Do you ever have those days that are just blissful in an absolutely ordinary way, days that make you wonder why you don’t feel that quiet, subdued joy? Those are the best days.
Yesterday I spent the day in Westfield, a small(ish) town about an hour away from Princeton. Why? I was there checking out a congregation and youth group to see if they were a good fit for me and if I would be a good fit for them. I was put into contact with the reverend responsible for youth ministry at this church about two weeks ago, because another student here had told me that this church was looking for a youth intern. I was super nervous about even exploring this possibility, because I just kept thinking, “I don’t know enough yet to lead a youth group!” Well, that’s a lie and I know it. I have done youth ministry for so long that it comes very naturally, I just have to stop thinking about it so hard. Besides, I wouldn’t be solely responsible for this group, it would be an honest to God learning experience for me. There is plenty I don’t yet know about running a youth ministry and this internship would give me the opportunity to figure some of those things out.
The church is HUGE!!! I can’t begin to tell you how many people were in the one of THREE Sunday morning services I went to, but there were around 30 youth there for the Sunday School hour and probably 50 kids attended the lawn party later that afternoon. I am so excited and so nervous to work with a group that large. I couldn’t begin to explain my fears, but let me just say that at it’s largest my youth group was around 15 people.
During the SS hour, a woman talked to the kids about what autism is and what it might look like in someone their age. She also spoke about ways that youth might reach out to people who might have special needs and make them feel included as well as what ministry might look like with those kids. It was awesome! I mean, the thing that I want to do very most in the world is to develop ministry connections between “normal” youth and special needs youth! That is way over-simplified, but you get the idea.
After worship I had some serious time to kill, so I drove to the downtown area and was BOMBARDED by the street fair happening! No worries, I found parking and meandered for a bit. It was really nice to get to experience FestiFall, since I missed all the later summer/early fall events in KC. I had some lunch, I walked around the fair for awhile, and then I settled myself at a table outside a coffee shop to read and listen to music. I didn’t really get that much homework done, but it was really relaxing and more fun than I’ve had reading in awhile. Several people sat down at my table to drink their coffees or rest their feet. I even met a Portuguese water dog whom I was asked to watch while the owner purchased her hot beverage. I met some very interesting people and got a sense for the kind of people that made up this little town. And yes, I did take creeper photos of the people who sat at my table.
Around 3 I drove back over to the church and helped set up for the lawn party. There was pulled pork(salad for me), baked goods, games, friendship bracelets, and water balloons. I think everyone had a really fantastic time. I mostly met parents and volunteers, but I did catch the names of a few of the youth. One of the advisors for the middle school group is a sophomore in college who grew up in this particular church. She told me a lot about how the group functions as a ministry to the high school without really knowing that she was doing so. I guess the youth group is pretty transient in that large numbers of youth pass through, because the kids get really involved in sports and get slammed with homework. It’s a very affluent community, so there’s a lot of pressure on these kids. I may only see 20 of them on any given Sunday, but I probably won’t see the same 20 three weeks in a row and yet, they all get very excited about the ministry. I was told there there are typically close to 100 youth on the summer mission trip. Holy Moses! And this is the ministry I am stepping into. Get excited!
I really hope that the parents and the reverends liked me as much as I liked their kids. I really want to start digging into ministry on a regular basis again before I get rusty and I think this is the perfect community to spread my wings with.
This is a new beginning. I have a totally blank slate to work with and I plan on taking full advantage of that! I am now officially moved into the third floor of Brown Hall on the Princeton Theological Seminary campus. I am exactly 1154 miles from my parents’ front door. I am 1061 miles from the Central Methodist University main campus. I have already cried from both sorrow and laughter, fought my first cold, taken a Hebrew quiz, made friends that will last a lifetime, and gotten behind in reading for classes. I guess you could say I’m settling in.
I want to make it absolutely clear to everyone that all of the messiness of the past four years that has made its way onto the pages of this blog, are done and over and I don’t wish to rehash them. Yes, they have helped developed who I am and the character of my person, so I am willing to share my struggles as an understanding of that, but this is my new beginning and I am not going to waste a moment of it. The pains of the past are just that, the past. The people discussed in those pages who aren’t in my life anymore, aren’t in my life anymore for a reason.
Last semester, and even more so this summer, I tried to mold myself into the person I want to be. That is still and will always be a work in progress, but I feel like I have come so far from the girl who cried over boys who didn’t love her and who felt alone in the world. Will I deal with those things again in the future? Of course. I am a human being and I deal with human emotions and faults, but I hope from now on I can be a little smarter and a little brighter and carve out the future that I desire, the future that God has called me to.
I hope that I pray more and that I take more time to think things through before diving into relationships and arguments and every other kind of struggle I will face. I want to live more in God’s presence and know who and whose that makes me. I want to be free to be me and to feel and act like myself no matter the circumstances. I want to love myself the way that God loves me and maybe start allowing others to love me that way too. I don’t want to settle for less anymore, because I am not less than that.
I feel stronger and more able to face the life that lies before me. I know it will be hard at times; I have no doubt of that, but here I can build the community of ministers that will be so crucial to my ministry. I learned the importance of this during my time in Wisconsin and I am forever grateful to my friends there for the lessons they have and continue to teach me. In just the few weeks that I’ve been in New Jersey, I have already met people who lift me up and remind me that I am whole just as I am. What a blessing it is!
Thus far the things that are keeping me sane in the mountain of reading and homework are Pride and Prejudice, my SAI paraphernalia, Netflix, coloring, and Facebook. I actually had to go buy a new box of crayons, because I left all on mine in KC. I know! Shocking! But it was really nice to crack open that new box this evening. I have also invested in tea and coffee, because my life would not be complete without my favorite hot beverages. If anyone has any Oolong or Pu-erh they are willing to part with, I’d be eternally grateful. I have yet to find a real tea shop. I’m sure that when The Great and Powerful Aubs is here next she can help me out. 😉
Until the next post, be well, my darlings!