This first blog post will probably be my longest, as I’m going to explain the flow of my week and how things work here at the house I’m living at! This first week of my summer mission has been exciting yet relaxing, surprising yet comfortable, and short yet long.
First of all, the house we are living in has been deemed a ministry house for some time, and the owners are so kindly letting us use their house to live and learn in for the next 6 weeks. It is located in an urban neighborhood that is up and coming in Columbus called Hilltop, yet it looks like it belong in the middle of a forest. The house is nearly 150 years old and has a rich history; it has been used for so many different purposes over the many years it has been here on the hilltop. Some of its property features are a picnic shelter, bonfire pit, creek, garden, and an abundance of trees. I discover new beautiful features to this old house each day; it is such a gift to our ministry team to be living here.
Beginning the week //
I arrived on Monday night, ready but not knowing what to expect, and a house of people greeted me with joy and hugs. It was there that I met the three other college students I would be sharing a room with; Paige, Janell, and Destiny. Our room was beautifully decorated by our two female leaders, Meagan and Lauren. They showed me a painting hung on our wall that was made for us by Meagan.
Meagan explained to me that she made it to remind us that we should always be who we are in the way God created us, and be present. Not only is it a beautiful sight to wake up to, but it is a constant reminder to truly be with God.
That night, two of our leaders gave us a giant white canvas and told us to find a bible verse we wanted to represent our discipleship with each other in the house these next 6 weeks, and told us we had an hour and a half to paint a representation of our covenant, or promise, with each other.
It didn’t get done until Friday afternoon. But it was worth the wait.
We split the canvas into four sections and painted our sections one by one, painting our section to mean something personally to each of us. We then blended the four corners together in representation of our lives coming together, and painted the words “encouragement by faith” in the shape of a cross. My section is the top right; I painted a sunset over the mountains because when I see these sights, I see such a clear picture of God’s creation. I hope that over the next 6 weeks God paints the colors of the sunset within this house and helps us to see His creation in each other. After all, it’s not fun to climb a mountain alone.
The verse we chose is Hebrews 10:23-25:
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” This is our promise to each other; that we will be present, that we will create deep relationships, that we will love in a way that is ever encouraging.
Preparing for camp //
Throughout this past week in the first half of the day, we had our camp counselor training. Our ministry, the CCO, will be joining with Myti Oaks Day Camp this year. Myti Oaks has held their Christian day camp at the house for 39 years, and this year we get to join in to be camp counselors! The camp is held RIGHT HERE AT THE HOUSE. This is so phenomenal; the house has such a beautiful space for us to work with, so we are not only living and learning on this property but we will be teaching and engaging on this property.
We’ll be teaching the kids a musical, leading bible studies, and simply showing them the love the Lord has shown to us. I am excited to get to help the director of the camp lead music. In our training, we have discussed ways to properly love and mentor these kids throughout the weeks to come; because our house is located in an up and coming neighborhood, a lot of the kids that are attending simply need a place to feel safe and fully loved. This will be a new challenge for me; I have been a camp counselor at the YMCA, but I have never been a part of a Christian-run camp. This week I will be co-leading a bible study for Pre-K to first grade with Paige, another girl in the house; I’m excited to be able to talk about the gospel to these children, be goofy, and to love them unconditionally!
A piece of scripture that is especially near to my heart is one from Isaiah 61:3 — it states that examples of Jesus “will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for His splendor.” Jesus came to bring glory to God and to plant seeds of the Father, and we are called to do that as well. I hope that in this next week the Myti Oaks counselors and I will plant seeds of love and compassion in these children.
Community & day-by-day //
The community is overwhelmingly prosperous in this house; the love grows deeper and wider each day. I have grown closer to each of the girls in the house through different ways just in one week.
We meet every morning for morning prayer, to start the day asking God to give us joy, patience, and to focus our hearts & minds. In the afternoon, we have a bit of free time in between camp activities and evening plans. I’ve found a running buddy in Paige, and Janell and I love taking bike rides on the path that is right next to the house. I enjoy resting in my hammock, and every so often one of the girls comes to join me. I am reading a book called Good or God right now; it’s wonderful to read anywhere outside on the house property because it’s so serene. We take turns heading up meals, and cook dinner together every night. Tonight I heard Meagan singing in the kitchen, and somehow we ended up having a random guitar session on the back porch. Things like these make my heart so happy.
Spiritually, our week goes like this:
Mondays are triad days; we meet in threes to discuss how to go deeper with each other and God. We will be focusing on a certain topic/study throughout the coming weeks, but we have not picked one yet. My triad partners are Lauren and Paige; I am really excited to learn how to be open and to learn more about myself through them.
Tuesdays are for support raising and bible study preparation. For this mission, my goal is about $1,250; God and His followers have been very faithful in providing for me and for this mission and I am almost 3/4 fully raised (if you are interested in donating to my mission please let me know and I will get you more information). This night, we will also be learning to lead a bible study from our leaders, and planning for the study that we will be leading.
Wednesdays we go to Ohio State’s campus to Coffee Underground, a coffee shop underneath the church I attend while at college, to join with another group for bible study. It was great to see all of my Ohio State friends that are there for the summer and to catch up! With them, we are going through the book of John, and the four of us will be taking turns leading this bible study throughout our 6 weeks.
Thursdays, guest speakers come to speak at the house! They will be speaking on various topics as we dive into a specific focus each week.
Fridays and Saturdays are “go days”. These are days where we get to go crazy and explore the Columbus arts scene, as well as everything else it has to offer!
Sunday is our rest day, or Sabbath.
Exploring the arts //
Another focus of our summer will be learning about art in terms of God, and how our creativity brings glory to His name. We have been fully encouraged to use our creativity to the best of our ability; I have been watercolor painting my journal, I write a lot, and I take my guitar down by the creek every once in a while to play. I am learning to further embrace the gifts God has given me.
Here are a few fun things we’ve done so far:
We explored Italian Village, and went to a coffee shop called Fox In The Snow, as well as a beautiful plant shop called Stump. We discovered that Columbus has a “coffee trail” as well as a “made in Columbus trail” and we are hoping to get to as many stops on them as we can in the time we are here. The girls also let me take a bunch of great pictures of them; I am learning how to live art through photographing His creation and loving it.
We met up with Mike, another one of the directors of the mission, and he took us and his family to Graeter’s. It’s a fantastic ice cream place home to Cincinnati, so I felt like I was experiencing a little bit of home.
We got to go to the Columbus Arts Festival! It took place downtown on the Scioto Mile, which is a pathway along the river that has a beautiful view of the city’s skyline, and was lined with various artists displaying their creations. I was amazed at how much talent was displayed at the festival; it was unbelievably beautiful, so intricate, and so much of it was so clearly shaped by the hands of someone God made. Our final director, Randy, finally joined us as he got back from CCO staff training in Pennsylvania.
We got to visit a local pottery shop called Clay Street Ceramics, which was run by a kind woman that goes to the church we are attending on Sundays. We created our own pieces, and we spent nearly three hours painting; I found it was the most calming activity I’ve done in a while. I made a pot, and wrote “let love grow” on it — I can’t wait to see how it turns out, and to grow a plant in it! When we got back to the house, we talked about how God created us to create, and how we can use the hands he gave us to bring glory to His name. We plan on picking up our pottery in the next week; I’ll be sure to include finished products in my next update!
We attended Hillcrest Baptist Church on Sunday; it is a smaller congregation, but the people in this congregation so clearly love Jesus that they fill the room. The message was about being difference maker Christians, and to lead by example in being a light to the world; it was a perfect message to lead into this week of pouring love into little campers.
After church, we made a visit to North Market in the Short North district. We got peanut butter mochas from Stauf’s Coffee Shop, Thai food, candles from local vendors, and just laughed as we explored the liveliness of it all.
I spent Sunday afternoon talking to a few friends that are on other missions this summer, and it is so exciting to see what God is doing through them.
Sundays are our Sabbath day here at the house, a day where we rest from the week’s obligations; my first Sunday here was life-giving and restful, and I cannot be more thankful.
Overall, I can honestly say my heart is so full from just a week of being here. These girls are teaching me so much about life and love and joy and Jesus already, and I can’t wait to see what the coming weeks hold.
God is working, y’all — I can see Him in the light that shines through the kitchen window in the morning, through our little plant garden we have going, through the laughter of our team, through the plans we have for what is to come.
As we go into this week and campers begin arriving, we have an opportunity to share the Lord with these kids through example and through God’s intervention. A lot of these children are from the inner city and may have not even heard of Jesus, or experienced the love they deserve at home or elsewhere. Please join me in praying for their week, for our week, as we begin our day camp this Monday.
Blessings to all!