Preparation for Internship Program

TEAMeffort’s internship program is an opportunity to explore several different ministries and be a part of their summer staff. Both a domestic and international mission trip is offered to interns. During the summer months, interns will work alongside youth groups to serve the community in various ways, such as building projects, homeless shelters, and more.

When I heard about the program, it felt like an answer to many prayers. I was in the middle of the last semester of my Associate’s degree. I knew I wanted to take a gap year and was looking into Christian-based camps or retreats I could be involved in. After I spoke to one of TEAMeffort’s members, I knew I wanted to be involved. I would be able to explore several different ministries, build a Christian community, serve the Lord, and travel. I am excited for this program to commit myself more fully to Jesus and His plan for my life.

My greatest hope for this program is for my relationship with God to strengthen as I depend on Him more to lead and guide me as I guide others to Christ. I am also looking forward to building more Christian community, learning how to serve wholeheartedly, and be a bold witness of Christ. This program, I know, will challenge me emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Some challenges I  am expecting are being away from home, facing days of hard work, and being pushed out of my comfort zone to obey the Lord.

To prepare for the program, I have made some purchases-- some big, some small. I was fortunate enough to purchase a car in anticipation of having a part-time job while in Jacksonville. I also finished my Associate degree and have been working my last few months at my current job before I head to Jacksonville. Spiritually, I have been praying over my time there that it will be a fruitful experience.

Starting the Internship Program

After a very prolonged emotional goodbye to my sweet dog Lucy and securing my essential espresso maker, my mom, my sister, and I started our journey from Southwest Florida to Jacksonville. It was a bright sunny Saturday, a perfect day for our five-hour car ride. After a few pit stops, which added about an hour to our ETA, we got to the camp. When we arrived at the TEAMeffort site, everyone was super welcoming, making the transition a lot easier. On Sunday, we interns were able to visit a local church with some of the office staff, and it gave us a chance to become more familiar with the town we would call home for the next few months. The first few days being here have been fantastic. I have loved being outdoors-- canoeing, sitting by the lake, watching the sunrise, and have been looking forward to clear-sky nights where we can see the stars! We have had meals together as interns and office staff, which has given us time to get to know each other. We also played some games like Mexican Trains and Spicy Uno. I am so excited to see where this journey takes me. I am anticipating tremendous personal growth. Spiritually, as I rely more on God’s guidance and depend on Him more fully, I know it will strengthen our relationship. I also think that this program will help lead me to where I want to go in my future, as I discover more of my strengths and interests. I am so excited about our last-minute surprise trip to West Virginia for a ski trip! I hope I remember how to ski from my days in the North Pole (Minnesota)!

West Virginia Retreat

We went skiing in West Virginia! From my previous blog post you may have remembered that I mentioned the surprise ski trip we got to go on as interns to the Mountain State. I was super pumped to ski, especially since I remembered how exhilarating it was the few times I went to Minnesota! I was also eager to see how all the other interns and office staff would feel about it.
The road trip heading to West Virginia was very eventful. There was a West Virginia themed playlist going on for most of the ride, with “Take me Home, Country Roads” playing countless times. We played games ranging from Scattergories to the Alphabet Game, where you find the letters A through Z outside your car window through billboards, license plates, business names, etc., racing everyone else in the car to see who can complete the alphabet fastest. When we were winding up and down the West Virginian mountains to our cabin, it was just light enough to see the beautiful scenery we’d get to spend the next few days in.

The first day at the ski resort was just as exciting as I remembered. It took me a minute (maybe an hour) to get the hang of it, but after that, I started my first slope and kept on going. It was such a great time! I had so much fun seeing everyone else try skiing and snowboarding and had even more fun skiing alongside them!

During our trip we also had time set aside for worship nights, morning and evening devotionals, and even Bible study together. It was a really sweet and precious experience of fellowship and just enjoying God’s creation. I love how this internship has shown me more about what it looks like to follow Christ. Yes, following Jesus looks like serving others through missionary work and spreading the Gospel through sermons and worship, but there’s also a time where we can simply enjoy time together, as brothers and sisters in Christ, and cherish His creation.

Preparation for Spring Break

For the past month, we have been preparing for youth groups to come to the Jacksonville campus for spring break! As interns and office staff we have been putting together chapel messages, worship songs, games, dances… all sorts of fun stuff for youth groups that are coming in the upcoming weeks! It has been super fun and interesting to me as a first-timer at TEAMeffort. I have really enjoyed collaborating with everyone here to make the best version of spring break that we possibly can. We spent the first month of the internship planning the messages in multiple stages. Something that was really important to me was picking the right font for the message of each day (and yes, there is only one correct font). It has been amazing to see how every one of us interns contributed to the message that the campers will hear! In this past week, we have started putting everything together for chapel, the worship songs, the games, and the messages. Another opportunity I was given in preparation for spring break was to visit some of the potential mission sites for the youth groups to serve, meet the homeowners, and see for the first time first-hand the kinds of missions TEAMeffort does. I am so excited to finally meet each camper and see how God impacts their lives through this organization. I am so thankful for the chance to serve with the students that are coming and to share the Gospel with them! My prayer for each camper is to take whatever they learn during their time here and apply it wherever they go and spread their light!

Easter Break

Easter break was such a blessing after the rush of Spring Break with campers. I spent the week off with my family in Naples. I excitedly told them all about my time so far in Jacksonville. I told them about all that happened during spring break with the different groups that came and the different missions we worked on. My dad was especially impressed when I told them about the decks we completed at the mission sites and how I could talk him through how to do it. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude as I got to share with others the opportunities God has given me to lead groups at mission sites and all of the other fun things we got to do over spring break. Spring break was such an amazing experience! From working on mission sites to serving meals to evening chapels, it was altogether challenging and rewarding. The hardest part was not getting as much sleep as I usually get, but what I gained instead far surpassed the few hours I “lost.”
Not only did we serve at the mission sites, but we also got to do relational ministry one week of spring break, which is one of my favorite outreach opportunities. We went downtown Jacksonville and spent time with the homeless, serving them by handing out food, hygiene packs and just having meaningful conversations and praying with them. It was highly satisfying to see the finished product of the two homes we worked on over the span of the three-week spring break with the youth! I was able to see personal transformation happen over the three weeks as well. As I depended more on God’s strength, I noticed a growth in boldness and Him calling me more to be an ambassador for Christ.

By far, the highlight of my break was spending time with my family. Not only did they notice a change in me, but I could also tell that they had changed and grown in the two months I had been away. As cheesy as it sounds, I understand the saying “distance makes the heart grow fonder” in an authentic way now. I cherished the time we spent together and definitely took advantage of sleeping in and the other small pleasures of being home. Now that I am back at camp and we have about one month before preparing for summer, I want to continue to focus on growing and deepening my reliance on God and let Him shape me more and more into who He designed me to be.

Mission Trip to North Carolina

This April as interns we got to go to New Bern, North Carolina, and work alongside an organization called Baptists on Mission and help rebuild homes that had been affected by Hurricane Florence. Over the span of one week, we got to work on several different homes and meet some of the homeowners which is always a blessing. For the majority of the homes, we put up drywall, mudded, and sanded. For other homes, we got to the point of the painting. On the last day, we got to work on a church and rebuild a wall that had been damaged. Overall, it was a learning experience I am grateful for and I know the Lord is preparing me for summer where I will be leading groups in these types of projects.

This experience was unique because Baptists on Mission were hosting several groups at their facility while we were there, so it gave us an opportunity to fellowship with other groups that were on a mission. After dinner, we had a good amount of free time to spend with the other groups and the staff. We played games like Spicy Uno and a pool table game called Around the World. Over light-hearted games, I got to get to know some of the other volunteers.
I was surprised by the number of homes and projects that we got to work on. One day we got to do work on three separate homes! There were many aspects of the mission trip that I loved. I loved the variety of the projects we got to do and I loved how hands-on it was. I love being part of a team where we get to tangibly serve others through construction. I got to meet one of the homeowners who were so grateful, which always makes me so happy!

The mission trip was bittersweet because it was the last time the interns will be on a mission trip together. Over the summer we will be split up into different camps and be part of different staff. However, I am grateful that we got to spend this week together serving and growing closer getting prepared for summer where we will be leading youth!

Preparing for the Summer

Going into my first summer with TEAMeffort I am super excited for the growth that I will experience and all the people around me and to meet the groups I’ll be serving alongside! I am also thrilled about where I’m going… any guesses??

This summer I’m heading to Copperhill, Tennessee!! Even before the internship, I was seeking opportunities to go to Tennessee, so I feel super grateful that I’m going to the beautiful state! The camp we’re staying at has such fun activities too like white water rafting, rock climbing, and more! Plus the camp is so picturesque. Copperhill is in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains. Ah! I love it already! I cannot wait to spend the summer in such a pretty state!
In just a few weeks I will finally meet all the staff I’ll be working with over the summer. In early May, I found out who my staff would be and I’ve heard such positive things about them. I know we will have an amazing time together this summer serving the Lord in various ways.
This summer I have quite a few hopes and expectations in terms of my relationship with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 9:8 encourages me that “God is able to make all grace abound to me, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, I may abound in every good work.” Based on my experience over Spring Break, I have realized that sometimes I can feel discouraged when I’m tired and feel like I’m not contributing all that I could, but God’s truth is that He equips me for every good work at all times, for His glory.
Despite being apart from the other interns, we still are going to stay connected. In anticipation of our busy schedule, we have already downloaded an app where we’ll take quick videos to send each other and of course we’ll find time to text each other. Another blessing is that we have another camp in Tennessee, so over the weekend we have the opportunity to meet up and will hopefully go white water rafting together. :)

My prayer for campers is that the Lord prepares their hearts to serve the community and opens their hearts to receive all that He has for them. For staff, I am praying that they are used as a vessel for God and that they continue their path of obedience to glorify God! And for homeowners, I pray that they experience God’s love and experience the gospel through our service.

Summer in Copperhill TN

The first few weeks of summer camp have been awesome! To give you an idea of what goes on in the life of a TEAMeffort staff member during the summer, I’ll give you a little day-in-the-life peek. A typical day starts with a staff meeting where we talk over the day and have a devotional altogether. Morning devo serves as a reminder that our focus is on Jesus amidst the busyness and the distractions that may (and do) come up. After our meeting in Copperhill, we go down the mountain to the dining hall, where we spend time with our groups for breakfast. We are so blessed to have meals provided for us in C-hill!! Before we head off to our mission sites for the day, we fill water coolers, make lunches, and pull any extra tools we may need for the day. By 9:00 am, we head out to our sites for the day! Mission site projects can vary from building decks, roofing, painting, and landscaping, but always include talking with homeowners if they are around. After the sites, we head back to camp and open the camp store until dinner time, which is, again, provided!! After a delicious meal, the next thing on the schedule is chapel practice and chapel. We end the night strong (and maybe a little tired)  with opening the camp store and having another staff meeting. Being part of the summer staff is bussyyy, but so worth it. Making connections with the youth groups and leaders and impacting the homeowner’s life is far more rewarding and fulfilling than the temporary tiredness we may feel.
Over the weekend's staff has time to relax and spend time together. One of my favorite things we’ve done together has been white water rafting down the Ocoee River. It’s cool because the camp we are staying at in Copperhill is a white water rafting business, so we get to see groups go rafting all the time, and we’ve gotten to talk with the white water staff and have them as our rafting instructors.
One of the best parts of this opportunity is that I get to talk about Jesus with youth daily and serve alongside them. Every week, new campers hear the gospel through chapel services and then get to serve the community and live out the gospel. It’s so cool! One of the ways I like to connect with campers is having conversations about chapel and devos that we provide for them, and it’s a great way to begin Christ-centered conversations. It’s incredible how the Lord works through us and uses our testimonies to connect with others. I love to hear how the campers relate to the messages and have them apply what they are learning!

God has shown me a lot through being in a leadership position. Looking to Jesus as the perfect example, I have been challenged in emulating His humility, His patience, and His sacrificial service. But I am also comforted to know that there is grace for me. I am not expected to be perfect or be the perfect example, because I’m just here to point to Jesus. It’s just an amazing bonus that with following Jesus I am being sanctified and become more like Him as I rely on Him and His strength. For the remainder of the summer, I hope that God continues to use me and that I am bold in what He has shown me and is teaching me.

Nearing the End of the Summer

Hey everyone! I can’t believe summer is almost over! It has been a crazy experience so far, and there’s one week left and then staff heads to retreat! Time has flown by, so I really want to take advantage of this last week and keep the mindset “the first week every week,” that TEAMeffort encourages us in. Our days are still packed full of fun service projects and other fun stuff like meat folding and filling water coolers. I know that I am going to miss it all when it’s over.

God has been challenging me in several ways recently especially with this being the end of the summer. One of the ways that He is calling me to be more like Christ is by being present with the people that are in front of me. He is so intentional with who He puts in front of us, so I want to cherish each moment with each group which is sometimes hard especially when I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone during staff and intern retreat. Another thing God has been teaching me lately is the importance of rest. Not only is physical rest important during a TEAMeffort summer, but finding ultimate rest in Jesus is exponentially more important. There are many instances in a TE summer where there is the choice between worry and becoming stressed or choosing to rest in knowing that God is good and He will provide for me. I’ve been reminded of Matthew 6:34 that says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” God has always been faithful and trustworthy and this summer has been a testament of that in my life.

I have loved seeing the joy on the camper’s faces as they serve and grow closer to each other and connect with and understand chapel messages! It is such an honor to have a small role in how God is pursuing each student. I feel so grateful that I have been able to share about what Jesus has done for me! I know that God is actively using TEAMeffort to reach youth, homeowners, and all their families. I know that I have grown so much and gotten to know Jesus more personally through this experience, so my hope is that it keeps happening. My goal this last week is to be fully present and to cherish the time God has given me!!