Thursday, September 13, 2012

Journey to Baltimore?!

That’s right! My journey to BALTIMORE!! And what a journey it has been!
If I am honest with myself, and you, it has been a difficult journey. Two years ago I was ecstatic with the news that I was accepted to be a part of the Christian Associates (CA) team in Brussels. I started training and fundraising for the new adventure, but things weren’t coming together for me. I spent many long days and nights talking to God; asking question after question about what I was missing? Why aren’t things working out? Should I keep going down the path to full time missions? Finally I decided Brussels wasn’t where I was supposed to be, but I was afraid that I was running away from something just because it was difficult.
During this time I was also having many conversations with the Human Resources Director for CA. One afternoon I sat at my computer and began a skype conversation with the HR director, and I was scared. I was afraid to tell her that I thought the door to Brussels for me should be closed, but before I was able to bring it up, she did! I was relieved to know that it was a mutual decision, but immediately I started wondering what was next for me. Before I was able to ask, I was being offered a position on the training team for CA. I have always had a heart for training (probably with my background in education), so I jumped at the opportunity!
In January of 2012 I came on as part time staff with Christian Associates working 8 hours a week as the Training Special Projects Coordinator. Since January I have been helping with a lot of the prep and follow up for the three types of trainings we have with in CA; Soul Care, Team, and Culture. I have also streamlined the training manual.
While all of this was happening I started volunteering with Serve the City (STC) Baltimore and eventually joined the lead team, also as a volunteer.
As my passion and excitement grew for my new CA position and Serve the City Baltimore, I knew I needed to make a change. After more praying and more conversations with CA and STC, I am beyond excited to announce that starting October 1st I will be joining full time staff with Christian Associates; splitting my time between the CA Special Projects Coordinator and being the second ever staff person for Serve the City Baltimore! 

Half of my time will be spent working for Christian Associates is a church planting organization that started planting primarily in Europe, but now has extended church plants into North America and Latin America.  I will continue to help with prep and follow up for the trainings. I have recently been trained to be the Team Intensive Training Facilitator for North America. I have been certified by Gallup to be a StrengthsFinderTM coach. I will be adding StrengthsFinder coaching in the team trainings and begin one-on-one sessions with CA staff. My newest project is to begin running training webinars within CA. I have been told that this will be my new baby, so I’ll let you know how it goes! J
The other half of my time will be spent working for Serve the City Baltimore. Serve the City is inspired by Jesus, but open to all. We look to bring grace and mercy to the city by partnering with organizations that are already doing great things around Baltimore. We help provide volunteers to help the existing local organizations reach their goals. This summer STC Baltimore hosted 5 teams from Virginia, Ohio, South Carolina, and Maryland!
Once I come on staff I will be building more partnerships between STC and organizations throughout Baltimore. One of my dreams for this new position is to approach big businesses within Baltimore and offer to host/plan a volunteer day for their staff. Another dream is to get some of the Baltimore Ravens involved with Serve the City! 

Please pray about partnering with me and financially supporting me in this new adventure! If you would like to give click the "donate now" link on the right of the page. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Journey to Brussels Update...

Hello from Germany!!

Here is the latest update for Brussels!

Click here to see it in google documents!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Hello Friends! Ok, Don't fall over in your chair because I have finally posted. It has been a LONG time...7 months actually since I last posted. I'm sorry about that. Time went by and happened! There is a lot of update you on, but the biggest news is


A lot has to happen between now and then. The biggest is fund raising... which I'm working on now.

I will fill you in on details later about this journey and some other things going on in my life. Until then you can enjoy this!
I thought you could click on the image to see it larger. I can't get that to work, so you can view it HERE

Monday, September 28, 2009

Carter Partick Ridge Delaney

I started writing this post over a month ago, but it was too hard. I decided shorten it and was finally able to finish it...

I had the hardest phone I have received on August 10th. My mom called me to tell me that my 20 year old cousin, Carter, had been found dead. He had been attacked and killed by his brother's pit bulls in their house. He was found by his grandfather, my Great Uncle, who basically raised Carter. There are more details, but its the most horrific story I have ever heard so I will spare you from the details.

Carter is my second cousin. His mom, Shelley, and my mom are first cousins. They live about an hour away from here. We were very close when we were younger, but had lost touch for a while. Carter had survived bone cancer and the past 9 months had been coming to my mom for physical therapy. I would go over to the house to visit with him and Shelley. We were reconnecting, which I was thankful for. My last memory of Carter was sitting in my mom's kitchen. He called my mom a "physical terrorist" and we were joking about that. He was such a funny kid.

The first time I met Carter...he is 4 days old.

The viewing was very difficult. The first person I saw was my Great Uncle Paul. I hugged him and he began to weep on my arms. He looked at me and told me that he had a huge hole inside his chest that will never be filled again. It was an open casket which was hard for me to handle. I lost it when I went to see Shelley. She asked me to go to the casket with her and say a prayer for her and Carter. Through the tears I was able to force out a prayer. My brother was very strong while we were in the funeral home, but once he and I got into my car he broke down. There was only one other time that I have seen him break down like that...when I told him our parents were getting a divorce. That night we went back to my mom's, had dinner and hang out as a family.

The next day was the funeral. When we got to the church I gave Shelley a hug and she wouldn't let go of my hand. She asked me to stay with her until the funeral started. Whenever anyone would walk in the room we were in she would introduce me to them and tell them that I find my strength in my Christian faith. The service was a full Catholic mass, which really frustrated me. It wasn't personal. Not a single personal story about Carter. The priest didn't know him at all. After the burial we headed to a friend of Shelley's who had a reception. It was a celebration of Carter's life.

Saturday Shelley and Uncle Paul came to my mom's house. We were all exhausted. Shelley came shopping with me, to keep her busy and we just hung out.

That weekend was so hard for me. I felt that I had to be strong for my family, especially Shelley. I was glad to be there for her but it took a lot out of me. I really wasn't able to grieve until after the weekend with the family, and even now over a month later I'm trying to figure it all out. I don't think I will ever have all the answers, but I know that God is good even though horrible tragedies like this happen.

The service being a full Catholic mass allowed me to share my thoughts about God. I was able to share with my mom and my brother how God is much more personal than how he was depicted in the mass. He would much rather hear our cries, hurts, and how we really feel instead of the memorized prayers that were said. My mom was more responsive than my brother and we discussed this for a while. Ironically the day of the funeral was the 13 years to the day that I had accepted Christ into my life, and I was able to share that with my mom. I don't know what she took from the conversation, but it was the longest discussion that I have had with my mom about my faith and a seed was planted.

RIP Carter Patrick Ridge will forever be loved and never be forgotten.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Birthday Surprise!

My brother and I planned to surprise my dad for his 60th birthday. I called his work and got his birthday off for him, so Kyle and I headed north! It was a very nice time hanging out with family. My grandma and her husband Mike were also around visiting, which was an added bonus! I could tell that my dad really appreciated us coming up for the weekend to celebrate and spend some time together.

On Sunday my brother left early to get back to work and my dad had to go to work. I spent the day with my aunt, Grandma and Mike. We headed to noon mass together. I grew up in the Catholic church, but it had been a very long time since I had been back. I was really interested to listen to everything that was being said, since when I was younger I didn't care so I never paid attention. Its amazing how when you have certain things ingrained in your head that you remember them no matter how long its been. I remembered all the prayers from years ago. It struck me while we were in the mass that it is all about the rituals. I said the prayers that I was supposed to say, but for me it was mumbles and I didn't even think about what I was saying. Listening to the priest, he wasn't passionate about what he was saying, it was just the scripture to share for that week. Everything was so ritualistic. It made me question what in my life am I making ritualistic? What do I do because I need to check it off my to-do list, instead of doing it because my heart is in it?

When church was over we went out to brunch. Great food and great company, then off to the airport I went to head back home. It was great to be with family, especially my grandma. She is such an amazing woman!! It was a great weekend!! Happy Birthday Dad!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Every need has a name…Every name has a story.

This statement was the theme of Serve the City. We were constantly challenged to recognize that we are needy and recognizing that through “I am…I need” statements.

I am tired…I need rest.

I am a sinner…I need a Savior.

There were many people who I met and a few who really left a mark on my heart…

The first day we were traveling to different parks around the city giving hugs to anyone and everyone who would take them. Andrea, one of the teenagers on our team, had given a woman a hug, but came to me and said she really felt that she needed to go back to the lady. She asked for my lotion from my bag and went back to sit with her. Andrea learned quickly that the woman didn’t speak English, and was unsure of what language she spoke. She took the lotion and started to rub it into the woman’s hands. The woman started crying, and Andrea, being a compassionate person, started crying with her. They sat together for at least 30 minutes before our group had to travel else where.  I looked at the two of them wiping tears from their eyes, and told Andrea that it was time to leave. She tried to say goodbye to her new friend and collapsed in my arms sobbing. Through the sobs she said, “Erin, she is so lonely. I don’t want to leave her.” At that point I became teary eyed, and had an idea. I took a picture of Andrea and her new friend and we tried to communicate that we would be back. Andrea and I wandered the area looking for a kiosk to print the picture and bring it back. After 45 minutes of searching we were successful and went back to the park. She was so excited to see us coming back, and started crying again when we handed her the picture. We tried to communicate our names to her, when finally she pulled out her identification card. We learned that her name was Odeana and she was from Romania. We tried to invite her to the festival we were having on Saturday, but the invitation was in French and English, so it didn’t help her much. Every time we passed that park we would look for Odeana, but we never saw her again.

The second day of serving, the Stop the Traffik team (They worked in the Red Light district to bring awareness to Human Sex Trafficking) came across an abandoned office building that housed over 450 refugees who were there as squatters- men and women in protest because the government failed in giving them their papers. The Kamikaze Kindness team went there to bring them water and cleaning supplies. At first it was very intimidating to talk to the men as they surrounded us and were trying to take our pictures. I didn’t want my fear to put a barrier between the men and I, so I started talking to the ones who could speak English.  I learned their stories, how many of them have come to Brussels hoping for a better life and have been squatting for 8+ years waiting for their papers. Many of them didn’t work since they weren’t legal citizens, so they just waited for the day that they would receive their papers. Their integrity was admirable. Within the building there was a sense of brotherhood. They took care of each other and had writings all over the walls about how uniting together they would get their papers. Latiff was one of the men that I met. He came to Brussels from Morocco hoping to have a better life. He was so welcoming to me, offering me tea and something to eat. We talked for a long time and I invited him to the festival. He left a mark on my heart the way that he welcomed me into his home (or room) and served me, when I had gone to serve him. Later that week the first person that I saw at the festival was Latiff! It was so great to see my new friend again and hang out the rest of the day with him. I was running the 3v3 basketball tournament at the festival so I was able to get some of the guys to play basketball with him. When he finally had to leave I could tell that he didn’t want to. He told me that I was a good girl and he was so thankful for our friendship. He also said he had never had such a great day as he did that day.

I didn’t meet Nassir personally, but some of the kids on my team did. He was also in the refugee squat waiting for his papers. Nassir welcomed John, Andrea, and Chad by cooking them food and making them tea.  He shared his Islam faith with them while they were sharing their Christian faith with him. During the conversation Nassir shared that they had created a Mosque within the building and asked if they would like to see it. They went to the Mosque and Nassir showed them what an Islam prayer was, telling them that they could take pictures. When he was finished John asked if he had ever heard a Christian prayer before. Nassir hadn’t, so John asked if he could pray for him. Nassir responded that he would be honored to have them pray in his Mosque, so they go on their knees and prayed for Nassir!!!

On the last day we were cleaning up a nearby alleyway that was littered with trash. It looked like it was becoming a landfill it was so trashed. I was walking back to the EPEE center where a STC volunteer was asking if there was a car that he could use to drive a homeless man, who couldn't walk, to another part of the city so he could get his money. Unfortunately, all the cars that we had access to were in use, but Carlton (who was in charge of STC) quickly volunteered me to go with him and try to figure something out. By the time we got back to the homeless man some other Serve the City volunteers had met him and were trying to help him. We decided to call a cab. While we were waiting we learned that his name was James. Once the cab arrived we were walking James to get into the car, but when the cab driver learned who he would be transporting he drove away. We tried to think of what we could do, when I realized that Little Sisters of the Poor, which is a place for the elderly, was right down the street. We borrowed a wheelchair from them to push James across town. We finally got to the post and got him his money, and then pushed him to the store where he bough cigarettes and beer. We went to a nearby park and hung out with him for a while.

This trip really showed me to see people as people and not as the stereotypes and labels that the world has given them. People just want to be loved.  I pray now that I won’t allow myself to fall back into the hole of having a self-centered life– that instead I will constantly be looking for ways to love the unloved.  I want to learn people’s names and stories rather than seeing them as people with a need.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Serve the City...

Serve the City is showing kindness in practical ways to people in need. For the week of Serve the City there were 30 different projects to sign up with. Some of the projects included working with elderly, children, refugees, women, or doing practical work (painting, etc) at different places. The 6 of us signed up for Kamikaze Kindness, the project that sent us wandering the streets of Brussels looking for ways to spread love and hope through the city.

We did a wide variety of things throughout the city! The first serving day the dance team from South Africa traveled with us. They would do their dance to draw a crowd. Here is a video of them at the Skate Park we went to clean up and talk to kids.

We gave out free hugs to anyone and everyone! We walked around the city holding signs saying "Calins Grantuit" (which means free hugs) and would walk up to people and give them hugs.

One of the kids at the Skate Park grabbed the "Free Hugs" sign from Trevin and started going around to girls to get hugs from them. Trevin took the sign back but told the kid that he could make his own sign. Our paths crossed with those kids 3 times that day, and they had made their own Free Hugs sign and were giving free hugs to strangers just as we were!!
Twice we went to the train station for part of the day and waited for trains arriving from Paris and London and welcomed them to Brussels! It was a lot of fun yelling "Welcome to Brussels!" as they walked through to door and give people hugs. It brought many smiles to people's faces. I had one woman say to me "You don't know how much I need this hug right now." That made it so worth it!

While I was waiting for the rest of our group I was able to help a mom who was trying to control her kids while waiting for someone. Her kids weren't listening to her and running around everywhere, so I pulled out some bubbles that I had in my bag and started blowing them. The kids immediately turned and started playing with them. The mom looked and my and said "Merci! Merci! Merci!!" Its fun the little things that we can do that mean so much to people!

Cleaning was a big part of our serving. We carried trash bags and brooms with us wherever we went and cleaned anywhere we saw needed it. Chad was excellent with his cleaning skills! Friday, the last serving day, someone stumbled across an alleyway behind an apartment building that was FILLED with trash. It looked like a landfill. We spent the entire day on Friday cleaning up the alleyway and someone called the city to have them come and haul away what we put together. As we were leaving Carlton shared that they want to try to plant a garden where all the trash used to be.

Here's a video of the alley with Trevin's narration...

Cleaning up the alleyway...
John and Chad bagging trash
Trevin and I sweeping away! 


Robyn cleaning up trash
What a great week...and this is just a taste of the things we did!