EXPLORE Internship reflection: (June 1st – June 7th)
GOODBYE, MAY! HELLO, JUNE!
Early Sunday morning, I prepared the altar for communion. Between services, I visited the children’s Sunday school classes to meet the kids since I would be teaching them this summer in Sunday school. They are all wonderful kids that are so loving and caring towards one another! After church, my associate pastor and I attended a church family’s family reunion. I can certainly say that I have never been in a church where half of the church is in attendance at one family reunion. Haha It might as well have been a church gathering, if you ask me. The food and people were remarkable. Honestly, half the time, I did not know what I was putting on my plate, but I was totally okay with that. If that family published a cookbook, I would be the first to order it. The people were even more spectacular. I had met most of them, but of the few that I had not met, they were very welcoming and interested in my life and experience at the church. Later that evening, I went out on my host family’s pontoon boat for a casual stroll.
Monday, I continued to work on watching the Nest videos and putting together the girl’s bible study. I got in an afternoon nap! J
Tuesday, I continued to work on stuff, and had an evening VBS meeting at the church. I found out that I am leading the Preschool class VBS, who will be kept mostly separate from the older children. The church’s power was off because power lines were being repaired, so it was not a very productive day, but I got to work from home in my jammies!
Wednesday was a meeting marathon day…. Literally. I had a staff meeting at 9am, and worship design team meeting at 10am, a meeting with my senior and associate pastor at 12n, and a local missional network meeting at 1:30pm. We had our church’s family dinner night at 6pm, and I had one final meeting at 6:45pm for the children’s council. The rest of that day is a bit of a blur. I left to go home at 8:45pm.
Thursday was catchup day in the office in terms of trying to get things ready for summer Sunday school and the bible study. However, I had dinner with a church member and her family that I am sure will change my life this summer. She has had various forms of terminal cancer for 6+ years if I remember correctly. She has been so close to dying so many times she is truly a miracle. She has three young children, the oldest is 7 and the youngest is almost 2. She has planned her funeral, her burial, her everything already knowing that her life is limited, yet she is a spectacular mother and always has a smile and warm hug to offer. What a witness this young, beautiful woman has brought to my life. I pray that one day, regardless of my circumstances, I can be the type of mother that she is.
Friday was a normal workday working on the same big things. I also served in the youth center again form 6:45-10:45pm. The Youth Center is a church initiative that has been around in this community for 15+ years and offers an alternative place for school aged people (7th-12th grades) to go on Friday nights. Mostly it is made up of middle school young kids trying to navigate the uncharted land of puberty. That night, my job of selling pizza was secondary to giving life advice. This year, time after time, God has been pretty in-my-face about letting me know that I have been placed in situations for a reason. That night there had been a girl at the Youth Center that was very loud, very obnoxious, and very clingy to this boy (who I found out she had been dating for 8 months) who just couldn’t be pleased. At one point, when she was mad at her boyfriend for going outside to play football, she sat down at the bar on the kitchen window and talked to me and another guy for two hours. She told me (yes, after some innocent questions/small talk) that she was going into high school as a freshman and was terrified. When I asked why, she spouted suicide, self-harm and bullying statistics. So I asked her again, so why are you afraid to go? Why does that worry you? She didn’t really answer, so I asked her if she is worried about those things because those are things she has experienced. She told me of the names people called her at school because she “was fat” and told me that they would not stop even after she told the teachers. She seems pretty persistent about the fact that she was ugly and fat and they would never be nice to her. She spoke highly of her father, which surprised me. I wondered, why had he not told her she was worth more than their opinions? Why did she not have someone telling her that she is better than that? She spoke lowly of her mother, and I wondered what had happened with that relationship. I wondered how a mother could not tell her daughter that she is of infinite worth and beautiful inside and out. I struggled internally as I listened to her and watched her interact with her peers. At one point, when everyone had wandered off, and it was just me in the kitchen window, and her at the bar, I said something to her that I think she has never heard before. I told her that I think she is worth more than those bullies’ negative opinions of her and that I thought she was beautiful. She was almost in shock and dropped her head disagreeing with me. It breaks my heart that she has never had anyone tell her of her worth. Nights like that tell me that I am where God wants me to be.
Saturday, I attended a 10am VBS meeting for our VBS volunteers. I have been in the United Methodist Church my whole life, but I have never been at a church that is so serious about following Safe Sanctuaries like they should. (“Safe Sanctuaries” is a set of guidelines to protect children from sexual abuse. The thought is that by protecting children and innocent volunteers, you are creating a “safe sanctuary.”) It was refreshing to hear my associate pastor train the volunteers and emphasize the importance of the policy and the church’s commitment to protecting the children. That night, I went to see “The Fault in Our Stars” with a college friend, and I cried like a baby the entire time. It certainly is a story that makes you think about your priorities in life and how where you invest your energy says a lot about you.
Sunday my role in the worship services was to offer the prayer of the people before the offering. It was graduate Sunday, and it was nostalgic to see the graduates stand before the church most likely apprehensive about the future, but very excited. My grandmother and great aunt surprised me and came to the 11am service, and we had lunch after church. At 4pm, I helped out with our monthly 5th/6th grade youth program as we talked about what is means to be a follower and not just a fan of Jesus. This what especially exciting, because I was able to meet many of the kids that would be in my small group bible study in a few weeks. After that, I went to the youth group end of the year lake party (where it was raining). The youth group is very welcoming, accepting, and they are seriously just wonderful young men and women of God. It is life-giving just to be around them and their wonderfully involved parents.