Oregon State Class 2008
And here it began! Mom made me go. But I couldn't be more grateful looking back. Brianna Walden, my committee leader, poured into me not by necessarily talking about important things all the time, but by listening to me and valuing me as a person. And knowing she cared about me made her example of living for Christ all the more impacting. Thank you, Brianna, for showing me Jesus. After that week, He took my heart and never gave it back.
Back to DC 2008
And then... the first alumni event! With some prize money for a photo contest, mom and I took off for Back to DC. There I met basically half of the 2011/2012 interns, all the big TeenPact names... and a bunch of other great friends, besides getting to share a room with Lydia Shanks. I didn't know the huge title that came behind that name at the time. All I knew was that this person was different, loving, hilarious, and actually cared about me. Even so, I had no idea what she would become to me.
We carpooled from the Cools' house to my second alumni event and jumped right into one of the best weeks of my life. My team consisted of some great people, like Tim Kranick, John Elliot Chaffee, Ben Edmonds, Betsy Reich, Joe Radcliffe, Shiloh Zmudzinski, etc. The teamwork, encouragement, deep conversations, teaching, worship, and other crazy Survival events changed my life. I still treasure those memories!
The empty year of 2010
After not being accepted to staff in 2010, God worked in me to begin to form a deeper level of trust than ever before. He knows exactly what He's doing.
All the way to Buda, Texas with incredible people, I saw the vision and work of TeenPact clearer than ever. I was overwhelmed by how blessed I was to even be around these people. I may have never talked to popular folks like SharaLee Attema... but others like Stephen Blunk, Serena Walker, Rachel Brazell, and Jennifer Sullivan were in my small group, and their passion for Jesus left me changed.
Oregon State Class 2011
So, I pretty much got to staff with all my best friends. So many role models, so many people who only grew to be closer and closer friends after these two classes. Thanks for investing me, friends.
I was shocked to be asked to staff Survival, and was excited beyond belief. Betsy told me before I left that she felt like God was going to do something huge in my life that week. He did. Losing Jimmy was, and is, the hardest thing I've ever been through, but the team that went through it with me pointed to Christ. That day was the beginning of yet another journey in my life, changing my heart and my direction. That day began God's working of building even deeper perspective, urgency, trust, faith, love, and sincerity. And the word "China" has never been the same either...
Staffing Season 2012
From Virginia to Washington to Montana to Oregon, God just continued transforming me. I met so many new friends like Hope Martin, Blake Redwine, Carolyne Smith, Grayson Allen, etc. that ended up being real life friends. Debriefing each class with myself revealed just how much God was teaching me from the moments of struggle to those of high reward.
I showed up at the biggest alumni event TeenPact had ever had because I was applying to intern, but I left having gained so much. I still remember Ruth Terry's challenge to be careful that missions and service didn't take our heart from just God. I remember Grayson's campaign challenge about grace, "What will you do now that you have to do nothing?" After NC, I was ready to GO!
Two weeks later, I was back east again for Judicial. Sure, I was nervous about how I was going to teach students to do something I'd never done, but God worked in our youth, ignorance, and lack of sleep. Memories with Morgan are some of my favorites from all my time in TeenPact.
Survival West 2012
I was so happy to be back at Survival, back with many treasured people, back on the Blue team, back in the wilderness with TeenPacters and God. He met me there that week, in the beautiful times and the hard ones. He brought wonderful people to surround me, and my team and I had wonderful times together. I miss Wyoming and all these people!
And before I knew it, I was a TeenPact intern. We all showed up in Lake Oconee, Georgia, not quite sure what to think of each other or of the upcoming season. But Mrs. Cocks, Mrs. Sarah, Lydia, and Elise led us in a wonderful, learning, and maturing week with a group of beautiful girls. We all invested in each other, and we will always be Endeavor girls!
Intern Season 2013
This won't all fit in a paragraph. I haven't even gotten it all out in my journal. What can I say? Stephen, Johnny, Nate, Ben, Reagan, Ryan, Brady, Blake, Danny, Stevie, Adam, Grayson, Michael, Carolyne, Katelyn, SharaLee, Lauren, Brenn, and Julia; each of those names mean oh, so much to me. Every single one. Wisconsin, Maryland, South Dakota, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. The memories, lessons, worship sessions, challenges, and successes together leave me speechless but to say, as always, all glory be to Christ.
The final hurrah! The biggest event in TeenPact history. Each of those 750 people were planned to be there before the beginning of time. From the morning shows to the daily colors to the commercials to the rain miracles to the elections, God worked, once again, in people who were weak, less prepared than they would like, and completely reliant on Him. He always comes through just as He promises.
And before I knew it, I was at my last TeenPact event. Judicial 2013 was a smashing success thanks to God. The students were phenomenal, the staff were dedicated, and Jesus showed up all week, and especially on our last night together. Coming up with all-new quiz styles, worshiping God, skiing in 80 degree weather, learning more lessons about trust, driving big vans, and working as a team made Judicial wonderful. I miss you all!
I can't sum up TeenPact without talking about her. From all the way back in 2008, her name has meant so much to me. Her heart has inspired me. Her voice has soothed me. Her face has cheered me. Her faithfulness has surprised me and encouraged me. She knew me at my awkwardest, and stuck with me. She was there when things were harder than they had ever been before. She taught me how God redeems. She taught me the power of little acts of love. She demonstrated servant leadership, and taking time for people over tasks. She has pointed me to Truth over and over and over again. I'm sorry to see her leave TeenPact, but more than that I am overly excited about who she will completely transform next. I am grateful for her forever friendship. Thank you, Lydia.
Should nothing of our efforts stand,
No legacy survive,
Unless the Lord does raise the house,
In vain it's builders strive.
Six years of life transformation, of leadership training, or friendship building, of character developing, of Christ following. God has used TeenPact in more ways than I will probably ever know.
All glory be to Christ.