October 23, 2022
A new group of Young Adult Volunteers arrived in Tucson in August 2022, where they were met with more than the usual level of rejoicing: This program year marks the 20th anniversary of the Tucson Borderlands Young Adult Volunteer program! For two decades now, young adults have sought the voice of God in their lives and in the U.S./Mexico borderlands through a year of service.
As guests on the homelands of the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui peoples, YAVs in Tucson practice humility through service. For 20 years, YAVs have explored vocation and wrestled with how to make ends meet in a society rooted in racial capitalism, have nurtured their spirits and their communities, and much more. Hosting the YAV program brings energy and new perspectives to the Presbytery de Cristo — as well as more than 120,000 volunteer hours contributed by more than 85 YAVs over the program’s history.
Of course, a year of service with the YAV program is not just about how the community benefits; it is also a transformative experience for the young adult who serves. Hear a few of the experiences of YAVs who have served with the Tucson Borderlands program:
“It’s hard not to feel that the fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandchildren, sisters and brothers that come to us (at the migrant shelter) truly are the least of these Jesus calls me (/us) to care for in Matthew 25. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the biblical imagery while I am washing an abuelo’s feet, cleaning a hermano’s wounds, feeding a niña a cup of soup, or hugging a madre as she cries. I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet them and be with them on their journey.” (Andrea, 2005)
“As believers we are called out of comfort, or the familiar, into the borderlands. Just like how a muscle cannot grow without first being torn, or a skill learned without time and energy expended, we are called to the borderlands to grow through necessary suffering. This allows us to not only grow stronger physically but also spiritually, and in doing so grow closer to God and our understanding of the work we are called to do.” (Ryan, 2016)
“Building community has never been easy for me. It requires a lot of work and vulnerability. But I ultimately believe that in the messiness of community life is where I can be more like Jesus and learn the most about myself. To live in community is to constantly be confronted with the shortcomings of yourself and others. But to live in Christian community is to understand that while we all fall short, God is there to fill in the gaps and love us through our faults.” (Andie, 2018)
It has been a privilege to be part of supporting these young adults in service during my short tenure as site coordinator, to be part of the tapestry of discernment, reflection and hope. YAVs who serve in Tucson become part of a community that is growing a better world. Joining with local organizations and led by impacted communities, all of us involved with the program are seeking the justice and liberation that God promises God’s world. This Gospel work is hard, and it will continue for decades to come — but for this year, we’ll celebrate all who have served and all who have been changed by 20 years of YAV in Tucson!
Alison Wood, she/they/ella/elle, Site Coordinator, Tucson Borderlands Young Adult Volunteer Program
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, October 23, 2022, the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Today’s Focus: Young Adult Volunteer Program
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Carissa Herold, Marketing Associate, Presbyterian Women
Nell Herring, Mission Specialist II, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Let us pray
Joyful One, walk with us into the hard and harsh and dark places and lead us to kindle celebrations there. We give thanks for all those you call into service, in the borderlands and elsewhere. May we rejoice in two decades of YAV service in Tucson as we keep working for your vision for the world.