Dear Friends in Christ,
I hope your spring is off to a hopeful and joyful start! My name is Emma Warman and I have been a First Presbyterian Church member as long as I can remember: 21 years, to be exact. The loving community each of you foster through this church has been a true family to me from my childhood to now, throughout evenings spent at the Cold Weather Shelter, a summer leading Vacation Bible School in Guatemala, and the year I graciously served as a youth Elder on our Session’s Mission Committee.
When I was 11 years old, my parents told me about their decision to adopt my youngest sister from Ethiopia. I became instantly hooked on the idea of creating relationships with brothers and sisters from other cultures. During my time in high school I heard about Blake Collins’s experience serving as a Young Adult Volunteer in Peru, and began to secretly hope for the day when I, too, could be a part of this ministry. Thanks to my parents, the church, and an incredible support network at home and within my college community, this May I will graduate with a Strategic Communications degree from Elon University, and am humbled to share with you the news that last month I accepted a position with the Young Adult Volunteer Program for after graduation. I feel blessed to be serving as a YAV in the Philippines from August 2017-July 2018.
As I consider each of you family, I look forward to updating you on each step leading up to this journey. The YAV program is run through the Presbyterian Church (USA) Mission Agency, and sends young adults ages 19 to 30 years old to 21 sites across the United States and the world. The goal of the 11 months of service is to place volunteers in intentional Christian community to serve alongside mission partners, deepen and develop their faith and explore God’s calling in their lives. I was able to participate in a mutual discernment process during the month of January to be invited to become part of the program, and I will receive national and on-site orientation beginning this August to prepare. I interviewed for several YAV sites, and became interested in the Philippines because of how little I knew about the country and because of the opportunity to work toward social justice that I heard about at this site. I will receive my site placement in the country sometime this summer, and until then will be studying background knowledge of this country.
The Philippines is an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean, and most of its 98 million inhabitants live on 11 main islands. Today, the Spanish and American influence in the Philippines is still pervasive, and the Philippines is one of the poorest nations in Asia, torn by internal conflict. The national languages are Filipino and English, with Filipino made up of 19 recognized dialects. YAVs work with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, which was established in 1948. During my time of service, I hope to work with women, children and/or the outdoors through this church.
One requirement for the program is that international YAVs must raise $2,500 by July 2017 and a total of $5,000 by January 2018. I would like to invite you to join in my fundraising goal in any way that you are able. You could make contributions to “First Presbyterian Church of Howard County,” and mark your contribution with the designation “YAV Year” on your envelope. Any amount over the $5,000 I need to raise in my own support will go to support the program overall, including other YAV’s who may be from smaller congregations.
Thank you in advance to my First Presbyterian family, and I look forward to preparing for this adventure with each of you by my side!