I’m coming to you live from Okay Yeah! my favorite place in Oklahoma City. This coffee shop helped me maintain my sanity multiple times during my tenure in this city. On Monday I head to Stony Point, NY, for YAV orientation. After months of prayer and preparation, ready or not here I come!
One of the things that initially drew me to D.C. was the opportunity to be placed at Church of the Pilgrims/The Pilgrimage. I felt like this would allow me to use my gifts to truly serve others. This community also seemed like a place where I could belong. Speaking to the church staff during my interviews reminded me of the close-knit church communities I’ve been a part of in the past such as First Presbyterian Church Pontotoc, First Methodist Pontotoc’s Youth Group, Camp Hopewell, SIFAT, Cornerstone Methodist Church in Tupelo, First Presbyterian Oxford, and Ukirk Ole Miss. Due to my unpredictable work schedule, being a part of a loving church community is something that was absent in my life while in Oklahoma City. I recently discovered that I got my wish and will get to serve this unique congregation while in DC. I get to work with some incredible people over the next year from church staff to groups from around the United States who come to volunteer around the city.
This summer I took a chance to reconnect with friends, family members, and places that have meant a lot to me and made me into the man I am today. I have been a part of many loving communities in my life and I am so thankful for everyone who has loved me up to this point. I loved returning to Camp Hopewell and using my unique skill set to provide campers with the best possible week at camp. I truly love camp counseling and while returning was not part of my initial life plan, God has a way of surprising you. I was challenged by my campers and coworkers and I believe that camp prepared me for my year of service as it prepared me for college back in 2012 and 2013. Going to a new city is not new to me, but it never gets easier. Change is difficult and while I am excited about the possibilities the nation’s capital offers, fear and anxiety are a constant presence.
This move has new challenges, the greatest of which being I will miss the birth of my nephew Reece. I applied to YAV before I learned the exciting news and actually considered turning down the offer to serve in DC. After talking with Alex and working at one of my special places (Camp Hopewell), I decided that change is good and God will be with me on this journey. Alex and Holly will just have to be prepared for many a Facetime call from me.
If you are reading this and wondering how you can help me on my newest adventure:
· Pray for me and for the people with whom I will live and serve this year. It will be a year of growth, change, and adventure and your prayers would be so appreciated.
· Follow my experience by reading or following my blog! I will be updating periodically with stories of my time in DC and would be excited to read your reactions in the comments section! I am new to blog writing, but I will try to stay on top of it and hopefully my posts will improve and be interesting to my readers.
· Send me mail! I love receiving letters, notes, and packages. As a camp counselor, I learned to appreciate the art of snail mail. It helps me remember how blessed I am to be connected to so many wonderful people. If you want to send a card or a note just ask me for my address. Another goal of mine this year is to do better about respond to the mail I receive, so I would love to write you letters back!
· Contribute to my fundraising efforts! Each YAV is asked to fundraise at least $4000 to help finance their year of service, but going above and beyond is fabulous and helps the program immensely. You can donate online at http://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/e051477/ by entering the amount that you’d like to donate and then adding “Sam Russell” to the comment box that will appear when you’re asked for your billing address, or by sending a check made out to the PCUSA to Presbyterian Church (USA) Remittance Processing, PO Box 643700 Pittsburgh, PA 15264. On the memo line, include my name and the number E051477.
If you’re interested in learning more about the organization(s) I’ll be working with, here are the links!
With much love,
Samuel Claiborne Russell
My name is Sam Russell. I am 23 years old and determined to discover more about the world and my place in it. I love exploring, travelling, learning, and enjoying nature. In May of 2016, I graduated with honors from The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) with a degree in business administration. Following graduation, I spent a summer working in Skagway, Alaska (If you’ve never been to Alaska I highly recommend it) before accepting a front desk job at The Skirvin Hilton in Oklahoma City. Since a young age, I thought I had my entire future as a hotel manager/owner figured out. However, now that I am in the “real world,” my goals are changing, putting me in a period of vocational and spiritual discernment. I believe that adventure is all around us and that we must embrace it and grow from it to become who we are meant to be. Being a Young Adult Volunteer in Washington D.C. is the next step on my journey, and I can’t wait to see what this incredible city has in store for me!