Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer Adventures

I have not written in a while! Midterms, finals, moving into a beautiful rental house, it all seems to take up too much time! (Also that I allowed it to take precedence in my life, which is something I am becoming more aware with my walk with Christ.)

I have been home with my parents and since college stresses are but a dim memory, I am starting to think more and more about my summer project coming up.

Can I just say, God is too wonderful! I never imagine what he has in store for me (and I never deserve it) especially when it came to Orlando Operations Summer Project. Let me start all the way at the beginning because I can see God in pretty much every moment leading up to now.

After Winter Conference (which completely transformed my life) a couple who volunteers with TU Cru kept encouraging us to go on Summer Project. I had been inspired from Fall Retreat but I knew I had a few options for my summer and I thought I would apply, but I really was scared and insecure about the whole thing. But I continued to encourage others to sign up and do it. Mary, my mentor finally told me "Elise, you cannot keep encouraging Summer Project unless you yourself apply also. How can you keep telling others to go and do it and yet sit on the sidelines?" So, I started looking at all the summer projects and there were so many I wanted to apply to! Mary, being the greatest mentor ever, encouraged me to choose a summer project that put me out of my comfort zone and that I think about myself, not all the trips my family was going to take this summer, not which friends were going where, but where should I go? I first applied to Seattle Prison Ministry, but I originally did that because it fit my sociology background, I had always wanted to go to Seattle, and it fit right in with my family going to California and Colorado later in July. Perfect! Oh wait, this is all in my comfort zone. I really prayed about it and did not feel right about applying for this project.

I kept looking around at summer projects, should I go stateside or to another country? Is it paid? Do I need a paid project? How much does it cost? All these questions did not seem to help the overall narrowing down of choices. Mary once again stepped in and reminded me "Elise, you are trying to choose from the best of the best, God will take you where He needs you and it will be wonderful." This helped me a lot, because earlier I had been stressing about whether or not I would choose the wrong project. One day looking at projects I saw Boston Operations, it sounded interesting and also uncomfortable, but I knew some friends were applying there also, so I looked at Orlando Operations. It was generally the same but in Florida. So I decided to apply there (my other two options I put down were London and Seattle, allowing God to take me where He needed, stateside or not). Within 2 weeks I talked with the assistant director, got my application in and was accepted. It happened so fast I became a little scared that I had chosen the wrong one, yet God opened the doors for me to go so quickly! Orlando Summer Project was going to be from June 10-July 30 which happened to be when my family would go to Colorado, but I would miss going to California. I saw this as me not trying to fit within anyone else's schedule, but following my own. I had not really conversed much with my parents on my exact summer plans, only that I would be applying to some Summer Projects and potentially some other jobs. They actually found out when one of the directors called my house, so that was an interesting conversation to start with "Hi mom, yup I am going to Orlando for the summer, thoughts?" In my mind the next huge obstacle was support raising.

Support raising is when I send out letters, emails, phone calls, etc. and ask people to join me on my ministry team. Usually it is through monetary support and prayer. I had never in my life asked people to help me raise $3100 dollars. I truly knew I could not do this on my own, I had to give it completely over to God. There was always a side of me that worried that it would not happen and I knew I could not ask my parents to give me that kind of money, so what would I do? I sent out letters and emails to people who had impacted my life through ministry and fellowship and I then waited. My first worry was I had to raise $1000 by April 30th (I sent out my letters around March 20th) and I just did not see how that was going to happen. By April 1st God had raised $1000 dollars for me to go on project. By April 23rd God had raised the entire $3100. WHAT?!!! This was not my doing, I do not believe I said anything so empowering to people that they immediately emptied their pocketbooks to donate everything they could. But let me tell you, people whom I thought would not give much were the ones to give more than I imagined and I kept going to God in praise, because it was His work that was done, not mine. God moved a few people to donate a lot and when I reached my initial goal the money dwindled, but I see this as God providing for my needs, because I need $3100 to get to Orlando and He provided all of that.

This season of raising support was so humbling because right before sending out my support letters Alex (a volunteer for Cru and Mary's husband) taught on Luke 12:22-33 which centers around worrying. This has been a sin I have struggled with God over because I think it plays into my sin of needing control. Support Raising was something I definitely was worrying over about since I got accepted, but that lesson made me realize there was nothing I could control for to actually help with raising support. I knew of nothing I could do except send out the letters and emails and wait. I had to step aside and allow God to work in people's lives because if I even tried to step in I knew I would make a mess of things. By stepping aside I saw God work in huge ways and I would not have seen that if I tried to be God in my life.

Raising support was a huge experience for me (and still is!) and I do not believe I am done. Now I am asking the Lord to provide as much as He needs me to get. (When I raise over it can go toward support raising money, my flight, a stipend at the end, and even to help others on my project who may not have raised it all.) I especially ask that if there if someone on my project cannot raise all the support, that God use people in my life to give so I can give to my project team. God has blessed me with just raising this incredible amount in a month, and I hope the next month God inspires people He needs to give to me or others on my team so that we all can do His Glory in Orlando.
I admit while it is easy to sit aside and say this, many a time I get frustrated when I see no letters in the mail, but then I have to step back and realize, God is doing this all, He hasn't stop but neither is He going to over-provide for me. He will give me exactly what I need, nothing more or less. I really do not care to get a paycheck at the end of the summer because I usually try and make money for my needs to be met that summer, not to save for college, and God is doing that but raising the support for me to go and work at International Headquarters.

God keeps going even with all he has done! I have been praying to be uncomfortable in Orlando, especially in the job I work. I got an email a few days ago telling me what my job would be. I will be working with the US Department of Development. Specifically, I will work with a group who is studying Destino (our Latino branch of Cru leadership) and how to help with support raising. We will be doing a lot of sociology (specifically qualitative data gathering) in looking at cultural aspects, to group interactions, etc. I am so excited and scared at the same time! God found a position in Headquarters that uses my skills I have been learning in college (which I did not expect at all because this project suggests people be graphic designers, financial, business, computer science majors, not psychology sociology double majors) and also have me use it in ministry! At TU the sociology department and psychology department are very much worldly centered and not Christ centered, so I will be able to see another side of both fields with Christ in the middle of it all. I am scared so much because this puts me beyond my comfort zone, I am use to the classroom setting and discussion, but going out and really seeing studies first hand? That will be incredible! I truly did not expect this type of internship to open up in Orlando, but God knew!

God has made His face known to me again and again through all of this, from choosing a project to preparing my heart for this adventure. I am forever trying to be mindful and prayerful about this adventure for I know God is going to do wonderful scary things in me and I just want to be open to His Will for this summer, not mine. Summer Project, I shall be with you in 30 days!!!

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