Preparation for Internship Program

Wow, time has moved so quickly so far in 2021! I am not sure if I have completely caught up with a year like 2020, but I am immensely excited for what this new year may hold, and hopefully documenting most of it here.

I first heard about TEAMeffort when my church attended one of their mission trips the summer before my senior year. I loved my week in Gatlinburg, and even though there were a lot of uncertainties in my life at the time, I let the idea of applying to be on TE summer staff fester in my head throughout that school year. I was learning a tough lesson from God on giving up the control and materials in my life and trust Him to provide for me in the way He perfectly does for all of us. I was (thankfully!!) hired for a summer position and I got placed with the most incredible team at the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina camp location. I witnessed God move within the lives of dozens of campers, homeowners, youth leaders, and especially our eight-person team!
I decided to reapply for the next year, purposing in my head that it would be my last TE summer and that Junior year of college I would get serious and use my summers for career-related internships. Well, 2020 did not accommodate me. It did not accommodate anyone. But I am so thankful to God that it was in His perfect plan for it not to! A few months later, TEAMeffort advertised the new internship program they had launched in a staff email. Again, the idea rested in the back of my head but rose over time to a size I could not ignore. For this semester, I had the perfect setup to live on campus this year and make a decent income from my on-campus job. I planned to reconnect with my teammates on campus and get back into shape together. I planned to make great grades, spend my free time relaxing in the sun, and ultimately not let the Coronavirus dampen the overachieving side of my personality. But if God had not taken all those plans from me, I wouldn’t have even had the ability to consider applying for this internship. I prayed over the application for this internship program for weeks, and when I got that “yes” from God, my whole attitude shifted from hesitancy to excitement.

I am spending my time during the day and my time in the Word to mentally prepare for this internship. God has shown me time and time again that he will use me for His purpose in His time and not in mine. I am expecting huge personal and spiritual growth throughout this internship, and I invite you to follow on that journey with me! Please pray for me to continue giving up my plans and putting my trust in God, and health and safety for all of the interns taking advantage of this program! <3

Starting the Internship Program

It felt so nice to wake up in the TE lodge this morning. After three consecutive days of travel(where my car finally hit 100,000 miles !!) I was happy to get settled with all the other interns and be so welcomed by the office staff. Last night, Rachel made us all an amazing taco soup and Carly made dessert, we played several rounds of Spicy Uno and started this internship program on an incredible foot. 

It has been so nice to hear stories from all the other interns who are all from different states and different backgrounds, and share what we are expecting from this program. The thing that I have been most excited about is the personal development activities the office staff has put together. One thing in particular, called the retreat of silence, gives us an extended amount of time to be in God's Word and to use our silence to reflect on Him.
After I had committed to the program, I immediately felt joy over that decision. Now that I am here, I get to experience the joy of forming new friendships with the other interns, deeper connections with the office staff, and the communal worship of our Father together. Even so, I have had some fears about how the program will play out- will I miss my family, friends, and pets from before I moved too much? Will I be a disappointment to my new bosses? Will the money work out? Every time these invading thoughts enter my conscience, I am reminded of what God has already done for my life. When I worry about money, He always provides for me. He provided me with friends and family that love me and support me in His word. God does not weigh my achievements and my abilities but freely gives me His strength.

This internship is an opportunity God closed many doors in my life for, and I know that as long as I continue to put trust and faith in Him, He will work through me for His kingdom. I can’t wait!!

West Virginia Retreat

This past week we went on a skiing trip!!! I personally feel that I was the most excited about this trip since I had never seen snow before, and it did not disappoint! The one thing they do not tell you about snow though is that it's pretty much just ice. So, if by some random obscurity you are a person who has never seen snow AND you have found this blog and are reading it then you’re welcome for that tip. Our trip was to Ghent, West Virginia and we had the opportunity to ski and snowboard at the Winterplace Ski Resort. I had so much fun snowboarding, but if I ever get the chance to go to a Ski resort again, I think I will try skiing. In my experience, my favorite part of a road trip is the drive up together, and I loved the way we were all able to grow closer through that. I got to learn so much about everyone's music preferences, nap faces, and scattegory vocabulary.

Leading up to the trip, I had been super busy with homework and life stuff that I had fallen a little behind in my Bible Study, but during the trip, I was able to spend a good portion of my nights catching up on that and just really spending time with God. We spent Friday afternoon doing Bible Study together, which was a nice break from skiing but more importantly a really cool time for us to tell each other how we see God moving in our lives, with a nice snow flurry as our view. On the second day, we met a youth pastor with who we were able to have a great conversation about missions, and overall there were just clear ways that each of us saw God each day on the slopes. Stay tuned to hear more about how He’s working in my life!

Preparation for Spring Break

Wow spring break is only one week away! At this point, we are starting to concentrate our efforts almost solely on spring break prep and we are just finalizing a few details. I am getting beyond excited about things like dance dance and chapel, but mostly to finally see campers again!  One thing that has gotten me really nervous about preparing is that I haven’t done any type of construction in almost two years now, so I am a little worried about being rusty, but I have confidence that amazing campers are coming and in my amazing fellow staff!

In summer 2019, one of the things I struggled with the most was delivering chapel messages. Afterward, I would feel like I screwed up and cheated God out of an opportunity to reach someone's heart. But I know that God uses imperfect people to accomplish what He wants to be done, and maybe my nervousness really spoke to someone, or maybe one of my ad-libbed lines were just what someone needed to hear. So this year, I have decided to give the messages another shot. Please be praying that God will use my voice (quaky or not) for His kingdom and that people will come to know him these spring break trips!

It feels like we have all spent so much more time than a month here. I am so encouraged by the close community we have with each other, and I am really excited to see how everyone will grow in their responsibilities once we are facilitating camp here. Thank you for praying for us and the campers!

Easter Break

The interns just finished having a refreshing week off of work for spring break and it was so nice to take a break! (I slept in every day) One of my dear friends who is on full-time staff in the office, Jordan, invited me to spend the end of the week up at her house in Tennessee to repair a portion of her parent’s roof, so the first part of the week was very relaxing for me. The first thing I did was go to the beach! I had not been to the beach since I left my home in the Panhandle, so I was really itching to get back out there. The weather was perfect, and I ended up with a pretty sick burn too. ;) The next day I went out with the office staff to celebrate a birthday and I also had some time to catch up on homework, which was a huge blessing. My final exams are in two weeks so I would definitely appreciate prayer over those and my preparation for them in the following days.
The way up to Tennessee was really beautiful and also super groovy thanks to my five-and-a-half-hour playlist for Jordan and me. (Note: if you are the person making the playlist for a trip don’t forget that you have to make one long enough for the way back too) Jordan’s family made us a bunch of food so we were eating well all three days!!

Once, we got up on the roof we realized that the issues were a little deeper than we had anticipated but we were still able to fix their leak, reinforce some of the boards, and spray the ants who had made quite a home up there. The view was so nice from up there for a Florida girl that it inspired me to try my hand at roof yoga (pictured)- but only for like forty-five seconds because I wasn’t good at it. I played lots of board games and card games with Jordan’s fam and got absolutely slaughtered at Rummy(not mad). It was a great time up in TN but when we were on the way back I realized how much I missed the other interns and just being around everyone every day!

I didn’t even realize until we were all back together in the office this morning and looking at the calendar that we basically only have one month left. It’s really crazy to think about how time has passed here, but our three weeks of spring break camp left me really stoked for this summer! I had forgotten what it’s like to see a camper let Christ change their heart, a homeowner experience a blessing only God can provide for them, and all the small things about camp that I’ve always loved. But for the last month, I have with all these really rad people, I’m hoping we get a lot of quality time together and I get to repopulate my camera roll with fun memories. (not mentioned before but I ran over my phone with the Gator, so my new phone has no contacts or pictures so if you used to have my number just text me your name pls lol) I hope anyone reading this is having a beautiful day full of the blessings from God that are new every morning and especially that you click on all my other blogs because I want to have more visits than all the other interns :)

Let Them Eat Cake - Mission Trip to North Carolina

This past week all the interns went on a mission trip with Baptist On Mission in Newbern, North Carolina. Which, you guessed it, means that we got to stop at Cookout on the way up!! Not as important as the mission trip obviously so don’t even worry about my order of the tray with two quesadillas, a corndog, and cheese curds with a caramel cheesecake milkshake. We settled in once we got there and played games like ping-pong and around the world billiards, but the next day it was breakfast at 7 AM for a hard day at work. Throughout the week we were given the opportunity as a team to work on eight different projects, some together and some split up. We had fun with every project, playing loud music and games like 20 questions, but it was also very sobering to see how Hurricane Florence had affected the people in this area. In the places where we got to work on framing and hanging drywall, there was a pretty obvious flood line. One of our homeowners, Crystal, has a young daughter, and they told us that the first time she came back to her house after the hurricane she immediately checked the bathtub, because she remembered that it was full of floodwater when she left. I loved hearing our homeowner’s stories because it also made me excited to meet the people we will be able to serve in the same way this summer.

Nights at the housing facility were a lot of fun. The first group we met there did not speak very much English, but we played enough fun games together that laughter was mostly how we communicated. They were super fun and sweet so it was hard for us to say goodbye to them on Wednesday, but another group also came in that day that we formed relationships with. (We tried to teach them spicy UNO but pro tip having 12 people play at once proves to be a little challenging) The BOM people also fed us cake with decaf coffee every night after dinner so I wasn’t mad about that at all. On Saturday we traveled and got back home around six o clock, so it was a very restful evening after the long week.

I believe all the experiences of my life make up a piece of my heart and my mind, and Newbern was no exception. Prayer warriors this is for you- Newbern needs volunteers badly and there is still plenty of need in their area. Pray for the homeowners that BOM gets to work with will see the service of the volunteers and it touches their hearts. Pray that God will send people there so that they can start getting people back into their homes! And continue praying for all of us interns as we mentally and physically prep for the summer- we find out where we are going this week!! And you already know this but I need you to click on this blog at least five times and run it up!! I'm still tryna get more clicks than these scrubs.

Summer Prep

Hey!! Since we’ve last spoken, I received my camp placement- and I’m going to Blue Knob, Pennsylvania! I am super excited!! Pennsylvania will be the northernmost place I have ever been, so I am eager to experience the climate and culture of PA. Doing the three weeks of spring break camp here at Jacksonville really was a blessing, and it has helped me feel more prepared for this year in so many ways. I am honestly feeling little to no nervousness going into the summer, just excitement to get closer with my other staff members and meet a bunch of really cool people serving God. Our staff created a group chat for leading up to training and the summer, so I’m having fun learning small things about them like favorite snacks and sleep schedules. We all love kettle-cooked jalapeno chips so if the spirit moves you, our address is Penn View Suites 413 Grandview Road Altoona, PA 16601.

One thing that obviously sucks about being so close to the kickoff for this summer is that all the interns will be splitting up :/ Since we have all been roommates and pals for almost 4 months, I think it is going to be a very hard separation, but we’ve planned a group Marco Polo to try to stay in touch throughout the summer. I am praying now that God will be able to teach us all new things during this summer, and we can each learn even more about each other by sharing it at the retreat. My one real hope going into this summer is to form deep, and hopefully lasting relationships. Pray that I can have authentic moments with campers this summer and point them towards God’s love in that time. And if you’ve happened on this blog and you’re heading to Blue Knob this summer to serve, I can’t wait to meet you! (and click that purple button for my blog a few extra times before you go)

Summer in Blue Knob, PA

Hey everyone! Because Blue Knob has an off week, we are almost to the halfway point of the summer here. So much to tell!! It’s been really cool to create relationships with so many people taking care of us in this community and to meet and get to know many kind-hearted campers, youth leaders, and homeowners. In weeks 1 & 2, my staff member Ani and I actually got to work on a mission site together, and we had a blast! We worked with a very young and very sweet group on painting and landscaping for an elderly homeowner, who fell in love with the kids immediately. She is so impressive; she remembered all of their names after hearing them only once! In the same trailer park, we also reinforced a back porch and created railings for it, and painted a front porch with a group from North Carolina who loved their homeowners and us so well (thanks Rick for the pizza). This past week, week 3, my group from Kentucky completely demoed and redid a roof for one of the local ministries in just three and a half days(and absolutely obliterated at ultimate frisbee every day at lunch)! Being on the mission sites with each one of these groups has been so good for me, and just being able to fellowship with and listen to campers while we work hard together makes me see the hand of God so clearly.
I’m also privileged to have cooler staff members than anyone else who has ever worked for TEAMeffort; sorry other interns. We have a piece of paper on the wall dedicated to writing down all of the best memories for the summer, but after only week 3, it is almost full. I love laughing with both Ani and Rachel, running errands, and all the other random things we find ourselves entangled in. All this being said, it was very hard for all of the interns to leave each other and embark on our summer apart. I have missed them so much and definitely had a rough time transitioning from our former living situation to my current one. Sadly, we are all apart, but it is also really beautiful to look at the reach that each of us has- 5 people, 5 different locations, hundreds of different campers, and all still plugged into one body in Jesus. I have loved seeing how each of them is fully coming into their positions as TE summer staff, and I’m just excited for when we all get to share that with each other in person again.

This paragraph I am dedicating to food- as I should. On our first trip to Sam’s in set up week, I spotted a jumbo bag of dried mangos and I haven’t been able to stop eating them for even one day since that time. Before I left Jax, I copped some Chai tea concentrate from Trader Joe’s that has been exactly what I needed a few nights here. Sushi !! Our staff is collectively impressive at putting away chips, namely flaming hot Cheetos, barbeque chips, cheesy garlic bread lays, and Bugles (America's favorite finger hats.) Every Walmart brand sandwich cookie that I eat on the mission site at lunch gets a small scoop of peanut butter on top that absolutely transforms it. The local gas station with made-to-order food makes a pretzel stuffed with jalapeno cheese that makes me drop a singular tear after every first bite. 
We make coffee every morning and every evening. Sue (camp Nana- wife to contractor Harry) puts so much cheese on every dish that you can play games with it as it gets further and further from the utensil. Lisa, camp cook & food truck owner, was inspired by angels to put Thanksgiving stuffing into a waffle iron and drizzle gravy over it with a side of mashed potatoes and chicken. And most importantly, I’ve come into the truest version of myself every Wednesday when I fire up the grill and do cookout night for the campers. Pictured: our Father's Day cookout

Honorable mentions:
Ani’s guitar string breaking 5 minutes before chapel.
The wildflowers grow in every expected and unexpected corner of PA.
Harry running slides for us every night of chapel after an exhausting day of work.
Driving the truck :))

Summer Coming to a Close

First off, since I know you are all wondering anyway, the rumor is true that the jumbo bag of dried mangoes from Sam’s is gone. :( I did replace that, however, by constantly snacking on jalapeno Cheetos from my awesome director, but hey, show me a permanent state of self, right.

It has been a crazy four weeks since I last wrote, and each one has been memorable in its own special way. Knowing that you are on the downhill portion of any adventure is always bittersweet, and these last few weeks have been no exception.  God decided to show off and sent my favorite homeowner of all time in the same week as my favorite group of all time. This group had such an obvious heart to serve, they knew how to have fun while they were working, and I formed incredible connections with them. Week five for Blue Knob was an off-week and some much-needed rest for our small crew! During that week, I was able to travel up to New York to visit with my older sister and run some sister screening approval tests on her friends- everyone passed. ;) I’ve missed her so much since we moved so apart from each other, and I was so happy we got to take advantage of the 5 hour drive time as opposed to the previous 21.
In week six, Blue Knob was joined by two other incredible staff members to help tackle our biggest week, and we all had a blast together. I had the cutest homeowner who would make me a cup of coffee every day at lunch, and an awesome church group who could have fun with any situation. We even invented a new game that week on-site called, “Bored”, where we try to throw the golf ball we randomly found under the old deck onto a small sharpie-drawn circle on a scrap piece of 2x8. Investments are being taken before we secure a patent. This past week, week seven, I watched 26 kids pull weeds for four days straight and never complain once. I was so blessed by them and all the small ways we were able to connect on the site, like our longest root competition, several poison ivy run-ins, and a shared passion for coffee. Tomorrow I am headed to Gatlinburg, TN to serve for the last week of TEAMeffort 2021 and I’m super hype to see everyone on staff there.

I always tell my campers that camp feels like its own bubble, and they should take advantage of the time loop and the break from their reality. They get one week, but over the course of the summer, it has been so weird for me to think about what it is going to be like once this is all over. One thing I know right now is that I am ecstatic about the retreat and being able to see everyone on staff again. To hear more, you’ll have to stay tuned in because I’m gonna be spilling, one last time:)