My experience at Week One of The Hartford Project was amazing. It stretched me further than I thought I could go, and although it was long and difficult at times, it was well worth it. As interns, we get minimal sleep, and are constantly going all day. Sometimes we are complimented on how smoothly things are running, which we really appreciate, especially because it’s our job to make sure no one notices the absolute chaos going on behind the scenes. In the midst of this chaos, it was the quiet moments that really stuck out to me - when I was able to sit back and listen to all that was going on around me.
One experience that was particularly impactful for me happened Monday night when we went to the Citadel of Love for dinner. On this night, a police officer was passing by and asked us what was going on. We explained the event to him, and he shared that he too was a believer and would love this opportunity to speak to the youth. He began by speaking about his life as a police officer and what that looked like. He answered questions about his experiences- the things he had seen and done as an officer in Hartford. He also encouraged us to pray for Hartford, and gave us specific ideas of what some of the pressing needs are in the city. He especially highlighted the youth- saying they really need prayer: prayer to stand up against peer pressure and to respect their police and teachers. He told us different stories about how easy it can be to be negatively influenced by others, and what it’s like to see things from the youth’s perspective. Something else that grabbed my attention was when he said that living in a small city makes it easy to run into family members or friends on the job. As a police officer, he has to put his job first. We could all imagine how difficult that would be. I really appreciated him taking the time to speak to us and pray with us - and it seemed everyone else did too!
It was incredible to see the youth from all our different churches praying for the youth in Hartford. There was a lot of unity there in that moment. I think the kids realized that we all have struggles and hardships- sometimes they are the same, and sometimes they are different. Either way, we all need prayer and support.
The theme this year at The Hartford Project is Stories, and it was incredible to me how hearing someone’s story opened my eyes to understand people better. When we heard this police officer’s story, it gave us a glimpse of his own, and many others’, perspectives. It also made me realize that we all have our own stories to tell- stories that need to be heard and stories that will help others understand us. In the same way, it was important to hear the stories of that police officer and of the many interactions he had in order to understand the experiences of other people. Once we can hear the stories of others, it’s a lot easier to be unified. When we realize that it’s actually good that everyone has different stories- it’s actually something beautiful, we can learn to love those around us well.
I’ve always loved stories, and this past week I got to hear a lot of them- from students, from speakers, and from people we encountered- like the police officer on Barbour Street. I learned that stories are important. In a world with a lot of chaos and noise, sometimes it’s hard to know what to think or believe, but if we can just take the time to get to know someone - to listen to their story, it helps us to have more peace and clarity. Jesus told stories too- and this week helped me to realize how important it is to tell our stories, and to listen to others’ stories as well!
Written by Jenna Adendorff.