Intern Reflection Series // Post written by Lydia Yu
Interning for THP again this summer has been filled with unexpected blessings and lessons, and the experience was completely different from last year in the best way. There are always new things to learn about God and serving, and God certainly did not disappoint in showing how He moves this summer!
During THP Week One, I was a participant with Chinese Baptist Church of Greater Hartford in addition to being an intern. It was such a joy to serve alongside the members of my youth group, become closer with them, and watch all of us grow in our relationships with God. That week, I didn’t realize how much shame I had carried beforehand and the constricting boxes I had put around God’s love until I fully experienced the depths of His love during Week One. I was weighed down by sin and the way I had pushed God to the background during my senior year of high school, and I felt as if I was not worthy of all of God’s love. However, as we sang “You Are Good” on Monday night, I could feel God emphasizing to me that his love is boundless and infinite; it doesn’t matter how much we’ve sinned or how far away we feel from Him because He still wants us and loves us.
As the Life in the City and Love Wins intern, there was a lot of work to do, and it was especially stressful during the June Outreach Week when I was a participant in addition to being an intern. Combined with the anxieties of beginning college in a setting that was very new to me and the work I had to do in preparation for that, I became overwhelmed with stress at times and would doubt my decision in becoming an intern. The Enemy discouraged me as I grew frustrated with myself because I knew that I had been able to handle higher workloads throughout high school, and I felt very incapable of serving God. But God is faithful; throughout the summer I learned to surrender all of my worries and stresses to Him, and I discovered a peace and joy that can only come from God. He reminded me that I didn’t have to be perfect to serve Him and that He could give me strength for anything as long as I depended faithfully on Him.
THP has been such an immense blessing in my life, and the internship has helped me build a strong foundation in my faith that will be crucial to college life and beyond. This life is one that I live with the sole purpose of bringing glory to God through the gifts that He has given me, and though it may be difficult and filled with trials, I have confidence that God is with me through everything and He will never leave me.
God’s calling for me to intern at THP this summer was so clear from the beginning. When I applied for this internship, my life was tremendously in need of a spiritual revival – especially after the many challenges I had faced, and had yet to face, during my junior year of high school. I began the summer knowing that I could not let this internship be just another program for my resume like those that many of my peers were doing, but instead it had to be wholly devoted to focusing on God, my relationship with Him, and serving His kingdom.
My initial expectation for my Life in the City and Administration internship was that it would be essentially the same as being a participant, just over an extended time period. What I did not expect was the sheer number of phone calls made, Excel spreadsheets filled, storage boxes moved, and much, much more that went into making the two outreach weeks successful. During the outreach weeks, the interns often skipped participant activities to set up tables, greet speakers, or prepare the next activity. All of these factors took me aback at first because I had never experienced a mission trip where I was constantly busy with tasks that were generally more mundane than the participant activities. However, I believe that God put this new experience in front of me so that I could learn that serving other Christians is also vital to serving Him. Sometimes, God calls us to serve Him by serving those around us so that they, in turn, are able to serve Him. Although more indirect (and possibly less glamorous), it is still a very necessary part of being a servant of Christ. God used these experiences to develop a servant’s heart within me, which has increased my appreciation for the dedication of the THP staff, and the staff of every other mission trip, because so much effort and faith are required to ensure that everything runs smoothly for the participants.
For a large part of junior year and especially in the weeks leading up to my internship, I had been struggling with a dry season in my faith; it seemed as if God wasn’t present in my life and I couldn’t hear Him no matter how much I cried out to Him in prayer. I felt as if the fiery passion that I once had for Jesus had been extinguished, leaving me in a scary state of abandonment and confusion. Going into THP Week One, I felt inadequate as an intern because I was not feeling that connection with God that I desperately needed – How could I possibly be qualified or deserving of a role that required so much leadership and a strong faith in God?
As I watched many of the kids from my own youth group experience God personally I was encouraged and overjoyed for them, but at the same time I felt overwhelmed by my own inability to feel God in my heart and to experience the emotions and revelations that my friends were experiencing. When the feeling of inadequacy became unbearable, I poured out my inability to feel God and the resulting incompetency to my pastor; he reminded me of having faith in God’s ultimate plan and prayed for God’s grace to let the dry season pass. Though I was still unsure of where my faith stood by the end of Week One, I was undeniably filled with a peace that I didn’t even realize was missing before. It assured me that God was still present in my life even if I couldn’t feel Him. All Christians go through variable phases in their faith, from dry seasons to times of spiritual highs, that do not define whether they are a good or bad Christian or how adequate they are for serving the Lord. Throughout the next few weeks and during THP Week Two, I gradually realized that God can use His children in any stage of their faith to do His work and that it is possible to feel at peace and have faith in God’s presence even during dry seasons.
Another factor that the THP ministry has made me realize, especially as a Life in the City intern, is the immense beauty of Hartford. Growing up in a very suburban community, there is often a stigma that Hartford is just a hopeless city that you probably shouldn’t go into unless you really have to. However, working with THP has opened my eyes not only to the physical beauty of our capital city but also the beauty of its culture and community. The people of Hartford are full of compassion and love, and many of them have a hope and desire to see Hartford changed for the better. The more time I spent in the city, the more I fell in love with Hartford.
One of the most striking aspects of THP is the strong community that it never fails to foster. As a participant, I always feel so connected to the other believers in the room, regardless of which church they are from, as we all worship the same God and strive towards a common end goal together. As an intern, there is such a tight and supportive bond amongst the staff as we pray for and encourage each other. Even though we all come from dozens of different churches with varying cultural backgrounds, our faith in Jesus bonds us together as one Church that has set out to serve His Kingdom.
Above all, this internship was so much fun and an amazing opportunity to just watch God work! It was wonderfully fulfilling to be able to serve with the other interns, form friendships with them, and simply deepen my faith. I’ve learned more than I ever thought I would about serving others and about the city of Hartford. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to meet some of the strongest, most faithful men and women in Christ, from the speakers to the other THP staff to the participants, and to see how God specifically and beautifully uses their lives as a testimony to His grace. This internship was an unforgettable experience that’s helped me better understand the complete immensity of God’s love and power.
I realize that not every aspect of this post reflects an effortlessly connected summer – it jumps around quite a bit as my experiences have been so widely varied, but I think that this jumble of thoughts mirrors how God often works in us. The events in our lives may be random, messy, or overwhelming, but in the end they are all related and even intertwined by God’s power. This internship has been an affirmation that God is faithful even when I am not, and that no matter how broken I am God can still work through me.
Post written by Lydia Yu.
It’s time to meet Lydia Yu - The Hartford Project’s Administration and Life in the City Intern for summer 2017. Lydia is so passionate about The Hartford Project because it played such a big role in her life, especially when she first attended in 2014. She shares on her experience:
Lydia is looking forward to interning because she wants to be able to pour into others at THP. She is excited to see how God is going to work in the hearts of each student, just like He worked in her heart.
Lydia will be amazing as a Life in the City Intern because she has truly grown to love Hartford through her experiences at THP. She shares about working on the worksites:
Fun Fact // Lydia’s favorite song to dance to is “Cotton Eyed Joe.”
Favorite Verse // Philippians 2:15 // “So that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”
Post written by Jenna Adendorff.
Today I will be introducing Eliana Echtenkamp, The Hartford Project’s Community Partners and Life in the City intern for this summer! This role will include coordinating Home Dinners, where students at THP get the opportunity to eat a meal in the home of someone who lives in and loves Hartford. She will also prepare Life in the City talks and activities, and work with our various Worksite partners. Eliana grew up living, worshipping, and learning in Hartford. She shares her experience of her home church, Glory Chapel International Cathedral:
One of Eliana’s favorite things about being a part of The Hartford Project for the past three years has been the unity between different church communities around Connecticut.
She also loves the main sessions, filled with worship and speakers. Everyone from all the churches come together in unity. On the main sessions she says, “I love hearing about and listening to what people have to say about the word of God.”
Eliana is excited about reaching the people of Hartford through this internship, and providing opportunities for youth around the state to reach out to others as well.
Fun Fact // Eliana loves writing music lyrics, rapping, and playing sports.
Favorite Verse // Philippians 4:6-7 // “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Post written by Jenna Adendorff.
Written by the many voices of The Hartford Project!