Monday, August 9, 2010

trailers, new friends, and a seminary i swore i’d never love: reflections on my time in Columbus

I had plans to spend a couple weeks on a mission trip this summer, but at the last minute some complex circumstances forced me to stay home. The circumstances surrounding this decision have profoundly impacted my faith and forced me to struggle with what it means to live that faith in broken places and situations. Broken is really an understatement. These circumstances have consumed my mind, my heart, my tears, and my prayers. I have so many unanswered questions.

Shortly after I made the decision to stay home, I got a phone call about an opportunity to serve on a mission team in Columbus, Ohio. This mission trip happened to start on the same day I had planned to leave. I had a feeling that God was up to something, so I started packing and two days later I headed down to Columbus.

The first few days of my trip were spent working on a mission team with some fabulous people from St. Paul’s and Monroe St. United Methodist churches in Toledo. I never would have imagined that I would make new friends in Toledo on a trip to Columbus, but that’s how God works! Our mission team served in Hispanic ministry at a trailer park. Half of the team put on a VBS for the kids at the trailer park, and half of the team built 12 new porches for families there. I helped with crafts at VBS, and it was lots of fun! Not only was this mission trip an opportunity to serve God & neighbor, it was also an opportunity to build relationships with wonderful people across the connection! Throughout the weekend, I had so many conversations and experiences that pushed me closer to the heart of God. I know God better because I had the opportunity to serve (and live!) alongside these great people for a few days, and that is a beautiful thing!

The second half of my trip to Columbus was spent visiting LOTS of my favorite United Methodists. I have so many wonderful friends and mentors who live in Columbus, and Annual Conference is usually the only time we have a chance to visit. But since I was in the Methodist center of the world (not really, it only feels like that), I planned to see them…ALL of them. I spent three entire days visiting, drinking coffee, sharing meals, worshiping, having great conversation…with too many people to count! It was wonderful. If you were one of the people who shared that time with me, thank you! Thank you for hospitality, for encouragement, for laughter! Thank you for engaging me in my call, for sharing in my journey, and for sharing your journey with me.

On my way home from Columbus, I stopped at Methodist Theological School in Ohio for a campus visit. My mom went to seminary at MTSO, so I’ve always sworn that I wouldn’t go there. (just like I always swore I wouldn’t go into ministry…) But I actually liked MTSO…a lot. Being on campus made me want to spend more time there. I think I would be very happy there, which probably cracks God up as much as it cracks me up. My seminary search is far from over, but for now I’ll just keep laughing and we’ll see what the future holds.

This trip to Columbus turned out to be the highlight of my summer. I wasn't even supposed to be in this country that week, let alone in the state. But from the moment I arrived in Columbus until the moment I left, I knew that I was exactly where God wanted me and exactly where I needed to be. It was perfect. And I guess that’s how God works...only God could transform a complex, painful mess into a perfect, beautiful week.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
-Isaiah 55.8-9

Pray Peace. Make Peace. Live Peace.

Katie :)

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