Today, we met with our work supervisors for the first time, officially marking the end of the beginning. As orientation comes to a close, I reflect on my arrival to Albuquerque and the last week and a half spent exploring surrounding New Mexico. Only a little over a week ago, I drove with my dad through the open lands of New Mexico, occasionally pelted by rain and constantly in awe of the surrounding scenery. Flat plains, interrupted by jutting mountains slowly evolved into the rocky Sandia Mountains, finally giving way to Albuquerque, my new home for the next year. In our 9 days of orientation, we’ve already had the chance to explore so much. Our days were filled with attempted scavenger hunts around the city, tours of Santa Fe, Caja del Rio and Madrid, attending church on the nearby Laguna Pueblo, and visits to fantastic food spots all over.
Yet, as I look back over the last week and half, I think about how many people expressed such excitement and enthusiasm at our arrival. For my introverted soul, entering new spaces can be filled with mixed emotions of anxiety and vulnerability. Choosing to leave my homes of Virginia and Ohio, and my wonderful communities in each, was not an easy decision. Seeking adventure in an entirely new space comes with excitement, but it also comes with fears of loneliness and uncertainty. But, this past week the people we’ve had the joy and honor of meeting have made those fears rest a little easier. Only yesterday, the wonderfully vibrant John Husler led us around Madrid, an old mining town, sharing his stories from his adolescence spent in the town. The mischievousness of his adolescence continued to shine through in his personality, as he pulled out spelling lists and jokes from his wallet, determined to connect with us and make us feel welcome in his old town. A few days previous, members of the Laguna Pueblo welcomed us into their church, allowing us to join them for worship Sunday morning. Though it was a small group of worshipers, the community amongst them was easy to feel as almost all members lifted either a prayer request or a joy during their time of sharing. Andrew Black, a man with more vocational hats than most anyone, took time out of his busy schedule to show us around the sacred Caja del Rio, his endless stream of facts equally fascinating and impressive. Not to mention all the time Luke, our site coordinator, the ABQYAV board members and various church members have dedicated to making my roommates and myself feel comfortable in our new home.
I’m sure as this year continues, I will continue to grieve for the friends and family I left behind. But, the joy of the people around me, as they welcome us into their lives and communities makes the vastness of New Mexico feel less overwhelming.
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