Frannie Dyer, 2016-17 Volunteer, Imani House
This past May I graduated from Wittenberg University, a experience that tested me in all aspects of life – academically, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Throughout college, I was able to further discover and grow into myself – a self that identifies as Lutheran, open minded, and hungry to change the world. I heard about LVC during my junior year of college through chapel talks from LVC alumnae. The idea of a year of service began to sound really appealing. LVC sounded fun, exciting and extremely challenging. I knew that I would be tested in ways I had yet to be tested and would have the chance to learn and grow.
National orientation gave us the wonderful opportunity to discuss systematic racism on a large scale, the idea of “race”, and how we all have privilege. I was pleased that these topics were not sugar coated and that we could openly discuss our biases and prejudices.
I appreciated that the idea of a “safe space” was replaced with the idea of a “brave space.” Where, together, we could create a space that allows for us to be vulnerable and admit our faults and talk about how to overcome them.
With brave spaces, we are better together and have a vast amount to learn from one another. With brave spaces, everyone has stories and experiences that have shaped them to be who they are.
Almost as soon as I arrived with my housemates in North Minneapolis, I was struck with the reality of gentrification. I noticed that the buses aren’t quite as efficient in black neighborhoods, and that the grocery shopping is limited. These are just a few examples. When I met people and they asked where I was living, many of the reactions I received were less than positive. From whites and blacks alike, I have heard many times over, “Be careful”, “You should move somewhere else”, “Oh, I’m sorry”, and “That’s scary.”
At first I was unsure how to respond to these comments. Now, I think of it as an opportunity to tell others more about my neighborhood. Yes, it has its problems, as does every place, but more importantly and noticeable are the community building efforts which surround North Minneapolis. Such as the business, Cookie Cart, which employs high school youth in the area and prepares them for future careers. They also have free cookies on Sunday so check that out if you’re ever in the area!
I’ve found that people look out for each other here and there is a strong sense of hope for the future.
My experience at my placement site so far has been surprising, exciting, and challenging. I serve as Communications Assistant at Global Health Ministries (GHM) in Fridley. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the amount of responsibility I’ve been entrusted with. I’ve had the opportunities to meet doctors, pastors, and church leaders from around the world. I’ve also been able to view, firsthand, the different steps for shipping medical supplies overseas. Since I’ve arrived, GHM has loaded and sent shipments to Zimbabwe and Tanzania and are currently working on a shipment to Liberia!
It is wonderful to speak with the many volunteers that give their time to GHM and to hear their stories of why they’re involved. It’s safe to say that the majority of our volunteers are over 60 years of age, with some in their 90s!
The volunteers, my boss and my co-workers inspire me daily to continue living a life of service and hospitality.
Living in intentional community has been a huge blessing already, and I’m incredibly thankful to share a house with four other volunteers. Our first night together we were all a little anxious but very excited to finally be in Minneapolis. Later in the evening, it began to storm – thunder, lightning, pouring rain, the works. Suddenly, we heard a noise, and the house went dark. That’s right, the power went out. Our first night here.
Thankfully, the previous Imani house volunteers left us several candles and a lighter. We lit the candles and gathered around our dining room table with a drink, while sharing in fellowship. Laughter filled the house as we took in where we were, the irony of the power outage, and the anticipation of the year ahead.
That first night, though nervous, I felt a warmth in my soul as I spoke and laughed with these four lovely women.
I pray every day that we are able to continue digging deeper within ourselves, share with one another, and face any challenges together.
I look forward to what lies ahead and to see where God takes us throughout this year of service, seeking peace with justice.