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The start of a new story…

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I’ve been in Nashville for a little more than a week now, training and preparing for the inaugural summer of Project Transformation Tennessee. I have been blessed in so many ways. Before arriving to Tennessee, I received an email from Erin, my boss, that I had already collected my fundraising goal. I safely arrived in Nashville, on the 1 year anniversary of the tornadoes that hit Joplin and devastated their community. On the same day the tornadoes went through Joplin,Missouri, I went through Joplin on my way to Dallas, Texas. I was lucky once again to make it safely to my destination and thankfully, the weather was good! Site coordinator training is over and training for the interns is well under way. My team of 6 interns and I were able to be in worship with our site church on Sunday. They, like many other churches were celebrating Pentecost. Before I go into stories about the site church, you should first know this. They are a African American Methodist Church, most of their congregation is made up by individuals and families that live near by and walk to the church. The church is in a very poor neighborhood surrounded by the projects of Nashville, Tennessee. (These are the same homes many of the children we will be serving live, too.) The worship experience was an experience I’ll never forget. It was spiritually filling. I didn’t realize just how dry I was until I was nourished on Sunday. I felt like a sponge, soaking up everything the pastor was saying and the youth choir was sharing through their talent of music. At one point in the service, they had my entire team come to the front to be recognized and consecrated. Upon doing so, they had us kneel at the alter, then invited the youth and children of the congregation come and lay hand upon each of us. After they children and youth were in place, other members of the congregation were invited to follow in the children’s footsteps and lay hands upon us. It was an incredibly special experience, one that I’ll never be able to forget. After church, the congregation had prepared a meal for us and we were able to eat in fellowship with them. They were incredibly welcoming and kindhearted and so anxious to get to know each of us on a personal level. (thankfully, it was a southern style meal with tons of chicken strips, salad, rolls, and sweet tea, the only thing I turned down were the turnip greens…I’m still not sure what they consisted of!) Many of the members asked about where we were from, what brought us to our PTT experience, and what we were studying in school. The experience I had with them left me so excited to experience worship again with them next Sunday!

As training continued through this week, it’s been a struggle to stay focused. However, today we were invited in to the home of a family to learn about component planning and how to make it effective to each age group we will be working with. Patty, our leader today was so knowledgeable and full of joy. Being her presence made me a little sad that I wouldn’t get to make component sheets because the resources she gave us to use were so helpful and constructive! I think it really energized the interns and gave them purpose for the intense training because today was all hands on training that would benefit the kids that we came to Tennessee to serve.

Tomorrow we have another intense day of training, 1st aid and CPR, both very important. I pray we will be able to stay focused and realize the importance of the training, God forbid we ever have to use anything we learn at site. But, if the occasion arises, it’s much better to be safe and aware than sorry. Thursday we get to go to our site and set it up, which will be another fun day for the interns. It’ll make the experience seem more real. and then come Friday, I’m headed home for my best friends wedding!

I know I’ve said this every year, but I hope to keep this blog a little bit more up to date. I know that this new thing that God is allowing to happen here in Nashville is huge and a blessing to so many people and I want to share my experience with as many people as possible!

I appreciate your support, now and always, in ways I’ll never be able to express with words.

With much love,

Heather

The Plan

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What if I spent my entire life making and perfecting a plan that will never play out?

These past few weeks, every plan that I thought I had all figured out has crumbled to the ground; leaving me with nothing to do but cry, be hesitant, and over-filled with joy.

Tuesday night at Carol’s Bible study, we talked about Sarah (wife of Abraham). We discussed how her character traits were a lot like the character traits we ourselves display. The ones we don’t like to admit, the ones we deny when people point them out it in us. But even though it seemed like there were more negative traits than positive, there was one train in which I wish I had a lot more of in my life: her abiding faith.  She had the utmost reason to doubt that God would provide her with what He promised her and Abraham, a child. But in moment I would doubt, she continued to be faithful, though not always patient. The God, who performed miracles in the lives of other’s, would also provide a miracle in her life. God’s planned for her wishes and desires to be satisfied, in his time. Sarah was ready to have a child way before she was 90, but that wasn’t the plan God had so carefully planned for her life.

In the midst of all of this, I have come to look at the way I’ve planned my life: I want to finish college, get a job that drags me out of bed, a job that will make my heart ache, yet satisfy the soul. I want a fiance to take “best-friend” engagement pictures with, who then will become the husband that I can confide in, encourage, and have the time of my life with, for the rest of my life. I want kids (4 or 5) who admire me, make messes, teach me to love, hug me, and make me coupon books for free hugs and clean bedrooms.  I want family pictures in matching outfits. I want a house with a wrap around porch, white picket fence, and swing set with an attached sandbox in the backyard. I want a hammock in the shade.

And, the part I come to dread the most, what if I’ve planned this life around someone who wants something totally different. My assumptions have made a total fool out of me to think my wants would also be his wants.  So, I cry, realizing that the path to get me to where I wanted to be took a turn, and I’m back at the starting line when I thought the race was so close to being over.

This faulty plan has also led me to this realization: What if my wants are not the same wants God has for me in His plan for my life?  The plan He promised in Jeremiah 29:11. What if I’ve wasted the last 20 years filling my life with desires that may never flourish because they are the desires I’ve created without considering the wishes God would have for my life?

With confidence I can say that I know, no matter where I end, God will provide for me my own ‘Happy Ever After’, including a husband or not, kids or not, a wrap around porch, swing set, and pond, or not.

I will continue to live a life that I have no control over, that I only have hope in, because God continues to give me a reason to hope.

Week 3 and 4

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33. Keller’s enthusiasm at the meetings.

34. Matthew and Keller’s creativity when making energizers.

35. Playing thumb war with Zion at lunch.

36. Watching Karen do the “Rio” energizer by the back door where no one else could see her.

37. Missing Brooksie while she’s suspended.

38. Alexis bringing her puppy to site, Mrs. Barabra having a fit, and it being a total blessing because the dog lady left after the 1st rotation so we still had a puppy.

39. Being filled with joy the day that Karina gave Brooksie her old barbies from her childhood, I couldn’t sleep I was so happy.

40. Making the best decision with Katie to get the Ala Carte Chicken and our own pot of chocolate at Simply Fondue.

41. Attempting (and failing) many times to get a picture of us jumping off the fountains at SMU.

42. Exploring downtown Dallas with Kaci, Sarah, Lexie, Evelyn, and Katie.

43. Getting a delivery from the food bank, before lunch was even served!

44. Treat bags from dinner volunteers.

45. Being incredibly grateful for Daniel’s prescence at site on Thursday.  What a day!

46. Recieving a gold star for paperwork, then realizing I have more but they just haven’t gotten to me.

47. Louie dying because I felt pressured to clean his bowl when Carm came up to clean our apartment.

48. Backing into a huge truck last Saturday…still haven’t gotten a call. Maybe they forgot.

Weekend with Dallas at Lake Texoma

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29. Skypping with Erin after she came home from Africa!

30. BBQ’ing 20 hot dogs and 32 burgers. Really, bbq’ing for the first time EVER.

31. playing follow the leader with a train of cars, only one car ended up in Oklahoma.

32. CAN’T believe I forgot this, my car breaking down in DOWNTOWN Dallas. Losing all my transmission oil, Trying to find someone with AAA, and then towing my car and leaving it in front of Richard’s Chapel for two days because the car shop was closed. Augh. Luckily my car is fixed and running decently smooth, so far.

The Magic Moments of Week 2

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18. Watching Alexis and Brooksie sing Harambee songs right after I suspended Brooksie.

19. Melijah needing several band-aids each day.

20. Dior’s mom, Chandra, singing to her after she smashed her finger in the side of a chair.

21. The kindness of the Food Bank Delivery Man.

22. Bob’s awful racist remarks towards Carm.

23. Bashari asking about God when he’s in trouble. He knows exactly how to melt mine and the interns hearts.

24. The heartbreak when hearing about the questions in the 5th and 6th grade question box in Bible study: “How do I stop looking at bad things on the internet?” “How do I make my friends like me” “How do I help my parents pay the bills?”

25.Friday Experience at Crossroads, especially the art gallery and getting to meet someone of the artist.

26. Counting hundreds of Sunny D bottles. We are incredibly blessed by donors.

27. Alexis hopelessness when she’s not on her medicine and hearing her say, “I’m uncontrollable” because that has been drilled into her mind her entire life.

28. Jeffery getting sick becuase he drank 6 cartons of milk in a contest. Ewww. No more milk contest at site!

Week 1

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This summer I’m just going to blog little, hopefully one liners, that will remind me of the things I don’t want to forget from this summer. So, here we go.

  1. All the one-on-one time with Luz and being able to see how good of a reader she is!
  2. Brooksie’s face when I let her help me carry milk to the storage closet.
  3. Lowellaus saying  “can I please stay wit you”
  4. Bashari telling me he missed me on the first day
  5. the hugs from the new kids that I don’t even have relationships with
  6. seeing Jena come in to apply for a BLT place
  7. Dalton wanting to help me with EVERYTHING
  8. Alexis being a wonderful leader in 1-2nd grade
  9. 1st sunset at Lake Texoma
  10. being part of a church family who is totally in love with PT
  11. Asia’s attitude
  12. Thadeus with virtually no hair
  13. impervising during Bible Lesson on Thursday
  14. watching little Jesus get into the song “Get down”
  15. making Brooksie and Alexis work together after their fight (there hasn’t been another one between them since day 1)
  16. Luz, Jesus, Emily, and Melijah wanting to read during recess rather than go outside
  17. Emily telling us on the 1st day that she was the best reader in her class this school year because of the PT reading program