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Greetings from Michael Novotny!Good day to you all! This has been a busy but good couple of months for me over here in the UK. Feel free to read all about in the newsletter I have prepared below entitled, New News!I have appreciated the support from you all so far this year in all the amazing forms it has come in. Thank you again for all that. If you would like to support me financially, that link is here.support.elca.org/site/TR/Events/General?px=1080705&pg=personal&fr_id=1181Hello! For those of you who do not know me my name is Michael Novotny and I come from Wisconsin, USA. This year I will be serving Oxygen in Kingston Upon Thames doing a variety of work with them in their Youth Programs! I have been spending days in their charity shop that they own. Along with that I have been working at the different Youth Clubs throughout the week. Additionally, I have been putting in office hours helping with administrative and social media tasks. Along with all these tasks at Oxygen, I have also been partnered through them with a local church doing Youth Ministry at the Church of St Matthews, an Anglican Church in Surbiton. I am excited to be in the UK this year working with Oxygen and continuing to learn about their programs and resources for young people!OXYGEN RESIDENTIAL - In February I was invited to take some youth to a residential with a few of my coworkers from Oxygen. We went to a place called Hindleap Warren in a place called Wych Cross, two hours south of London. The youth participated in team building activities, a “forest adventure” where we got to walk through the mud, and some high ropes. It was an interesting experience seeing the similarities & differences in how a retreat experience for young people is run in the UK and reflecting onmy own experiences.MID-YEAR RETREAT - In early February I joined my US cohort in Kidderminster for our midyear Time for God retreat. We were able to welcome Kari, who joined us in January in her placement in Edinburgh. She had been placed there after her year in Jerusalem had been cut short. It was great to meet with my cohort and strengthen those bonds. Also to see Time for God friends I had met at the first retreat and meet new ones as well! It was a nice space to reflect on the first half of my year and what I am was andstill am looking forward to in the second half.GOOD FRIDAY - I was invited to participate in a walk of witnesses with the church my host family attends. We walked across the main streets in Kingston following the cross bearer and would stop singsongs and one of the clergy from the churches in the area would offer a prayer(pictured right). It was an interesting experience watching people around us watch and some even joined in! That afternoon I joined my supervisor Charlie at his church. The service was quite reflective and intense. It was a wonderful experience.EASTER SUNDAY - This Easter I went to St Marks Church in Surbiton up the road from St Matthew’s! I went to the children’s service with my supervisor and his family. A big tradition that they do is tyingflowers to the cross to signify the beautiful growth of what the death of Jesus brings. I definitely got to see the full spectrum of the Anglican Holy Week services! Afterwards I joined Charlie at his parents home and spent the afternoon with him and his family. We had a traditional British Easter lunch of lamb and other roasted potatoes and vegetables. We spent the day hanging out and going for a walk in the park. In the evening I was able to join my host family at for dinner where we had another lovely roast lamb.PLACEMENT FEATURE - This month I had spent a great deal of time in Oxygen’s charity shop. In the UK instead of large warehouse thrift stores each charity runs a shop, typically on a main road. Oxygen’s is located in New Malden. It serves as a community hub for people of all ages to come to volunteer, shop, and for support. It is a big part of my week to go there and engage with the other volunteers. It is always a surprise what experience I will have there, but in the best way.REFLECTIONS - Throughout my life I have been a person that is focused on the “destination” of life. Something I struggle with is focusing on the journey and finding peace in that. This year has really shown me that through the compassion of my community. There have been many moments where I think a need or wish for the year and set it aside and continue on. Then through the kindness of my community it will magically appear. One thing I had hoped for was a plant. As I am only here for a year I did not seethe need to go out and buy one. One day during a conversation in the charity shop, one of Oxygen’s volunteers Annchi asked if I had a plant. I said I had thought about it. That next week she walked in for her shop shift and plopped a plant down in front of me! It was such a simple thing, but to me it meant so much. There have been many acts of kindness such as this, where my community has shown up in ways like this showing my presence here means something to them. ... See MoreSee Less
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