It’s okay that you dont miss me.

Here, in England, I get asked these two questions quite often; do you miss home? and What do you miss most from home? I usually respond too quickly with I don’t so much miss home, only miss people. What do I miss most from home? My mom, my dad, my brother, my aunt Tudy, my dog… The list could go on and on of people I genuinely miss. I came upon the strange realization tonight during my prayers that some of them don’t miss me.

It is quite a harsh realization to realize you aren’t missed.Here, I sit daily in prayer for everyone back home, friends, family, my church, social issues, justice and the wellness of my friends debilitated by Alzheimer’s disease.I regularly spend time lifting these people up in prayer and it just occurred to me that they don’t have any recollection of me. I miss them so much, yet I am not missed. It’s remarkably sad to reflect on the fact that they have touched my heart so profoundly and will never know their work.

Before coming to serve, I worked as a nurse aid on a memory care floor for a little over a year. It was one of the most heart breaking and beautiful experiences of my life so far. I was a witness to God’s abounding grace and his deep love in so many miraculous times. I had the unique experience of not just being an aid; to help them to the bathroom, get ready for the day or make sure they got from point A to point B safely. I was also whoever their mind perceived me to be; often I was a daughter, a neighbor, a niece, a grand-daughter, a friend. I smile at this because they weren’t just my residents, they were my grand-parents, my friends, my teachers.

I’d like to share a poem, which I carried with me as an aid in my scrubs daily.

Do Not Ask Me to Remember

BY Owen Darnel

Do not ask me to remember,

Don’t try to make me understand,

Let me rest and know you’re with me,

kiss my cheek and hold my hand.

I’m confused beyond your concept,

i am sad and sick and lost.

All I know is that I need you

To be with me at all cost.

Do not lose your patience with me,

Do not scold or curse or cry.

I can’t help the way I’m acting,

Cant be different though I try.

Just remember that I need you,

That the best of me is gone,

Please dont fail to stand beside me,

Love me ’till my life is done

I remember my last day of work so vividly. I did rounds of the unit eighteen times avoiding the end of my shift. I went into each room and sat with each resident affirming to them how wonderful it was to meet them and care for them. I felt God walking with me in those emotional moments, saying goodbyes to people not just for the evening, or the weekend or the holiday but forever. The residents always responded with a polite, “It was great meeting you too.” and many did the lovely, soft things that older people do, like hold your hand in theirs and pat it gently, wave and a nod, a smirk and hug. I am so glad I took the time to have these moments with my dear friends, I took mental snap shots of them and hold those in my heart. I carry those with me to remind me that they were teachers of profound lessons of patience, grace, forgiveness, innocence, joy, trust, dignity and above all Christ’s love.

I may have cared for them physically but they cared for me spiritually. My residents, my dear faith filled friends with Alzheimer’s were my caregivers.

Here is a poem, I wrote in response to Owen Darnel’s poem and dedicated to all of the residents at Bethany Retirement Living.

I Will Never Forget

BY Chelsi Argabright

You may never remember,

please know, I completely understand.

I will move on and carry you with me,

I will recall holding your hand.

You may never hold these memories,

The good times or the low

But I will cherish them all

that you lead me and taught me to follow.

Your mind was in another time,

Your heart was in another place,

You taught me to meet you and be present,

To accompany you in this space.

Thank you for showing me you,

that was the “you” before

That I had the privilege to see your heart,

And find God’s love at your core.

You may never remember me,

know that that’s just fine,

Because you changed my life, you see,

and taught me how to love mine.

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A Ship in the Harbor is safe but that is not what ships are for.

I woke up the morning of my flight feeling wonderfully and fearfully made. Slightly nervous, mostly excited and anxious to get to England. Adventure was awaiting me and God had plans for me, I could feel it.

Hopping on my flight, I was awaiting a wave of emotion where the reality of my decision to answer this call to service would wash over me but my plane landed in Birmingham, England and the only emotional turbulance I felt was that of watching the film “Still Alice”. (Definitely recommend) Otherwise, I felt nothing that resembled panic or fear. My heart seemed to be at ease.

I felt overwhelming excitement and joy when I saw my host parents, Mandy and Chris Dowson waiting for me outside my terminal with my name on a sign.  Adrenaline kicked in and I became instantly aware of the fact that THIS WAS in fact HAPPENING. We gathered my bags filled with my processions from home and hurried on our way to the house that I would make my home for the next year.

That drive from the airport to Claverdon was nerve-wracking, I found myself in the backseat having major anxiety about driving on the left side of the road, I could have put money on the fact that we would get in an accident. I was anticipating each corner to be a head on collision. We got to the house and I could have jumped out and kissed the ground. (It’s not the wrong side of the road it’s just different.) Maybe this was the wave of emotion, but it wasn’t what I anticipated. Instead, I was introduced to the wonderful comforts of my new home planted on the countryside.

My first couple of days were filled with copious amounts of coffee, lots of introductions and very little sleep. Sam, Mandi and Chris’s oldest son, just got home from serving God intentionally and traveling the world. He and I will be sharing the annex. (A garage that has been converted into an apartment.) Mandi and Chris also have a daughter Alice, who is my age and just recently graduated from College and another son, Barney, who is 16 years old. The Dowson family also opened their home to another young woman my age named Sai. She is a lovely girl from Iran. The family has grown from three to seven in just a matter of weeks.

The Dowson family is so incredibly generous and kind. I can only imagine how weird it is for them to have me here, bumbling around and clumsily trying to figure out how to eat properly with the fork in my left hand and knife in my right. Nevermind, my habit of hopping into the wrong side of the car almost everytime I get a lift anywhere. (Woops) Or the fact that when I cross the street I look for cars coming on in the wrong direction. So many awkward situations I have put myself into thus far. My host community wasnt anticipating the comic relief of my day to day struggles, I bet.

I surely am not in Fargo anymore living a few miles out of the village, Claverdon, it is peacefully quiet and rich with gardens and spectacular sunsets. I am sure it has marvelous sunrises too, but who am I kidding, I don’t see those. Claverdon is a beautiful village of about 3,000 people; it comes equipped with a couple pubs, a small store, a primary (elementary) school and the church. It is quaint to say the least, but what it lacks in luster, it makes up for with the most intoxicating and vibrant community.  I have only been here a week and I feel the community pulling me in with love, excitement and copioius amounts of generosity.

I came to Claverdon to serve them, however I feel I am being served with an amazing dose of grace, joy and hospitality. God is so Good.

Hello my name is…

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Chelsi.

I am a 20 something from Fargo, North Dakota. If you know nothing of North Dakota just chew on these few facts, It contains a little gem called Rugby, North Dakota, which is the geographical center of North America and it owes most of it’s pop culture fame to the Coen Brother’s who created the 1996, malicious snow packed movie “Fargo”. If you haven’t seen this gruesome film yet, keep in mind it was mostly filmed in Minnesota and we definitely don’t have quite as thick of accents. Last and certainly not least, we have the largest buffalo statue in the world! In all seriousness, I love North Dakota. What the state lacks in excitement the community makes up for with kindness, love and generosity.

I was born in Bismarck, raised in Fargo, went to Fargo North High School and Studied Organizational Communication and Marketing at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. I am a member of Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church. I enjoy playing the ukulele, watching old films (1940’s-ish), water-skiing, hiking, traveling, watching hockey and being an amateur photographer. I love coffee, chocolate and my favorite vegetable is broccoli. I am the proud mother to a two year old, border collie mix, named Lola. I adore my family and friends and God is awesome.

I am starting a new chapter. I will be embarking on a year of service with the ELCA organization Young Adult in Global Mission. (YAGM) For this coming year, 2015 – 2016, I will be serving a community in Warwick, England as a Youth Programs Director for the Church of Claverdon. I am so excited to begin this year as a servant of Christ and so terribly stoked to see what God has in store for me. I expect to feel lots of feelings, experience new things, adventure and be challenged at my core. God is already stirring my soul as I try to navigate the blogging world.

Keep up with my faith filled adventure as I uproot and head to England for the year via Facebook or this blog page.

If you would like to know more about the ELCA or it’s YAGM organization please follow the link.–  http://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Mission/Young-Adults-in-Global-Mission#sthash.W3QmJ49Z.dpuf

Peace and Joy,

Chels