I've tried explaining to so many people over the last 7 months what I'm doing this year. Sometimes, I'd tell them that what I was doing was called Fellows, and I would explain to them the different elements of what I was doing. Sometimes, all I would tell them was that I was moving to North Carolina, or that I was going to spend some time working at a nonprofit and getting involved in youth ministry at a church. Not untrue, I guess. But what I failed to mention to people, no matter what I told them, was that at the heart of this program is community - both among the Fellows and within the greater church community at Apostles. From day 1, it was so evident that people were excited we were here. From day one, at the welcome dinner, it was obvious that the people who composed the "fellows village" were overjoyed to have us here, and already loved us.
I've been here 22 days, and some days it feels like much longer (ex. I know my way to church, Ashley's and work without my GPS!) and other days the fact that I don't yet feel like I have a rhythm make it feel like much shorter. I'm learning to have grace with myself- rhythms are hard to cultivate, especially in a new place, with a new job, a new home, and a new community. It is a process of actively inviting the Lord into each day, and actively seeking Him in all things big and small. I also find myself becoming impatient with the time it takes to know others and be known by others. If only we could snap our fingers and be the closest of friends, knowing and loving each other well. But indeed, it is a process; and the Lord is reminding me that I need to trust Him in that process, and though I have a hard time being patient with it- I am confident He is at work.
In fact- He is so definitely at work that I can pinpoint ways in which I have seen Him and been loved by His people already- in the way that Dana, my host mom, buys special gluten-free treats for me, just because; in the way that my Fellow "mates" already know my love for coffee (I feel so known in this way!); in the way that we have already been able to listen to and share testimonies with each other as Fellows; in the way that we've committed ourselves to communal prayer as Fellows; in the way that Ashley followed the Spirit's leading to pray over me during a conversation we were having; in the way that 6th grade girls have accepted & loved me simply because I'm their small group leader, and the fact they are beginning to acknowledge their own need for God; in the way that Pauline vulnerably shared her heart with me and asked me deep, genuine questions during our impromptu conversation; in someone giving us free tickets (& really good ones at that!) to the NC State football game; in Carryl being not only my "buddy" but also a familiar face at work every day, and asking me how she can pray for me; in Calley's mom making us lunch every Monday; in the way my N2N mentee already accepted me and offered me a hug at the end of our hour together (even though she was a genius and hardly needed me help doing her math); in the encouragement Rachel offered me before I gave my testimony; in Faith buying my chips & guac at Chipotle; in the hugs, prayers, and encouragement we've already shared among our Fellows group; and in the gracious hospitality, generosity, and love shown me by so many already. I could go on & on, but isn't it awesome how the Lord is already working!? (Oh, and I can't forget to mention- the way the Lord paired me with a host family that has the sweetest little dog :).
This year is about so many things, but I think one of the things that Ashley articulated so well at the beginning was that this year is not about performing, it's about being. College was so much about performing & achieving, and though on many occasions, I sought to remind myself that my call was not to succeed, it was to abide and to be faithful, I seldom took this reminder from head knowledge to heart knowledge. But, when I did the Lord was so incredibly faithful to show up. I so look forward to learning to simply "be" in the Lord and to be faithful to Him and others; I expect He will show up in big ways. So here's to (approximately) 9 more months of growing and seeing what the Lord does.
The Lord is faithful, the Lord is good, the Lord is sovereign, and the Lord loves us- this is true, forevermore.