Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hello Seattle (..and yes, this is an Owl City song)

Well I finally made it here! I arrived in Seattle on the 26th of July and it has already been really crazy here. I have been so busy moving into my house and I just started working with City Year on the 2nd of August, so I just finished my first week. I live with three fellow corps members, Dan (Ohio), Robert (Ohio) and Chris (NY) in a blue little "cottage" in Rainer Beach, which is about 1 hour south of downtown Seattle on a bus; 15 minutes by car. The area is a little rough, but I don't mind at all and we will be working with the school systems just north of this area. The first week, we spent a lot of time running around getting groceries, a bed, and other household stuff. I had never used Craigslist before, but I tell ya, it saves money. We didn't have seating in the house for the first week and we just got a table HAHA. We even bought a TV and it sat on the floor for the first couple days until we saw a table/cabinet outside of our friend's house being thrown away, so we got that. I live in the basement or I call it the dungeon. There was a flood in the house 2 years ago, so they had to rip out the carpet in the basement, so the landlord gave us some rugs to use because the floor was just a black concrete floor and white walls. It was kind of gloomy and spelled like paint. I am in the basement with Chris and its going pretty well. I am still waiting for my bike to get out (thanks RW) here so I can get around quicker.

Seattle has a lot of advantages....great outdoors, good public transportation, bike friendly, music, HUGE REI, plentiful farmer's markets, community bikeshops, seafood (doesn't beat Maryland crabs though...already tried), friendly people, good soccer fan base....and it goes on. The first two weeks we were a little spoiled because the weather was so nice and the rain just started coming down. I have already been taking trips into downtown Seattle to get used to the bus system and they just built a light rail, which opened a year ago..AMAZING! Seattle is an amazing city and I am so excited to be here!

It's kind of crazy how I ended up at this city to begin with. I was just talking with my friend Jason last week and he had just reminded me something I said last year when I was here. If you didn't already know, three of my friends and I did a road trip last august for about 3 weeks throughout the west (hit 9 national parks) and we ended up making a stop in Seattle.

While there, I had mentioned to Jason that "ya know, I could see myself living for a little bit in a city like this." Sooo, 1 year later here I am and I don't even think the thought started on that road trip. Last summer, I had the honor of serving those in the city of Kolkata, India. I joined a team of about 18 college students on an Intervarsity Global Trek, where I would follow Jesus' call to serve the urban poor in the communities of Kolkata. I worked with kids in a school in a red light district within the city, teaching english and spending time with the kids. There, Jesus was ever present and I grew in my faith and understanding of what I am made to do and where I am going. So, after the India Trek, I had made a commitment to serve alongside Jesus for two years with the poor in the city and move to living/working within the city. That commitment was later confirmed at Urbana 09, an Intervarsity Conference, and there I thought practically of where I could be going and how I would follow Jesus to these places.When I got back, I applied to City Year Seattle and received an acceptance letter to the program. During the application process, I felt has if the Lord was speaking to me and saying "I want you to serve me and not yourself, so go be my disciple and you can choose where to go and I will be with you". So, I applied to Seattle after always wanting to go to the west coast and here I am now, living and serving. The group's focus is on service to kids and helping to improve the education systems throughout the cities of the US and empower and develop young leaders to make a difference. City Year is a non-profit focused on mentoring, tutoring and community service for inner city schools. I had a couple friends that did it and they had learned a lot about reliance on the Lord, which I was really encouraged by and I wanted to take some steps to see if I wanted to teach. My degree was in genetics and biology when I was in college, but I love working with kids, so I decided this would be a good fit. The program is extremely intense, about 8:30am-5:30pm everyday and projects on the weekends sometimes. Usually, the program wouldn't start til the end of August, but Seattle wanted to start early, so here I am. We get an allowance to live on and food stamps, so I am also looking forward to the challenge in budgeting. After the first week, we have been going over the organization, the city, discussed history, cultures that we will be working with and more. The group itself isn't affiliated with any religion, so for me it will be a challenge, because serving Jesus is my reason for joining a group like City Year. They really stress service and thats what I really liked about the group and so I have been meditating on Col. 3:17 and what that looks like in this setting working with City Year. Right now, I am looking around for churches and some other corps members will be joining me which is exciting. I just signed up to volunteer at the neighborhood community center, where I live, to coach soccer to 4-6 year olds. I had my first practice this morning and got to train some future AC Milan players and help out and get connected to the community.

I believe God has great things for me, but that doesn't necessarily mean an easy walk. This year will be challenging and I believe it will be giving me direction for where I am to go next, whether that is back to grad school or to teach. I have a dream that I would live and work in the city; live and work with kids and partner with a local church to restore families and mentor young men who are fatherless in the community I am living in. Something like this, It's just been really crazy just seeing how I got here and the ways in which the Lord has been faithful to me and the things he has done to get me to this place.

I could definitely use some prayers for:
confidence - with my roommates,people i work with about why I serve and who I serve
provision - in a community out here to encourage and challenge me with in my walk with Jesus in this new city
discipline - to spend time in his Word and rest because we can be pretty busy.

Thanks for checking this out and I will just be doing an update every month while I am out here because people wanted me to. I still have my same phone number and if you want my address, just ask me.

Holla and I will not give in to drinking coffee.

Roberto Gutz