Ten days later and I still can’t believe I’m here. Even though it didn’t start that long ago, ever since our family vacation to DC three summers ago, I’ve dreamed about living and working in the capital. I fell in love with its richness, history, activity, and the east coast. When I came across the opportunity for a non-profit internship and summer classes in Washington, I knew that was how I wanted to spend my summer. And I am so glad that I applied and God sent me here!
I’m staying at the lovely George Washington University, where just down the street, you can see the Lincoln Memorial all lit up at night! I’m taking two classes in Arlington, VA (a quick Metro ride away) at George Mason University. My political theory professor is a professor at Georgetown, which most of you know was high on my colleges list, so it’s seriously like a dream come true that I’m getting a little taste of Georgetown (even though I go to the best university out there, go Illini)! He is so intelligent and quirky and passionate about what he teaches, I really like how he makes us think in that class.
I am interning in the Development department of Martha’s Table. Martha’s Table is a non-profit in DC that’s 30 years old and is striving to break the cycle of poverty in its community through its many food program services, clothing centers, and educational programs from ‘cradle to career.’ It’s a $4 million cash organization (with $2 million in food/clothing/furniture donations additionally) and was named after Martha from the Bible, who opened up her home and fed Jesus and his disciples when they came. It’s one of the most well-known organizations in DC, with big-name donors and 10,000 volunteers a year. I absolutely love it. Walking through its buildings, all colorful and organized, decorated with artwork from the kids and filled with the sounds of knives on the cutting board from volunteers chopping up fresh vegetables. I am in the administrative building, but I love how just below me all the action is happening. Kids are running around, clothes are being donated, meals are being packed to be brought into the inner-city. I am doing data entries, working within their donor database with deposits, donor relations, and will get my hand into some volunteer coordination, too. As an accounting major, I’m trying to see as much of the financials as they will let me! I just finished my first week, and I love it so much. I love getting to see the behind the scenes of a non-profit, all that happens financially in order to be able to provide the programs it does. It’s a huge learning experience, and I will hang on to every tid bit I can. Plus, my supervisor is really sweet and likes to challenge me, which I really appreciate. I get the fuzzes just thinking about how happy and lucky I am to be there! They really know how to run a non-profit!
I’ve made a “DC Bucket List” with about 35 items on it to do before I leave in August. I’ve been trying to make a dent in it whenever I can. It’s got museums, monuments, day trips, famous restaurants… Lots to do! So far I’ve checked off: the Newseum, Museum of Natural History, seeing a show at the Kennedy Center (saw the National Symphony Orchestra for free, it was great!), Chinatown (went with a girl from China who ordered her favorites for us), and ate lunch at Farragut Square on “food truck friday,” where about 20 food trucks surround the park of all different cuisines. I tried Vietnamese for the first time!
It’s been fun to start cooking on my own. I really love going through the grocery store and picking up stuff, it’s neat to see all there really is! I look forward to cooking every night, although we have a pretty full schedule between class and internships and project meetings. I won’t complain though, I’d like to get everything out of this summer that I can! Once in a lifetime.
I’ll try to post as cool things happen, I know I’m going to want to look back and relive this summer in the future! :] Feeling SO BLESSED to be here!
"We’ve been told that productivity is all, that rushing is an imperative, that going and doing and pushing define us. But those things aren’t true. God made a world of extraordinary beauty, and sometimes the most productive, most important thing we can do is slow ourselves down enough to see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, enter into it.”
Irene just taught me how to make gazpacho, yum! What a healthy way to get all your vegetables. Here they will sometimes bring it “to-go” on excursions in water bottles with ice and drink it at the beach!
I started packing yesterday…..it can’t be happening…….I don’t want to leave!!!
Now I’m off to the “farewell lunch” I’m having with my girlfriends with the euro my parents left me (cha-ching! ;] ) to treat my friends. ¡Hasta luego!
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Thank about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”—Philippians 4:8
This is going to be a long one because, well, I love church. I just got back from Sunday morning service at a church called “La Iglesia Evangelista Bautista” about 15 minutes from my apartment. I went with Kendall and two other girls from my program. It was amazing! The church has probably 100 members and the room was packed. In the beginning they had new people stand up and introduce themselves, so Kendall, Vienet and I stood up and got a warm welcome. The service was set up very similarly to what I’m used to; we started with a prayer and then a woman came up to give some announcements. Then, always my favorite part, the worship. They put the words up on a screen so I could easily follow along and sing with everyone else in Spanish. It was awesome because some of the songs I know in English, but they were translated to Spanish! I was really able to connect and sing loudly with those songs. One of them was interpreted from “Sing, Sing, Sing” a song my band and I used to play when we led worship in high school, so that was definitely my favorite one of the morning.
”Vamos a cantarcan la música del cielo
Vamos a cantar alegres porque escuchas cuando cantamos
Para exaltar tu nombre”
It was also neat because in between two of the songs, they opened it up to anyone who wanted to speak out to God, and person after person spoke loudly and thanked God for being Himself, for always being here, for never changing, for His love, and for being at the beginning and end of everything. It was really awesome to see people so boldly stepping up and praising our God. And of course, every proclamation was echoed by the congregation, “si, amen” “ayy, si” “Gracias a Dios!” Loved it.
After the music, the pastor gave the message and I was able to understand most of it! The scripture it was based off of was Juan 1:14-16, concentrating on verse 16:
"De su plenitud tomamos todos, gracia sobre gracia."
This translates to, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
While this is just what an American girl got from it, the message was about God’s great grace and how it is all we need. A phrase I remember was “la fuente de gracia es infinita, nunca termina,” or “God’s fountain of grace is infinite, it never stops.” The pastor talked about accepting that grace and extending it to one another as well. There was probably a lot more that was said in that message, but that’s the jist I was able to get!
Afterwards we met so many cool people! I met a blind man named Manuel, who knew I was American just by how I spoke, he didn’t even have to see me, ha! I also met a girl named Emily who studied at Cambridge (and spoke with an awesome British accent) and now runs a youth group here that I’m hoping to attend. I met Adriano, a boy a bit older than us who liked to practice his English, the drummer named Zach, one of the vocalists April (who is actually from California but has lived here 7 years and looks and sounds like a Spaniard!), and some other girls our age who are from the Chicago area too! It was such a welcoming environment and I loved it so much. It’s a bummer I’ll miss most of these services because I’m traveling most weekends, but I hope I can get involved in the weekday youth groups!
Dios, “no puedo vivir si no estas junto a mi.” I am finding You here in Granada! :]
In 14 hours I will be boarding a plane to travel across the Atlantic to my new home for the next 4 months…eek! In Granada, Spain I will be studying, photographing, practicing my Spanish and exploring. While I’m quite nervous about staying with a host family and speaking a second language every day, I’m just as excited to see the sights, people, and lessons I am going to learn by living abroad. I am so fortunate to get to do this and will squeeze every bit out of it I can! I am so looking forward to spending time with God in a new and strange place, trusting Him every bit of the way and seeing Him everywhere I go. As my silly self worries, I remember that my God is going to be with me every step of the way and that I should not be afraid! As one of my new favorite songs says, “I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind; the God of angel armies is always by my side.” It’s going to be quite an interesting experience, but oh Lord, how I look forward to the plans you have for us over there!
I’m not a Christian because I was scared into it, brainwashed, brought up with it or because I thought it would be easy living this way, but because I know what God has done for me, the sacrifice He made for me. Because I want to spend the rest of my life living for Him and with Him in Eternity. I don’t live by blind faith, the Bible doesn’t tell us to do that, but to always be ready to tell people the reason for our hope.
i feel as though the older i get, the more i have to self-check myself. the God meetings i had in high school i have to work so much harder for, as my days fill up with more responsibilities and to-dos and my mind fills with more dreams, concerns, and hopes. this past semester, i can’t even count how many nights i went to bed thinking, how many times did i pray today? how many times did i thank God? how many times did i see God? and come up empty. so many times i checked myself and thought, why do i feel like my faith is not as strong as used to be? it’s not that my faith is not as strong, it’s just that it is stagnant. i am not growing. in my early days with Christ, every season had a theme with me and Him. i naturally grew in my faith. now, i’ve gone several semesters in college and what have my themes been? i always know i need to get more God in my life, yet it fills with other things instead. what am i doing differently? i’m not doing any different things really, i’m just doing more of some things and less of others. i’ve boiled this all down to one thing: time.
people say that if you want to see what a person’s priorities are, look at their schedule. i’ll be the first one to say that in my hectic schedule at school, God is not present enough. on my calendar i’ve got church and small group on there, but those are often the first to go (after going to the gym of course…) when there’s too much homework to do. it’s taken me a few semesters, but i’ve learned that what you put your time into is what gets bigger in your life. if i put more time into my friends, we create stronger bonds. if i pencil in more time at the gym, i see results. if i dedicate more time to homework and studying, the better i do on exams. also, the more of a priority school becomes, and a bigger portion of my thoughts it takes up. as such, the less time i spend with God, thinking about God, talking to God, the smaller the slice of my life He will take up. and that is not what i want!
one thing i am looking forward to SO much when i study in Spain for the next 4 months is experiencing more God. giving Him more time and looking for Him all around me. with only 12 credit hours and (hopefully) more European free time than i’m used to, i plan to reconnect and get back into the groove. i need it so badly. i am tired of my relationship with Christ constantly taking the back seat to ‘more important things.’ …there are no more important things!
there’s few things i love more than to peek over out of the corner of my eye and see my dad singing in church. it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, i smile. i want my children to have a father figure that isn’t afraid to sing praise to his God at least every once in a while.
today at church we sang hymns. i do like the hymnals, just not in huge quantities. they’re deep and meaningful, and the melodies are timeless.
my favorite hymn from this morning was called “Come Ye Sinners”
Come ye sinners, poor and needy
Bruised and broken, by the fall
Jesus ready, stands to save you
For the parting love for all
He is able, He is able
He is willing
Doubt no more
Let not conscience make you linger
Nor fitness fondly dream
All that He requires of sinners
Is to turn and trust in Him
He will save you, He will save you
Tis the Gospel’s constant theme
It was so filling singing those words: He is able, He is able, He is willing, doubt no more. a new year starts in less than 24 hours, and it’ll come time to think of my word for 2013. a new journey lies ahead for me and God, and He shall be the leader, compass, and pal beside me on it.
Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, was invited to address the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee 12 -years after the Columbine shootings. What he said to our national leaders during this special session of Congress was painfully truthful. It is a speech he has been giving for years now… it never varies much because Darrell Scott speaks from the heart. It also isn’t a speech that our government and progressive leaders were expecting.
They were not prepared for what he was to say, nor was it received well, but it needs to be heard by every parent, every teacher, every politician, every sociologist, every psychologist, every counselor, every security officer and every so-called expert! These courageous words spoken by Darrell Scott are powerful, penetrating. moving and deeply personal. There is no doubt that God sent this man to us as a voice crying in the wilderness… The following is a portion of the transcript:
Since the dawn of creation there has been both good & evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.
The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used.. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain’s heart.
In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA – because I don’t believe that they are responsible for my daughter’s death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel’s murder I would be their strongest opponent.
I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy — it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best.
Your laws ignore our deepest needs, Your words are empty air. You’ve stripped away our heritage, You’ve outlawed simple prayer. Now gunshots fill our classrooms, And precious children die. You seek for answers everywhere, And ask the question “Why?” You regulate restrictive laws, Through legislative creed. And yet you fail to understand, That God is what we need!
Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation’s history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine’s tragedy occurs — politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts.
As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America , and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA — I give to you a sincere challenge.. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone!
My daughter’s death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!”