Communication Is Key by Monica Lewis

. . .but Jesus said,let the children “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”

—Matthew 19:14

Communication is at the root of everything, whether verbal or nonverbal. I believe God gave me the gift of communication, especially with children. I have always had a knack for working with them, and as I got older, I knew that I wanted to mold young minds forever! That is what I feel like I am doing at Sharp Memorial Church. I work with many different ages.  Having to communicate with the three-year-olds is completely different than communicating with the nine-year-olds.

After for being at Sharp for a semester and a half, the kids aren’t the only ones changing though! My heart melts when I come in every week and see them, not as a class but as a family! Using the “Firm, Friendly, and Fair” method, the kids are learning so much and showing how smart they are in different ways. Without being able to communicate with them on their level, we would not have come so far, and I am proud of every single child.

Olive Oil and Vinegar: Acquired Tastes of Ministry by Andrea Simmonds

I am 21 years old andolive-oil-and-vinegar I never gave much thought to eating healthy or trying new things until this year. The reason I’ve decided to both eat and think healthier is not because of a New Year’s resolution, but simply because I really need to be healthier. In short I have a condition known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), and all you need to know about this is that it makes me more prone to diabetes, weight gain, and heart disease because of the way my body handles sugar (or rather doesn’t). To be honest I’ve never had much taste for healthy things. The truth is I never really found the healthy things that I liked, because when I ate them I went in with my own expectations without enjoying the food for what it is. One of these examples is olive oil and vinegar.

What I’ve found as I get older is that my tastes have changed. Things I wouldn’t have thought twice about eating I now relish. This is the case with olive oil and vinegar. I use to detest the taste of both. Vinegar with its strange bite and smell. Olive oil with its sliminess, and it always seemed impossible to get off anything that it happened to contact.  Recently I’ve discovered that if you combine balsamic vinegar and olive oil it makes a killer salad dressing. They have become my new healthy alternatives for salad.

You may be thinking what does this have to do with the price of tea in china? Well like my acquired taste for olive oil and vinegar I have found that people and experiences are acquired tastes too. This is what I have learned in ministry and basically in life. Sometimes there are things that you go into with preconceived notions of how they will turn out. But if we go into experiences without already trying to imagine the outcome, sometimes we learn a lot more and have a better time. I hate to be cliché, but you never know how something is going to turn out until you actually try it.

People are another thing that I’ve learned are acquired tastes as well. In this crazy life of 21 years I have met people that I haven’t liked, honestly, and people who I thought I wouldn’t like. Eventually I got tired of writing everyone off as a loss and decided to give people a chance. What you learn is that everyone is different and that you have to learn personality types. It doesn’t mean you have to agree absolutely with everything someone does or that you even have to like everyone you come in contact with, but you do need to try.  And even you still don’t like them you do need to love them. In the church where I’m interning our pastor has been making some very important points in his sermons that I’m hoping everyone who attends will carry with them out the doors and into the lives of others. Last Sunday we discussed the concept of loving our neighbors—not just those who are in church every Sunday or those who we have the same political views as, but those that are in darkness. The ones who need our love and more importantly His love the most are those who are struggling with drugs and alcoholism, those who are spiteful, those who are racist and/or gay, etc. Our love may have conditions, but God’s doesn’t. So we need to allow His love to work in us and through us so we can be more like Jesus. We need to be setting examples not only for those who are watching, but even those who we are working alongside. What needs to be taken away is that even though you may think something isn’t going to work out or that a person is a lost cause it doesn’t mean you should give up on them before you give them a try.  Who knows what can be your next olive oil and vinegar. Remember our cups run over with blessings; there’s no reason why some of that awesomeness shouldn’t be spilled into others. Go out and make some changes today, but first start with your own heart.

God’s Beautiful Children (and Volunteers) by Robert Payne

Robert Payne2Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believes in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great milestone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

—Matthew 18:5-6  

Hey Guys, my name is Robert Payne. I am currently serving as an intern at Andrews United Methodist Church. My role throughout my sophomore year has been a children’s teacher. The first thing I can say about that is I never thought I would be there. In the first conversation I had with Pastor Mary, I told her that I really would enjoy working with middle school-aged and high school-aged students. When she told me I would be working with kids, I really didn’t know what to think. I had gotten some experience in the previous summer, but other than that, I thought it wasn’t for me. However, I am reminded of Matthew 18. Jesus scolds his disciples because they don’t allow them to come to him. I can truly say that I understand the importance of teaching the children.

As I have found out through my year so far at Andrews UMC, children are truly a blessing in the church. Pastor Mary has a wonderful part of her service where she sits the children down and gives them a lesson that pertains to the sermon that she gives to the adults. Children are a key part of a church because they represent the future of the church. They are loud and like to make their presence known to the people, but they also love God in such a way that only they can. Their love is untainted, without judgment, and not based simply off what they can get out of it, as much of culture would value today. In some churches, children aren’t given a strong program, and the church will focus more on the adults. While the adults should not be neglected, I have come to understand the importance of giving children the knowledge of the Bible.

Another thing I have learned about children’s church is how awesome a volunteer can be. In my conversations, I had heard how much the children said they liked me. I know that this would not be the case if I had to teach them alone. The volunteer gives a second adult in the room so that whoever is teaching can help keep control of the room. I have had a couple of volunteers help me, but one who had helped me the most is Mrs. Dusty. She used to teach school and has a lot of experience in education, in general. I have received good feedback that helps me perform my role as an educator for the children. I truly say that teaching is a team effort.

Lastly, I would like to thank God specifically for the children whom I have been blessed to teach. This might seem a little corny, but the children at Andrews UMC have really just shown me a new side to learning about God. There is a girl named Kinley, who is just absolutely fascinated with learning about the details of the Bible. She isn’t the only one. Many of the children come in each week and can tell me the story to a certain degree. It warms my heart watching kids remember details about the story that many people my age seem to miss. Those are the details that really make the story came alive. I have just been so blessed to be able to teach the children at Andrews United Methodist Church.

May God continue to bless you all.

Saying YES

My name is Sarah Beth Tankersley, and I am an intern at Hayesville First United Methodist Church. I have interned at this church for three SETyears now, and my church duties have evolved over the years. Currently I assist with Sunday morning liturgy, k-2 Sunday school, Sunday night youth, and even help with the tech aspects of Sunday morning worship. I have always been involved in the church growing up, and, when I got to college and had opportunity to serve regularly as a church intern, I knew this was something for me.

It is crazy how God can place opportunities before you to learn more about his calling—all you have to do is just say YES. Before starting my internship at Hayesville First, I though I was going to graduate with my degree in Psychology and go on to be a divorce counselor. This, however, was not God’s plan.

After saying YES to this internship, I was able to learn more about my self as a leader and as a group facilitator. I realize that I am more of relational person, thriving on personal conversations and interactions. The more I worked with the kids, the more I realized my passion for young people and their families. Here I am three years later applying to graduate programs for Social Work with emphasis in Community Development with desires to empower and encourage young people to be their best self and, in doing this, empowering the community as a whole.

Just by saying YES to one experience opened the door to many opportunities to learn more about my self and my place in the church and also in the outside world. The beauty of this all is the church is not just confined to four walls. This is something that Hayesville First has also shown me. Their involvement in the community—whether it is participating in the community garden at the Hinton Center or traveling to Atlanta to serve at a soup kitchen—shows how Hayesville First is saying YES to God’s greater calling of going and making disciples. A YES perspective is something to be admired, and, from the influence of this church, I can now say YES to my future calling.

Hope

My name is Logan Gray, and I am an intern at Sharp Memorial United Methodist Church. My job includes working with children in Sunday school (ages three to five) and Children’s Church (ages five to ten). I have always loved working with kids, and I had the privilege to do that this past summer while working at Camp Glisson. That experience inspired me to apply for the Sharp internship. When I learned that I received the intern position at Sharp, I was more than excited to start. Though I would soon find out this internship is very different from my camp experience.

Anyone who has ever worked with kids will tell you that it is not an easy job. Younger kids are especially difficult to work with. The youngest group I worked with at Camp Glisson was fourth grade. Through work at camp, I thought I had gained quite a bit of experience with the short attention spans of young children. But after working with three, four, and five year olds, I realized that I still had a lot to learn. On some days, these kids have an attention span of just a matter of seconds. Teaching them was more difficult than I originally expected, and I started to feel like I was not getting through to them despite my best efforts. As weeks went by, I started to feel more comfortable with my role in the church. I still sometimes wondered if I was making a difference in the kids I was working with, but I kept trying my best. Just when I was feeling disheartened, I found out one of the kids came from a broken home. It turned out that Children’s Church was this child’s only reprieve from their chaotic home life. At this point, I realized how important the Sunday school class and Children’s Church are for these kids. This is more than just a Bible story for these kids and is, rather, a hope for them.

logan
Children are the future of the world, but they are not always treated as such. The amount of work and effort put into kids will determine their future. Some people look at children and do not see the importance of working hard for children and investing in them. Through this internship, I see the importance of looking towards children’s futures and choosing to invest in and take care of kids. The future will only be as great as the amount of effort that is put into children.

Let Go and Let God

My name is Monica-Gayle Lewis, and I am one of the interns at Sharp Memorial United Methodist Church. I facilitate Sunday school (ages 3-5) and Children’s Church (ages 5-10) and once a month assist with serving communion. I never thought I would be here.  If a year ago you told me that I would be, I would have thought you were crazy!  I am a theatre major with a minor of psychology whose faith was less than perfect. Then, last year (around September) I got hurt and the infection was so bad, I almost lost my leg and my life.

After being in the hospital for weeks, depressed with nothing to do but think, I started to pray. In doing so, I realized what I took for granted and how selfish I had been, thinking I could do everything on my own. This situation opened my eyes that it is not in my hands, everything but my passion for changing lives and my love for kids.

monicaThis is how I got this internship. I grew in my faith, and I got to the point that I let God make the decisions and control my life. I “dropped the rope” and let God win, like He was going inevitably to do. I had no idea about this internship, but I got a call from a friend who knew what I wanted to do and what changes I wanted to make in both my and other’s lives. I thank God every day for this experience, because I not only get to share my knowledge, but I also get to learn from the kids I teach.  Now every week I can see how “letting God” makes a huge difference and makes me happy.

All Saints’ Day

My name is Robert Payne. I am a student at Young Harris College interning at Andrews United Methodist Church. My job over this past weeks with the internship has been to teach a lesson to the kids under 5th grade and on CommuniCross in windwoon Sundays lead the congregation through the liturgy. However, the Methodist church has become quite a learning experience for me, personally. I grew up in a Baptist church. The Methodist church, despite similar theologies, has a completely different worship style. I cannot remember a time when my church celebrated a particular tradition, i.e., All Saints’ Sunday.  This was a new concept for me.

The purpose of All Saints’ Sunday is to remember and recognize those who have died in the church and of the loved ones for those who are members of the church. It serves to give the members of the church comfort and also shows that lives in the church are not easily forgotten.

My role in the service, just as every Sunday, was to lead the liturgy—which I would be totally lost in doing without the help the pastor. All Saints’ Day started about the same as a Communion Sunday. We said the Prayer in unison, sang a hymn pertaining to the message, and gave the offering and blessed it for the use of Christ. We, then, however moved to a table in the front that had seven big candles representing the people in the church who had died that year.

One by one, the families came up lighting the big candles for each of their loved ones. I thought it was beautiful the way the people got to acknowledge someone’s presence that had once been in there lives. After that, several smaller candles where lined across the altar rail. Again, the people came lighting the smaller candles for the people who had touched there lives in ways that were unknown to me. “In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us” was repeated multiples times during the lighting of the big candles and after everybody lit their smaller candles. This day was incredibly important because I had recently lost a spiritual brother. The service reminded me not only about him but also reminded me that I would also see him, again, one day. All Saints’ Day does a great job of reminding us what these people did for us, personally.

Andrews United Methodist has become another home to me. The members of the church all seem to help out each other and me, too. The love for each other’s well-being shows the compassion in the community. The children all have respectful and curious hearts. I feel as though I am learning how to juggle multiple things at one time and do them well. I have been so honored to have this opportunity and hope I can do a great job with it. I can see great relationships coming out this internship.