Ever since I was young I have always wanted to learn to play guitar. My first year going to Kansas City, Missouri was the most eventful week of my life. It was the summer of 2012 and we were sitting in a Hope Faith Ministries, the roof was high above our heads. We were all setting up our cots and having our rest after a long day of traveling. I hardly knew anyone I was with, I took this leap of faith with my youth pastor and my best friend. There were two guys by the name of Alex and Jordan. They were sitting on the edge of the stage playing to some music in the background. My friend Lindsay and I went over to talk to them about playing. We sat down near them and they showed us some of the basic chords. At this time I was excited to learn, but when you first start doing something, practice makes somewhat perfect. You have to keep doing the same thing over and over again. It gets boring after doing it for so long, but every night during that week me and Lindsay would sit down and play the guitar together. It was fun to be in sync and actually feeling the vibrations of the string on your finger of the fret. Hearing the sound of the strum echoing through its body was electrifying. When I had gotten home after that long week of serving others and learning new thing about myself, I set myself a goal, to get my very own guitar. To this day I have had the same acoustic guitar my aunt gave me, along with two electric guitars I picked up on the way. My dream guitar is the Gibson Dove, it has a remarkable body and a beautiful design on the scratch pad. I cant wait to further my knowledge in music and playing more instruments along the way.
“For the love of Art, don’t art for prize!” Three men were chanting by the van andel arena in Grand rapids. We decided to walk up to them to see what he fuss was about. “hey there, my name is Bob, this is Bobby, and this is Robert.” The smell of alcohol lingered when they spoke, you could tell these men haven’t showered in a few days. They went on telling us why they had set up a venue here and what it was about. They had cardboard boxes in front of them with the words “keep positive” and small inspirational quotes. “Its here for others to make art without being judged on it, to many artists sell them selves short and think that their art has to be perfect for the judges and not for them.” What Bobby had said made a lot of sense, although most of these artists made the art because they loved it and wanted to show the locals what they can do. Artist struggle today with doing art for money and fame rather than doing it for the love of it. Its a lot of pressure to have.They had invited us to write our own words of inspiration for others to see when they stopped by. While my friends and I started jotting down positive quotes, Robert starts singing and playing guitar, and hes not bad. Listening to Santeria, by Sublime, while writing down positive things to share with the next group of people who will walk by was the highlight of my day. Even though these guys seemed like total nut jobs, they still made sense in what they had to say. Bob came from the Netherlands, and train hopped the rest of the way here when he landed in the states. You could hear his accent when he spoke,”I went all over and one day I ended up here in Grand Rapids. We are staying in tent city for now, but hopefully with enough gigs we can get and apartment.” Tent city was a place under the radar in Grand rapids that very few people knew about where people with now where to go had stayed in tents. I only knew it from the mission trips I had went on there. Robert and my friend Lindsay were talking, and he came over to me and hands me the guitar and says “play a song!” Of course I am nervous, even when the crowd is three drunk guys and 3 of my friends, it was still terrifying. I grabbed the guitar and started playing Californication by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, trying to stay in the alternative genre that they had on their “set list”. After I had finished playing we decided it was time to head back home. Before we left Robert handed me his pick, and wrote his real initials on it and said “when i become famous this will be worth some money.” We both laughed knowing it was a joke, I took the gift and we were on our way. On our way back to the car I couldn’t help but worry about them, I know to some people they seem like washed up alcoholics. To me they were just like everyone else. Maybe a little more broken than others, but they were more kind than a lot of people who had more than they did.
Shifting through the s-curves that strolled through Kansas City, my stomach aching from the heat and exhaustion. The bus was shaking back and forth and our bodies were shifting side to side, I felt as if i was going to be sick. It was coming down to the end of the day and we had one stop left to make before heading back to base. The sun was sitting low in the west and the air grew colder everyone had rested their heads on the side of the bus to rest their eyes. Mission trips were not vacations, they were not meant for sleeping or relaxing. When we go to the woman’s shelter the sky was turning blue from the sun fading. We walked inside the building and it reeked of mildew. We walked through a hallway which had beautiful stairs on the left side that curved up and over our heads. We walked toward the end of the hallway leading us into this room with 4 tables and a stage toward the front of the room. Everyone took a seat, relieved that we didn’t have to do any hard work yet. We looked around the room and 6 women filed in, it was dinner time. They shuffled into the open seats near us. Then a man walked out on stage. He gave his testimony, and we worshiped shortly after, and when it was all done they had half of our team go into the kitchen and the other half got to stay out in the dining area to befriend these women who seemed so lost. Me an my friends, David and Alysia, walked up to an old woman. We sat down next to her and attempted to get to know her. “whats your name?” I asked. “Im not quite sure.” she said looking puzzled, she went on to ask “whats your name?” I told her my name was Meagan. “Well today my name is Meagan to!” she had said with joy. I felt sad, how someone who had so little, didn’t even remember her name. David went on to ask about her family. She said she had 3 children somewhere out there, but she was not sure where, she said the memory of them was very faint. It was heart breaking to see this woman so lost and confused. After we had talked for a little while longer the women were sent to their rooms and we had to pick up and leave. After a long day it was nice to know that we to would soon be sleeping. David showed us a cross necklace the woman gave to him, and she said she thought how much he looked like her son. We went to bed that night with a heavy heart for the woman.
It was the beginning of fall, the leaves were changing and I could feel the cold air rest on my face turning my cheeks pink. I was walking to the park to meet my youth group leader, after four years of volunteering as a co-leader I finally would be held accountable with the responsible leader position. My friend Addison and I walked for about 15 minutes until we sat at a bench underneath the gazebo. There were kids running around and screaming as they played on the playground nearby. I had felt so nervous to be in given this awesome opportunity that I had looked forward to my whole high school career. The brown, beat up car made its way into a parking spot, you could see the exhaust fumes seeping out of the back. Dan had brought along his intern, Jordan, who was looking to be a youth group leader one day himself. As they walked up, Dan had looked nervous as he fidgeted with his sleeves. I had known this man for four years now, I thought I knew all there was to know about him. He sat down with his intern across from us, you could see him choking back what he wanted to talk about, with tears in his eyes. I couldn’t even possibly imagine what he was thinking of saying, what could be this bad? As I sat there I looked at Addison, and she looked back at me, we were both worried about what the next few moments we were going to go through. We had been volunteers together at this church the whole time. If there was ever something going on we would be the first to know, but this time we weren’t, we were the last. We turned our heads back to him and he said cautiously “This might be painful, and I’m sorry, I want you to know no matter what I love you guys, but I don’t want you to think I’m bigoted and homophobic.” My heart sank. Never has he ever made my sexuality sound like such a horrible thing. I watched as this hurt him as much as it hurt us. He was the only fatherly figure in my life, and once again, my heart was shattered by someone who I looked up to. He went on to say “You know this church has accepted you and loved you as well, but you have to choose between the church or your lust.” I was filled with rage, who I was with was never about lust, it was love. It wasn’t my fault I am who I am. At first my tears were from the pain and sadness, but now they were full of anger and betrayal. I don’t even remember the rest of the conversation. Addison always had something to say to him but after that I had nothing. Why would I want to talk to him, why now instead of four years ago when he knew my intentions of being a leader no matter what? Why couldn’t he say something when I had first told him my feelings for women. Finally, the humiliation was over and he asked “Have you decided?” I looked at him and said “I no longer wish to be a leader here.” That was a lie, I had never felt more welcomed in some place in my entire life. I wanted to be a part of something that made me feel so warm. We all got up and went our separate ways. I understand how weird it is to think of a lesbian Christian. How that might seem as a contradiction, but to me the biggest contradiction was a hateful Christian, and that was something I would never be.
Our youth group was on our way to help people in Kansas City. This was my second year taking this mission trip. We had been on the bus for 12 hours, with no air conditioning. All we had was the hot sticky wind sweeping through the Missouri sky. “Only a few more hours until we get there” our leader, Dan, had said. You could see his glowing complexion; the heat was hardly bearable. We all had our own ice laying on the back of our necks, trying hard not to let our skin come in contact with anyone else’s, or the sticky seat we sat upon. Wishing that we were there already. Something in the air smelled funny, the smell of syrup. It came to our attention that there was something wrong with our radiator. The bus starts to slow down and we come to a grinding halt on the side of the expressway. You could feel the heat seeping in through the windows. We decided to get off the bus and sit under a shady over pass while waiting for help. The breeze outside was a lot more comforting. As we all sat there, a student, Nate, played his guitar in hopes to cheer everyone up through this awful journey. We sat there for a half hour or so, until we realized, we were sitting on a home for ticks. Everyone jolted up at once trying to shake off these disgusting bugs. We stood in a line on the side of the expressway, picking bugs off of each other like you would see monkeys doing at a zoo. Finally, the repair man came and patched the leaking hose. Once again we were back on the road, with the heat blowing through our hair, and sweat dripping down our backs.