We celebrated the 4th with fireworks in Avery County and Little Rock and rain in Kansas City, and a lot of excitement for our 2nd week of service. The committees are planning delicious meals, programs, weekend activities and more. The hammers, paint brushes and other tools are getting well used, with a few finger injuries thrown in alongside.
This week’s Torah portion is a double-header of Matot-Masei, the last of the book of Bamidbar. Like our AJSS trips, there are lots of moving parts in this parsha. The Israelites are preparing to head into the Promised Land and settle on the land they have been hearing about for the last 40 years. Defeating enemies, setting up laws, dealing with differing opinions are just some of what Moses has to contend with as he gets his people ready to go on without him. Like a parent getting his children ready for school, Moses makes sure that everything that needs to be done is taken care of before he lets the children of Israel head off without him.
On AJSS, the uncertainty and awkwardness of last week has been replaced with excitement now that our volunteers are learning the skills and tools to accomplish what they came to do. The staff, who took a major role in planning the first few days, have now turned the reigns over to the volunteers. At every site, in many different ways, the projects have taken off and the volunteers are taking a role in creating a memorable and meaningful summer.
The steps that Moses takes to create a unified community after he is gone are an important step for the children of Israel. Without them, they would have become disorganized after Moses left them. Instead, they can plan out what their community will look like in the future, guided by Moses. Similarly, our AJSS staff is proud that the individual participants of last week have become a unified community this week, able to plan and prepare for what the rest of the summer will look like.
It is an amazing transition to happen so quickly, and it will lead to a fantastic summer for all of our volunteers, our staff, and those in these communities we have the opportunity to help.