West St. Paul youth learns "gift of accompaniment"
Andrea Metcalfe spent a summer learning to connect with seniors in England.
At age 22, Andrea Metcalfe, a member of Augustana Lu-theran Church, West St. Paul, Minnesota, served as a 2002 Global Mission volunteer at the Ryelands Methodist Home for the Aged in London.
As part of the “Young Adults in Global Mission” program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Metcalfe traveled to the United Kingdom to learn about giving, receiving and “accompaniment.”
Young Adults in Global Mission is a one-year international service opportunity for ELCA members ages 19-30. Young people serve as volunteers and work in a supervised setting. Travel, housing, medical insurance and allowance are provided, and volunteers are required to raise a minimum of $3,000 for program support.
For the 2003-2004 service term, which began in mid-August, 32 young adults are volunteering in Argentina, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, Kenya, Thailand and the United Kingdom. Service in each area is designed to build leadership skills, spiritual growth, global awareness and understanding.
To prepare for service, young people take part in an orientation session to learn about what it means to be in mission.
“We gather in small groups and get to know one another. We also meet with mission personnel and missiologists of the church to learn about the ELCA’s accompaniment model and the changing roles of missionaries,” Metcalfe said.
After orientation, volunteers depart directly to their country of service, she ex-explained.
The ELCA’s Division for Global Mission employs an “accompaniment” model for mission overseas. It means that churches “walk together in service in God’s mission, each church having primary responsibility for its area.”
Metcalfe’s work at the Ryelands Methodist Home for the Aged varied from day to day. “Ryelands is a residential home for elderly people who cannot live independently and do not re-quire nursing care. Resi-dents have a diverse range of mental and physical abilities,” she said.
“My work included visiting those who had not had a visitor in a while, taking residents grocery shopping and escorting them to the hospital. I also sat with residents when they passed away. That was very difficult.”
Said Metcalfe, Life in the [United States] is fast-paced, and it’s also fast-paced in the U.K. But life in an old-persons’ home is not.
“In our day-to-day lives, we wouldn’t consider sitting down and having tea with someone to be all that productive. But it is, especially with someone who hasn’t had a visitor in a long time.
“Spending time with that person is just as important as anything else.”
She said, “The relationships I’ve made with people at Ryelands will last far longer than relationships made on any vacation. I have a greater appreciation for the trials some people face in their day-to-day living.”
Today Metcalfe serves as recruitment assistant for young adults, Division for Global Mission, a one-year contract position. Her re-sponsibilities include meeting with students attending the ELCA’s 28 colleges and universities, as well as with students involved in Lu-theran campus ministry programs at state colleges and universities. Young adults make up 30 percent of all ELCA missionaries, she said.
“I share my story and experiences with others because they had a big impact on me.”