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I served at Urban Vision a bit when my parents went there to teach adult ESL, but the first time I really got to enjoy an experience there was when I went with my church’s youth group. I knew some of the teenagers from various ESL things I did with my mom and sister, but was super excited to get to know more of them and serve alongside them. That week was the first week I’d ever seen teenagers (from UV) get up and teach a Bible lesson, setting a great spiritual-leader example.

I wasn’t planning to return. I had dance commitments. But the Lord used an injury to take me out of dance and bring me back to UV, and I served there all year. I loved being with the people and building more relationships. One day, I was eating dinner there and saw one of the staff members, Jeff, taking kids out of the room to pray for them. He asked me later to go with him, and I remembered panicking because I genuinely couldn’t think of a prayer request. But no, it wasn’t for prayer… he invited me to intern that summer!

Summer 2011 I worked with 6 other interning teens (plus a bunch of others) who were excited to learn how to serve God in new ways. Some of us had teacher training and were a part of outreaches in the community – we set up outside at a park and any kids who saw could come, sing, and hear a Bible story. Definitely an incredible experience! πŸ™‚

One day, my brother brought up the topic of how we were doing spiritually. One by one, the interns admitted that we didn’t feel “on fire”. That’s okay, of course, but we decided to challenge ourselves to agape living. With everyone, everywhere. My sister Maggie and I became “accountability partners”, and as a group we prayed for each other more. I never actually felt the fire but saw in so many ways how God moved through us and brought us closer together. And, of course, being at UV was such a joy!

While we had training/general bonding time every day, one of the main hilights of the summer was our VBS. As interns, we were able to plan and organize it (with adult supervision, of course), then lead different activity stations. Interestingly, I was put in gym time… I hated gym as a younger student but God was gracious and gave me people who provided game ideas. We did lots with spoons and cotton balls that week. The other “M” interns (Micah & Maggie) and I got to teach Bible lessons that week as well. The week was awesome, being able to camp out at UV and have Bible studies with the others. From cooking to cleaning to teaching, we learned to invest our gifts for God’s glory and to serve joyfully.

Wednesday, the day I taught my lesson, I wound up with a fever. I remember being terribly stressed, having lost the lesson notes and just being tired. But Jeff “fathered” me, gave me time to rest, and the lesson went really well. I was sooo blessed by the prayers of my UV siblings that day! The following day I felt even sicker, and the gym game plan for that day sort of fell through. It’s quite maddening to have a pounding headache and no idea what you’re doing in less than an hour… I tried to console my gym-leading-partner that we would be fine but felt so inadequate. My big brother noticed that I…well…needed some prayer :), and blessed me that way. God just showered the games that day with His grace; the kids had lots of fun!

Toward the end of the summer, my mom and I were baptized in the president of UV’s pool (the teen leaders had meetings at his house every week). Jeff baptized me, and I must say, it was a stretch out of my comfort zone. It was such a blessing to do it in front of the people who had meant so much to my life that summer, though!

That was summer. This year, I decided not to go back to dance, and to pour more of myself into Urban Vision. It’s been one of my favorite decisions yet! πŸ™‚ The happiest part of my week includes Bible study with the teenagers, drama practice, helping with the after-school program (which really just means teaching the younger kids and causing minor trouble with my friends…lol, just kidding), listening to the band LITC warm up on Fridays (check out the slowly-but-surely forming website, lightinthecommunity.wordpress.com!), occasionally performing a skit, and working with the pre-k/k kids for Kid’s Club!

It’s been different from summer – relationships that kind of broke off as some people moved on to new seasons, less Bible teaching, less days at UV period… but that gets so discouraging to think about.

No, what’s really going on is I’m seeing the Lord provide sweet new brothers and sisters who I can love and be loved by, being able to get to know the staff members better, to hear more stories of how God brought various people to UV and learn from their examples of God’s grace, to be able to spend LOADS more time with the elementary kids, and have even more chill/Bible time with my friends. Yes, if I’m not careful, I miss some of the things we did last summer. But it’s a new season, and the Lord doesn’t give new seasons to discourage us. No, I’m seeing Him provide in more ways than I deemed possible!!

I first served at Urban Vision thinking I would go and bless people. No, they bless me and teach me more about friendship even agape love than I ever imagined. Looking back at summer, I would never have imagined the sweet, sweet brothers and sisters I would have at the end of the internship. That I would still be close with them now. As I freak out about planning my future, I just remember that beautiful bit of wisdom in Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.

Jeremiah 29:11 and 1 John 3:16-18 have been especially motivational life-verses this year πŸ™‚ Even though I do forget..so often..that God’s way is best, wholeheartedly, I can tell you God is good and His plan never, ever fails!

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