Man... this blog post has been bubbling up for weeks inside of me and I'm thrilled to finally have the time to sit down and type it out so you can share in my joy. For real. Just JOY.
Each summer, each of our Back2Back sites around the globe, is blessed with the gift of college students who come to serve alongside our full-time staff for a month or two at a time. If you've never been to a Back2back site in the summer and seen how hard these kids work - let me just paint a picture for you...
They get up early to prep everything for the day.
They make lunch for hundreds of people everyday for 60 days.
They literally scrub trash cans on Saturdays.
They bleach every surface imaginable all the time and bleach their own intern shirts.
They are the ones who clean up everything - projects, cook outs, craft bins, coolers at the end of the day - the pool bathrooms - the dorms week after week.
They leave summer jobs, summer classes, friends, family.
They celebrate the 4th of July with tacos in a foreign country.
They don't get paid. In fact, they pay B2B for room and board in order to serve our ministry.
As some of you recall, I served with Back2Back some 9 summers ago as one of the summer Monterrey interns. I delayed my college graduation from the University of Florida and left my summer job in order to do so. I know intimately the ins and outs, the struggles and privileges, the sacrifices and rewards of being an intern around here.
So this summer, no exception, our Monterrey site went through intern applications and made our selections and by the grace of God had probably the best intern crew ever this summer. They had so much energy, wit, laughter, patience, humility, heart, guts, and strength.
In this world, I think there are 2 types of people - those who GIVE life and those who seem to TAKE the life out of you. You know the type - you spend the afternoon with someone and when it's over and you're finally at home you think to yourself, "wow what a great day! I feel so much fuller from spending time with _____." or the opposite is true and you think something like, "wow that person really sucked the life right out of me. I hope they don't call me and ask me to go ____ with them again next week."
Well this summer our interns were such life givers.
I was SO BLESSED by them.
So let's back up a bit... I spent the month of May praying about this upcoming summer - my own energy levels, that I'd be able to learn overnight how to project plan and lead groups at Douglas this summer, for my attitude through the exhaustion of day after day, week after week non-stop mission guests to lead and host. I prayed that Jeremiah 17 would be true of me - that I could be someone who trusts in the Lord to fill me who wouldn't fear when heat/stress/conflict/disappointment came and who wouldn't worry in a year of drought but who would never fail to bear fruit in all circumstances. I prayed specifically that God would bring me people who would give life in conversation - group members, summer staff or interns - I didn't really care who it came from - I just knew I was craving some positive conversations.
God answered my prayers in the form of interns. They made me laugh till my abs hurt, put stupid apps that I hardly know how to use on my phone, brought a smile to my face when I needed it, picked up a heavy bin when I couldn't, babysat so I could spend time with my best friend who was leaving Monterrey, and endlessly encouraged me and a lot of our staff.
Some staff are asked to mentor or disciple one or several of these summer interns while they are living on our campus. I was given 2 and in so many ways I wish that I had time for every single one of the interns. I learned from and was blessed by these beautiful souls far more than I'm sure I did them.
As I reflect back on everything that I loved about this summer - I keep meditating on this passage:
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.... For in him we live and move and have our being." -- Acts 17:24-28
God doesn't need us. He doesn't need me here in Monterrey, Mexico to accomplish his goals. But He knew before the beginning of time that I'd live here and serve here for years. He, in his generosity, allows us sometimes to join in whatever He is up to - loving, serving, mending, supporting, guiding, pursuing, encouraging.... He let's us in on it and we get to share in the joy of seeing broken souls find their identity in HIM - find out the truth about who they really are - their real potential and then sometimes we get to watch that transformation happen. He lets us watch flowers bloom out of the weeds. Forgotten orphans, defeated, broken, hurting and insecure find the truth and break through the chains of lies that have held them back from walking in the light of their true worth. I've learned over the years that most orphans have a shame core for their belief system that is so huge it's like the size of Texas. They don't believe in themselves - they feel unloved, unwanted and worthless. But I know the truth about these kids - how precious they are - how beautiful they are - how handsome - how smart - how talented. Man it's a privilege to get to tell them that they are worth something day in and day out. Thank you to each and every one of you who donate to Back2Back each month so I can live and serve here.
And to all you interns - you are incredible. THANK YOU for serving here this summer. Thank you for sacrificing your summers to love on some of my favorite kids. Thank you for carrying so many of our staff's burdens day in and day out. You brought me joy. You this summer gave me life. May the Lord bless you for your servants' hearts and for all the blood, sweat and tears you left here in Monterrey.