The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
Although I have been in England for only two months now, I have already learned a lot from working in my placements. Throughout the week I am working in Chipping Norton and Wychwood, two communities with very different needs. In Chipping Norton, my focus is on the devastation of isolated poverty. In Wychwood, my work focuses on the need for companionship among senior citizens.
Living and working in Chipping Norton, I have already personally observed the extreme isolation and poverty that community members face. During the week the pastor and I deliver food parcels. We bring them to people on a bi-weekly basis, as well as in emergencies to those who need support right away. I have felt extremely privileged to be a part of this community and to be a part of this program! I have been invited in and shared tea and biscuits with those in the community using the food shelf, as well as sharing a meal and running around with the kids at the church food bank and community meal on Tuesday afternoons. The pastor and I have started taking the teenaged girls out every other week to build a community within them and a connection within the church. We have broken out the atlas and now many more people in Chipping Norton know where Minnesota is!
At my church in Wychwood I have a similar role, but the need that I have encountered the most is for the aging population to have companionship. I have met many elderly members of the community during my work with the day centre. I have learned to play rummy as I speak with those who come to the centre about their lives, things they have done, and what I’m doing this year in England. When I first came to England a man from the Wychwood church showed me around. He picked me up and drove me around showing me different churches and towns. He told me about his life and the amazing things him and his wife did together. He is always interested in hearing about what I am doing and telling me about his week. I am grateful to be able to work with this population during my service year, having lost my great grandmother at the end of September I know the work I am doing with this population means so much not only to them but also to me.
My community has taken me in, supported me, and loved me. I am excited for what is to come!
Sarah Peterson is serving in the UK through Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) on behalf of the Saint Paul Area Synod & her home congregations of St. Paul Lutheran and Our Savior's Lutheran in Stillwater. Learn more about Sarah & other missionaries here.