My blog would have only half the entries if I didn't have so many dilemmas in my life. Looking back on a lot of my past entries, there have been a lot where I'm freaking out about something like a member of my church wants me to take in his daughter's boyfriend, or I am having internal conflicts over whether or not to get a pet. Most of the time the dilemmas fizzle by themselves, and so I don't even write a response to them because they're quickly forgotten.
But this time, I switched things up. I had a dilemma (this is one I've been struggling with for some time) but I did something about it first and then I decided to write about it.
I'll tell you about my dilemma, but first some background information.
Every three years, the ELCA has a National Youth Gathering (actually, because of the size of the event, they've had to split into two separate back-to-back weeklong national youth gatherings, while although not ideal (in my book, anyway) solves the problem of having to refuse youth from being able to participate in such a life changing experience). After I graduated from college, I was hired as a youth director the same summer that the gathering was in St Louis. Since preparations and fund raising and all of that happens so far in advance, by the time I came onto the scene at that church, they had already chosen adult sponsors so I would not be going. But as luck (my luck, anyway) would have it, one of the male adult sponsors ended up needing shoulder surgery a few weeks prior to the gathering and so he was unable to go. So it worked out that I was able to go along. It was a great event. It's hard to explain being in a large auditorium packed full with excited, screaming, sweaty high school kids. And it's also fun to scope out the different types of adults that come along. There's the slightly bewildered adults, who seem confused and intimidated and like they don't know for sure what's happening. Often times these are the parents of youth or a first time adult sponsor who got roped into coming. They have a good heart, but you get the distinct feeling that when they agreed to come along they had no real idea what they were getting themselves into. Then, you have the adults who are trying too hard to be cool. They're often dressed ridiculously identically to their youth, or at least attempting to be dressed that way: baggy shorts, backwards visors or baseball caps, that sort of thing (on a side note, these adults are almost always men). It's as if they feel that they need to look and act cool to be considered cool by the youth. Then, you have the adults who are actually fairly cool. The whole cool thing just comes naturally to them. They don't try too hard, they don't try to dress exactly like the youth, they don't try too hard to be "with it" or "hip." They just kind of are. Then there are the adults who are definitely unhip. They know they are not as cool as the youth, and they don't try to be. They're just themselves in all of their wacky, goofy, unhip splendor. Often times, these adults become favorites in the youth group. I'm sure there are more types of adults, but these are a few of the stand out categories, and I'm drifting from my original purpose for this blog (surprise, surprise). But anyway, the gathering was amazing and I enjoyed every minute of it (although I did pay to go up the elevator in the St Louis arch, got my ticket (which because of the crowd was for a couple hours later) and then walked back to the Interaction Center of the gathering and lost track of time and forgot to go back to go up the arch. And that wasn't very cool).
So there's another one coming up the summer after I graduate from seminary. And I want to be there. But, because I will be entering into my first call congregation (wherever I end up) at the beginning or middle of the summer, most congregations that are going will already have all their particulars figured out. And the possibility of me being able to go like I did to St Louis are not likely. But I really want to be there. Because of the size of the gatherings, they rely heavily on volunteers. All of the different hotels (I think there are 42 that will be housing youth at the 2006 gathering) have what is called Community Life staff. They work as hotel/gathing liaisons, and they are in charge of morning and evening activities that occur within the hotel, as well as contact people for the youth groups that are staying in their hotels. This seems like a really great volunteer opportunity and a great use of my gifts. So I thought that I could volunteer for one or both of the weeks, and that way I would definitely be there and it would be fun.
But it happens during the summer when I will be seeking first call. July, to be exact. I'm afraid that might interfere with my first call, and who knows, a call committee might not be that excited that a potential candidate won't be able to start when they want him to because he will be gone two weeks. Or, what if I do end up in a church where they want me to go with their youth to the gathering, but I can't because I already committed myself?
So today I was looking at the website for the national youth gathering and saw that volunteer applications for community life positions are due June 5, 2005
!! And there's no guarantee that I'll be in a congregation by the time the youth gathering rolls around, or that I'll be in a congregation that will send me. But I really want to be there, and the deadline for applications is coming quick. It's a dilemma!!
So, what did I do? Well, I applied to be a Community Life volunteer for BOTH weeks of the Gathering. But, in the "any other information you feel we need to know" box, I wrote that I was a seminarian who would be graduating and seeking first call that summer. I said I was a bit concerned that these two things might conflict, but that it was nothing that couldn't be solved with a little creative thinking and negotiating. So now whoever does the picking of volunteers knows that is a potential issue that might come up with me. They can choose me, or not. And it also leaves it open, I think, so if there is an issue with my first call I can say to the volunteer coordinating people "I let you know right away what would be going on with me that summer. Let's see if we can figure something out!" Plus, I was talking with a friend today and I said I was concerned about interviewing at a church and them being upset because I had a prior commitment at the national youth gathering. She asked me if I would want to work at a church that was upset that I was volunteering my time to help out at the gathering. I said, yeah, probably not.
So we'll see what happens from here!