By Chris Fronczak
Dear friends, family, and whomever else may be reading this: thank you for taking time to learn about what is going on in Raleigh Fellows. We appreciate all the support from every single one of you guys as well as the numerous prayer that have been offered for us already. I would be lying if I said I couldn't see the affect of them on the start of our program year. I would love to fill you in on a few things that have happened over this past month. Believe me when I say that I would love to fill each and every on of you in about every little thing that has happened, however there is no possible way to include all of that in this post so I will give a "highlight reel" version of that.
It has now been just about a month since I moved to Raleigh North Carolina. I packed my car and drove down to 5524 Kimbrook Dr. (my host families address) on Tuesday, September 5th and that date could not have come soon enough. The last 3 or 4 weeks of summer were pretty tough being at home because most of my friends had either gone back to school by then, or had real jobs, or had started other after school plans of theirs. That period of time (and just this summer in general) was when it really hit me how important fellowship is, to have believers around you where you could bond on the common unity of Jesus Christ with each other. Also during this time I got really good at explaining what a "fellows program" is. If you are still not sure what exactly it is, then you are on the perfect website to find that out :)
Have any of you guys ever straight up drove to a totally new place, knocked on the door of a totally new house, and walked in with all your stuff to live with a totally new family that you may have talked to once or twice? If so then you understand that it is not natural in the least. It is not common to just walk into someone else's home and make it your own. These were the feelings that I experienced that day. However when I knocked on the front door I was greeted by a huge hug from Pauline Byron and immediately was sat down and asked my life story before my car was even unpacked. I knew this was going to be good for me from that moment. To top it off, the first thing that Chris Byron said to me when he got home from work was: "have you gotten yourself a beer yet?" THAT is when I knew that this family was awesome and that I would be just fine feeling like I am at home. Fast forward a whole 3 and a half weeks to now and I feel comfortable enough to leave my clothes lying on my floor and to really be able to be myself. I think on top of being hospitable, my host family has also cared for me as they would for their own children, as well as been a source of wisdom and guidance to me as I am trying to juggle meeting new people, maintaining old relationships, working, and being involved in classes and other program activities. It has been a huge blessing thus far and I am super thankful for every single bit of it.
On top of moving into someone else's house, the next day in the program, we met at our director Ashley's house with all the other fellows and were told that we were to become best friends. So in two days now I am supposed to call a new place my home, and totally new people my best friends. I wasn't as much overwhelmed as I was a little uncomfortable. If you know me, I am not good at doing introductions and talking about myself in that way, not to mention I didn't want my first impression with my new best friends to be a bad one. Well thankfully, after a whole day spent together meeting church staff, and other people involved in the fellows program I learned everyones names (the fellows that is, I still meet people at church who's name I should know) and felt like we were getting somewhere. That night we all became more comfortable with each other as they stuck all the guys in a car together to drive 3 hours to the beach for our first retreat. On the ride we found out a lot more about one another, along with many surprises such as Hayes' taste in music, and Dalton's part time hobby that he is involved in. This was the story of the beach retreat: we had meetings where we went over rules and expectations of the program, but the best part was getting to play games and hangout with one another laughing and having a great time making inside jokes with each other (which some still live on). So within the first few days I had been put in some different yet seemingly uncomfortable situations, however God had worked through each one showing me that the strongest way to hold relationships together is through the cross of Jesus Christ. Now each of us actually are close friends and have been pushing one another in growing towards the Lord together while also taking time to giggle throughout it.
Ok many of you are probably getting tired of reading this so far and I will begin to wrap it up, but I would like to highlight a few other things that I have learned or gone through thus far in a month:
- My job: it is not what I had expected it to be. For those of you who know, I studied Biology in college with hopes to eventually go onto graduate school in the medical field. I have been feeling unsure about this path over the past year or so, and I figured that if I could work in a position for 9 months during this program I will be able to discern whether that would be the right track for me or not. Seems like I have drawn up a good plan for my next step right? Wrong. I was reminded in a rather hard way that when I make plans, they might not always be what the Lord wants for me, at least right now. So I am working construction at a company called Hill Building Solutions (when I say that fast people think I am saying "hillbilly solutions" which would be an awesome company btw). I am working with a man named Martin Hill who used to be a member at Church of the Apostles and has been in the real estate and construction business for many years now. Pray for this time with him that I will be able to learn what God wants to teach me. So far I have enjoyed it much more than I thought might be the case.
- My relationship: I am in a relationship that is long distance as my girlfriend Mayumi is doing the Salt Lake City fellows program. Going different ways and doing different programs seemed to be a terrifying, awful idea in some respects since we had each always lived 5 minutes down the road from each other in high school and college. However God has shown us each that He needs to individually shape us in our respective programs, while at the same time bringing us closer together in ways that only He can do. People ask me how it has been doing long distance and I usually respond "that has been the easiest and best part of this so far!" Praise Jesus for technology and being able to see someone else's face on the other side of the country. He has really forced us to have to communicate in a healthy way with each other, to fight to protect our relationship, and reassure one another that we are committed to each other constantly. It has been a joy for each of us to walk through essentially the same path in different areas and to be able to share that with one another. Don't read this whole letter and think that things have not been hard in any ways, but even if they are hard, they are GOOD
- My personal growth: I have already alluded to many things that have forced me to be shaped but let me just reiterate that everything that has happened and will happen here is to achieve the goal of shaping me into the man of Christ that God wants me to be. If any of you have experienced God shaping you in that way, you know that many times it hurts, many times it is NOT easy, and many times it is not what we think is best for ourselves. I have experienced all of these in 3 and a half weeks. Pretty crazy. I also know that this is just the beginning of this stretching and shaping of me. I can see areas of my life that still need to be worked on and I have been praying that I would be willing to let them go to God as he wants to take them. One quick example is that for those of you who know what the Enneagram is *eye roll* it has been an obsession amongst some of the fellows and maybe even the director....As stated earlier I am not an introspective, psychoanalytic person so this kind of stuff makes me cringe and frankly I think it often becomes too much about us and less about God. However it is a part of the program and I will have to commit to learning about it and using it as a tool to find more about myself out and how God made me.
Sorry for the length of this post! I know so much has happened in just a few weeks worth of time, and there is so much more that hasn't been mentioned. If anyone wants to hear more I would love to spend time telling you and catching up. Thank you for the prayers and PLEASE keep them coming. I would not be able to be shaped into the man that God wants me to be without exterior support.