Sunday, May 31, 2015

Important People I Would Not Know Without YES, Day 6: Logan Smith (who helped an acrophobic go cliff jumping)

This is not a picture of my friend Logan. This is not a picture of me, either. In fact I don’t know this guy at all. I snatched this from the internet.

This is a picture of how I felt on the day I met Logan. I was leaning over the edge of the cliff, about to fall. I had left Colorado and was sitting in some weird New York hotel preparing for the ride of my life. I was overwhelmed. Ten months felt like forever in that moment.

Some people can sit and reason through their fears and stress. I am not one of those people. I am a crier. I cried all day during that orientation.

Logan was the group leader sent to prepare us AFS students to live in Ghana. By the time we arrived in New York, it was too late to pack anything else or say goodbye to anyone else. Logan’s job was to be with us as we prepared in deeper ways.

I did a pretty good job, that day, of hiding my tears and my sadness and my nerves. I think, though, that Logan had some idea we were all freaking out. (However, Sarah freaking out does not look like Emily freaking out or Ann Elise freaking out. Lydia freaking out does not look like Jeneni freaking out and neither of them look like Sarah freaking out.) In spite of that, Logan was wonderful at calming us down without admitting that that was what he was doing.

Fast forward ten months. Our group was completely different. Instead of five YES students, there were three of us. Instead of being new friends excited to get to know each other, we were sisters who knew each other like the back of our hands. (And sisters who were in the middle of a heated squabble over what was right. Honestly, we might have rather made the long flight from Ghana alone than spend so much time with our siblings.)

And who met us in the DC airport but Logan. He was there to prepare us to jump off an even larger cliff—flinging our new selves into our old homes. He laughed at my funnier statements (“This place is full of white people.” “It’s eight at night; the sun should have been down hours ago.”). Logan was there to validate our experience. When we’d tell a story, he’d come up with a similar one from his experience in Ghana.

Some of my peers may say that having the same group leader to send us off and welcome us home provided closure. However, I was not seeking closure. I wanted to be transformed as a result of my experience, to see my life never be the same again. In that orientation, I felt like Logan was telling me: “You did not dream this experience. You have permission to be different than you were before.”

In September 2014, I had the opportunity to be a group leader myself. When I arrived in New York, I kept in mind that the students may have felt like they were falling off a cliff. As Logan did for me, I was present with them as they prepared for the ride.

I will not be with this year’s YES Abroad students at their return orientation in Washington DC. I get to do something crazier—be at their return orientation in Accra. I am blessed to maintain strong links to Ghana.

When someone is there to help you, moving across the world is not like falling off a cliff, it is like jumping. I’ve never been cliff-jumping (I’m kind of acrophobic), but I hear it’s fabulous.

Logan, thank you for being with me as I made those jumps.

Picture links:

PS: I know the cycle is broken, and this isn't really a "14 day blog series" now, but life happens. Finals, closeout duty, ministry camp, special guests, etc. I still plan to finish.

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