Friday, July 26, 2013

Mission trip to Guatemala

Our fabulous youth and adult advisors left last night for their mission trip to Guatemala! In Guatemala City they will work with the organization Safe Passage for a week. Safe Passage is located in the slums adjacent to the Guatemala City garbage dump. It's mission is to provide a way out of poverty through education. Safe Passage is not a school, it is a support center that helps children with their schooling and works with parents as well.

The group of 17 have spent nearly a year preparing. Meeting monthly they: created a covenant, learned about Guatemala, raised funds, and planned lessons for their time in the children's classes. They are being led by a really wonderful group of adults: Mindy Whisenhunt, Randy Jennings, Roz Dahl, Dan Mackay, and Jon Marr. Mindy, Randy, Roz and Dan are also senior youth advisors, so they really know the youth they are traveling with well. Mindy, Roz and Jon traveled with the group on their last mission trip to Guatemala two years ago.

They are all representing FUSS (soon UUSS) and our Unitarian Universalist faith out in the world. I have no doubt that they will represent us with joy, kindness and compassion. They will be changed by this trip and they will change others too; this I know from personal experience.

A little history: This is the third time our congregation has helped send youth on a mission trip to Guatemala. Our connection began on a beach in Maine, UU retreat center Ferry Beach, when Mindy Whisenhunt learned about Safe Passage. Mindy has worked tirelessly maintaining a connection to Safe Passage, traveling there on her own and leading these three trips.

KIRTAN comes to the Great Hall

July 21, we worshiped all together with the Albany Kirtan Band! There was drumming and chanting and singing. There was a labyrinth in the back people could walk. There were mandalas that could be colored. Kelly Jennings led a wonderful version of the bond of union. We shared blessings.

Interfaith work

I have been working with a group of Native Americans and allies since January on an event that happens Saturday, July 27! I have loved every minute of it. Our local radio show, WAMC, had a great piece on it.

Between Idle No More, the Unity Riders and Honor the Two Row, I am ready to follow the lead of Native peoples saying we need to work together to heal ourselves and this land. Violence, oppression and racism, which Native peoples know and have experienced, damages EVERYONE. Which is why Onondaga Chief Jake Edwards has said that healing needs to happen on all sides

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Healing Gardens

Last Sunday was our first day of summer Religious Education for children!

We started preparing an outdoor space for an herbal garden. We will plant lemon balm, aloe, calendula, nasturtium. Maybe even sunflowers!

Lemon Balm

We made lemon balm lip balm using these ingredients: 
fresh lemon balm infused in almond oil
shea butter,
local beeswax,
 local honey,
 wheat germ, 
  essential oil of lemon.

I found the lip balm recipe for this online at "Herbal Roots Zine." The magazine is geared towards children; you can download an entire issue about lemon balm.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer Religious Education Classes Begin Sunday

Religious Education classes for children start this Sunday from 10:30-11:15 AM. Classes are structured for children ages 5-10 years.  Older children are welcome to help with the class. A nursery is available for children birth to age 4.

This summer will be similar to last in structure. We will explore our seventh principle; acknowledgement of the interdependent web of existence. We will do this with games, art, story and explorations of the gardens and area around FUSS.

We will again work on an outdoor garden. This year's will be a plant medicine garden. We will grow aloe, calendula, lemon balm and nasturtium. Throughout the summer children will have a chance to work on a children's herbal kit.

Similar to Maria Montessori teaching methods, after a gathering time, chalice lighting and story, children can choose which activities they would like to explore for the remainder of the morning. Many activities will remain the entire time, others will change weekly.

The books the activities and stories are drawn from include:  The Kid's Herbal Book, by Lesley Tierra, Planting Seeds, by Thich Nhat Hahn, Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots: Activities To Do in the Garden, by Sharon Lovejoy, and  Native American Gardening, by Michael Caduto and Joseph Bruchac.