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.
We quickly figured out that we would need to buy bus tickets. After walking around for quite some time, we eventually found the place to buy the tickets. This took asking around a lot, going into several places that do not sell bus tickets (such as a post office) and getting some strange looks. Most of all, we ran into a lot of very kind people who helped us find our way to the little booth that sold us the tickets. Finally! We were so happy to be able to buy our tickets- only to be encountered with another challenge- which tickets to buy. We asked a lot of questions and slowly figured it out. At last, we were on our way. And then, another challenge stopped us in our tracks. We weren’t sure which bus to actually get on. After a little bit of confusion, and the help
stops around that could take us where we needed to go next. So, we started walking. A lot. Eventually we were told that there was an app for the bus system, which did help, but only once we had made it all the way to Glory Chapel! With the app, we were able to get to the final bus stop and make it back downtown. From there, we earned enough points to get some lunch! With very sore feet, and a newfound appreciation for cars, we walked to Bear’s Smokehouse Barbecue for lunch.
I thought this experience was very beneficial. It definitely made me realize how challenging it can be to use the bus system; it takes a lot of time and can be very inconvenient. Before this experience I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to have a car, but after riding on the buses (and walking a lot!) I was very thankful for the easy transportation I had to get home that day.
I think the students were really impacted by their scavenger hunt as well. It was designed as a simulation of a teenager, given a list of errands to run for his mother that day. A lot of the students came back talking about how much they had to walk and what it was like to ride the bus- the public transportation system being entirely new to them. They also had exciting stories about the people they had been able to interact with and even pray for along the way. Even though the scavenger hunt was challenging at times, it was a great way to experience Life In The City.
Written by Jenna Adendorff.
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
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.
Everyone ran for shelter (the interns found shelter under the tables) while it rained. When it started pouring a number of people rushed into the church, while others crowded under tents. And then, it started hailing, and just about everyone ran into the church! We all were in there drying off and bonding over our soaking, squishing sneakers, when outside, the hail cleared up, and a beautiful double rainbow appeared.
running for shelter, and since we were stuck inside, we all got to talk and meet new people.
Isn’t it true that when we go through “storms” in our own lives, God uses them to bring us closer to those around us? God can use the “storms” in our lives to bring people to us that we can lean on. We can quickly bond with those around us when we are going through something difficult. It helps us recognize our need for each other. That’s what happened that night in the storm.
The coolest part, was that when all was said and done, God had placed a double rainbow in the sky. Everybody loves a rainbow, but isn’t it amazing that as Christians we can look at rainbows as a promise from God? After the storm, there’s a rainbow. A promise. How beautiful is that?
So maybe our block party was rained out, but God still used it to move in incredible ways! We got to make new relationships, bless others, and be blessed, all the same. And even in the storm, we got to see a beautiful double rainbow afterwards, and it made for some pretty good stories!
Post written by Jenna Adendorff.
The host family was extremely welcoming and conversation flowed naturally, so naturally in fact, that we got caught up in discussing life in Hartford and were late back to the general meeting! I had the opportunity to learn more about the day-to-day life in Hartford, and to get to know some of the people that lived there. I came to realize that people in Hartford are just like me, they have the same hopes and dreams as I do, and I developed a deeper love for the city and its people.
She is excited to serve as an intern this year because she will be able to experience even more of THP and Hartford than in prior years.
Being able to serve in the city that I love has always been something I look forward to every year, and as an intern I believe I can take it a step further than I have in past years and really get to spend time in the city helping others. I hope to gain a deeper love and knowledge of the city. Every year I have gone, I have been blessed to meet amazing people, hear stories, and be pushed far outside my comfort zone. I hope that I will be able to serve and bless the people of Hartford through this internship.
Being the Community Events Intern will be perfect for Jaymee! She will be able to impact those around her as she spends the summer preparing for Love Wins in a city that she is so passionate about.
I love getting immersed in the city life, through living in South Church, working at work sites, helping at Love Wins . . . It is incredibly exciting for me to fully engage in serving Hartford for a week.
Fun Fact // Jaymee is bilingual - she can speak Afrikaans fluently.
Favorite Verse // Isaiah 40:28-31 // “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Post written by Jenna Adendorff.
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.
Today I will be introducing Christina Perreault, who will be interning in Communications this summer at The Hartford Project. Christina will be going into her senior year at The Master’s School, and has been attending The Hartford Project for four years! With that came many impactful experiences and memories:
As Christina begins her internship and spends more time with the Lord, she looks forward to how He will use her to change the hearts of those around her:
This summer, she is excited to meet new people and build strong relationships. The Communications Internship will be perfect for her.
Fun Fact // Christina only sees in 2D!
Favorite Verse // Matthew 6:33-34 // “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Post written by Jenna Adendorff.
Written by the many voices of The Hartford Project!