hindsight it does seem very dangerous to let a sixteen year old American boy travel to another country unsupervised for a few weeks in the summertime. Regardless, I hosted a German foreign exchange student my junior year of high school who, in turn, took me back with him to Europe.

Madrid, Berlin, Paris, and Munich. Four cities over four weeks. Madrid was a dream city for me; something I'd always read about in textbooks was now suddenly available to me. I had my first sip of alcohol in Madrid. I ate real Spanish tapas. I bartered for food in Spanish markets. I gave directions in fluent Spanish (I was mistaken for a Spaniard, a high compliment.) That experience changed my life!

When I came back home all I could think about was where I would go next. I couldn't predict it, but my next trip took me to the Mediterranean Sea. Greece, Israel, Italy. Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Delphi, Jerusalem, Haifa, Qum'ran, Pisa, and Florence (to name a few.) I had been blessed to see this side of the world.

When I came home from that second trip I knew I wanted to live in a foreign country. Maybe not for my whole life, but at least for a year. Thus the search for YAV began.

To me I wanted three things out of college:
1. To live far away from my family on my own for awhile
2. To see the world as much as I can
3. To mature into a politically active and socially responsible citizen

(My parents couldn't comment because they were out accepting the parents of the year award then.)

My older sister served as a Young Adult Volunteer in New Orleans. She wanted me to go nationally and live somewhere cool she could visit. She even helped me gain insight from former YAV's as well as potential site leaders. She was my single most helpful resource in learning about the YAV experience.

It did irk me to follow in my sister's footsteps, but by no means are our experiences comparable.
What it boils down to is this: YAV is a good chance to live abroad for a year, serve other people, and mature as a politically conscious world citizen through the church I grew up in. 

Thus it is with great pleasure I get to say that I will be serving as a Young Adult Volunteer in Moyobamba, Peru this upcoming year. Thus begins the next new adventure in my life. 

Keep your eyes open as I update this blog for the next couple months and explain my new world around me. Feel free to comment or message me! I look forward to the next big thing!