Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Training in Clarkston

Sorry for not posting in a while. We've been training almost nonstop since arriving in Clarkston last Saturday, so I finally found time and internet to post this. There are 22 interns total, along with several leaders and the permanent GFM staff here in Clarkston. Clarkston itself is a city outside of Atlanta. It used to be a white middle-class suburb until the Olympic Games were held in Atlanta. The government decided to begin to settle refugees here because of the international community that the Olympics attracted and because there were lots of apartment complexes as well as access to public transportation. Unfortunately, this has lead to a lot of racism from the residents of the area, and many of the refugees here have never had a positive interaction with a white American.

The GFM team lives in the apartment complex with the refugees. They engage in relational ministry by mentoring refugees, inviting them into their homes, helping them with navigating American culture, and simply being their friend. Many of these people are incredibly lonely, both for people willing to be their friends and for their home countries. But this is also a wonderful opportunity for God to use us to reach out to the refugees here. They are open to our friendship and to the gospel because of their situation.

One of the things I like the most about Clarkston is the diversity here. You walk out the door in the morning to five or six different nationalities and languages all within eyesight. I've met Bhutanese, Somalis, Nepalese, Iraqis, Ethiopians, and Indians all within this small town in the middle of Georgia. When you drive around the city, most of the restaurants and stores sell ethnic food and goods. All the signs are in different languages, and there is a huge Farmers' Market with food from all over the world. It literally feels like a different country here.

One prayer request that I have is for my friend. She is a young Bhutanese woman I met yesterday at another apartment complex while signing refugee children up for our summer camp. Though she didn't have any children, she took us around to all of her relatives and told us that she would hand out the camp information to everyone she knew. She was very sweet and so helpful to us. If you could just pray that God would touch her heart, that would be awesome. Also pray for our team. The training has been very intense, so just pray for physical, spiritual, and emotional rest for the entire team of interns as well as the energy to go out and make friends in the community. Thanks for your support and making it through this long post!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

On the Road Again

I’m writing this post from a Greyhound bus. We’re just leaving Louisville (I think) after an hour break, and it’s 3:00 in the morning here. We’ll be getting into Atlanta around 12:30 in the afternoon. Hannah and I watched a bit of the King’s Speech, and then we slept for a while. So far, it’s been interesting, but I’m pretty tired. Still, we have a couple more stops to make throughout the night before we reach Atlanta.

Pray for good sleep and that we wouldn’t be too tired or crabby when we’re meeting all the other interns tomorrow or starting our training. Still, despite all the stops, I’m grateful for this bus. It made it possible to get down to GA without paying too much for gas! Anyway, I think I’m beginning to ramble. Time to try and nap again!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Packing... not really yet

Well, tomorrow I'm leaving for Clarkston, GA for my summer internship with Global Frontiers Mission. I haven't begun to pack yet, and I probably won't until late tonight. My Taylor friend, Hannah Weber, and I are taking a Greyhound bus from Chicago to Atlanta. It will be a 17 hour ride... which should be interesting. Hopefully we'll be able to sleep for most of it. Hannah did an internship with Global Frontiers Mission (GFM) last summer, and she's the one who told be about the opportunity this summer. We're old friends who travelled to Ireland together, and I'm excited to spend the summer ministering with her!

Just to give you the basics on my internship, GFM is mission located in Clarkston, GA (just outside of Atlanta). TIME Magazine once called Clarkston the most diverse square mile in the US! There are immigrants and refugees from all over the world, including countries like Burma, Sudan, Iraq, Nepal, and many more! This is especially exciting because instead of sending missionaries out into the world to evangelize, the nations are now coming to us in Clarkston, GA. We'll be working with all sorts of people, including Muslims, Buddhists and Animists. This is a wonderful opportunity to minister the love of God to some of the most vulnerable people in our country today. Many of them have left their homes and families behind, fleeing persecution, war, violence, and other problems. I'm very excited to be able to build relationships with the people I meet there as well as with the other GFM interns.

I'll probably find out more about day to day responsibilities in Clarkston when we get down there for our training. Right now, I know that I will be doing a lot of relational ministry with out neighbors (we'll be living in the same apartment complexes as they do) and hosting short-term missions teams that come into Clarkston from outside churches. Overall, I would appreciate prayer for a safe bus-ride down, that the team of interns would bond well through training, and that I would be able to build relationships quickly with my neighbors and my team. I'll try and keep this updated throughout the summer. Thanks so much for your support!