A Little Reprise

Today was my last Sunday at Divine Redeemer Presbyterian Church. It’s definitely hard to say goodbye to all the people who have supported me and loved me for a whole year. But since I have to go, this was the way to go out. This morning I got to church hoping to jump in the choir for one last hurrah, but sadly no choir this week. I was a little bummed but eager to see how I could contribute. Alas, at the end of the service as the postlude began, I recognized it in an instant. Ramiro, our insanely skilled pianist (who I will miss dearly), started playing the samba version of “Shall We Gather at the River” that he and I had practiced way back in November (here’s it from before!). As soon as I heard that intro, I jumped up and ran to the djembe to join in! And what a way to go out it was. Jamming to my favorite song of the year along with my great choir director and friend. And though the video is a little shaky and at the time I wasn’t too excited about a flash in my face, I’m grateful that my roommate Julius caught a clip of this moment. I’ll miss this place dearly and today, especially all the wonderful music that has been added to my life! Atlanta, I’ll see you on Saturday. Ahhh.

Albuquerque Mission Trip

Just had to share some pictures from our New Mexican adventure last week! Such a great way to end my summer with the House of Teens kids. Proud of the work they did and thankful for the fun times we shared!

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Los Holy Boys (and the Angel)

Here’s to one last Sunday performing with the Holy Boys! Grateful to these guys for letting me be apart of their group this year. Already missing it!

T-minus 13 days until I’m home. Wow.

Jazz Drums

This past weekend was another exciting one spent in Wimberley! Beth Watson, music minister at Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian Church in Austin, once again recruited me to play in her band at church (really, I’m a sucker if I’m asked to play a drum set). I was eager not only for the opportunity to play, but also to spend another weekend eating incredible food (Beth is also a caterer) and hanging out with my new cool friends (Beth’s kids basically ran Peace Camp). Though Beth told me jazz drums is easy stuff, I know from years of being in jazz band that it’s actually the hardest of all the drumming. A good jazz drummer knows the music well enough to drive the band with every pop and kick of the 1st trumpet line. But luckily, this band was kind of a hodgepodge of players, so my less experienced jazz drumming sufficed. And we had a blast! Though I would label the music we played a little more “Dixie swing” (is that even a thing?) than jazz, it was the greatest. I mean, how can you play When The Saints Go Marching In and not have fun? The congregation sang along with the jazzed up hymns we provided like Peace Like A River, Swing Low Sweet Chariot and What A Friend We Have In Jesus. All in all, it was just too much fun not to share! So this is for you grandma, grandpa and mom (and anyone else who particularly likes jazz or just wants to hear my best attempt at jazz drums).

PS. If you get to the end of the song, listen for the part when I dropped my drumstick and casually had a freakout moment for about half a second. Oh good times.

Peace Camp!

Well today finished up the craziness known as Peace Camp. It was two weeks of 9 to 5, non-stop kid time and though it was exhausting, it was also a blast. From the staff friends I made to the 15 foot inflatable water slide, from the karaoke days of hearing “Let It Go” four times in a row to our weekly trip to the river at Rob’s cabin, I must say this goes down as one of my favorite times of work yet! My specific part was leading the music time, and though I have never led a kids’ choir, we had fun every day making beats, singing loud and learning songs. And here is one of the songs we ended up with! Performed for the congregation this morning, this is about half of our kids singing a mash-up of “Ale, Ale, Ale” and “I’m Gonna Live So”. I’m proud of those kids for sticking with it, even if they would have much preferred to have karaoke day always and forever.

An Ode to James Chilada

Yesterday morning, we said goodbye to the first of our group to head home. Sweet Baby James (as he was so named by our BFF Isla) is now back in his homeland of Washington, spending time with his family and friends before taking off on his next adventure. But it only seems right to take a moment and say how thankful I am to have gotten to know James. Simply put, James is everyone’s favorite, from the church ladies to his clients to the kids he worked with. James has the ability to really connect with people, especially in the face of differences. He’s a multicultural kind of guy, always interested in learning from cultures, constantly working on a language and easily embracing the many people he encounters. It’s what makes James, James. He also embodies the phrase “simple living” more that anyone I’ve ever met. All year long he biked everywhere, sported a cameraless flip phone and willingly slept in an oversized closet. On top of that, his animal shirts are legendary and his dance moves are unmatched (this boy is not afraid to shake his hips). His cooking is always on point, even when it was a little too spicy for Julius. And he’s incredibly funny. I’ll always remember the Spanish shouting matches we’d get to, the kind New Yorker accents we would obnoxiously do and his infamous chopstick song. All in all, it was always an adventure with James and he was a true and gracious leader among us.

I speak for all of us in this community when I say that we will truly miss this paleta loving, bike riding, rock climbing, vegetable eating, (flawless) Spanish speaking, go with the flow kind of guy. James, we miss you already and can’t wait to follow you as you venture on! #SATXforlife

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Austin!

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This weekend, we finally did it. What has been on our bucket list all year long was finally accomplished. We went to Austin! Huge. And what a weekend it was. James, Maggie and I were graciously hosted by my cousin Adam and it’s safe to say that we saw quite a bit of the city. Adam took us Friday night around town and for dinner to a burger place where the buns are doughnuts. Seriously, that’s a doughnut (it was national doughnut day, we had to). We even did a little swing dancing that night! You know, we SATX YAV volunteers love to dance. Saturday the adventures continued as we visited the Texas State Capital (so many stars everywhere), went to a trailer park of food trucks for tacos, then hit the river for a day of swimming and rope swinging! It was seriously gorgeous out there on the water, so many green trees around I couldn’t believe it. It was definitely a weekend for the books and quite a way to spend our last full weekend together. We will miss you, James!