Centern Stories: Week 8 with Laura

“All Good Things Must Come to an End” -Geoffrey Chaucer 

Last summer, I visited The Center with my youth group from Burke Presbyterian Church as one of the adult leaders. We worked with Dickey Memorial Presbyterian Church on the second week of their Golden Eagles camp. Our group got to be mentors to the kids at camp that week. As our week there progressed, I slowly started forming a relationship with my mentee. By the end of the week, she gave me a small heart with her name on it and told me she loved me. This small moment was a big reason why I wanted to an intern this summer. Within a week, I had built a meaningful and genuine relationship with this girl. This had been a mission trip unlike any other that I have had ever experienced. We had all left that week with new friends and tons of memories.

Fast forward to week 8, our last week of the summer. There were a few reasons why I was excited for this week. The most important reasons were that I got to work with Dickey Memorial, and my church was coming for a second year. I had been waiting for this week for the majority of the summer. I was having incredible experiences throughout the summer and I couldn’t wait to share that with my church.

On Monday, I was eager to see all the kids from last year again. However, I was a little worried that they would not remember me. As kids started to arrive, I was able to recall their names and say good morning to them. The mentee that I had last year arrived and I got a huge smile and a hug from her. This made my heart so happy and I knew that our bond that we made last year was still there. Some of the youth were a little sad that some of the kids didn’t remember them right away. I had to remind them that just like these kids have grown up, they have also grown up and changed. As camp started, the kids and the youth quickly bonded and picked up their relationships from last year. It was amazing to see how despite being apart for a year, the relationships they made were still there. As the week continued, these relationships continued to grow. I was able to build my relationship with my mentee from last year, as well as build relationships with two new mentees. We had fun building relationships, water sliding, screen painting and hanging out at the beach. As this week finished, I was both sad and excited. Sad because I was leaving this church and this internship, but excited to see what my future after this job holds.

Just like the quote above says, “All good things must come to an end.” This internship has been so much more than I expected it to be. I met some really great people and made so many new friendships. I pushed myself and got outside of comfort zone by teaching curriculum and leading devotions, and by not being afraid to make changes and accommodations to it depending on the group. Being in Baltimore and this internship have shown me how I am being called to do mission back in my own community and church in Burke, Virginia.

As a teacher, this curriculum has taught me how I want to bring the practice of "crossing boundaries" to be in relationship into my classroom. I always want my classroom to be a safe and trusting space for my students. When people cross boundaries, relationships are built and you are able to understand each other on a deeper and more personal level. Having a classroom like this gives students a space where they don’t feel judged and can truly be themselves.

My big project for the upcoming school year is to bring the crossing boundaries curriculum to the rest of my youth group. Since a small group of middle schoolers has come to The Center for the past 2 years, I figure that expanding this curriculum to my whole youth group would be easy and effective. We are also always looking for new mission experiences to be apart of. A big thing that is part of my youth group and The Center curriculum is one-on-one meetings. As per the homework assignment we give groups, they have to complete one-on-one meetings in their congregation. My plan is to use this assignment as a starting point for mission this year as a youth group. I want to find out where my youth feel called in their community and our church. There are many boundaries, as identified by my church during our Thursday night program, in Burke that can be crossed. The hard part is figuring out how to cross those boundaries in a respectful way that can build trusting relationships. However, that is also the fun and interesting part. I am looking forward to working with my youth group and figuring this out together. I am thankful for The Center and this experience for providing me the tools that I need to make a difference and a change back home in my community and church.

Stay tuned for an update on this journey of crossing boundaries.

-Laura