Since the first of the month until yesterday, I was in Virginia. The eleven-day trip was absolutely amazing. So many people sacrificed time, energy, resources, and love to make my time there wonderful. And so many others committed themselves to making the Virginia TeenPact class a beautiful time of growth, friendship, and learning.
A few things I learned about Virginia and its capitol as I staffed the TeenPact class:
1. Virginia has sales tax and toll roads. And you have to pump your own gas. Sadness.
2. This sadness is almost outweighed by the fact that Virginia has Chick-fil-a.
3. Thomas Jefferson designed the beautiful capitol building, which has actual fossils in the marble flooring.
4. The moon is amazingly bright, while the stars are surprisingly dim.
5. The Commonwealth (not State) of Virginia has Delegates (not Representatives). Interesting, but not helpful.
6. The sun makes its appearance more frequently than in Oregon.
7. The Capitol building has a room with the old Senate chamber, and across the hall is a replica of the exact same room. Why? We're not exactly sure...
8. Virginia has some incredible people, including Jennifer Sullivan, Lydia Shanks, Aaron Watson, Mr. Martin, Hope Martin, Rebekah Kimminau, Sam Popham, Samantha Roose, Tobias Noyes, Rebekah Meece, and Anna Martin (and the out-of-staters were incredible too: Nathan Baber, Jeremiah Moore, Blake Redwine, and Carolyne Smith!).
9. Cobblestones are amazing.
10. Virginia's thirteen and fourteen year-old pages are easily mistaken for TeenPact students, which can lead to some rather embarrassing situations.
But while in Virginia visiting with Jennifer, hanging at the TeenPact office, visiting Patrick Henry College (Rachel, Betsy, and Belle!), and staffing the TeenPact class, I learned much more than these practical and physical lessons. Here are a few of the more important lessons God began and continued teaching me throughout the week:
1. He is in control. Yes, I am still learning this lesson. I had to lean on Him and trust Him after I severely hurt my foot just hours before flying out of Portland. Though painful throughout the week and a half, it was a constant reminder to trust in his sovereignty in the little things, as well as the big ones.
2. He loves me. And He gives me things like sunsets to prove it.
3. I have to make the time for God. Especially at a a TeenPact camp, it is far too easy to spend every waking moment in the company of others building good and worthy relationships. However, it is vital that I intentionally step aside before, during, or after the day to be alone with God. And even at home, when schedules are simple and days are not as long, we have to be intentional about our relationship.
4. Be flexible. Don't panic. Keep calm and trust God.
5. Worship doesn't just happen, and it's not just singing songs. Worship must be an intentional, focused mindset. I can sing beautiful songs of praise, but without truly leaving behind myself I cannot focus on Him. When I worship, I have to ask Him to truly "rid me of myself."
6. "Life is too short and God is too glorious to pretend to be a Christian." ~Lydia Shanks
7. True friends are priceless. Friends who will laugh with you, challenge you, probe you, cry with you, cherish you. They are few and far between. But Virginia holds several. They are the kind of people that are so hard to leave, people who make you feel secure, but also push you outside of yourself. I want to be surrounded with people like them.
8. The gospel itself is the power of God. The truth can stand alone.
9. Deep friendships are wonderful. Though I may have only known someone for a day or two, asking the deep questions instead of settling for an ankle-high relationship is so worth it. Questions like, "Where do you feel God leading you?" or "What do you feel like God has been teaching you in the past season of your life?" or "How can I be praying for you?" are the questions that make relationships meaningful and impacting.
10. God's goodness comes in so many different forms. But it is always coming.
God, thank you for this time in Virginia. I learned so much, and You blessed me so much. And I know there are more lessons for me to learn from this trip, and more fruit that will come from the relationships built there. All for Your glory, Jesus.
photography by Mr. Martin/Rebekah Kimminau