Friday, June 7, 2013


I am currently sitting in a coffee shop trying to digest the bittersweet ending to an indescribable year at the Diocese of Virginia.

Today was my last day at my yearlong internship in the Office of Mission and Outreach at the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. This will be a short post because I cannot truly describe in words what the past year has meant to me. I was blessed with opportunities to challenge and grow my skills such as writing articles for the Virginia Episcopalian to website management to running a couple of meetings. I was, also, gifted with unforgettable experiences like translating on a medical mission to the Dominican Republic to seeing firsthand an organization's work fighting for human rights in El Salvador to sharing new ideas about mission in Bogota, Colombia.

Office of Mission and Outreach!
However, the truly amazing part was waking up every morning and loving the thought of going into the office knowing I would be greeted by wonderful people. I looked forward to the anticipation of not always knowing the day's tasks. While work is work and there are always parts of the job you won't enjoy.The saying is true, "if you choose a job you love, you will never work a day in your life."

My empty office. 
I will greatly miss everyone at the Diocese. They truly were like a family that welcomed me with open arms! They taught me a great deal throughout the year which has prepared me for my mission and journey ahead. And it is wonderful to know their support is always behind me! I know it is not really goodbye because I will be back in a year to share with them about my year in the Philippines!

They threw me a wonderful goodbye party today with some filipino food, a grass skirt, goodbye blessing and beautiful gifts! Here are some pictures from it:
Mango Daquiri with a little umbrella!
Spread of delicious Filipino food and the best Red Velvet cake ever!
A beautiful plaque of memories from the past year at Mayo House!
A gorgeous basket from Burundi which signifies gifts, support, and love.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Having Faith

This past Sunday was Youth Sunday at St. James' Episcopal Church in Leesburg. I was invited to preach about YASC and present at the adult forum to fundraise. As my home parish which I grew up in, I was extremely excited and nervous about preaching. Fortunately, it was my third time up at the pulpit and it is such a wonderful, supportive community. And I felt so appreciative that the loose plate offering is being donated for my YASC journey!

I wanted to share my sermon, so here it is.

"Good Morning, I am happy and grateful for another opportunity to be preaching in front of you all today at St. James’ which I consider a second home. For those of you who don’t know me, I am Ashley Cameron and I’m a longtime member of St. James’. Four years ago, I stood up here celebrating youth Sunday and my completion of high school. Last year, I had the pleasure of preaching again, this time to celebrate my receipt of a college degree, a Bachelors of Science in Economics and Spanish.

And so you are probably wondering why I am up here again for a third time, a second year in a row.

Because I don’t think I qualify as a “youth” anymore to preach on “youth” Sunday, but to most of you probably still think I am a youngin’,

Sunday's Bulletin with an awesome graphic drawn by one of the youth.

The main reason I am here this morning is to speak about the Young Adult Service Corps or for short we call it “YASC.”

Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) is a ministry for young adults who are interested in exploring their faith in new ways by living and serving in communities around the Anglican Communion. It is specifically designed for Episcopalians ages 21-30. Service begins in late summer/early fall of each year. Missionaries have been sent to over 33 countries over the past 13 years. They have managed websites, provided administrative support, participated in medical programs and contributed to the mission and ministry of our Anglican Partners around the world.

Bulletin insert with an introduction of the guest speaker, me!

I am happy to say, I have been accepted as a Young Adult Service Corps member and been placed in the Northern Philippines. There I will be working with St. Mark’s church’s Episcopal Development Foundation in Santiago City. That work includes helping manage funds of a program that gives loans for poverty alleviation projects of local communities. Which I am very excited about because it fits directly with my passion of mission and development.

When I first tell people about my upcoming journey, they ask,

“when do you leave?”

“what type of place will you be living in?”

“what language will you have to learn?”

And these are all valid and reasonable questions, I simply do not have the answers, right now. I have faith that all my questions will be answered in due time. I have faith that it will all work out beautifully.

What do I mean by faith?

In the gospel today, John talks about the slave who has great faith. Jesus says, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” The centurion always knows that if he asks the slave to do something he will get it done. The centurion does not have to always be present or watch over the slave’s shoulder. He has faith that the slave will always be loyal to get the work done. And Jesus rewards that great faith with good health to the slave to continue to live a full life.

Faith is knowing that if you truly live out the one true gospel of Christ, there will be a great, fulfilling end result.

This past year, I have had the pleasure of working as an intern in the Office of Mission and Outreach at the Diocese of Virginia. The experience has been truly wonderful and it has greatly prepared me for my upcoming work as a missionary.

One major lesson I have learned by assisting churches and parishioners to prepare to go on mission trips is you have to help them realize that not having all the answers is ok. The job of our office is to mainly assure people that a mission trip will shape their life. It will be an incredible, fulfilling experience. It is not necessary to have all the answers right away. Simply, know that it is rewarding to go and be surprised at the experience God shapes you with. See what challenges he throws your way and learn what you can overcome.

That is Faith.

As long as you know and have faith that the end result will be good, you may not know what that end result will actually look like but you know it will be grand.

St. James’ as a community has had the greatest faith in me throughout almost my whole life. You all planted the original seed. You all said that sixteen year olds could be a part of that mission trip to New Orleans back in 2006. And so you gave me an opportunity and an experience that shaped my viewpoints on the importance of serving others.

Then St. James’ said we want youth to be able to travel to Liberia, Africa to serve those at Bromley Episcopal School. And your faith that sending six youth to Africa would turn out all right, helped me bring light to those suffering in the dark.

The most talented group of youth leading the service and singing "Lean on Me."

You all. All of You in this congregation have had no greater faith in me. You all, as a community, planted the original seed for my passion in mission and outreach. You have helped water and nurture and grow this seed. None of you knew what the end result was going to be. You had faith.

And now I am here asking you to help continue to water this seed, by supporting me in my missionary work to the Northern Philippines. I cannot do it alone.

The most important part of being a missionary is developing relationships. I am representing not only THE Episcopal Church but the Diocese of Virginia and all of the parishes that it consists of. That includes all of you. I will be working to connect this diocese, its regions, its parishes and all of its members with the diocese in the Northern Philippines.

I am here to invite you all to be a partner with me on my mission and this journey.

As part of YASC I must raise $10,000 which boils down to $30 a day. I have been blessed to already have raised over $7,000! And it has all been accomplished by parishes and parishioners who see themselves as partners with me in my mission as I go and spread the one true gospel as a representative of this Diocese and this parish.

While I may be the one on the ground, serving those face to face, it will be knowing that the support of this St. James’ community is behind me that will help me in my work. It is not a solo effort, but a communal one. This is the community that has loved me, reared me and inspired me to serve the least of these and share in God’s work.

As a community, You planted the original seed. You had faith. You helped guide me to this experience that will allow me to work with our brothers and sisters in Christ on the other side of the Anglican Communion.

And as I work to build relationships with the people of the Northern Philippines and integrate into the community, I will remember that the heart of St. James’ is behind me. Therefore,

Never stop having faith.

Never stop planting the seeds of passion for mission in young people.

Never stop watering, growing and nurturing them as a community.

You never know what the end result will be.