How THP Changed My Life!
Post written by Autumn White.
Hey Everyone!!! My name is Autumn. I’m a rising senior in high school and originally from New Britain, CT. This summer was not at all what I expected. It was filled with so many fun, strange, and new eye-opening experiences. This was my very first year EVER doing THP, and I had no clue what to expect. There’s always been this passion inside of me to work specifically with urban cities since they offer a demographic of diverse people from all different ages, backgrounds, talents but also a boat load of issues that need to be tackled. THP allowed me the experience to help in a more hands-on way while also allowing me the opportunity to grow in relationships with others from these communities.
My friends and family would constantly judge and question why I would spend half my summer doing an internship that’s volunteer and “so much Jesus”. I could’ve been doing what everyone around my age was doing this summer, and some part of me did by lifeguarding at Lake Compounce. However, the smile I had when I got paid was nowhere near compared to the smile I had when I handed out food kits to families in need at Love Wins. I noticed how my small act of kindness affected their day, and that’s when I learned it didn’t matter what others thought about what I was doing because I knew that I had never felt so much joy.
Before THP, I was craving a new change, an experience to grow as an individual since my old self was nowhere near the “perfect Christian” and constantly depended on others' validation. It was here that I learned two very important things about myself.
The first thing I learned was confidence! I never had an issue speaking aloud and making connections, but being vulnerable and intentional while doing it was something different. Giving announcements and leading groups at worksites was a fairly easy thing, but when I was asked to go pray over a stranger or share a testimony, I just wanted to hide, but week by week that barrier slowly started to open. I always feared people would view me as less capable of leadership or commitment if I was vulnerable, but I learned that’s the best way to effectively communicate with others - by being honest and intentional. By the end of the summer, I found myself talking more, dressing like myself, and building my relationship with God.
The second thing was patience. My first thought going into this was: “What have I gotten myself into?” We were asked to lug around hundreds of boxes and do numerous tasks each day, and I was so confused as to what this had to do with the mission of THP, but in the end God showed me how it all came together. The boxes filled with food kits would later go to a family of five in need, and the daily worksites would help organizations like World Vision, Gardner's House, Church Army, and more carry out their mission. God was revealing to me that sometimes I need to trust the process of things instead of always being in a constant rush. Patience is truly a difficult thing to practice, especially when it feels like everything is falling apart and you need answers. God revealed to me through THP that in the midst of the storm, if it’s going to help others and bring glory to you and him, then it’s definitely possible. If he can use me amongst hundreds of other youth and adults from different ages, races, communities, and backgrounds to unite together and show love to each other and people in Hartford, then he can use anyone!
Post written by Gabe Sullivan.
This was my third year doing The Hartford Project internship. I was called by the Lord to first do it back in 2018 and have loved every minute of it over these past three summers. I have no shortage of fond memories from summers working with other interns and experiencing the Lord moving in incredible ways.
Here’s a little bit of context to this reflection: I was a freshman in college when COVID hit. Mostly everything before spring break was relatively normal. However, around spring break, COVID really started showing up in America. As a result, I went home for the second half of my spring semester and had to complete it online. It was a rough experience, but we ended up making it through finals and finished off the academic year. It was at that point that THP was starting up and, if I’m honest, I didn’t know how to feel about it. I was definitely a bit pumped to be doing the internship again, but part of me wasn’t.
I heard that, with COVID, it was unknown what would be happening with THP. It might be abridged, pushed back, or cancelled altogether. I wouldn’t be lying if I said part of me hoped that THP would be cancelled. The quarantine portion of the school year had worn me out and with that, combined with having my entire family home for an extended period of time, I was hoping to have a summer to just enjoy myself and work. No school, no THP, really nothing happening. However, THP’s leaders made the decision to move forward in an abridged state.
I am very glad they did.
Looking at the summer now, I realize that I was in a lazy mode for a great deal of it. I wasn’t on top of my game for much of it and struggled to get tasks done, for both THP and life in general. I know many people felt a lack of motivation at some point during this pandemic, whether that
was due to online school, working from home, or due to the stress and isolation. However, at least for me, I can’t help but imagine how much worse it would’ve been had THP not happened.
Now, I’m not saying that THP saved the summer or anything like that. It was the Lord’s grace at work that saved it and, as I said previously, I still had many struggles this summer. However, the Lord used THP to help me grow this summer. He put me in a position to serve and to go beyond myself in a summer when I wasn’t feeling up to it. He allowed me to be there for people when they needed someone to listen and offer advice. He even opened my eyes to greater understanding of social interactions and issues, on a personal and societal level.
The Lord used THP. He used this summer. I am not the same as I was before this summer.
I guess that’s the great irony of it all. I wanted this summer for myself: to chill, relax, and work at my leisure. While I still got that some, this summer showed me the Lord’s sovereignty and that He has a plan that goes beyond what we want. Sometimes He leads us to abundant streams, other times He leads us to dry wastelands. But, whatever happens, He is sovereign over it all.
As the Teacher says in Ecclesiastes 11:5,
And so, as I look back on this summer, I can’t help but be thankful for it. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it still was as the Lord willed it to be. He took control in a way that was far beyond what I could imagine and, if He didn’t, I would definitely be regretting this season. I pray we all learn from this. That God is in control. Even in a crazy season. Even in an amazing season. Even when we don’t like it. He reigns and nothing under the sun is beyond His control. We may not like that, and it will be scary at times, but we can have faith that God’s got this. We know that it will turn out alright, even good, in the end.
As Paul says in Romans 8:28,
Amen, Lord. Help us to trust you.
God's Endless Love
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.
Meet Our Interns: Lydia
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.
Meet Our Interns :: Eliana
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!