Wednesday, September 22, 2010

She just keeps going and going and going...

Hi Ho Neighbors!

I hope all is well with all of you! I just want to give you a short (this is not my strong point in writing so bare with me) synopsis of my life for the past two weeks. 

It all started Friday, September 3. The cars were packed. Mom and Grandmother mom's car, and Granddaddy and myself in mine. You can imagine how the ride was with Granddaddy...minimal talking from my side and lots of listening. Listening to everything from sermons, to classical music, to war stories from Granddaddy's days in Korea as a Korean War Veteran. I don't know how, but he seems to remember EVERY SINGLE DETAIL. Needless to say, it was a loooooong trip. We arrived Friday night in Falls Church, VA and had a wonderful last weekend together as a family. Saturday we toured around DC and listened to more of Granddaddy's detail-packed stories of his days in training at Fort Belvoir which is in Northern Virginia, not far from DC. Sunday we attended church at The Falls Church (TFC) where I am doing my fellowship, then moved in with my host family, and then toured Arlington National Cemetery. I couldn't have asked for a better "last weekend" with my family! We had perfect weather, perfect accommodations, and an all together perfect weekend. 

Mom and me looking out from the Lincoln Monument over the Reflection Pool

Washington Monument

Mom and me at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
For those of you who don't know or are still confused about The Fellows Program, I'll give you a brief rundown of a week in the life:

Monday: 9:30-2:00 -- Seminar Class with Art Lindsley (Check him out. He has several books and is BRILLIANT)
               5:30-9:30-- Round table Dinner with Morna, our supervisor, and the other Fellows.
Tuesday-Thursday: 9:00-6:00 -- Work at Enough is Enough
Tuesday: 7:30 -- Youth Family Dinner at TFC -- This is when all the Fellows, Youth Staff, and Youth Volunteers meet to have a weekly meeting about what's going on with Youth at TFC the upcoming week. 
Friday: 8:00-10:00 -- Bible Study -- We're studying the Old Testament
            10:00-12:00-- Seminar -- Guest speakers come in and talk to us about various topics
Saturday: Day of rest...kind of. Usually these days are supposed to be free days, but there's always something going on so they don't really count.
Sunday: 9:00- Tune Up -- Sunday School for Middle Schoolers (Grades 6-8)
             11:00- Church
             4:30-7:00- Crossroads -- A fancy name for middle school youth group. But this is not just your ordinary youth group, this youth group has somewhere in the ballpark of 200 kids just in grades 6, 7, and 8 . The kids all come together for a bit of a social hour and dinner, then Jim Byrne (our AWESOME youth pastor)  does a large group program, and then we split into small groups of about 12-15 people per group divided by grade and gender. I lead a small group of 6th grade girls which so far has been a complete and total blessing. More on that in a later post.

Whew--hectic week. I also left out a lot because my week is never ever the same as the last one, but I'll keep ya posted as this blog continues :)

Ok, so back to the fun stuff....

So I moved in with my host family, The Kreykes' on Sunday and spent my first night with them on Monday, September 6 (Labor Day). They are such an awesome host family. As you can imagine, it's not easy to just up and move in with a family that are complete and total strangers, but I couldn't have asked for a better host family situation. Jon and Shelly are my host parents and they're great. Shelly is so sweet, she puts notes in my lunch bag when I take my lunch to class or work! If that doesn't brighten your day, I don't know what will. My two host sisters are Miriam and Janelle. M is a Sophomore in high school, and J is a senior. They're great girls who love each other, their family, and the Lord. The Kreykes' also have a brother/son, Daniel, but he's away at school in Brevard. There's no way he'll recognize his room (the one that I've taken as my own) when he comes back for Thanksgiving and Christmas!
The Kreykes Family
On Wednesday of that week I FINALLY after months of anticipation got to meet the 11 other Fellows that I'll be working and growing with over the next 9 months. Kristen, Becca, Elisa, Katherine, Ryan W., Ryan Z., Ben, Tim, Griffin, Greg, and Chris are their names and they are sooo cool. We went to Middleofnowhere, Pennsylvania on a retreat to a camp called Summer's Best Two Weeks (SB2W) and it was AWESOME. I know I'm using that word a lot but I'm too tired to think of other words for 'awesome' at the moment. Sorry. Anyway, back to SB2W. We all met in the church parking lot, had a quick orientation and tour of the church, and then hit the highway for a 4 hour road trip to Middleofnowhere, Pennsylvania. What better way to get to know people than on a road trip, and yes, we were in a church van. Our retreat consisted of a lot of things, the most notable being a high ropes course, a zip line over the lake, canoeing, tubing, ultimate frisbee (I was never a fan until this retreat), some other weird game that I can't remember the name of but it was REALLY fun, and star-tripping. If you've never heard of star-tripping, you need to learn. I won't explain now, but remind me later and I will. Amidst all the fun and games were also some very serious times of orientation, learning, discussion, relationship building and most importantly sharing our testimonies. Through everyone sharing his or her story we were all able to make some sort of connection and most importantly learn about each other and our walks with Christ. Again, it was AWESOME! We all joke that we're only friends now because of the "forced intimacy" that we underwent, but hey, it totally worked. I feel like I've known these guys for waaaaay longer than 2 weeks and I see nothing but brightness ahead in our future together. A bunch of warm hearts, open eyes, and Christ-centered minds all coming together. Can't beat that!

Top Row from L to R: Chris, Tim, Ryan Z, Ben, Greg, Ryan W, Griffin, Becca
Bottom Row from L to R: Kirstin, Elisa, Katherine, Me, Morna

We left SB2W on Saturday, September 11 and on the way home we had the most AWESOME experience. We stopped at the sight where Flight 93 had crashed 9 years before. Every year, Morna (our coordinator) takes the Fellows there on the way home from SB2W, but this year was special because we were actually there on 9/11. Unbeknown to us we were in for a great surprise. Laura Bush and Michelle Obama were there for a ceremony commemorating the heroes of 9/11 and Flight 93. Trembling, humbling, sacred, and awe-inspiring are only a few adjectives that describe the atmosphere of the Flight 93 crash site that morning. Again, I am blessed. 

This is the Flight 93 Crash Spot. You can barely see it,
but in the distance there's a little American flag marking the exact spot. 
When we got back from SB2W we had a couple hours apart and then reunited for a host family dinner where all the host families, host brothers and sisters, and fellows came together to meet each other. Imagine 12 different families, some with 2 kids, some with 5 kids, and 12 22-year-olds, all in one house, all at one time. It was loco!

Sunday was again, AWESOME. It was the first time we attended TFC as fellows! We were called up to the front of the sanctuary and introduced like celebrities. All eyes on us and this is no small church! People smiling and clapping and welcoming us with open arms. Also, just to give you an idea of the dynamic of the Fellows and the church, it's kind of weird. The Fellows are kind of distinguished, if I don't say so myself. Sidenote: I plan on milking this status for all it's worth. Who knows the next time I'll ever be considered distinguished. But seriously, it's a real honor and privilege to be a Fellow and I am so thankful that I am blessed with this opportunity!! Everyone at the church knows who the Fellows are and we get lots of special attention even when special attention isn't necessary. TFC community guessed it...AWESOME!

Ok, so Monday was cool, I don't really remember what we did...but I'm sure it was great!

Tuesday, was sooo great. So great that it deserves it's own post. I'll post later about this day, but stay tuned cause it's AWESOME!

On to my first week of work. I'm working at a non-profit called Enough is Enough (EIE) that advocates internet safety for kids, and fights against serious issues such as online predators, pedophiles, stalkers, and child pornography. My first week was kind of hectic, but good hectic! I was able to dive head-first into the working world. What better way to do it? So as it turns out, EIE is incredibly short-staffed. That's a problem. The even bigger problem is that EIE is short-staffed and they're undergoing an audit! YIKES! Yeah...I didn't know what an audit was either. Let me explain...Pretty much EIE gets grants from outside organizations. the Department of Justice (DOJ) granted EIE some money, and now they are auditing the grant to make sure that EIE is being responsible and spending the money wisely and is not a fraudulent company. Anyways, an audit takes a lot of preparation, planning, and organization which is all fine and dandy until your head administrator goes on bed rest! Yeah, you heard me. The sweet lady, Lillian, who is coordinating this audit is having complications with her pregnancy and went on bed rest, THE DAY I GOT THERE. So lucky me, I took over her job until she comes back. Long-story short, I have no idea where anything is, or what anything means, or how to do anything, and I am now helping coordinate an audit. Lord, help me! So far I've gotten lots of positive feedback from Donna, the head honcho, and I feel really good about my job and the way it's going, but I'll sure be glad when this audit is OVER!

Oh yeah..I just remembered what we did Monday. We had our first Apologetics class. I'll go into more detail later, but it was AWESOME!

This past weekend we had our Youth Staff retreat in Annapolis, MD. All the youth staff including, the Fellows, the high school and middle school staff, the youth pastor, and all the other volunteers went to Annapolis to have a beginning of the year kick off to discuss plans for the coming semester etc. etc. etc. The cool part is that Annapolis is the cutest town ever! Little shops, restaurants, cafes, delis, churches, and people everywhere and it's all on a harbor. So cool. You have to visit. We also got to walk around the Naval Academy which was beautiful! Loved it!
Kind of blurry but this is the altar of the Naval Academy Chapel.

Falls Church Fellows do Annapolis

Elisa and me chillin by the water.

These baskets of flowers were hanging from every lamp post along the streets of downtown Annapolis. Beautiful!

Harbor in Annapolis

We got back Saturday night, had a dance party in the church parking lot, and then went to watch the end of the Clemson-Auburn game. After watching a Clemson football game with me my friends all think I'm crazy. Rightfully so. I'm still bitter about the outcome but it is what it is. 

Ok, so that was a reaaallllllyyyy condensed version of everything I wanted to tell you. I left out about a kajillion, billion, zillion details, partly because I don't want to bore you, partly because I'm pooped, but at least you kind of get a picture of my life. Similarly to the Energizer bunny, it just keeps going, and going, and going...

Shining Brightly, 

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