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Experiences and the body of Christ

Summer intern Hannah Norem leaves us with her reflections about her summer experience with Messiah. 

"So, what exactly are you going to do on this internship?" seemed to be the most important question on my friends' and family's minds before I drove halfway across the country to Vancouver. To be honest, I cannot tell them all of the things I did on this internship because sometimes words fail to adequately describe what I did this summer, but I can give words to some of the things I experienced. I experienced the feeling of welcome by so many members of the congregation. I experienced the support of not only the congregation but also the entire body of Christ, affirming that some kind of ministry was part of my vocation. I experienced the laughter of children and adults at Vacation Bible School when trying to pull apart two (unused) toilet plungers!

Above all, I witnessed the incredible power the Holy Spirit has on people's lives and the larger community. From the first days of my internship, I saw firsthand the deep roots that Messiah has in the greater Vancouver community through the smiles of middle school students at Jason Lee participating in Club Greatness to the excitement of soon-to-be Columbia River graduates as they ate a Messiah muffin for the last time. These same roots were present in the rich history Messiah has as an institution and the legacy it already has in the region. So many of y'all have told me stories about how Messiah has blessed you and changed your life for the better, and I am so grateful for those stories. But, as literary maven J.R.R. Tolkien writes in the iconic novel The Fellowship of the Ring:

All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.

As I think about my own future life direction and the path that this summer has in part set me on, I try to locate the deep roots in my life. Even though I am only 21, I feel I have at least a few deep roots that are pretty similar to Messiah's—I love my Texan roots and the community I was raised in, and I appreciate my background and family history for what it is (even if that background "doomed" me to go into some type of ministry ☺). With all that being said, it is hard to ignore the new life just around the corner for me. I will go back to Sioux Falls and finish out my senior (!!!) year at Augustana, and I will graduate and attend graduate school somewhere completely different than the snowy upper midwest. I will again say goodbye to my friends and family, but I know that the deep roots I have planted in Sioux Falls will persist through the frosts of young adulthood.

Similarly, I think this new life is just around the corner for Messiah. There is no dearth of opportunities for a church like Messiah to put itself at the center of and see what amounts from them. God is at work in this place, and I cannot wait to see the exciting future that is no doubt in store for Messiah!

I am so immensely grateful for this summer and what it taught me about the wideness of God's love, how strangers can turn into friends, and what can happen when you lick a slug. Thank y'all for this incredible experience, and I am so excited for the new life that is in Messiah's (and my) future! 

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