Earlier this week the 5 students that composed this year’s summer internship experience boarded a plane and returned to the U.S. It’s always a bittersweet experience. The sweet part is knowing that everyone in your trust survived the summer without any major health or safety issues, and left not really wanting to leave. Also, for the first time in over 5 weeks, my wife and I were able to concentrate on 3 kids instead of 8. The bitter is that it’s always tough to say goodbye, at least for a while, to good, new friends. Community happens. We were united through shared experiences and through divine intervention. God showed up in so many ways.
Mayra and I have hosted summer interns since 2002. Although every year is different, every year is uniquely special. We maintain frequent contact with many of the students who have passed through our house and impacted our lives, and our kids’ lives. Through Facebook we have witnessed many of their marriages, and the birth of their children.
So at the end of this 2014 summer internship, here are three things (I could list 20) that I’ve learned, or re-learned, about community and ministry with college-aged young people:
1. It’s all about discipleship. We welcome people into our home and into our lives, knowing that we are far from perfect, and that our visitors have issues too. It’s risky to do this, because you never know what sort of preconceived ideas students may have about missions, missionaries or ministry. But we do this with the intention of making missions real to them, and that both us and them might be drawn closer to Jesus in the process. We follow Jesus together. Sometimes the Fry family takes the lead, sometimes Christ leads through the creativity and initiative of the students. We are better together. The Spirit is like wind, fire and living water. Together, we seek to perceive which way the wind is blowing, and go there.
2. Community is special. It doesn’t matter where one is from, or what his first language might be, the Holy Spirit binds us together. It doesn’t matter if you have little or much. It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert. It doesn’t matter if you like to dress in banana suits. It doesn’t matter if you use napkins when the toilet paper runs out. It doesn’t matter if you write words from right to left. It doesn’t matter if you lose the keys to the house in public transportation. Or if you flood the house. Or sleep all night on a sofa with a kitten under it. It doesn’t even matter if people have bad days, or have temporary lapses of judgement. Or if you like country music. What unites us, or better said, Who unites us minimizes the issues that may divide us.
3. Love is key. We seek to see the best in one another, because God sought us and bought us when there was nothing good in us. We forgive the small debts against ourselves, because God forgave a whopper in relationship to us. We show grace and mercy to others, because we have been shown grace and mercy. How will the world know that we are His disciples? If we love one another. Has the world seen that this summer? I am thrilled to say that yes, the world has seen that, and we anticipate with eagerness to see what the result of that will yet be here in Ixtapaluca.
(thanks for the pics, Marcy!)