Alexa Carlson is a Connecticut native now living in Virginia. She first attended The Hartford Project in 2010 and spent many summers serving at THP. Alexa finished her degree at Liberty University in 2018, where she pursued Business Administration with a focus in International Business. Her dream is to one day have her own business that empowers others around the world in a sustainable way. Below, Alexa shares how The Hartford Project has shaped who she is and where God has her today. You can read more about Alexa’s life and faith on her personal blog: allfourchrist.weebly.com.
With Thanksgiving being right around the corner, it is such a great season to spend time with friends and family! I am glad to have a holiday that focuses on being thankful. Did you know that Thanksgiving, “began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year?”(Thanks, Wikipedia). What I love about this definition is the word harvest. Thanksgiving is a time to remember all that the Lord has done and brought to fruition in the previous year. Harvesting is the most difficult but necessary process of the growing season. Once the crop is harvested, a new growth cycle begins.
The Hartford Project is something I am truly thankful for. My THP journey began in 2010 as a student participant. That year was followed by three more years as a student, one year as a group leader and most recently in 2018, serving on staff as the Assistant Internship Supervisor. The Hartford Project is a ministry that has impacted me in many ways. Over the years, The Hartford Project has grown my faith tremendously. THP has pushed me out of my comfort zone and given me opportunities to share the gospel with strangers, love my neighbors in my capitol city, worship with abandon and so much more. The Hartford Project has equipped me with the tools to love the world around me as Christ commanded us to.
Working as a staff member for The Hartford Project in 2018, was one of the best summer jobs I have ever had. It showed me that encouraging others in their spiritual journeys is one of my passions. I enjoyed being able to encourage the interns, it was truly such a sweet team! Having the opportunity to work for the The Hartford Project solidified that I wanted to work for a mission. I wanted the opportunity to guide others as they grew in their faith, challenge them outside their comfort zones and propel them to step into the Lord’s calling for them. It is evident that my THP experiences prepared me for what I would be doing today.
This past August, I began working for a non-profit organization called Sports Outreach Institute. Our mission is to recruit, train, equip and deploy committed Christian leaders in the effective use of sports ministry for the purpose of sharing the Gospel and to alleviate human suffering. My role as the Trip Administrator, gives me the opportunity to empower trip leaders as they step on international mission fields with their teams. I am responsible for working out all the logistics and preparing each participant to be equipped to serve internationally. This is similar to THP, where I had the opportunity to equip interns to step into their specific ministry roles. Working for The Hartford Project also developed my administration skills. Through THP, I learned how to be more organized and prepared for meetings and discussions. I learned what a cohesive team looks like and how to create a firm foundation. Serving with The Hartford Project in different capacities opened my eyes to the world around me. I learned that there is much need in my own backyard, that the Lord is working in all things and that teamwork brings projects to fruition. I look back fondly on my experiences at The Hartford Project because they were life changing and prepared me for my current job.
I can truly see the harvest of the Lord’s goodness in my life as I look back over this past year. I can see how he prepared me through many years of THP in all the different capacities I have served in. As I look back, I can see the harvest of skills and experiences that allowed a new growth cycle to start. I am SO thankful for being part of THP throughout the years and so glad the Lord used it to guide me to step into where He has me today. He is working all things for your good and has amazing plans for your life. If you are in the preparation season, keep being obedient and he will bring a harvest!
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.
Intern Reflection Series // Post written by Alexa Carlson, Assistant Internship Supervisor
Hey everyone, it’s Alexa! You may remember me as the Internship Supervisor and you can see me in the picture below, the last one on the right in the blue tank top! For me, this summer has been one of great growth in a short amount of time - that is why I named this post “The Greenhouse Summer.” The Lord has changed me a lot this summer and THP played a huge part in it!
Wow, how is it already September? This summer has flown by but has been such a blessing!
Little did I know that answering the call in March for this position would be one of the best decisions I have ever made!
This job has brought me so much joy and the Lord has worked so much. It is evident that He united our team and brought us into deeper relationships with Him and one another. We have seen the Lord move mightily through the students and leaders. We have heard testimonies of what He has done in Hartford and are encouraged by what He will continue to do.
Jacquelyn and I have been gifted with this intern team. They have been some of the hardest working colleagues I have ever known! They are so respectful and willing to do anything that needs to be done - and at any time of the day. It has been awesome getting to know them personally and understand their personalities and giftings. The Lord has grown them all this summer and I am excited to see where he takes each of them this next year.
Over the course of this summer the Lord has taught me to be intentional in every moment - to seek him and be present where he has me. This was sometimes hard since at THP there's a lot happening all at once and it can feel chaotic, but trusting the Lord and being intentional was always worth it. He allowed me to see different situations with new eyes and a pure heart. Everything has purpose, and when we choose to see with Kingdom eyes we will not miss what the Lord is doing all around us.
Shout out to all the coffee sellers in the Connecticut area for fueling every moment of THP! We could not have done it without your delicious coffee and support!
Intern Reflection Series // Poem written by Natsalla Rios
In the summer 2018 I interned here at THP!
I know amazing right... ME... being in this incredible ministry.
Hello, allow me to introduce myself, I’m Natsalla - the worksites and discipleship intern.
Ugh, I know it is a super long title, I understand you. Here’s me...
Don’t I look so happy?
I was - believe me I had a blast.
During this internship I was able to see the work that goes into THP!
Yes, I know what you’re thinking -
What is this girl talking about? How much work can it be planning a WEEK?
... but let me tell you... A LOT!
If it’s not planning where the participants are going for worksites and showers
It's making sure we got you handled with a great worship team to get you worshipping.
Incredible, right? I know!
That’s only my job - imagine the other interns.
We all worked super hard to make this all possible for you.
Not only did our team help make your summers so much better,
but our summer was made better too.
For example, I was quiet...
HAHA I know you wouldn’t tell by reading this,
but I was the shy one
and by the support of my team and supervisors
I was able to be pushed out of my comfort zone,
meet new people,
and make amazing connections.
During the course of this internship,
not only was I able to just meet people
and learn to get out of my comfort zone
but I was able to build in my relationship with God
and learn new ways to better myself in Christ,
because you can always become better : )
In my time in building my relationship with God
I began a Bible project with my intern supervisor
and found a new mentor
in my amazing church community
to help keep me on the right track.
I just pray that God continues to bless me moving forward
as I begin to search for my calling in the ministry and in college.
That’s all for now folks!
God bless you all!!
Intern Reflection Series // Post written by Gabe Sullivan
Hey everyone, Gabe here!
I’m so excited to be able to share with everyone how the Lord has worked and what He has taught me over this absolutely amazing summer He’s blessed me with.
First, this entire summer has been one of the best that I've ever had the pleasure of living. The Lord blessed me with so many new experiences and the opportunity to meet so many new people this summer. I can never praise Him enough for it! This internship as a whole kind of came on unexpectedly in the spring; when my youth pastor asked me if I would consider being an intern it surprised me very much. I prayed for a little bit on the subject but quickly jumped into it and decided to apply, even if I was somewhat skeptical. I felt the Lord calling and was ready to see where it went. Praise Him that I was able to hear the call!
From day one, the Lord began to teach me many things. I learned how to be part of true Christian community.
So much has happened with them: dance parties at 1 AM, the South Church basement flooding, the “Internmission” talent show, many late nights of work or Anomia, failing at laser tag, trying and LIKING coffee for the first time ever. So many great stories and that’s not even talking about Team D yet.
On the second outreach week, I had the pleasure of being a participant while still being an intern. The huge amount of work aside, I was blessed to be part of the best team ever - shoutout to Team D!
As soon as the week started, my team and I bonded instantly, and every experience made us grow even closer. From volunteering at Youth Challenge and Kinsella to dinner at the Torres-Serranos’ home to eating out at Banana Brazil Grill to Love Wins to worship every night - a family formed that week - and still to this day we keep in touch. Before this summer I had 3 or 4 friends I kept in contact with, but now I keep in touch with over 20 and it’s awesome!
Being a part of both the Interns and Team D has brought me into new places of wonder and awe of God. God desires for us to be in community and He has brought me into that this summer. As it says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12,
Another thing that the Lord has taught me this summer has been to live my life by prayer, one day at a time.
Up front, this seems like something so obvious, but how many of us actually do it? No, we freak out and forget that the God of the universe is with us and is always there to lead, help, and protect us. All we have to do is humble ourselves and ask Him for help. He will always answer. As it says in Matthew 7:7-8,
The Lord taught me so much over this summer. But perhaps the biggest thing he did was cause my faith to come alive for the first time.
I’ve had faith for a while and the Lord has been at work within me, but this summer my faith came alive fully for the first time. With that came so many new opportunities to do work for His kingdom - opportunities that I never would have had before. Just in these past couple weeks, I’ve had numerous chances to serve and pray with others, whether people I knew or complete strangers! And the chances to pray with others only continues to grow as time goes on! The Lord fulfilled His promise as He says in Ezekiel 37:5,
A life in Christ is fully realized when we let the Lord do His work, when we are in community with each other, constantly seeking Him in prayer, and being ready to obey His calling upon our lives.
I can happily say that this summer all these things happened because the Lord allowed them to, and I pray that it continues onward.
Praise Him for everything! Lord, continue to guide us as we go about the next year into the entire future! Let your spirit fall upon us and hold back attacks of the enemy at all points.
In Jesus name, Amen.
Thanks everyone for reading!
Have a great year!!!
Intern Reflection Series // Post written by Gabrielle Ger
Hey, I’m Gabby. A lot of you might not know me, since I wasn’t originally part of the internship team here at The Hartford Project, but that’s honestly just a testament to God’s great power and His awesome, unexpected plans.
Anyway, here’s a quick rundown of who I am:
My name is Gabrielle Ger, or Gabby, and I’m from Chinese Baptist Church of Greater Hartford (CBCGH) in Bloomfield, CT. This summer, I participated as a leader for CBCGH during the first outreach week, and then subsequently - and surprisingly - became the kitchen intern for The Hartford Project! I’m currently studying music and psychology at UConn, and I love making music and baked goods (sometimes at the same time).
Now that intros are over, let me tell you about how God has done amazing things this summer to bring me back to The Hartford Project over and over again.
First, I volunteered as one of the four leaders that went with my church, and that was a really cool experience. However, it all really started when I signed up to help in the kitchen during THP’s second outreach week, right after getting back from the first outreach week, because I wanted to do more with The Hartford Project.
Then God just took my action and desire to help and absolutely ran away with it. Before I knew it, I had dedicated the rest of my summer to doing what I could to help the THP staff, and I’ve honestly loved every second of it!
During the outreach week, God just poured incredible amounts of strength and peace on me, and I got to experience the joy of the Lord all week. Despite the sparse hours of rest I got during the week, I was energetic and ready to serve all week. I found an amazing, loving community in the kitchen team - full of genuine conversation and witty banter alike. It felt like I belonged exactly there and there was a sense of rightness that I hadn’t really felt elsewhere with such intensity.
This summer, God has shown me how intentional and unexpected His plans are, and how powerfully He can work in anyone who is willing to answer His call and act in faith for His glory.
God has been bringing up this particular verse to me:
This verse has been a great reminder all summer that I should not only learn about God and His place in my life, but also act on His directions and follow wherever He leads me.
Even more so, God encouraged and spoke to me through some of the people I met during the week, both in and out of the kitchen. For example, He’s shown me how much a person can do when they take action for the Lord and His kingdom. During the second outreach week, the interns had the opportunity to have dinner in the home of a woman who lives in Hartford and attends House of Praise and Worship for church. Through this woman’s testimony, I learned how God has done incredible things in her life and the lives of her children and grandchildren as a result of her acts of faith and way of living in accordance to His doctrine. In this way, God showed me how much a person can impact the lives of the people around them when they take action for God’s sake.
Finally, I want to end with a verse to encourage you all. It served as another great reminder for me throughout the outreach week and most of this summer:
Next I will be introducing myself!
My name is Christina Perreault, and as this summer’s communications intern, I have the chance to introduce you to all our interns through this blog series! This is my second year interning with The Hartford Project and my seventh year involved with the summer outreach weeks.
Christina advertising a free car wash during her first year of THP // 2012
I just graduated from The Master’s School this year and will be attending the University of Connecticut in the fall. I am excited to see what God has planned for my future.
Christina // 2017
I cannot wait to see what this summer entails!
Written by Christina Perreault
In this blog post series, I will introduce you to this summer’s interns. We’re excited to welcome back two returning interns and three new interns! Each of these hard-working interns will be managed by our incredible intern supervisor.
The interns are so excited for the summer!
This year Alexa Carlson will serve in this important supervisor position. Alexa grew up in Wintonbury Church and has had a devout love for God from a young age. She just graduated from Liberty University this past May with a degree in Business Admin with a focus in International Business! One day, she hopes to start her own humanitarian aid business.
Alexa first participated in The Hartford Project in 2010, the summer before her freshman year of high school. She loved her experience. “It really opened my eyes to the city of Hartford, that there is need in Hartford. It pulled me out of my comfort zone,” said Alexa.
Alexa serving during her first Summer Outreach Week in 2010.
Alexa’s favorite color is purple. She loves to eat cheez-it crackers and drink coffee with friends.
Alexa (left) enjoying some coffee with her friend.
As a former student and leader, Alexa is excited about helping THP this summer in a new role. She cannot wait to meet you all during the summer outreach weeks!
Alexa (middle row, second from to right), with her team, serving at THP as a leader in 2016.
You can support Alexa's position by choosing "summer staff" in the below link and donating!
Post written by Christina Perreault
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.
My time as a Discipleship and Communication Intern for The Hartford Project was such a fulfilling experience that exceeded my expectations. I learned so much about myself and God through this internship, and I grew such a passion and heart for the city of Hartford! At the beginning, I thought it would be an exciting way to spend my summer, grow in my communication skills, and serve the Lord with others, but I had no idea it would have such an impact on me too. The Lord taught me and grew me in so many ways, and he often did this by using other people in my life during THP- whether that be other interns, leaders, or even people I got to pray for in Hartford. I got a glimpse of God’s heart for people this summer, and through that, I have grown so much.
A lot of my responsibilities this summer put me in a place of leadership. As the Discipleship Intern, many of my tasks revolved around the morning and evening sessions. I got the opportunity to reach out to some amazing speakers and worship artists who would share with our students during the two weeks of THP. During the main sessions I had opportunities to give announcements, encourage kids to share testimonies, welcome and introduce our speakers, pray over the participants, and lead the students into times of response. Each morning, I also got to develop and lead devotions for team leaders from our various participating churches. Being put in those places of leadership was an incredible opportunity that stretched me further than I imagined. It was also so exciting to be able to share the goodness of God with others in a space filled with people so eager for His presence. Sterling, who oversees discipleship, gave me generous room to lead and grow. He encouraged me and helped me realize God is all about grace instead of perfection. That was a great example of empowering leadership to me- because he gave me space to grow in a place where he could have run everything himself.
I was also greatly influenced by the interns and other people I worked with. Serving behind the scenes is no small task- it’s a lot of work. Especially during the two weeks of THP, there is so much going on- it seriously feels like it’s a whole summer crammed into four days! This builds a lot of unity because everybody really has to work together. I formed relationships with the people around me, and I loved the sense of community and unity that I felt, even with people I only spoke to a few times. That’s one thing I love so much about THP- the unity. This unity is what the kingdom of God is supposed to look like, and it’s beautiful to witness and be a part of.
I was able to talk to some amazing people during THP. Some of those people I connected with at block parties or worksites, and some of them were students and leaders participating in THP. Spending time with all different people- whether that be urban, suburban or just different denominations- opened my eyes to how much diversity is essential to the kingdom of God. I also really loved the city of Hartford and all of the diversity found there. I realized so much about loving others this summer in Hartford, because I got to experience the beauty of everyone being different. We aren’t all meant to be exactly the same, and that gives freedom to be completely real and form relationships with a lot of incredible people. I was continually inspired by the testimonies and stories of those around me, and I began to have a heart for all people- even those I barely knew.
What started off as a simple volunteer internship this summer, ended up being so much more than that. I definitely grew in a lot of practical skills- such as learning different softwares, being comfortable speaking in front of many people each day, and doing different administrative tasks. However, one of my main goals during this internship was to not get so caught up in the tasks I had to do that I missed what God was doing and saying, and I think I was able to achieve that goal most days. I left this summer internship very inspired and filled up with encouragement, and ready to continue to pour out His love to those around me.
Post written by Jenna Adendorff.
Written by the many voices of The Hartford Project!