Sunday, June 24, 2012

Becoming a “Responsible” “Adult”

I entered a bit of the real world this week. I have a 9-5 job M, T, TH, F. I have my own desk, computer, and phone. It feels like I am playing the game grown-ups or something. It doesn’t feel like I could very soon be entering this world permanently.
I was picked up by my boss at the west building rotunda (that is a circular room in the middle of a building) and we headed to the east building. I got to my desk which had streamers around it, a welcome poster, and a basket of goodies, courtesy of my boss’ boss’ assistant (the only woman near me that I interact with). My boss gave me a thorough orientation of what department I am working in, who works around me, what we do for Cru, etc. He even gave me a cheat sheet for when people come up and introduces themselves I will know their name and what section they work in!
If you don’t know where I am working, I shall tell you! I am in the Office of Development but I am not really working for the department. I am doing research for a team that will be trying to help Destino. Destino is our Latino section of Cru that tries to reach Latino students on campus. The group has been struggling specifically with support raising. Many Destino staff cannot raise/keep full support and Cru has the general policy that one cannot work on a campus until they reach full support. So this is a problem because staff are not able to reach campuses and make connections because the support raising is so difficult and can take a long time. So I am doing initial research that combs through what might help the team once they assemble and figure out new inventive ways to help Destino reach into their communities to get support.
My job consists of a lot of reading which will be challenging (cause I will think this is school work) but also fascinating because I will be challenged and stretched in many different views and ways of thinking. I am beyond excited and know that while I will be discouraged and confused at times (I already have been) I know my work will in the long run really help and grow Destino to be able to minister to Latino students. I will constantly remind myself, am I focused on the Lord? Why is God calling this group together? Because I know it is all for us to reach some we have not been able to reach through Cru, it is all to further the Great Commission. Sometimes that is hard to see when I am reading a bunch of articles that make this project seem hopeless. That just means Cru is going to be one of the first organizations to helps others learn the best ways to raise support in Latino communities, and I am blessed to be chosen to jump start this journey!

Experiencing Community

I will never understand God fully. I will never truly understand grace and why God would allow His Son to die for all the black things I have done. I will never know why God decided to bless me by allowing me to come on this project and catch a glimpse of what true community is.
This summer project is opening my eyes to what can happen if Christians come together and live life together. While I have indeed caught moments of this in life, this is the longest time I have continually seen how beautiful community is when everyone is trying to walk in the same direction.
In just our house, there was this unspoken agreement that we would come to the group if we have any problems and we all respect and love each other, junk and everything! There has yet to be a night where we aren’t laughing and doing crazy silly things (like turning off all the lights and trying to scare a roommate) but also there is a time each night where we sit together and talk about things we are struggling with. I have never done this, where I honestly open up about things my closest friends may not even know about. Every time someone opens up someone else is struggling with a similar thing. But at the end we don’t just break up and go about life, we stop and pray about the struggles right then. I am so use to ending with “Well, I will be praying for you about that” and in all honestly I usually don’t remember to pray for it. How much better would life be if we prayed about problems right when they are occurring? I know honestly speaking I say I will pray for a  lot of things but I forget and go about life. If I prayed right then for the problem, I do not need to feel like I broke a promise because I am fulfilling the unspoken promise to life that person up.
In our group, while I am not opening up all my problems with the guys, we still have heartfelt conversations that push my way of thinking. We are always going out into the community to spread the gospel. I know I could not do this unless I was surrounded by so many bold Christians who are just as scared and willing to put their faith on the spot. Not only that, but I want to hang out with the group as much as I can, because every conversation is different, funny, meaningful, and wonderful.
I feel so sanguine here! I am so much more social and hyper than I have been in a few years. I think it is because I am so busy. I thrive off of being busy and that energy just exudes from me when I am around the group. Mind you, I can still have my serious moments, but I hear lots of “calm down Elise” that I haven’t heard in a while. I also have never experienced the desire to continue community, usually in life I get tired of people by this time and just want to hang out with certain people. But I think since God has brought such an intentional group together who all love Him and want to have community, the community just keeps growing stronger.
I want to take this back to my campus. I want to keep growing my community base and desire to want to hang out with people more than just having time to myself (aka watching way too much TV). Because when community is happening, not only am I growing, but it actually allows me opportunity to learn about others and their struggles. Not just community with Christians, but with everyone, to learn peoples stories I need to be with people, not in alone. God did not create people to live alone in their own bubble, He desires us to live in community with others to challenge and grow one another. Not only that, He wants that community to be with Him. If I am alone, why would I want to be with God? But when I am with others who challenge me, I will want to go to the Lord more because He is making this all happen.  I am so blessed that God would allow me this precious little moment in time to actually see true community and desire it for when I leave this place.

What is Moving Us?

I don’t know how I start thinking of these odd ideas from such simple things!!!
Let me explain:
My bible study got out before the one that meets at my house (mine is in the girls’ condo) so I was shut in my room thinking “I am so bored! I can’t read because I hear the girls conversation and get distracted and I have nothing else to do in my room! So I started listening to Tenth Avenue North and sat at the edge of my bed just thinking about little things. Then I picked up the bottle of aloe vera next to my bedside (I got burned when we went to Cocoa Beach, that wasn’t a fun experience) and I started to play with it. I have this green gel kind of aloe and when I want to squeeze some aloe out, I have to “move” the air bubble to the bottom of the bottle to get the aloe out. So I am playing around with the bubble and I thought “How fast does the bubble move?” I then started to proceed to watch the bubble move from the bottom toward the top. Out of nowhere (well really the Spirit) I had this thought in my heart “Which is moving which? Is the bubble moving through the aloe or is the aloe pushing the bubble up?”
Weird right? Kind of a chicken and egg question. And this thought from the Spirit made me think, the bubble is me and God’s love, grace, mercy, everything are the aloe. As I move around and think that I am moving within this world it is me pushing to the surface to reach God, but really God is surrounding me and guiding me to see Him.
This really floored me, because I think subconsciously I have forgotten that God is with us and He is guiding us and molding us, even when we don’t accept Him into our lives. This really excites me because while the bubble did reach the top of the bottle, the bubble was encased in aloe and aloe was supporting it. The bubble also is always changing and transforming shape, it is not a perfect sphere that moves from the top to the bottom. (You see where I am going?) God is always transforming me and lifting me up and also when I fall He is around me supporting me and guiding me back to His Will and His Glory. Does this not empower you to go out and allow God to transform you? He is there every moment guiding you in everything, the ups and downs, He is gently molding you more into His image and He does it again and again! What can stop you from doing His Glory? Allow Him to mold you.

Experiencing the Corner

Today has been such an interesting day.
Every Wednesday we will be going out into the community to serve and love on! I am working with Here’s Life Inner City working with a church that does an afterschool program. We got there and could tell very quickly that this site was in a dark part of town. Frankly it is in a shady part of town and not where I would probably go shopping, but it is where the Spirit and the Lord’s grace are needed the most.
We saw the kids and melted. They sang us their camp song and immediately welcomed us with open arms and hearts. Due to rain we played inside a little bit but then we got to go to the park. Mind you, this park is the best park I have ever seen and I was excited to get to play outside with these adorable kids! The park is a little ways down from the church so we have walking buddies. As we exit the gated parking lot, I notice we are headed under the highway and that is when I see the people. There are a variety of homeless people sitting on both sides of the road and I had this feeling that this crowd lives and interacts under this bridge. We walked by the people and crossed the street towards the park but the people stayed in my mind.
I think the reason they stayed in my mind and heart is because this was the first time I had ever been near the homeless and impoverished. In Urban Sociology this past semester I read a book called “The Corner” which is about a corner in Baltimore where drugs are sold and where drug addicts and people whom are stuck (not able to afford to leave the neighborhood). When I walked past these people my mind went immediately to this book and I had a sense that these people are using drugs, alcohol, whatever. This is the closest I had interacted with people who I had studied in classes but never really gone out to interact with. They had this presence around them that was hopeless, dark, without light both literally and spiritually. I was a little nervous because I have never interacted in this setting before, but neither did I fear for my life because this is where Jesus would be. He would not be hanging out at the Ventura Country Club talking with the elites and brushing elbows with the good people, Jesus would be under that bridge living life with the people.
This also transfers to the children I will be interacting with. These children are not much higher up in the economic chain, for all I know their parents are regular customers down there. (I know I am making assumptions, but there were so many things that pointed to this being a central social location to interact and even swap drugs, I cannot explain why I have this feeling of absolute certainty other than the Spirit being heightened to the problems of the people around me.) And even though I am working with a church that doesn’t mean the children understand what a relationship with Christ really is. I cannot bring them up to my level of intelligence or even economic standing, I need to put those biases and prejudices and cast them out and love on these people as Jesus would. I need to be on their level and truly see them for the beautiful creations formed by God. I am so excited to learn from the children and even the people under that bridge this summer because I see God using them in my life and if I am willing, used in their life to plant seeds.