Growing up, my family and I moved a lot and attended various churches, so fully immersing ourselves in one church family was a challenge. While in high school, I volunteered in the church nursery but in college I was a volunteer Young Life leader with a part-time job so I felt a little spread thin whenever I attempted to get involved in my church.
Moving here to Salt Lake City, though, and immediately being welcomed by our new friends at New Song Presbyterian Church has been such a gift that continues to bless all of us in the Salt Lake Fellows program. After getting to know the community of New Song through BBQs, members hosting us for dinner, and community group gatherings, we, the fellows, were encouraged to use the gifts God’s given us to serve the church. Greeting, working in the nursery, and helping setup & breakdown sound equipment were some of the first jobs I signed up for since I enjoy working with others as well as with my hands.
Being a part of New Song has shown me what it looks like to live in community with one another the way God calls us to in scripture. I’ve been learning how to give my time and resources towards things like working the nursery and bringing a food dish every week to community group. Though these examples may sound somewhat minor, God’s been using them to take my eyes off myself and fix them on serving Him throughout each week, and for that I’m so thankful.
God’s also shown me some of the ways that we’re called to love and care for one another in the church. While meeting with my community group every Tuesday, we each share how we can be praying for one another throughout that week. I imagine it’d be easy for members to move on with their day-to- day lives and responsibilities after we meet, forgetting about the requests, but every time we’re together, without fail, someone asks me how I’m doing in terms of what I needed praying for the week before.
Having folks, whom I’ve only known for a few months, genuinely care and pray for me has been a beautiful display of God’s intentional love and in turn encouraged me to love others more like Him.
Salt Lake Fellow
Class of 2016-17
When I found out that I would be living with a host family during the course of this program, I was very nervous. I had lived with roommates in college and had loved living with people however this was different. This was me being in someone else’s home, learning how to live with and interact with four people I had never met before in a city I had never been to before. While I was overcome with gratitude and thankfulness toward them for taking me into their home, I felt apprehensive because I did not want to be a burden on them. I didn’t want to mess up the family dynamic that they had built and cultivated over the years.
When I moved into their home on August 28th , I could tell that they were nervous too. I felt comforted knowing that I wasn’t the only one feeling nervous about everything. They were very welcoming and I felt wanted there. I realized that if they didn’t want me there then they wouldn’t have volunteered to be a host family.
The first week was hard just because I was learning my place in the family and how I fit into their home. I began to feel comfortable in my house and with my host family. I stopped thinking of myself as a guest in their house and began considering myself part of the family. I really connected with their two kids and I have loved getting to know them and be their friend.
I can see the ways in which the Lord is working in me living here. I can feel Him opening my eyes to things, revealing aspects of my heart that I need to work on. While living here has been great, the Lord has taken a lot of my struggles and has brought them to the surface here. He has placed me in an environment where there is conflict around me and I am learning how to handle conflict in a healthy way instead of just hiding from it. There is bound to be conflict within a family and I am learning that all conflicts aren’t because of me. I used to feel anxious around conflict because I always thought that I had something to do in causing it. I realize now that that is not always the case.
The Lord is also teaching me a lot about protecting my time and learning how to say no. I am realizing that I am a people-pleaser and I always want to say yes to people because I don’t want to let them down. It can be exhausting constantly saying yes to everyone and it causes me to become drained and not be able to love others well because I am tired and drained. The daughter and I have become very close and while I love her, I am learning to say no sometimes when she asks to hang out. It is good for me to learn to say no and protect my time and I think it is also good for her to learn boundaries and how to respect other peoples time.
Since I have freedom in Christ, I have the freedom to say no, to protect my time, and to withdraw and spend time with the Father. Living with my host family has forced me out of my comfort zone and has forced me to face my struggles and learn how to overcome them. I have learned how to accept and ask for help, how to face conflict in a healthy way, and how to protect my time and learn how to say no. Overall, these past few months with this family has been amazing and I can see how the Lord is working here. I feel wanted, loved, and needed here and I am so excited to see what the Lord does within this upcoming year.
Salt Lake Fellow 2016-17
Salt Lake Fellows Collaborative