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Dear Friend,

As the last day in what has been a year of many transitions, it’s time to say good-bye to 2011 and hello to 2012. I always look forward to New Years Eve, in some ways I think it sets the tone for my entire year. I’ve had some horrible New Years Eve’s, but I’ve also had New Years Eve’s that have been absolutely fabulous, each leaving me with hope or despair about the year ahead. So many things have happened this past year, I drank lots of tea and played hours of telephone pictionary with friends, I went to CADCA for the last time with Youth Council, went on a choir trip to Puerto Rico, graduated from high school, celebrated at the beach for a week with some of my closest friends, went to MCUSA Convention in Pittsburgh, Turned 19, Started college at EMU, made a whole bunch of NEW friends all while maintaining the old (I am proud of this one), Declared a program: Social Work major with an art and peacebuilding double minor, Started working at Gift and Thrift twice a week, I decided to stay on the CMC Worship Committee, I had some really amazing, profound spiritual experiences, I even signed up for a job I don’t know if I can do or not… such is the way of life…

As I’ve mentioned before, I like to think of today as a time of reflection, a time of saying I’ve enjoyed the past year but it’s time to welcome in a new beginning. Now I think it’s especially important to set aside time to remind oneself of values and New Years Eve is, for me, this time. As most people who know me are aware I believe that we are called to love others, that the command to love other people is in many ways the concentrated version of Jesus’ message, and that this is what should be behind every decision we make… not that it always is, mind you, just that it should. For this upcoming year, it has been really important for me to find something to do over the summer. I don’t want to be a lazy bum sitting around all summer with nothing to do, and when i come back to school I want to have a story (or many stories) to tell, not “Well, I worked at *name random place here*, and it sucked…” I want to have a life-changing experience that has not only stretched me out of my comfort zone, but brought joy to my life. So I went digging. Eventually, after looking through Lydia’s book “500 Places to Make a Difference” I decided I wanted to work at a summer camp, not just any summer camp, but one for kids with serious illnesses. At first my crazy mind told me that I was being crazy, that I couldn’t do it, and was about to jump head first into something I knew nothing about, but isn’t that what I was asking for??? I asked my parents what they thought about it and they both seemed to think I would be fine, maybe this isn’t such a crazy idea after all… That being said I still had to find the right place… and I think I’ve found it. After a not so long search I found the Double H Ranch in New York, I plan on applying and can’t wait to see what happens. All I know right now is that this idea and place seemed to find me rather than the other way around, and that if this is where God wants me this summer the application process will prove successful. That being said I want open up an invite to anyone else out there who might be interested in doing this too. If this sounds even remotely interesting I suggest looking at their website (http:www.doublehranch.org) and poking around… personally, I can’t wait for this year to begin!!!

Love, Mandi Jo