Been Underwhelmed in Decision-Making

(I’m taking a break in sharing about my mission trip experiences–p.s. 37 days till I’ll be united with my Italy team, and then shortly on our way to change lives in Italy this summer!)

Lately, I have been sad/overwhelmed thinking about my future practicum/internship experiences that I must plan for. On one hand it is exciting to know that I am so close to the end, but the decisions and work, and let alone failures (aka learning process) involved with doing an internship in some sort of counseling setting.

However, I have a history of not liking decisions. I’ve always been afraid of choosing one path and limiting myself, then finding out I’ve made the wrong decisions. This can be worse sometimes, because I am a Christian, its easy to get caught up with the false idea that there is always one path (career type wise) that I should take at any given moment, and with the fear that if I do not choose that path I’ll be terribly out of the Will of God and ruin my life.

This experience was terrible while trying to determine what college/university I was supposed to attend. I was very much overwhelmed with all of the opportunities. I read Proverbs 26:3 (or another similar verse)

“A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools”

And, I was jealous of the donkey!  I told God that He needed to make it simple for me, because I’m very stupid. I had already known that I wanted to study Youth Ministry, and in doing research I found out that at the time there was only one school with a Major in Youth Ministry in Virginia. (others just had minors). So, see that was how I made a huge decision in my life. I do not offer that as a pattern of how one should make decisions, but as evidence that God meets us wherever we are with how we understand to seek guidance at the time. (I think that explains the idea of ‘putting out the fleece’).

Getting back to current time…so I have this huge possibility, and I have the knowledge that whatever experiences I choose now will affect what types of jobs I’m able to apply for when I graduate. (Kind of overwhelming). In journaling about it this morning, I came to the understanding that whatever experience I do not get from this experience I will be able to get in the future. One aspect I was struggling with was how I should specialize my internship experience. I was trying to convince myself that I should also work with a normal counseling agency to work with non-Christians, and with different age groups. However, I have no desire (at this time) to counsel adults…I do not feel like I’d be able to.

God reminded me of my HUGE passion for teens. I was tearing up thinking about how much I want to love and help this age group. I see them with such potential, they can do great things. I want to walk with them through this broken world, and watch God guide them and teach them. This is encompassed by a beautiful moment I had at the end of training camp. It was our final worship session, and all of the teens are singing and worshiping. I was almost crying about how beautiful it was, and the passion they’d had for their mission experiences, to see God working in their lives. The co-director was up on stage trying to tell the students how much she really cared about them, and ended up bawling. I started to cry with her, humbled by the amount of tedious work that goes into planning and making these trips happen, and to be blessed to see the fruits of our labors. I am hoping to keep that memory close to my heart as I am working with the organization and we are down to the wire with stressful and tedious paperwork and other tasks. I want to not loose sight of the purpose of the work that we do.

haha! the pink bandanna wearer is me!

In reflecting through that, I know that at this time in my life, I have been given an all consuming heart and passion to reach the Youth. Therefore, I will use my internship requirement to work with this age group across different spectrum. Currently, I am thinking of working with a local pregnancy center, and a local k-12 school. I have not yet contacted these facilities, but I feel they would be good placements. I am so excited to see what God will do through that experience I plan to start in Spring 2012. I ask that you pray He’ll guide me to the facilities (and youth) he wants me to help journey with.

Forgotten My First Mission Trip

I LOVED this mission theme!

I started going to church (because I chose to) in tenth grade. My family was very culturally Christian, but we’d not consistently attended a church, and many of the Christians that I had known at school tended to be fake or judgmental. Then, in the fall of my tenth grade year, I started dating this guy who was really active in his youth group. At the beginning of the school year there was a terrible hurricane that flooded much of the lower regions near the church, in an area called Guinea (filled with fast talking Guinea bubbas). When school was canceled for a few days due to the storm, my boyfriend (at the time) mentioned that he was doing community service with his church. I decided that I was bored and wanted to participate; I have always loved helping. Getting to know the youth leader, and many of the students in that non-threatening manner made me want to attend the youth group and the fall retreat where I asked Christ into my life.

My mom moving a heavy washer w/ the Pastor in the rain!

For this reason, my first mission trip (that summer of 2004), which was a hometown trip in Guinea, has a very special place in my heart. Reflecting from the vantage point of a future youth worker, it was a great opportunity to involve the entire church. Many of the adults helped and participated, the Pastor even helped to moved damaged items to the waste center! The youth spent the nights in a nearby school gym.

Its funny to think about how little I knew as a Christian then. The different types of ministry were backyard Bible schools, servant evangelism, and construction. I ended up on a backyard Bible school team, which meant we did that in the morning, and in the afternoon we would provide services like car-washes  window washes, giving out water at the beach, picking up trash along the side of the road, and other types of things.

Me (on the right) with a teammate.

In some ways, thinking back about it, I really had no idea what I was doing….I remember telling a flannel graph story to a bunch of kids…and I was teaching it to them with thought provoking questions the way that they did in the youth group…and during a servant evangelism time where we were washing windows at a gas station someone asked why we were doing this. (Obviously…this is what everyone doing servant evangelism hopes for….) Instead, I said “oh, just because” with a funny grin on my face. Then, another one of the older youth said something like, “Actually, we are doing this because we are from UBChurch and we want to show you the love of Christ” (and I knew this…but I don’t think I quite grasped that was the perfect moment to blatantly share the truth).

Pictures from one of the construction teams.

I think overall only a two people (that we know of) received Christ through that endeavor, so many of the youth considered it small compared to other mission trips that they had participated in, but I learned a lot from that trip!