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 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!!!
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.
Into The Waters
THP June 2017
One church, one body,
Diverse yet together in love,
Denominational barriers broken,
By Father, Son, and Spirit above.
testing the waters
In the Trinity there is unity,
Oneness in purpose and plan,
Jesus prayed that we would be one,
As He and the Father began.
stepping into the waters
Many churches from all around,
Together in prayer, hearts are knit,
Red and yellow, black and white,
To Jesus, our hearts we commit.
wading in the waters
We are one in the bond of love,
Can’t tell the difference among all,
As the power of God is released,
We embrace God’s unity call.
ready to jump
Together we are growing closer,
As one body, hand in hand,
Hope for the world from God’s view,
For the glory of Jesus we stand.
jumping into the waters
Together, working for Jesus,
Impacting the region for good,
Spreading the good news all around,
Loving one another as we should.
swimming in the waters
Completely submerged in the river,
His love flooding us deep within,
Touching the city of Hartford,
Seeing His glory and watching love win.
© 2017 ELICIA ROY
written for THP - The Hartford Project on 6/27/17
Poem written by Elicia Roy, Week One Leader, Westfield Evangelical Free Church
Jacquelyn here, Program Director for The Hartford Project!
I'm excited to introduce you to THP's new blog! Here you can receive updates about THP, find fun things to do in Hartford, and hear from the many people who make THP possible!
For this first post I'd like to share an exciting *sneak peek* at this year's WINNING design from THP's T-Shirt Design Competition. You ready??
Artwork by THP Participant, Emily.
Congratulations to the artist, Emily of Chinese Baptist Church of Greater Hartford!
You'll have to wait till THP to see the finalized design on our Love Wins shirts!
Next Up: Meet Our Interns!
Post written by Jacquelyn Perreault.
Written by the many voices of The Hartford Project!