Mission Plunge Jr., Van Driving, and understanding privilege.

So this week has been EXCEPTIONALLY busy. I intended to post everyday on this blog, but we all see how that went. Ah, well, life is life sometimes. So Tuesday, Wednesday, and today, I was an adult person type thing at North Avenue Presbyterian Church’s Mission Plunge JR., a day mission camp for kids in rising 1st-2nd grades. Before we get super serious, I must tell you that everyday this week, I’ve driven a 15 passenger van. Only two of those days with people on it, the first day was just a refresher. It’s SO STRESSFUL. I’m so glad I am not a bus driver, especially in Atlanta. It’s a job I couldn’t do for a living.

Now for the serious stuff. Our focus can best be explained by our bible verse for the week, Micah 6:8.”He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Now, I should state now that I’m a lover of the KJV. I like the poetic language and having to look up what things mean, but I also want people to be able to see what’s going on, so I’m going to add the Message translation, because I feel that looking at multiple versions is good for us, and I really like how it’s stated

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously.”

I really like this scripture. It informs a lot of my politics. I didn’t become a raging bleeding heart liberal just because it’s fun, but because I feel like these this God wants us to do are show here. So let’s just dive right in. This week brought home to me HOW EXCEPTIONALLY FREAKING PRIVILEGED I AM. Like, ridiculously so. Certainly, I am biologically female and identify with that gender, so that does grant me some fun things to deal with that my male counterparts don’t have to deal with, generally speaking, but I grew up in a middle class family, I’m white, Christian, and well-educated. Not only that, but I’m musically talented, so I’m good at stuff. People tend to think I’m at least alright as a person, so I’m not totally socially inept, I can pay my bills, and I have everything I need. Over the last number of years, however, I realized today I’m more worried about when I can’t have what I want. Priorities man. I eat at least 3 balanced meals a day, I have nice clothes, a car, a nice shelter, a nice bed, a tv, an xbox, a pet, and all other kinds of things I don’t need. I spend way too much money in my want category. Yesterday, the kids and all the helpers handed out about 150 lunches to kids who are on the Free and Reduced lunch program in Tucker, GA. These kids may not get to eat when they aren’t in school because their families must choose which need is more essential at any given time. Today we bought groceries to bring to Midtown Assistance Center at Publix. We walked both ways, discussing that many people who use M.A.C. must either walk or use public transit. We loaded up into the van and went to M.A.C. to deliver the food. The kids put it away, observing what was there. We did a few activities. Everything we were doing was about trying to create a world that is more equal. When I got home and was debating writing this, I realized how often I say that I’m “poor”. This is a flat out lie. No, teachers don’t make exceptional amounts of money, but I’m not in danger of being evicted, or having my power or phone shut off, or losing my car, or anything like that. So I was getting ready to plan out my groceries for the next couple weeks, looking at one of my favorite food bloggers (budgetbytes.com Love it, love the pun, love her stuff) and remembered she had done a SNAP challenge over the past two years. I recall a friend’s mom, with whom I am friends on facebook, posting about her experience doing this as well. So I’ve decided to take it on.

The reality is, I will be living with much more meager means next year. I’m aware of this. It’s a challenge that I’m looking forward to. Knowing I will be moving and dealing with that is in the front of my mind for the next couple months. So I’ve decided that perhaps it’s a challenge I should undertake sooner rather than later. I’m going to start with some recipes that this blog has, but then try to create some of my own. I’m also modifying for my time here slightly, as I’m trying to use up as much of what I already have as I can, so as not to waste it. So the plan is, $4.50 a day, $30 a week, $120 a month. I’m not fully sure what my budget will look like in Tucson, but when I interviewed for New Orleans, we were told the norm for there was $85 a month for groceries for each yav into a community budget. It’s not a lot. I’ve got things to pay and acquire before I go, so I need to save as much as I can. This is the current plan. I don’t know how it’s going to go, but I’ll surely be discussing a blogging about it. My plan is, over the next week to eat stuff that I already have, and after payday on the 15th, plan for the next week to start off, my budget outlined above. I’ve got a few weddings to attend this summer, so obviously I’ll be doing that thing. Gotta get my friends all married off!

I can honestly say, this makes me more nervous than anything else about this experience. I’m not good at “needs only”, and need to be. So we’re starting now. You can’t know what you don’t know, as the wonderful Dr. Madsen, one of my professors from college, says. So now it’s time to know, what is it really like to live on a strict, needs only budget. I’m only doing this for food, but can I handle even that?! We’re going to find out.

I hope that doing this helps me solidify my understanding of what poverty actually is, not because it’s something to be bandied about as a casual undertaking for the bored, privileged millennial, but because I truly don’t understand what it’s like to live on 4.50 a day. At all.

I promise to give candid, real updates weekly. I am going to do my darnedest to only have food outside at events, like weddings, and retreats. I’m not sure how good I’ll be at it. We’ll find out.

As always, the Tucson Borderlands YAV program needs your financial assistance, please check out the “About” page of my blog for the link to the site, where you can find the paypal to donate electronically, or for the place to send a check!

 

Peace and Love,

 

Rachel

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