By Carrie Haslbeck
Well, we’re about halfway through the program and I haven’t blogged yet. In reality, as co-staff of this program, I don’t have to post blog posts weekly. But in a much more real sense as someone who loves to externally process, word vomit, and talk about myself and feelings, it feels strange to not have contributed to this blog yet. #transparency
I’ve thought about and processed a lot since moving into the Mt. Clare neighborhood about 4 weeks ago. As a first time staff of and participant in the program and a newcomer to the city, most of what I’m experiencing here I’m experiencing for the first time, just like the students.
I’ve had my eyes opened to the realities that come with living in an impoverished, drug-ridden area. I’ve seen kids running around without parents, kids so angry and upset they can’t use their words, kids lashing out in violence because they don’t know what else to do. I’ve learned about the systems that exist to keep the poor poor. I’ve seen blocks and blocks of vacant row homes that may or may not ever be lived in again.
But I’ve also seen the beauty that exists here and been exposed to God’s heart for his children. I’ve learned about God’s desire for relocation, redistribution and reconciliation. I’ve experienced that listening is the best way to learn about someone’s heart and that the neighbors know a lot more than I do. I’ve seen kids share and listen well, kids praying with students who love Jesus and want them to know that love as well, kids jumping up and down to songs like, Joy by Rend Collective, that proclaim the Gospel. I’ve learned that God’s desire for what ought to be, what can be, and what will ultimately trumps what is.
All of these experiences have left me feeling some type of way. What exactly is Jesus trying to teach me here? As InterVarsity staff? As a participant? As a follower of Him?
These are the questions that are constantly running through my head, these are the questions that pepper the pages of my journal as I reflect and process my days living in Southwest Baltimore, these are the questions I don’t want to forget about as I head back to McDaniel in just a few weeks.
To be honest, I don’t think I have a complete answer to those questions yet. The answer has yet to be revealed. What I do know is that I am being changed and transformed this summer. Jesus is molding me. Jesus the potter is making me into something different then what I came as. He whispers to me, “Carrie, don’t let yourself go home unchanged by the stories you have heard and things you have experienced.” And I whisper back, “Ok.” Because I don’t want to leave unchanged. I want to take back all that I have learned from neighbors, kids, students, and staff and share it with others. I want everyone to know about what God is doing here in Southwest Baltimore and how I have been changed by all of it.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand. –Isaiah 64:8