Wednesday, September 29, 2010

not all thats gold glitters

i want to write about my favorite school we've been to so far.

first off, in spokane, washington you have about eight schools in the same 7 mile radius. its nuts. they have a lot of one way streets that weave in and out of suburbia and then all of a sudden - BOOM you're in the middle of a rebuilt beautiful school campus with kids walking everywhere. two schools were on the same street! thats really funny to me. maybe i'm weird. there are 2 universities in the same town, too. i finally saw gonzaga university instead of just putting them on my NCAA final 4 basketball bracket every march because their name is fun. anyways...

we've been in spokane for 8 days. we leave tomorrow to go to another part of washington, but the best thing happened yesterday. we were able to go to havermale high school - an alternative school in the city. we show up and we see tons of students in one area and there is a pillar of smoke just above their heads. right next to them is a garden fenced in and well taken care of. we step into the school and see the interior - lockers, posters, classrooms, etc. we ask two students where the lunch room is and they direct us down the hall. allowing the smell of food to direct us to where we need to go, we walk into a room filled with students munching on cheezeburgers and salads. with all of our boxes in hand i find an older woman with a smile beaming across her face. "hi! you must be meagan!! i'm cindy!" she proclaims as we start to shake hands. there are two high schoolers standing next to her. wearing thick eye liner and a shirt that says "spokane zombies" one looks to me and says 'hi! i'm haley" and we begin to have conversations about the school and Invisible Children as an organization. 

during lunch we're able to talk to Cindy - the adminstrator of the school - about what exactly havermale stands for. she tells me that most students make the choice to come to havermale. usually they are looking for an education and want to go to college, but the normal structure of school doesn't match well with their personalities. as she explains, i find out that there is much more attention put on quality and depth in the relationships with the students instead of just making a good grade. most of the students live in poverty and one student lives in a tent under a bridge. its crazy imagining that even now out of college, much less being in your teenage years. 

while we showed the film, i found myself on the edge of tears many "Go!" one of the students who won a trip to northern Uganda is Tye from kentucky. 80% of the students he went to school with live below the poverty line and yet they still found a way to unite and make change together. i remember how i felt when i first saw the "rough cut" and how i saw a way for my life to be a part of something bigger than what was right in front of me. i kept thinking about how this message of hope speaks directly to the heart of a lot of people going to high school. the mere thought of any of these students seeing that hope and ability in themselves made me want to do everything i could to encourage them to get involved. i kept thinking - "this is one of the reasons why you are so lucky to be here, meg." powerful. most of the time we go to regular schools and try to connect with anyone, but this time it was different. the best part was knowing that they could relate with James and Robert about living and growing up through difficulties and tragedies following you throughout your whole life. this is why we have this job. to reach out to the people who have so much to give and don't know their outlet to do so. 

after the screening almost half of the students stuck around with bright eyes and excited tones in their words. many of them wanted to do everything they could to help. one girl named Cassy almost couldn't stay in her seat because she wanted to start now and do everything she could to be involved. many students brought up ideas and plans and had such eagerness to be a part of this. today i got a call from Cindy again asking for a copy of the DVD to share with people who missed the film yesterday. the buzz was still going and they were still excited. 

every student and connection matters. this is the beauty of what we do everyday. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

descriptive text only please.

maybe I should describe my life to you right now. we wake up early and stay up late. some days we drive across entire states. we stay with people we've never met before only to find that they are our family by the time we leave their homes. i spend my day talking to high schoolers of every type of background and hope that they find something they connect to and want to pursue. each day we wake up hoping that our work right now will end a war across the globe.

i live with 2 people who have grown up in a war. they have taught me more about resilience than anything i've ever gone through. they are no longer people from far away but their are my brothers. my team leader's name is taylor swift but he doesn't really sing country music BUT he does have beautiful blonde hair. the only other female on the team is from alabama and is the motherly role of the group. i have recently found out that she has a heart for cats almost as much as i love bunnies. sarah and i laugh harder together about random things more than a farside comic book. my other american teammate is stuy. his real name is mark kearnes lewis and the fact that he goes by stuy is an exact indicator of the kind of person he is. he finds a way to jump and spin and flip off of objects everyday. he is excited and lives with eyes open. we have deep chats almost daily. i love that.

i find excitement in traveling. you see things you've never imagined - like ginormous paul bunyan statues, redwood forests, hippie villages, coast lines that are mingled with rocks and drift wood, dogs of every kind, organic foods that heal the soul, silly elementary kids running through parks.

we are always busy. there is always work. my brain is constantly buzzing with thoughts and organizing. i have now become a woman who receives work emails on her phone and can be found in corners organizing and chatting about schedules with a notebook in one hand and the phone in another. coffee has now become necessary like oxygen.

this is my life, and i wouldn't have it any other way. unpredictable. messy. changing. growing. learning. happy. joyful.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rest In Peace

Miller Nuesse is the first close friend of mine to pass away. This is a tough loss not just for me, but for my whole family back at GCSU. A lot of times while I'm out on the road with Invisible Children, I'll start to cry and wish I could sit with my friends and hug them. The other night I was talking to a girl and I almost couldn't hold it together. The beauty of friendship is that our hearts are tied to people no matter where they are. I hope that this pain and openness can connect to the people I meet. That is my one hope. Miller's story is not meant to be hidden. Maybe this pain we're all going through will make connections to people we never imagined. Through this I can say that I don't understand death, but I know that it is a part of the human life. I know that Miller is in Heaven and he is happier there. And his story is not over.

If anyone reads this, I hope you know that Miller was one of the best guys I knew. Even during our college years when the idea is to play hard and do what you want, Miller loved to give instead of receive. He was always smiling, happy, laughing, and talking in different accents. I know that his death is for a purpose greater than what we can see right now. And even though I'm crying as I type this, I am happy that he is finally home. I'm learning that it's ok to cry. It's ok to be sad that you lost your friend. It's ok to wish he was still here. Ultimately, I hope that through this death, someone else will see the love of Jesus like Miller did, and they too will always find a way to laugh, smile, give, and bring joy to the people around them.

This is tough. I am sad. But I know everything will be good. Thank you Miller -- for being a kind heart, a courageous guy, a joyful individual, and for sharing your life with me. The beauty of a friendship is knowing that when they leave your life for any reason, they still stay with you. I carry your heart with me, my friend. And I hope that I can be an obvious light of joy for the people around me just like you were.

I have heard of death bringing life to others in the world. Yet again we see that happen with Miller's life. By donating his organs, he was able to save the lives of eight people who wouldn't have had the chance before. During this time I think that Miller's life is a lot like the life that inspired the song "How He Loves Us" check out the story behind John Mark McMillan's song and what he has to say about dealing with pain and tragedy and what the Lord wants us to know through it all: How He Loves Us: A Story

Also, check out what the Atlanta Journal Constitution said about his life: In Memory of Miller

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

No turning back

There have been numerous breathtaking moments in the short few days we have been on the road. Driving up the 101 all along the northern California coast blew my mind. Mountains, redwood trees, and the rocky coast line made my jaw drop and my eyes well up with tears because of the beauty. If you have ever seen the movie Into The Wild there is a part in it when Chris is running in a field with wild elk (maybe moose?) and he finally just stands there watching them with tears in his eyes. I don’t know if you’ve experienced such a moment like that in nature, but I have felt exactly like Chris McCandless does at that time. Just today we were able to stop by Crater Lake on the way to Boise, ID. Wow. That’s all I can really say. I could have weeped because of the beauty here. What used to be a volcano is now a beautiful blue lake in the midst f mountain ranges.

Here are some photos:
Golden Gate Bridge

Northern California Coast

Sunrise in Oregon

Crater Lake 

Meeting people from all over the country has been an interesting aspect of tour. Medford, OR has some of the most kind hearted souls I’ve ever met. The people in this town have built homes for kids in Uganda, and have a group of teenagers who commit to a two year plan to learn all about Eastern Africa and its history. I’m shocked by how there are youth who take their own initiative and make change. Each day I meet young and old people who are aching for an outlet to use their talents and luckily we’re able to share a way to change the world with them.

Constantly being on a team of 6 is a hard job to do. Stuy and I talked about the difficulties of doing something amazing. In the (somewhat paraphrased) words of Mr. Lewis himself: “The most rad things are usually the most difficult. It’s a lot easier to just do the normal every day. Its also hard to help people understand that rad things are awesome enough to fight through the difficult parts”. In his own Stuy vernacular he has shared exactly what I believe to be true as well.

It seems like the most incredible adventures bring about the most struggle.I've already seen where I could change my mindsets and perspectives about situations. Looking out for others before your self is tough to do but its worth the effort. Waking up every morning asking myself how to see the need in my teammates is something that will make a difference in the long run and is a continual process to learn. 

I'm learning patience and servant hood and its hard, but maybe the beauty seen in between the learning is the encouragement to say there is goodness all around you and in you and through you if you just open yourself up to truth and discipline. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

this does not belong to you

Last night, a bunch of roadies, interns, and staff members all joined together to celebrate the launch of yet another tour for Invisible Children. After our meals were eaten & our desserts enjoyed, we sat & listened to Jason Russel, Jolly Okot & Ben Keesey - 3 of the leaders of IC.

Jason read us a snippet of the book "The Vision" about youth fighting for something bigger than themselves - almost a discharge into the unknown. We are all about to embark on a journey that will bring us to higher places, lower wells & deeper knowledge. In this we will fight for truth when fatigue tells us that we are fake. We will seek justice when weariness tells us to cut corners.

I do not know where my life will go from here. I don't know what I'll learn through all of this. I don't know what struggles I'll face & eventually overcome - but I do know that the people of Northern Ugandan will be spoken for by not just us westerners, but their own brothers & sisters & friends. I do not go on this journey to advocate my life, but I go for my friends in Africa who have faced struggles, hardships, terror, pain & suffering. Through this work that all of us roadies do, we will all find joy, triumph, happiness, wisdom, and love. And unlike the former, these things are permanent.

Friends - help me to remember this: "servanthood is the place where you find most joy. With every accolade & compliment you receive - kneel down before God everyday & give them to him. Because they do not belong to you. They belong to the orphans, the widows, and to Jesus."

More to come...

Sunday, September 5, 2010


mount soledad is the most beautiful view in San Diego.

conflict resolution is key to success in group settings.
love is seen best in servant-hood.
honesty will bring you to a farther place of trust.
the human brain is capable of so much more activity than we usually make it.

california really does look the movies - palm trees, surfers you name it.
Invisible Children supports justin beiber: Beiber fever
there is always an opportunity to see joy in the world.

more to come...