The Hearth is for young adults returning from service
Through the Krista Foundation, Linda and Jim Hunt welcome young adults, Krista colleagues, who have served in 60 countries and 52 U.S. cities to a "soul space" in their back yard.
In 2000, they replaced a run-down barn with a guest center that has Latin American, Asian, African, and Northwest-theme rooms, and is surrounded by a garden with an Asian water fall, Latin American patio, American fruit trees, a secret garden and a prayer garden.
Intended as a place of beauty and peace, it helped them heal from the death of their daughter Krista Hunt Ausland in a 1998 bus accident in Bolivia, where she was volunteering with her husband, Aaron.
To honor her spirit of service, the Hunts, family and friends launched the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship, an ecumenical, Christian nonprofit with the vision of supporting other young adults who do a year or more of service.
The Hunts call their back yard "soul space" the Hearth. Krista colleagues build community there while coming for conferences and debriefing retreats when they return from service.
Linda captures that "soul space" in a book with 180 color photos, quotes from "wisdom voices," and stories of some of the 300 young people who have come. The book is Soul Space: Creating Places and Lives that Make a Difference.
At 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 10, Linda will do a book signing at Auntie's Bookstore on 402 W. Main for Soul Space, which is sold there, at Kizuri and through the Krista Foundation.
Linda hopes the book invites people to know how important it is in this time of divisiveness to find "hearths"—places of welcome, inclusion, encouragement and beauty.
After their daughter's death, Jim, who taught history at Whitworth University and for 25 years took students on five-month service study programs in Central America, continued doing that.
Linda continued teaching at Whitworth, as director of the writing program and faculty leader of the service learning program, until resigning to be the foundation's initial director and to write.
They also continued to travel and learn about cultures and faiths of people around the world.
With experiences in service learning in the U.S. and abroad, they knew the importance for returnees to take time to debrief, but found that few programs offered debriefing to help young adults figure out what they learned and to reduce culture shock.
"We are not a sending agency," Linda said, "but come alongside young adults serving with existing agencies that use volunteers, such as the Peace Corps, Jesuit Volunteers, Presbyterian Year in Mission or Americorps.
"Unfortunately, most provide little debriefing support, so recently we received a $200,000 Murdock grant for consulting with agencies across America to encourage them to include pivotal debriefing and intercultural awareness," said Linda.
Before building the guest center, they gathered with friends for a "Blessing of the Hearth." Tiki lights marked the building's footprint. Those gathered shared prayers that young people and guests who came would find comfort, counsel, challenge, conversation, contemplation, compassion, confidence and courage.
The book's chapters follow those "c" themes as they share the narrative of Krista's service, of starting the Krista Foundation, of creating the Hearth and Global gardens, and of experiences of some of the young people—Krista colleagues—who have come there.
"Their stories and spirit of service give us hope in young adults and in our country," Linda said.
Jim, Linda and other helpers design and tend the garden, keeping it a place growing beautiful flowers, fruits and vegetables.
The garden is healing for Linda, who is now being treated for her third bout with cancer.
"I find the extraordinary in the ordinary, in bees returning to the lilac bushes, a praying mantis on a red dahlia, and the peace around the pool and fountain," she said.
She particularly enjoys Memorial Day weekends when a new Krista Foundation cohort meet for the first time. Within three hours, they relax, share in conversation and start friendships that are the basis of the long-term "colleague community" after they leave.
"It's also a powerful time when they come back to the Hearth after their service and share with one another their profound learning their questions and discernment on their next steps," she said. "It's a privilege to share in this.
In addition to young adults, she said other community groups find the Hearth a creative place to gather on occasion, such as Whitworth and Gonzaga staff, the Interfaith Council, church groups, the NAACP Spokane, St. George's faculty, international groups and individuals.
Those who come are guests, but many donate to the Krista Foundation. The Hearth and gardens are a family commitment, said Linda, using no resources from foundation donations.
The Hunts two other children enjoy visiting and offering support. Their daughter, Susan, and her husband, Peter, live in Newton, Mass., with their children Quinlan and Hunter. The Hunt's adopted Korean son, Jefferson and his wife, Kris, live in Hawaii with their daughter, Erin.
Their son-in-law, Aaron, married Gabriela from Bolivia. They have two children, Ava London and Thiago, whom Linda and Jim consider their heart grandchildren.
All three families come to the Hearth for family reunions.
The Krista Foundation also offers service leadership grants.
One recipient, Nathan Williams, a physics graduate who served in the Peace Corps in a poor village in Burkina Faso saw people struggling without basics like electricity. He used a $1,000 Krista Foundation grant to attend an international conference on solar energy in South Africa. Then he studied at Nelson Mandela University, to learn about using solar panels to provide electricity in villages like ones he served. He recently earned a doctoral degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is working with colleagues on energy needs in Africa.
Megan Menard, a biology major who volunteered a year in Portland, Ore., helping homeless men and women with acute needs after they were released from hospitals, used a $1,000 Krista grant to attend a Housing First Conference in Washington D.C. and then went back to college for a nursing degree. She now works with low-income new mothers in Spokane.
Colleagues also share their awareness of barriers to women leaving the sex trade in Ethiopia, of experiences of immigrant children in Tacoma or of developing urban U.S. community gardens.
Linda, a history major at the University of Washington, was 21 when she went to the Middle East and Europe with the future president of Fuller Seminary. That travel opened her to the world.
For information, call 939-6597 or visit kristafoundation.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, April, 2019