Saturday, October 17, 2009

Motor City News #4

Hello friends.

It turns out this newsletter is a bit more infrequent than monthly. I just read over the last one I sent, and much is new since then!

(Parts One, Two, Three via free convection)

I'm writing from a public library in Buffalo, NY, of all places. I'm here for a wedding. Yesterday was my birthday, so coming back to Rochester for a few days is a great birthday present.

Not to say that I'm not loving Detroit. I am. But seeing Belinda and other friends will be really nice. My parents are actually away for their anniversary (today! Happy 28th, Mom and Dad!), so I won't be seeing my family.

So, Detroit. If you're interested at all in learning some history of Detroit, see if you can find the recent special issue of TIME featuring the motor city. It has some really great articles.

We're all moved in to our new house (didn't happen until the first weekend of October), and almost everything is unpacked except the kitchen. We're waiting for a cabinet to be hung and we'll probably have to put in some shelves to act as a pantry before we have room for everything. We finally had our gas hooked up on Tuesday, after 10 days without heat and hot water. That first hot shower was amazing. We're still without a stove and a dryer, though. We expected to be able to start cooking as soon as the gas was turned on, but it turns out the stove that was given to us was broken. We're in the market for a used stove. The dryer we just have to hook up, which turns out to be a bit complicated. We're missing a few parts. We were trying to dry clothes in our dryer before, not realizing it wasn't electric and wondering why it took all night to dry anything. Ha!

We haven't had many interactions with our neighborhood, aside from meeting the women who live next door and going to church on the corner. But things seem to be actually moving forward despite the difficulty of neighborly interaction during the colder months. God is gracious.

One really cool opportunity that God has brought to me through the CDC is to work with Club 7:37 -- they meet weekly with middle and high school students to have fun together and then have a brief spiritual discussion in small groups. Apparently this year is a bit different in how small-group-based it is, which I'm so excited about. I come from an InterVarsity ministry at RIT where I was part of a generation that pushed the focus of the group towards small groups. Now I get to lead a small group of eighth grade boys from my neighborhood. And I have a co-leader who is a high schooler in my neighborhood as well. Club is just such a perfect fit for me to make you of the ministry experience I've had in my new context in Detroit.

I have a job! Two jobs, actually... or three. I've been hired as a substitute teacher for the Leona Group, a charter school system that has 14 schools in the Detroit area. I was hired through Hope of Detroit Academy, and I've been working there every school day for the past two weeks, filling in for the same middle school social studies teacher. It was hard at first to figure out how to manage the classroom. Teaching is easy if students behave! For the first whole week it seemed like every period was a new experiment in classroom management.But God has been answering my prayers for hearts of peace and obedience.

I'm also tutoring with KUMON eight hours a week, and through that program I got connected with a student who wanted some private tutoring in geometry. God has provided so abundantly that I've actually had to say no to other people interested in private tutoring so that I actually have time to live!

God has blessed all of my roommates with some kind of work, which is really cool to see that in a town with almost 30% unemployment we've all found a bit of work, at least. It does bring up the fact that we're a bunch of (at least partially) college educated white guys. It probably shouldn't be surprising that we can get jobs.

Things to pray for:
  • Unity and love within our house. We're in the process of trying to develop some kind of house covenant (like a much cooler version of your roommate agreement when you first moved into a dorm), and trying to figure out how and how much to share our income. We've been praying together (at least for a few minutes) almost every day, and that has been super for keeping us connected spiritually to one another.
  • A tight bond to develop among the guys in my small group, including my relationship with my coleader.
  • Wisdom for our house as we try to introduce ourselves to our neighbors, and the grace of God in finding humble ways to have an impact.

Peace be with you.

- m a t t

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