Why, hello there. It’s been a while.
It has been two weeks and five days since I last posted on this blog, and only two weeks and three days since I left Ocean City, New Jersey. Seeing these facts typed out in front of me is so odd to me because it feels like an entire lifetime has passed since I said goodbye to the Ambassador Inn and everyone in it.
So, you’ll have to pardon me if the description of my last few weeks is brief, because honestly, I’ve been doing way more reflecting than remembering certain events. But here’s what I have.
Advancing On Our Knees Week. Week 8 focused on prayer and fasting. Basically, what I took away from Bible study that week was that prayer matters. Our ability to communicate on a personal level with the Lord is essential to our faith, and it is one of the best expressions of dependence on Him. And it occurred to me, during this week, that I cannot even come before God to talk to Him without His help. I am literally incapable of wanting to pray without God working in my heart to prompt me to pray. I can’t pray, please Him, want to please Him, worship Him, thank Him, recognize sin, profess faith in Him without Him acting inside of me first. I am utterly useless on my own. I need God for everything good in my life. It was also during this week that I had excellent quiet times, a change from what had been happening lately. I felt God’s presence. I worshipped. I heard Him say my name and speak to me. Fasting only intensified this experience–I fasted from all food except water on Wednesday of that week until sundown that night, and God really rewarded that time by showing me that He can fulfill all my needs–physical, emotional, spiritual. We had Women’s Conference that night. I got to help lead worship, which was awesome. And we got to see God do some amazing things in the hearts of women–giving up burdens to the Lord, speaking about what He’d been doing in our lives, and of course, eating lots of chocolate (after sundown for me) and dancing our butts off to “Girl on Fire.”
Pressing Onward Week and Echoes Into Eternity (Quarter Student) Week. I don’t remember very much of in terms of the order of events. My Impact Group had a second creative date in Atlantic City, which was incredible–the guys had us dress up, took us out to dinner, and then wrote us individual notes, which definitely made me tear up. I remember hearing some amazing talks from my friends Rachel and Taylor and Jeremy and Kirstyn. We had our Farewell Banquet that week, which was really fun–I loved dressing up and dancing with everyone, and hearing how God had worked in their lives. Our staff project directors came back that night to talk to us and encourage us before we went home. We had a night of worship on Friday night before semester students left, and it was incredible. The set list was perfect and I had both sobbed and laughed out loud during the course of the night. I remember staying up all night and crying on and off and hugging and waving goodbye to everyone the Saturday that semester students left. I remember cleaning up the Inn and tearing everything down. I remember going out sharing with Chelsea Sherlock and praying to God because I just felt absolutely useless and emotionally tired and I didn’t want to be sharing at all and then seeing God use us to bring those two girls to Christ. I remember going to drop off my roommate Laura at the airport and then crying in the car on the way home. I remember eating at the Bashful Banana and wondering how the heck I hadn’t eaten there before. I remember journaling and realizing that the reason I felt so happy sharing with Jess and Kirstyn despite the fact that I was really sad and emotionally tired was because we experience the most joy when we do what God meant us to do–glorify Him. I watched the Bemah Skit, a skit talking about a believer who stands before the judgment seat of Christ and must evaluate how he used his life. I remember everyone laughing at Campus Time at Hobby Horse because they are all introverts, and I was like, “Guys. I am 85% extrovert.” A bunch of the quarter students and I went to the beach one night to watch a meteor shower and we went star-tripping and it was amazing, even though at one point our friend Louie crashed into a fallen tree and we thought he had impaled himself or something, but he was fine. I finally caught up with my friend Bre over lunch at Ocean City Surf Café. I remember coming into the Pennant Room and seeing everyone on there computers, watching the Project video on repeat and crying to themselves. After weeks of meeting with her and being intentional, Kate Wodecki and I saw one of our co-workers, Cierra, come to Christ, which was so awesome. She even came to our last Bible study and read aloud! I went shopping in Atlantic City with my OCBC adopted family and we had the best caramel apples ever. I moved into my friend’s room after all my roommates left because I felt lonely. I remember kissing the post on the porch before leaving for the last time and getting in the car on the way to Philadelphia. I remember the perfect sunrise that last morning.
The ride home was not as bad as I thought it was going to be, though–because of some miscommunication on my part, it turned out I would not be able to leave Project on the 15th in a car with my friends as planned. I was left without a way of getting home three days before I was supposed to be there. Thankfully, there were Megabuses that traveled to my hometown, and tickets available for August 17th. I had to figure out what I would do with all that luggage (I’m a heavy packer. Whoops.), so I ended up buying three tickets per bus ride (six tickets total) to account for all my bags. I was going to be traveling with three over-stuffed suitcases, a backpack, and a purse from 7am to 11pm, and I was not looking forward to it at first, especially since I was going to be by myself without a single member of my Christian community to ease the pain of leaving. I did not want to share the Gospel or talk about my summer. I did not want to talk to anyone. But God clearly had other plans for me.
My first bus partner was a man from Tel-Aviv named Eden. He had just come from working at a Jewish summer camp, so we got to have some mildly spiritual conversation before he decided to take a nap. We separated in Pittsburgh. While waiting for my next bus at the stop, I started to read The Reason For God by Tim Keller. A young woman sitting outside near me asked if I liked the book, and we started talking! Her name was Emily Johnson, and it turned out that she was also a Christian who sang in her worship band and led a youth group. She is an elementary-school teacher. We sat at the front of the bus together when it arrived, and then another girl joined us named Rosemary, a high school graduate who asked us advice on what to do during her gap year before college. The three of us got along swimmingly, and then Rosemary revealed that her favorite bands were Switchfoot and Relient K, and I was like, “You’re Christian, too?!” So, we talked about that for a while and I ended up giving them a couple of our Knowing God Personally booklets, which they were super-excited to read through and use as a faith-sharing tool. Emily and I encouraged Rosemary to join a Bible study during her time off and to look into Christian groups like Cru in college. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with her time–if you’re interested, you can read her blog, http://gapyeargal.blogspot.com/. These lovely ladies left the bus in Cleveland, and then I got two new bus partners–two high school guys (one from my hometown, the other from a neighboring city!)–who had just finished up their time working at their Orthodox Christian summer camp for Special Olympics athletes. I also got to give them some KGPs and some Satisfied booklets. It was actually the best ride home I could have asked for–being surrounded by people who encouraged me toward the Lord and got me excited about ministry outside of Ocean City. God truly used me and them on that bus ride home, and I am so grateful to Him for providing comfort for me when the road ahead looks bleak.
Ways you can pray for me:
–Pray that I will not fall into my same old sin patterns from my time before Ocean City
–Pray I will never forget what I have learned
–Pray that I will go to God when I feel misunderstood or lonely
–Pray that I will continue to minister and love on my friends and family at home
–Pray that God will continue to teach me and speak to me wherever I am
–Pray that I can switch into home/school mode without switching out of God mode
–Pray that worldly distractions will not overcome my desire for God