Monday, October 20, 2008

“Never forget what you learned here.”

Transitions. Life has been full of transitions. My mind is still full of images from internship. As I was standing in the bus terminal in Resistencia, Argentina, I remember saying goodbye to my pastor-supervisor and several members of the congregation. All of a sudden the deafening sound of 30 children screaming filled the terminal. The children we worked with at the church mission had come to say goodbye, chanting things like “Don't leave.” It was hard to leave them. Many of them have very rough home lives, and they don't always know where their next meal will come from. I also recalled a church member who I had gotten particularly close with and had been going through two deaths in her family. At my last meeting with the internship/lay committee she looked over to me with tears in her eyes and said, “Never forget what you learned here.” Indeed I carry with me the stories, the struggles and joys of the people at both churches in Argentina who taught me so much about life and ministry.

One 12-hour flight later my goodbyes quickly turned into hellos. Being reunited with family, friends and classmates. The transition did not feel subtle. It feels as though you reach a certain flow in doing ministry every day, and then you go right back to the classroom. Despite the abrupt transition, it has been good to have a space to reflect on my internship. I continue to learn the importance of praxis, of action/reflection. In my Constructive Theology course, we are talking a lot about the context of our internship site. I learned a lot about the importance of context in ministry last year. Being in a new country, with a different dialect of Spanish and a history that was new to me, I found that knowing the context was particularly important. It was through talking with people about the day to day struggles and joys and learning about the history that allowed ministry to be more effective and relevant.

I have talked to other senior year students who are also coming off of a year-long internship, and there is a great variety of experiences. I enjoy seeing the ways they've grown over the year, and the insights they bring to the classroom. During the senior year we go through the “Approval” process, which is last step before “Assignment” in the ELCA Candidacy Process ( I have completed my “Senior Interview” with the seminary faculty and in December I will have my Approval Panel interview with my home Synod.

Right now I'm at the in-between place. I continue to take classes and enter back into this seminary community. As I am in this place, I am looking ahead towards a future vocation in the Church with the words still ringing in my ears “Never forget what you learned here.”

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