Perfect Moments

As far as this blog goes, I have struggled to know how to share my experiences this summer. Many of them have been profound but are still being worked out in my mind, others are too personal to share, and still others feel personally significant but not worth sharing. Today I was at my IJM desk reading an article that spoke of perfect moments. The author described these moments as “experiences shared with others when time stands still.” My mind immediately flashed to the movie The Sandlot, where Benny and Smalls are running to play baseball on the 4th of July and stop to stare at the fireworks as America the Beautiful plays. They’re captivated by the moment and, as silly as it sounds, I always get chills thinking about it.

When I read this, I realized the best way to share my summer with you was through snapshots of these perfect moments. Times when phones have been unplugged and hearts have been wide open. There have been so many in the 35 days that I’ve been here, and I don’t doubt that there will be many more.

1. Day one of IJM orientation. Gary Haugen is delivering the most compelling word on God’s heart for justice from Exodus 3. He speaks of what it looks like for someone to live in the absence of fear and shows us videos of Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr. Mother Teresa is feisty and arguing with some men about her determination to bring aid to Lebanon and carefully addressing the needs of disabled orphans in Calcutta. “I have found the paradox,” she says, “that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only love.”

Martin Luther King Jr. on the day before his death – “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t really matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will…So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” I’m in a dark room full of strangers and we’re all crying. I’m overwhelmed with the opportunity I’ve been afforded to be here this summer. A perfect moment.

2. Our commissioning ceremony at the end of IJM Orientation. All headquarters staff plus 80 new interns, fellows, and employees gather in a small conference room to celebrate new beginnings. It’s a rite of passage and I can’t wait to start working. We sing, take communion together, and thank God for the opportunity to partner with him in what he wants to do through IJM. We sing together and are individually prayed over by our mentors. I pause and know that I’m standing in one of the most anointed workplaces on planet earth. A perfect moment.

3. A regular night on the town that turned nostalgic. Colin, Taylor and I head to the district of Adams-Morgan and laugh about how in the world three people from Elizabethton have somehow ended up in D.C. together. Colin and I have been best friends since 7th grade and Taylor was his college roommate. We reminisce, as always. We go to buy THE LARGEST pieces of pizza you’ve ever seen in your life and our conversation digresses into hilarious laughter as we people watch from bar stools and drip grease all over ourselves. I’m feeling as young and free and happy as I’ve ever been. A perfect moment.

4. A sunset drive over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Myself, my friend Laura, and her sister Lynne are driving back to D.C. after a day at Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. We’re salty, sandy, sunburnt, and full of coconut shrimp + crab bruschetta. The air conditioning doesn’t work in Laura’s car so we have all the windows down, our hair is wild, and we have country music blaring into the open air. The Bay Bridge is a two-mile arc over the water and the sun is setting, so I’m singing my lungs out and driving into the sky that’s on fire. A perfect moment.

5. The Hungarian Dance Barn. Colin and I meet up to explore the National Mall on Independence Day. We’re walking around checking out the Folk Life festival, which (from what I gather) is a celebration of endangered cultures and languages. We turn the corner and see a big circular wooden structure full of screaming, stomping people so we weave our way right into the middle. I spend the next twenty minutes trying to keep up as a tall, lanky, foreign man leads all of us in these crazy, loud, FUN line dances. It is sweatier than senior prom and therefore verifiably the sweatiest day of my life. Afterwards we get Lebanese food from a food truck and pineapples from hispanic ladies on the street corner and spend the next twenty minutes trying to guess the names of people walking by (we’re yelling names at people). We make a bet that whoever gets a name right first has to buy smoothies. We both lose so we both buy smoothies. So we both win? A perfect moment.

6. July 4th Fireworks. I’m on the roof of a huge house and have a 360 view of all the fireworks in the city. The sun has already set, it’s 75 degrees and breezy, and I’m surrounded by all the DC people I’ve come to love. I’m sitting cross-legged on a ledge but have the urge to stand on the corner of the roof, so I climb up and spread my arms out, laughing at the house next to us where people are screaming and dancing to “Party in the USA”. Dozens of fireworks light up the sky and fire trucks rush around trying to manage what I’m sure are plenty of firework accidents. I take it all in and consciously decide to never forget the moment. It’s perfect.

Adventures in the World’s most powerful city.

This past weekend my dear friend Kaity and I surprised our boyfriends with a trip to Washington D.C. to see the Christmas decorations and catch a Josh Garrels show at Barracks Row Theatre. Because we aren’t the most talented secret-keepers in the world (coughKaitycough), the boys found out we were going to D.C., but their best guess as to what we were actually doing was a hot air balloon ride…way off.

We began our 6 hour drive at 10PM. Always an adventure to arrive at your destination at 4:00AM. Kaity’s family lives 40 minutes outside of the city so we stayed there and enjoyed her parents’ exceptional hospitality for the 48ish hours we were around.

Kaity and John were much better at playing it cool, but Bryant and I felt so “urban” riding the metro into the city. I may have ridden the metro to class every day during my semester in Spain, as well as navigated my way around on public transportation in cities everywhere from Atlanta to Milan, but I still get pumped about it. Our first attempt to disembark at the Federal Triangle was unsuccessful, however, as Bryant thought he left his phone in the seat and we didn’t get out before the doors shut, leaving us waving “byeeee” through the window as they (and everyone else) laughed at us from the platform. SoOoO urban!

The first place we took the boys was to the White House to check out the National Christmas Tree. Our freshman year, Bryant and I (plus three other friends) were driving to Richmond, VA in the pouring snow to watch App play football. When we realized we were only two hours away from D.C., we decided the football game didn’t matter and drove the extra two hours to see our nation’s capital dressed in its Christmas outfit with snow only adding to the fun. This is another story for another time, but that responsible decision included riding the wrong metro line for seventeen stops, walking all over the city at night in the FREEZING cold, parking my car in a ridiculously sketchy location, and finally getting lost and coming incredibly close to running out of gas in the ghetto when we tried to head back to Richmond. Needless to say, it was a great adventure, and going back to the Christmas tree brought back fun memories for Bryant and I.

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Bryant and John are the best of friends, as are Kaity and I, so it was really the perfect group to enjoy this weekend with. Later that night, we went to dinner with Jaclyn, a sweet friend from IJM Headquarters that Kaity interned under this past summer. Then we headed to Barracks Row for an incredible documentary and show that was a collaboration between Josh Garrels and Mason Jar Music. Check out the link below for a two-minute trailer of the documentary. It was amazing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbPmXpvYdGM

Afterwards, all the people featured in the film came out to perform. The documentary + the gorgeous music + the company + the quaintness of Barracks Row theater made this an all-around amazing experience.

groupw:joshG

Monday morning we had the opportunity to visit IJM Headquarters and attend their daily corporate prayer. It was amazing and encouraging to witness a room full of people crying out to God on behalf of the oppressed, then going back to their offices and working directly with these issues. Gary Haugen, who is one of my heroes, led the time of prayer. It was crazy to be in a small setting with him because I’ll see him in a few short weeks at Passion 2013…speaking on a stage to 50,000+ students.