Friday, November 25, 2011

The last stretch

Dear everyone,

Happy Thanksgiving! 

First off, I want to thank all my awesome Lincoln peeps-- Thanksgiving was great! I got several emails and Facebook messages wishing me a Happy Turkey Day and celebrated last night with the Shepherds, who cheerfully ate all the random, American dishes I put before them. I made my family's dressing for the first time ever and managed to whip up a delicious pumpkin pie. (And now get to enjoy left overs for lunch, lol).
I missed my family a bit but Rachel took off work and Neil was home sick so I never had to be alone. We also made it out to the cinema (true Smith-family style holiday) and saw Arthur Christmas-- a brilliant Christmas film with Hugh Laurie and James McAvoy voicing the sons of Santa. 

I was sad not to get to Skype my family but we did Facebook and I should be able to call them this weekend. 
And, in less than two weeks, I will be home! 

It's mad to think that I've almost been here for five months-- I ran a Holiday Club, finished my classes for DBU, traveled all around England, worked with five weekly clubs, seen Chatsworth House (the likely model for Pemberly), organized the children's ministry supplies, reorganized Jonathan's office, started a small group, taught several levels of Sunday school, learned how to lead worship, and more in just this amount of time. I've had some days when I wanted nothing more than to hop on the next plane to Texas. But I've had more days of being astounded by the warm welcome, total acceptance, and general love of this church. I have so many wonderful friends here and have really enjoyed working with all the kids-- from the sixth-month-old who I've literally watched grow to the preschoolers who steal my biscuits and the youth kids that come to everything and those that maybe come once a week.

This afternoon, I was just thinking about what happens next. I go home, graduate, have Christmas and New Years, and then.... well, God only knows. I have been invited to come back and we are praying about that. There is talk of staying with my grandmother or substitute teaching. I've even applied to some grown-up jobs, though I've yet to hear back from any of them. (Ka, can I please come back to the UWC???) It's funny, three years ago, I claimed to not be cut out for children or youth ministry, to only be helping until they found someone better, and that babysitting and tutoring kids were alright but I would never want a job working with kids. God laughed. Somehow, I have gone from leading worship on Wednesday nights and being the Sunday-School-Hermione to being, well, a youth ministry. A children's worker. Someone who crowed with delight when she got handed the six-month-old this morning. I've been reading these books on youth ministry and thinking I am too young for this! I don't have anything wise to say-- I haven't lived enough yet! I don't have any sort of Bible degree and there is no way I will every find chubby bunny funny and then the verse from Timothy popped into my head "Don't let anyone look down upon you because you are young, but be an example for the believers in speech, in life, in faith and in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12). 

So yeah, I don't really know where God is taking me in January. Currently, I would like to come back. I feel like my work here isn't finished. We went to a youth leaders forum on Monday night and now I have soo many ideas for a ministry I am about to leave! I don't know if  God is calling me to full-time children's and youth work but I do know he has a plan for me. 

These past few months, I have been able to use my natural leadership abilities (called 'bossy'-- ask my mom or any of my old babysitters) along with the things I learned at DBU, TCAL, and Fortress to fill in the needs here, creating a role that covers under for my leadership and covers over for the people I am responsible for. I was so afraid to start Harbour (our college and uni Bible study) but it's become one of my favorite programs. I didn't think I could lead worship without becoming a diva but God has allowed me to use my talents and helped me keep my ego in check. He has taken me so far beyond what I thought I was capable of (this internship, in my mind, was update the website and follow the youth and children's minister around... hahaha!). I am so honored to be a part of the thriving ministries God has based at Lincoln Baptist Church. 

I can't wait to be home; I really do miss you all horribly. Every now and then, I get a bit nervous about the future. But God keeps telling me to rest in him. It's so great to serve a God who has it all figured out-- so I don't have to! 

I guess we will see what January brings!

Please pray for my last week and for the church, that any hole I leave will be filled and for their own direction in the new year. 

How can I pray for you? 

Internationally yours,


PS: Thanks for being patient and keeping up with these posts-- I appreciate all of you who read these and pray for me!

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