find a little good, learn, move to NYC

“Why not now, right?”

This is the conclusion my new friend Jessica and I have come to. We met at church one night and both confessed we wanted to be more involved with our congregation, but hadn’t done anything about it. The next week we met for dinner before church and the next week we started reading a book together and we’ve been meeting weekly ever since. We’ve spoken with several girls who’d like to do the same, but never seem to find the time. The solution was obvious, but never as simple as we’d like, you just have to start…now.

When I returned from Costa Rica I had all the wild ideas that come from the high of foreign exploration. Besides the temptation to drop everything, sell my belongings, and become a full-time nomad, my practical plans of continuing mission work resurfaced. And all the little goals and mini-achievements I imagine leading up to that endeavor are do-able, right now.

For example, I’ve wanted to learn Italian since I spent two unforgettable months in the country, but I’ve been dead set on advancing my Spanish first. The travel clarity helped me realize there doesn’t have to be an order. Jessica told me she was interested in Italian classes she’d heard of in the city, so I told her I was in. Two weeks later we’re walking into our first Italian lesson about a month or two before we ever expected to get around to it. The day we inquired with the program they had a new class starting, and in the midst of nerves and minor panic we texted, “Why not now, right?” And we did it! We’re on a 13-week (the longest schedule commitment anyone would ever make in New York) journey through level 1 of 10, and it’s a start. We’re doing it!

The same day Josh sent me a Craig’s List ad for volunteers to babysit a young girl with autism. We walked out of The Help teary-eyed the night before, reminded each other we’ve both been wanting to do some good in the city, and woke up thinking “Why not now, right?” Three emails and a phone call later we were on the tram over the East River to Roosevelt Island, where we would learn all about autism and the Son-Rise program in the back of a Starbucks from a loving, hopeful mom who knows her daughter’s possibilities are limitless. We start working with Lizzie next week. We’re doing it, now!

The night before I was invited to Sleep No More, a Macbeth production that moves through 100 frightful rooms in a warehouse. All I knew was the entire audience wears masks, comfortable shoes were necessary, and the actors were allowed to touch me. I was intrigued, but was not ready to go on a day’s notice. I won’t even watch scary movie previews. But in the spirit of just doing it, I entered that pitch black building gripping the life out of my friend’s arm and ended up completely loving the magical creepiness of the whole production. Not to mention I was weak in the knees for the 20s-themed bar, perfectly fitting performers, and Flapper-esque servers. And I survived, I did it!

The thing is, you have nothing to lose acting sooner rather than later. What are we ever waiting for? My preacher once said, “If you need someone to tell you to do what you’ve been waiting to do until now, I will be that person. Go for it!” That was one of the nicest things anyone had ever said to me and he was simply addressing the congregation as a whole. He doesn’t even know me. Time’s a hot commodity, it’s the one thing every New Yorker can agree on. And I’d love to be that person for you–Go for it!

  • a little good here: Another NYC volunteering opportunity is through a local church, New York Dream Center. I met someone visiting my church from here who told me how I can follow them on Twitter and see volunteering opportunities all the time that everyone is welcome to join.
  • a long way: The coolest program they have is Adopt-a-Block, where they spend two hours every Saturday at housing communities asking how they can help residents. They clean and paint apartments, play with kids, and give out food or whatever is needed and plan to cover every block in all five boroughs.
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