A new summer, a new chapter

I have made the decision to start blogging. I’m not sure who will read this, and who won’t. But I have made the decision nonetheless. So here we go.

For the first time in my life I feel called to be somewhere. I feel that I am actually being called to do something, and that it is the right thing to do. I realize how cheesy it sounds to say that I feel “called.” But I really can’t find any other word to describe the force that has brought me to the Hinton Rural Life Center nestled in the beautiful town of Hayesville, North Carolina.

Both my mother and father grew up/met in Hayesville. Both sides of my family live here, and I have visited this place at least five or six times a year throughout my life. But I have never actually lived here. I have never truly experienced this Appalachian region, and the people that inhabit its breathtaking landscapes.

That is where the Hinton Center comes in. The Hinton Center is ultimately a mission agency of the United Methodist Church. From what I know of it so far – from my second day of staying here – is that as a part of the summer staff, it is our responsibility to create relationships and build community here in Hayesville. We do this by repairing homes, and doing construction on homes that are in dire need. But we also do this by not only sharing our lives with the home owners, but by listening to the home owners and their stories.

I will help to lead adults, youth, and children in these mission trips at various work sites. Some of the projects I have will be accomplished in a week or two, while others may have long term goals of the entire summer.

And now, the campers. The volunteers that come to Hinton may come from different backgrounds. But most of them will lead vastly different lifestyles than those of the residents of the homes we are going to be working on. I know that some parents send their children on mission trips because they think it will be a good experience, and will keep them out of trouble for a week and out of the parents’ hair for a week.

But there is truly something supernatural and powerful that happens, as Julia Buckner says, when you put a hammer in a person’s hand and ask them to work on a home for a week in their summer. I speak from experience. I have been on a mission trip each year since the sixth grade. There is a moment on every mission trip when you realize, “Hey, this isn’t about me. This is not a vacation. There is a bigger picture, and I am actually a small part of it!” This moment is amazing, and eye-opening. I want every volunteer that I serve this summer to have the opportunity to experience that.

I do not have a good idea of what to expect this summer. Heck, I don’t even know what to expect tomorrow. But I know one thing for certain: I am here, and there is a strong force behind me that got my butt to this camp this summer. God is doing incredible things in my life, and I am humbled and amazed to think that He might actually be using me to have an impact on even one other person’s life.

I have had my anxieties about this summer for weeks, and even months. This is totally out of my comfort zone, being that I am away from the people that I love the most (my family – in particular my mother, my close friends, my boyfriend). But I think there is beauty in that. There is beauty in the fact that I have to step back and admit that I am uncomfortable, and I have no control over what happens next. I believe that this is the time where God is going to step in and do some crazy amazing things, that I never expected. And also, I will hopefully get to spend time with my extended family that I only get to see a few times a year, which is a great opportunity!

Already I have met some awesome people. My fellow counselors on the work staff are seriously kick-ass, and I am excited to see the friendships already beginning to develop between all of us as we grow together in this experience.

I view this experience not only as a challenge, but as an opportunity to grow. As a young woman. As a Christian. As a friend. As a missionary. As a leader. As a person.

And I say, bring it on!!

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