Lessons from the Lord while Living Abroad
I blinked and 60 days passed by, living in Birmingham. I arrived unsure of why the Lord sent me to the United Kingdom and left even more aware of His goodness.
It took about two weeks to call this place home, but once Birmingham claimed that title, it stuck. I caught myself feeling homesick for Birmingham during the Summit 1:8 conference in Greece and during weekend trips to London and Liverpool.
When looking back on the last eight weeks, I have seen so much personal growth.
Strangely enough, I learned to cook while living abroad. This was a little challenging, as British people have different names for everything. Heavy whipping cream is known as double cream, spring onions are green onions, and the list continues on.
My intern team and I created a cooking schedule where two of us would make dinner every other week. I don’t think my meals measured up to their homemade pita bread or crepes, but they never voiced any complaints.
The Lord could not have chosen better girls for me to spend this internship with. They became my best friends in a matter of about two days and truly felt like my sisters. I laughed with them until I cried, cried until they made me laugh again, and did every single day with them. They snuck birthday plans behind my back when I celebrated my 21st birthday away from home. They danced with me to country music on the fourth of July when we missed home the most, and they affirmed traits in me I never understood were key parts of my character.
I realized that I love working with kids. That statement surprises me, as a few weeks ago, I would not have confidently said that on my own. All of our youth work was with teenagers, and while I enjoyed it, I never felt my heart light up in the same way it did when I saw little toddlers in line at the food bank or tucked behind their grandparent’s legs at church.
Most importantly, I learned more about the heart of Jesus through interactions with the people in Birmingham.
Sitting still is hard for me, as I always have a running to-do list in the back of my mind. My attempts to be fully present in the moment are always overshadowed by wandering thoughts of what plans I have tomorrow or who I need to text back.
During my last week in Birmingham after work, another volunteer offered to give us interns a ride to the train station. She asked us how our internship experience had been and reminded us that Jesus did his ministry through living among the people. Her words were simple and gentle but served as such a powerful reminder to me.
Jesus didn’t come to His people with an agenda or a list of priorities. Instead, He sat with people and ate meals with them. How much more so are we to do the same in our own areas of calling and ministry?
The Lord clarified in me that I feel the most useful when serving in task-oriented ways. I felt like I thrived at the food banks we worked in because I could see the tangible benefits of my work. At the same time, He reminded me that I truly love apostleship, and that is something that cannot be created out of a to-do list.
My experience as a NEXT intern has been one of the biggest ways I have seen the Lord’s blessing in my life. He has grown my heart for another part of His world, and I fully intend on returning one day.
I’m humbled by how quickly two months can speed by. On July 31st, I will have left Birmingham with three lifelong friends, a deeper love for the Lord, and one less piece of my heart.