Updates and whatnot

It’s been just over 4 years since I’ve left Brazil.  A few weeks ago I was talking with friends about how I miss the monthly (more-or-less) prayer letters I would write – updates and reflections and communication with acquaintances, friends, family, and loved ones near and far.  I find that with the pace of life over these last two years (as well as a growing rootedness here in Chicago) it’s made it more challenging to be as invested in lives of people who are far away.

So, in the spirit of that, (and in celebration of the extra time that I have on my hands due to having survived year two of my master’s program!!!), here’s a little update on some of the highlights from the past year or so, as well as a little window on what is next…

– school – I’ve just finished (as of last week) my second year at TEDS in their Mental Health Counseling MA.  I’m so thankful for the space to learn and be challenged personally and professionally.  I’m done with coursework (except of one class I’ll be taking in the fall), so much of the next year will be taken up with my internship.  Assuming all goes well, I’ll be graduating this coming May…  and then, who knows…  =)  I do love Chicago, and would be open to staying – but it might be the perfect time to make another move…

– internship – As of next week, I’ll be starting my year-long, 1000+ hour internship at a private practice out in West Chicago called Lifetime Behavioral Health. LBH has a partnership with the local school district, which means that I’ll be working with kids (K-8) and their families who are referred by the school social workers.  70% or so of the population in that school district is bilingual, so I’ll get to use my Spanish in a counseling setting, which I’m looking forward to.  It should be a great learning experience, although it’s already a little humbling.  During my first meeting with a client, they asked about the possibility of coming in with their spouse for marriage counseling – definitely a humbling experience, but then again it’s what I’ve been studying for the last two years, so it’ll be fun to see how I am stretched and challenged in the next year putting it all into practice.

– work – I’ve been working at an organization that provides short-term residential care for undocumented, unaccompanied minors (12 and under, mostly from Central America) while we work at getting them reunited with their family members in the US.  I just celebrated my one year anniversary with them, and it’s been a stretching, busy, joyful, heart wrenching experience.  I’ve learned much, and it’s been a delight to be working in such a multicultural environment with people who are passionate about what they do and the kids they serve.  I have MANY stories… =)

– community – So thankful for the community that has sprung up around me here in this city – friends from school who live in the city, friends who share musical tastes and will accompany me to concerts, friends from church and small group that make me laugh, aren’t afraid to look foolish in the pursuit of celebrating life, and generally help me live a more grounded, sustainable, joy-filled life.  Chicago’s been a great city to call home.

– family – In the past year, my parents have continued to be invested in Bible translation, spending time in Nepal, India, Guatemala, and Peru, as well as lots of time spent Skyping with folk from all over the world.  It’s fun having them fairly close by in Rockford (at least when they’re not half-way around the world) for special days and family connecting.  Kaitlyn was married last summer – and her husband Adam is great.  They’re prepping to make the move from the LA area to DC this summer, so they’ll be a little closer (at least in theoretical range of long-distance driving trips, or maybe even meeting up half way for some camping in the Smokies!)  =)  Jon and I were able to go visit Carly for a week in Korea towards the beginning of March, and it was wonderful seeing her city, her community, her school, her friends, and her world there before she left to return to the US at the end of March.  So now she’s back in the US from Korea for good (at least for a little while.)  She’s currently hoping to be here in the Chicago area, so I’m excited for the chance for her to be close by for the next bit.  And Jon is currently visiting from Florida for a week or so before his summer gets under way working, interning, and generally being a Florida beach bum until the school year starts up again for him, where he’ll be entering his sophomore year at Stetson University.  We’re all well, and blessed…

– balance – A professor shared that the pace of life that you have while in grad school is probably the pace of life you will maintain once you finish.  With that in mind, I’ve been trying to make more space for friends, for home-cooked meals and bottles of wine and conversation around the fire, for connecting, for volunteering and service, for exercise and self-care (with varying degrees of success…)  Slowly learning what to say yes to, and how to make space for the things that are life-giving (such as long runs by the lake, hammocks in the boulevard, writing, and connecting with friends over words or play…)  I’ll be setting aside time to write on here at a minimum weekly, so subscribe, or check in every now and then to see what’s new.  And if you’re close by, let’s hang out…  =)

All in all, I’m thankful.  Blessed.  Surrounded by beauty and meaning.  And trusting that, for the moment, I’m right where I’m supposed to be…



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4 responses to “Updates and whatnot

  1. Thanks for sharing all this Ben! I love reading your blog and this is really helpful to fill in the details that have been the backdrop for everything else you write about!

  2. Faye Chechowich

    Hi Ben,

    Wonderful to read your “catch-up” blog. Thanks for keeping in touch.
    I can only imagine that with your work with the undocumented, immigration reform is close to your heart. Mine, too!


  3. Melody

    Congrats on completing year two at Trinity, Ben! Great to hear what you’ve been and are up to. Hammocks on the boulevard sound like a particularly sweet part of life at the moment!


  4. Rebecca N

    move to philly! we’ll find you a job! we’d so love to be close to you again! and you’d be close to your sis in dc.
    i know you’ll be a great counselor for kids, couples, whoever.

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