August 15th, 2012, exactly four years ago, I arrived at Northwestern University with just a few suitcases and a stomach full of butterflies. I had arrived at school a whole month before the majority of my fellow freshmen to volunteer as the student manager with the Northwestern Women's Soccer team. The team had already been together 2 weeks before I got there, and arriving there, in a new situation, not knowing a single person was the most terrifying thing I have ever done. I was vulnerable and self-conscious of how different I was from the women on the team. Four years later, I find it hard to leave the same place and community of people I once felt as if I would never be able to form relationships with.
August 16th, 2016 is the day the next challenge in my life begins: tomorrow I report to the University of Chicago, just an hour away from Northwestern, to begin my year with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program. As I get ready for this next year, I find myself with that same feeling in my stomach; I feel that same anxiety that something will go wrong, and that I won't be able to communicate and connect with my hosts in Hungary, that I won't be able to bridge that gaps that separate me from my fellow participants in YAGM. Today, as I was walking to the soccer field one last time to say goodbye to my friends, and I was feeling the butterflies, I was reminded of that day exactly four years ago, of how scared I was. I wondered how my past four years would have been different if I had listened to the fear and anxiety and done the easy thing and just gone home. I would have missed out on the amazing friendships I have built, and the best part of my college experience, things I never would have gotten to do if I had not taken that challenge. I walk away cherishing every second of the past four years spent with this team.
During my walk to the field, it was not just butterflies I felt, but the Holy Spirit. I was reminded that despite my fear and nerves, I can trust in the mission to serve and share the grace of God, and that just like I was able to form life changing relationships through my service to the Northwestern Women's Soccer team, the same awaits me in this next year. So although I start this next year with the same feeling in my stomach, I also start this next year a step ahead of where I was four years ago: I go knowing that through faith in this calling to serve, I will be challenged, and I will grow, and I will struggle, and I will form life changing relationships, and hopefully impact those I serve and those who serve me for the better.
So here I go, Forward in Faith, with Grace Expectations.
My name is Miriam Bohlmann Kunz, and I am serving in Nyíregyháza, Hungary with the Evangelical Church in America (ELCA) as a Young Adult in Global Mission (YAGM). From August 2016-July 2017 my hope is to witness and share God's love in the beautiful country that is Hungary. YAGM emphasizes serving with the accompaniment model, which is serving by living alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ. So this year I am moving forward in the faith of God's love, expecting to come across grace both in expected and unexpected places.