Hillside Missions Summer Internship

Wednesday, 8/10/16

We officially have our rings finished! Yay! It’s more meaningful to have a hand made ring for yourself, that you make yourself, rather than having a bunch of the same type of rings purchased to hand out to people for a form of commencement. I’m quite happy with my ring. I was nervous more than once about it not looking okay, but I’m pretty happy with it.

Today was a great day the the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia.

Was glad to see Nick’s sweet bread in the office today. Great way to close our last day in the office.

I said earlier that I was a little sad, since I knew I would be seeing everyone again. However, later on the day, I actually got pretty sad. We go to New York tomorrow, and that’s it for the summer internship.

I’ve been packing, doing laundry, and cleaning tonight. It’s real.

I have to become adjusted to a new schedule as far as school is concerned, my last year of undergraduate school, to be exact. I won’t say “Good morning,” to the same people every morning. I won’t be taking a class with a great teacher.

However, I know that I intend on going to South Asia. I know that I am mapping out what written and visual art looks like with Jonny so that we can set up a proposal to have our work in Edit. Most importantly, I can take what I learned here with me.

Tuesday, 8/9/16

We’re still not done making our rings, but we’ll get there. It’s cool to have a momentum we make ourselves to remind us of how much Hillside’s internship means to us. There’s a YouTube video all about it on Hillside’s channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSwT2kXTbYM

Nick intends on doing missions in Japan, and I intend on doing missions in South Asia. We both have to finish up school, and I still intend to go to graduate school after finishing my undergraduate programs.

We’re also going to be making bread today, which is exciting! I got to help Kris cook for staff dinner for the first time with Nick last night, and that was more fun than I thought it would be.

A lot of traveling this week, too. We go to Norfolk to look at some great art tomorrow. Then, we visit New York City Thursday through Friday, I’ve never been. It will be a great final hurrah with Hillside staff before Nick and I leave, and it would be cool to get in touch with friends I know who live in the area.

I’ve been traveling a lot this summer, it’s fun!

Friday, 8/5/16 & Monday, 8/8/16

I forgot to post my Friday picture, so I will post one now from the first week of the internship:

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And it’s really great to be welcomed back today by everybody. It’s nice that I’ve been told “Welcome home,” because Hillside has been home, believe it or not. It’s a warm feeling, and I’m thankful for that, and for people who have asked me what my past week has been like, which shows how much they care and how much they’re interested in what I enjoy doing. I would sometimes get scared about people, especially in Christian community, not liking the idea of what I like to do, but I’m actually supported for it, and I’m supported for the work I do along with everyone at Hillside, because Hillside’s mission is super important.

Thursday, 8/4/16

“What is your plan after college?”

I love making plans because it makes me excited about my future, but one thing I don’t like about making plans is how much I know they may change in some form and fashion. Nevertheless, these are the plans I admire at the moment for myself:

Go to graduate school for a Master’s in Social Work with a certificate either in expressive arts therapy or arts and social justice.

Continue writing for various online publications, while also writing a book of my own to publish.

Work for a non-profit that has some form of focus in writing and/or performance that promotes social healing and pluralism; if I can pursue interfaith initiatives in my work, that would be nice.

Go on a short term missions trip to South Asia, especially if I haven’t done so already during winter break of my senior year or during the summer break of my senior year.

Collaborate with Jonny Pasti in a visual art exhibit with a combination of spoken word for Edit.

Travel to perform spoken word.

Wednesday, 8/3/16

My favorite things about the internship (in no particular order):

  • Devotions
  • Current Event Fridays
  • Seeing the art in Edit
  • How genuine and honest the staff are
  • The intentionality of the staff
  • Working with Alcansa and Reestablish Richmond in the Hila Sewing Project
  • Seeing the art in Richmond
  • Blogging
  • Bill Bangham’s Storytelling class
  • The Love Your City Project
  • Reading Cross Cultural Connections
  • Reading Supper of the Lamb
  • Learning more about the cultural aspects of Islam
  • Reading other people’s stories from World Horizons
  • Cameron’s video production

Tuesday, 8/2/16

Best phrases to come out of Nick Pellman’s mouth:

“The word ‘accursed’ to describe morning people is pretty accurate.”

“Just say ‘Don’t die’ when you see me in the morning, or just don’t say anything. Silence is totally fine.”

(In response to me not missing the confederate flags at Hollywood Cemetery) “To be fair, they won’t miss you either.”

(After seeing something spill on his shirt) “Oh, so that happened.”

These are the only ones I can remember at the moment.

Monday, 8/1/16

It’s so weird…

I’m not making coffee this morning, or making phone calls about donations, or taking trips with Carlos or Lynn to Walmart or Kroger, or telling Nick “Don’t die,” because “Good morning” is too cheerful, or listening to country music, or taking a class, or sitting at my desk, or participating in devotions, or asking Jonny about what time worship is, or taking the Edit sign outside, or cleaning the office today.

Friday, 7/29/16

Yesterday, I got to see the Kehinde Wiley art exhibit at the VMFA with a friend, and it was SOOOOOO good. These are only one of my favorites from the exhibit:

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Thursday, 7/28/16

In our lesson on Church History with Brandon Samuel, lead pastor at Commonwealth Chapel, one phrase that stuck out to me today was when he said that we learn to love and accept God from His acceptance, not for His acceptance.

Because Jesus paid it all, we don’t have to work so hard to be loved by Him. We don’t have to think “Oh, how can I be the best Christian so that God can love me?” or “How can I not screw up today so that God doesn’t hate me?”

Not to say that we as humans aren’t required to work hard to do good in the world, but I am saying that we don’t have to try so hard, or berate ourselves for every time we mess up.

One of the reasons why I took this internship was so I could get closer to God. But I’m realizing how much I want others to know God. He is not this despot who created humanity to be His robots. He is a father who was willing to sacrifice His only son, a son who was willing to step into our shoes to witness what our suffering was like, and provide the Holy Spirit as a source of connection with Him.

Regardless of denominational differences, we, as Christians, can connect to the Lord in a way that is personal, vulnerable, and humble. We can be a slight hint of what God is supposed to look like that isn’t what people see from the broken events and people on our TV screens and social media.

I am never able to thank God enough for what He has done for me. Especially when it comes to this summer. He has impacted me a lot this summer, and I am so grateful.

Wednesday, 7/27/16

It’s been a while since I’ve written a poem, so how I about I write that today.

Nerves twitching in my nimble fingers,

Questioning what I can type.

I know more about playing hand games

Than I do about using the hands to put something on paper,

Apparently.

I know nothing of painting pretty pictures,

But I can sure describe the pictures well.

After all of the prose,

Is there enough left in me to write a poem?

There are times when I believe that all of the sand has run out

On my end of the hourglass.

But then I just turn it upside down to get the sand

Flowing again.

I don’t like to think that I write as if I’m running out of time,

Though it may feel like it at times.

How many metaphors can one writer use

Without coming across as another cliché?

All great works have clichés sometimes,

Right?

I shouldn’t have to depend on them, though.

I don’t want to depend on them.

Tuesday, 7/26/16

I leave this Saturday for interfaith leadership training under the Interfaith Youth Core, and return to Hillside on the seventh of August. I will still be scheduling social media posts, writing on this blog, finish up course assignments, and any other assignments I need to do for Hillside while I am away.

I was excited about this training before, but now I’m even more excited to tell people about what it has been like to intern with Hillside, especially if other Christians I meet are still trying to figure out how to get into cross cultural missions work.

Hillside has shown me to be conscious of our neighbors not only here in the United States, but in other parts of the world as well. Before Hillside, I didn’t feel as if I was allowed to engage in world issues, because I’m not from other areas in the world. I’m only from here, in the U.S. What would I have to offer while people way too far away from me are grieving?

Being at a prayer oriented organization, I have been able to see prayer do more than people are willing to give credit to. Having constructive dialogue about different areas’ politics, struggles, and how they give space to those different from them, especially if they are coming in as refugees, while also showing how much we care through prayer, through social media, and sending people to those areas in need has been a beautiful thing to be a part of.

I want Christians to know how much of a place we do have in various conversations. And I want non-Christians to know how much the negative connotation of missions has been decreasing through these type of efforts.

Monday, 7/25/16

In an old post a while back, I had mentioned how in our class with Josh Jones, we talked about spiritual gifts. My spiritual gifts tended to be along the lines of service and compassion. The great thing about the missions field is that the Lord doesn’t need only a particular group of people with a specific spiritual gift. The Holy Spirit gave various people various spiritual gifts to use regardless of what field of work their in, and all spiritual gifts an be applied to the missions field.

I once believed that I couldn’t fit into the missions field because I thought that my line of thinking had to be aligned with everyone else, or the things I wanted to pursue had to be aligned with what everyone else wanted to pursue. However, whether I pursue missions short term or long term, I have a place in missions.

And, more importantly, I have a place in this mission at Hillside.

One of the best things about interning at Hillside for me so far was working every Friday with non-faith based organizations such as Reestablish Richmond and Alcansa in the Hila Sewing Project to provide a space for refugee women and their families to socialize, sew together, do fun activities, and for them to be served for once, especially with all of the work they do outside of that space.

We walk up and down the two flights of steps to get all the materials we need, and do it all over again to put all the materials back in order to have that creative and open space for them. Sometimes, when we need impromptu materials, there’s more walking up and down the steps to do, and I’m actually happy to do it. Of course, it gets exhausting, but it’s worth it. Seeing the women and their children smile every Friday makes it worth it.

I originally thought that I would find my niche in arts ministry through Edit’s art gallery (you can see their blog here: http://reachthenations.org/category/gallery-edits-blog/) and hopefully have a focus on other mediums of art outside of the visual (e.g. writing, performance, music, etc.). And that’s not to say that I can no longer do that, I’m just saying that the Lord has put on my heart the Hila Sewing Project, and it’s great that He has done that for me. It’s great that this summer did not go as I planned, because it wouldn’t have been as fulfilling as it has been.

And this summer has reemphasized how much I want to serve others through the arts and other mediums of service that best suits the people I’m working for.

Moreover, I thought that all of the interns were required to work with the kids. Instead, Nick worked with most of the kids, and I worked with the women and a couple of the kids who were too shy to play with the other kids. It’s fun! Again, something did not go to plan in my mind, and it worked out so well, I love it! I love making other people’s day.

I have been processing my time here at Hillside in stages.

When I first got here, I was filled with so much excitement. Fueled, up and ready to go. Let’s see what the Lord does!

After a few weeks, I was still enjoying my internship so far, but I started to question myself. I started to develop anxiety about how I should do the tasks given to me. When Nick and I were writing out our five year plans, even though I’m usually ready to write out plans, I was scared. My plans didn’t match Nick’s plans or other people’s plans centered around ministry, did that make my plans selfish? I was also still processing what would happen after college. I was thinking, “Lord, I have listened to you willingly to be placed out of my comfort zone so many times, why am I still unsure of myself?”

A couple of weeks after that, through prayer and conversation, I was able to feel more secure about things such as why I’m here and the plans I have for myself are. And although there are a few areas of this decision that I am processing, I want to continue pursuing my heart for interfaith relationships by taking a short term trip to India with World Horizons at one point. It all depends on where in that area I would be needed and when I would be needed.

There is a reason why I got accepted into this internship. There is a reason why I belong where God has placed me. There is a reason why I deserve to be a part of this mission.

Friday, 7/22/16

I don’t drink coffee, but I know a lot of people in the office who do. So, as soon as we got some more, after not having any for one whole day, we took special care of the bags of coffee:

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Thursday, 7/21/16

I want to put myself in a situation where my religious identity is not catered to.

I want to put myself in a situation where I cannot depend on the products of my Western culture.

I want to put myself in a situation where I can serve people well, even though I am very different from the many people I want to serve.

I want to be in an area where there are a lot of religious backgrounds that influence their culture, and figure out what that means for me in regards to what God wants for me.

I want to know what a small Christian community is like.

I want to know what it is like to be surrounded by languages and dialects that aren’t English.

I want to know what God is like from another nation from my own.

I want to take a short term trip to South Asia.

Wednesday, 7/20/16

Something to remember: making plans are not a bad thing. It’s whether those plans are good for the Lord or not is what you have to make sure of.

Tuesday, 7/19/16

Top Five Best Songs I’ve Heard in the Office so Far this Summer:

  • “Some Nights” by Fun
  • “House of Gold” by Twenty-One Pilots
  • “You’ll be Back” from the musical Hamilton
  • “Respect” by Aretha Franklin
  • “What’s Going On?” by Four Non Blondes

Monday, 7/18/16

So this really, really cool thing happened on Saturday…

Nick, Jonny, Hillside’s staff in base support, and Valerie, a former intern with Hillside, went to Washington, D.C. for the Together Concert. Afterwards, we went to a church service near Capitol Hill, where the pastor, Rev. Pat Mahoney, told us that after service, we would be praying for Turkey at the Turkish Embassy in light of recent events.

We get there…and we see Pat and his wife shaking hands with the ambassador of Turkey…

Oh my GOODNESS!

We prayed for him and Ardal, who worked for him, and he told us about interfaith initiatives he was planning on starting in the area, and he invited all of us to come back again for tea.

Oh my GOODNESS!

It was so great. So great.

Friday, 7/15/16

I saw this at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA) last week with a friend, and scrolling through my pictures, I realized how exhausted I am today. It’s a good exhaustion though.

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Thursday, 7/14/16

Today’s a free write day, so here is a humorous list. (At least I find it humorous)

Things Kris Keating loves:

The Lord, his family, Hillside, Plaid Patch Pockets, bread, hugs, food, laughing at us, making too much food, encouraging couples to elope so that he can say he officiated a couple who eloped, and I’m sure a lot more that would take up too much of this blog.

Things Kris Keating finds demoralizing:

Minivans, processed food (especially McDonald’s), and butterflies (even though he says this one isn’t true :P)

Wednesday, 7/13/16

Today we had a class about relationships and team living with Josh Jones. Earlier in the discussion, we talked about biblical spiritual gifts. I have a tendency to identify with the gifts of mercy and service. I might talk about what that means in a different log.

Also, the funniest thing that made my day today: executive director Kris Keating unexpectedly playing country music in the office. I knew it would be coming soon during my internship, I just didn’t expect that today would be the day!

Tuesday, 7/12/16

“What do you do at Hillside?” people ask.

I wake up, make coffee if Nick (see his blog right here: https://picnickproductionsblog.wordpress.com/home/) isn’t scheduled to make it, participate in devotion if not current event prayer on Friday, complete reading assignments, take classes with a teacher in various topics (e.g. hermeneutics, prayer, team building, cross-cultural work, etc.), call establishments for possible donations for certain projects, schedule Twitter posts, schedule Facebook posts, eat lunch, finish up a class, do an outreach assignment downtown, go over emails, type blog for the day, if it’s not staff night to hang out in community right afterwards on Monday,  I eat dinner, I finish up writing/reading assignments, I call friends and/or family to catch up or set up a time to hang out, and I go to bed.

“Why are you interning at Hillside?” people ask.

To be in a space where I can become closer to God, learn more about what missions work is like, engage in cross cultural work, work with refugees, know what living on my own is like outside of a college setting, know what Christian community is like outside of a church setting and outside of a college setting, and work in artistic spaces.

Monday, 7/11/16

While interning at Hillside, you learn to be more conscious of the things happening in our world today. We have Brexit in Europe right now, we have homophobic violence in Brazil, we have domestic and political harm in the Middle East, we have racial injustice in the United States.

To say that we are not required to engage in our neighbors’ grievances and struggles is not biblical. Not only is it not biblical, it is also not true. It is the equivalent of saying “I’m not required to love you well.” “I’m not required to give the full amount of love and support you need in this time in your life.”

Yet we wonder why so many may be turned off from engaging in Christian community. It is claiming that we can love others in this world on our terms, and that is heartbreaking.

I have been learning how Hillside is different from other missions organizations I have heard of, and even some of the Christian communities I have been a part of, in regards to the amount of respect they give to others by being so willing to acknowledge the brokenness of our world, and find avenues of how to give the people affected the best support they need.

Friday, 7/8/16

Can we please take a moment and look at how adorable these two girls are? Sneaha and Salina:

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These are old photos from last weekend, but they have been in the office all day today. They’re so precious! Look forward to seeing them around more this summer!

Thursday, 7/7/16

Today we are finishing the set up for tomorrow’s event under the Hila Sewing Project. We’re having Afghan and Burmese refugee women and their children coming together to have community as the women sew and the kids play game and do artistic activities. That is really exciting. We’ve been looking forward to it for the past week or so.

We also went over our mission statements and five year plans with the executive director, Kris. It is nerve racking to having a plan for the future all specifically laid out, knowing that it needs readjustments, but it’s also quite exciting. I have written out plans before, and I have blogged about plans I have made for myself; especially in regards to graduate school. However, having a plan written down in a context that is strictly for the Lord…it makes me analyze and become emotional about my plans even more. Are people going to know the Lord using the talents He has given me? Is what I am doing going back to Scripture? Am I doing things for my own pleasure, or am I pushing myself to be uncomfortable?

This past year, back at my university, the Lord has put engaging in interfaith relationships on my heart. That does not mean “Hey, let’s compromise our belief systems for the sake of getting along by blending together.” It means “Hey, I can respect you and see where you are coming from, and I can still stay loyal to my beliefs. Let’s work together.” One of the things that stood out to me at the Urbana conference, where I first heard about Hillside, was how Hillside stresses reading about other world religions during the internship. How can we share the gospel when we don’t know who our neighbors are?

Before Jesus tells the Good Samaritan story, someone asked Him, “Who is our neighbor?” which causes Jesus to tell the story. Samaritans and Jews were of different racial and religious backgrounds, and did not get along. So for Jesus to display a Samaritan helping a Jew get back on his feet, is groundbreaking. He just told us to do one of the most uncomfortable things to do socially in that time. So why shouldn’t we do the same in our time?

Wednesday, 7/6/16

Today, Nick and I presented our photo story project to our teacher, Bill Bangham, and Hillside’s staff. Our photo story consisted of a three minute video, which Nick edited, a written story, which I wrote, and a photo gallery, which we both put together, along with recorded footage we both got together for the video.

Our subject was salesman James Davis Virgil, often referred to as Virgil, who has been working at Friedman’s Loans down the street for seventeen years.

What made this project special for me, personally, was that he was who I wanted to do the story on from the beginning, while Nick and I were doing our environmental portraits on various people in Downtown Richmond. Virgil was really kind to me and other people who walked in to Friedman’s, his relationships with his co-workers are loving and hilarious, and even though he could have lived anywhere in the world, even could have stayed in California as a dancer, he chose to stay in Richmond all this time. It’s such a beautiful thing to see the people in his hometown fulfill his life like that.

Hopefully, we’ll get to show Virgil and his coworkers, George and Bryan, the video tomorrow.

Having Bill see the work we have done, and our fellow staff at Hillside see our work, gave me a warm feeling. One of the staff members, Chris, mentioned how we’re called as Christians to get to know our neighbors, so he liked our project in that respect. That makes a lot of sense.

Also, Bill’s work as a photojournalist is fantastic, so for him to critique and help us with our project and say we did a good job is an honor.

Tuesday, 7/5/16

This is officially my fourth week in Downtown Richmond with Hillside Missions, and it is nice that I am getting into a schedule to get used to in regards to the work I do here and how I spend my time here. A few family members recently asked a lot of questions about the policy we, as interns, have to follow. Why is a curfew necessary? Why can’t you drink alcohol? Is church truly required every Sunday?

The questions I have for them are: Why is the policy seen as a bad thing? Why give the response, “Oh, I could never do that”?

In order for me to dedicate myself to God well, and do my job well, it makes sense that there are rules in place. I want to do the best I can to discern God’s calling for me, and the schedule I have been able to get used to plays a role in helping me do just that. And I am happy to do that.