The next three weeks consisted of sweat, blood (literally, had the worst nose bleed ever thanks to Joe Keller for kicking me in the face J), and tears as me and 45 other college students poured their heart and soul into their jobs. I was an A.M. cook, which meant waking up at 5:30 every morning, flipping over 1000 pancakes every Tuesday, and getting burned every single time I took something out of the oven. It also meant random jam sessions to Katy Perry’s Firework, free cookie dough from the bakers, and hysterical interactions with the servers. The long hours couldn’t even compare to the friendships made over prepping for meals or the family time we had after work where we got to hear each other’s stories. They also couldn’t compare to the change I saw within the campers throughout the week, the pure joy I saw in their faces when they stood up at the Say-So and accepted Jesus into their lives, or the way their lives were completely changed forever.
Habitat for Humanity
After spending three months at CHFH, I learned so much more than I ever could have imagined and gained experience in all kinds of different areas. I got to work on PR-related projects that included social media and blog posts, newsletter articles, and video production. I also gained a lot of experience with event planning and learned a lot about what goes in to an event. The amount of fundraising, planning, and time dedicated to one event is incredible and it proved to me that time management really is an important skill to have (thx college). And we all know an internship wouldn’t be an internship if I didn’t have a crazy amount of administrative tasks to do (who knew that writing 400+ thank you cards could actually cause a hand cramp?), but at least I’m a certified pro at writing thank you letters now.
In addition to all of the experience I gained, I learned so much about affordable housing and CHFH’s mission to serve others. Before working at Habitat, I had very limited knowledge on affordable housing. My eyes were completely opened this summer, however, and I was able to see the difference this organization makes in people’s lives. One of the last projects I worked on was a video for the 2015 Apostle Build. We interviewed a Habitat homeowner and asked what home meant to her. It gave her a sense of peace, she said. Just hearing that one simple line made me realize how big of a blessing it’s been to work with a non-profit so dedicated to making a change in people’s lives.
I didn’t know anything about Portugal before going there – nothing. What would the culture be like? Did anybody speak English? Had people even heard of Jesus?
After spending a week in this beautiful country, all of these questions were answered and then some. The culture is so free – complete 180 of American culture and the busy lifestyles we hold onto. I’m currently reading a book by Hilary Alan, Sent, and in it, she talks about busyness and how we live in a culture that values independence over community, busyness over idleness – like somehow being busy proves that we are significant. It was humbling to see the Portuguese people still have very intentional relationships and very successful lives without the stress of a hectic lifestyle. It was a good lesson to be reminded of in handling my own relationships with people. I, like so many other Americans, jam my schedule with classes, jobs, way more extracurriculars than I can handle, and way more commitments than is healthy for a 20-year-old college student. Being in Portugal was a huge wake-up call to how I live my life and how I interact with others, showing me that I should be more intentional and freer than I am.
At the camp, we had time to rest and reflect for short periods of time after we were done with our daily duties and during one of these moments, it dawned on me just how big The Lord truly is. I tend to place God in my own little bubble here in Chapel Hill and forget that He is literally everywhere at any given time never favoring one side of the world to the other. He loves people here in the States just as much as he does over in a small coastal town in Portugal. His magnitude and omnipresence is sometimes hard for me to wrap my head around, but I think that’s okay because I’m pretty sure there are things that God wants us to continue to be amazed at.
Like the fact that He didn’t need me for His plans in Portugal and for the plans He had for the campers that came to know Him. Or the fact that He somehow looked out for my needs this summer by blessing me with an internship and a job. Or the fact that He made (and continues to make) miracles happen every day and takes away my doubts about what He can do.
Sometimes it’s hard to perfectly craft into words how you are feeling, and after a summer like mine, I’ve found myself over and over again struggling to describe the adventures, relationships and growth I have experienced. But there is one thing that is perfect, and that’s God. So I think it’s only appropriate to end my summer, and this blog post, with his Word.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations — Psalm 100:5