As I sat there looking at the orange goo on my finger trying to figure out why anyone would want to eat these things, I started to wonder to myself, “Can I really do this? Will I last here?” Cleaning a crab. This is the point when I started to question if I could make it here in Louisiana. I was sitting at a table with wonderful people but all I could think about was how much I missed my family and friends. I had been here just over two months when it hit me that I wasn’t just on a mission trip but that I had moved to Opelousas for the next year. I wasn’t going home. I wasn’t going back to school. I was here…. and I felt alone.
As this year draws to a close, the ‘Grace Corps’ program moves from initiation to tradition. I am so pleased to introduce the next member of our HFO family, Jamie Jeltema. Jamie will be serving as the ‘Grace Corps’ intern this year, and would love to give you a glimpse at how she has landed in Opelousas.
“Starting a new journey in life can be scary and exciting at the same time. God brings us on a journey to learn and grow as an individual and as part of the body of Christ. Even though I have some anxieties about moving so far from family and friends, I am extremely excited to have ‘Hope for Opelousas’ as part of my journey. I have not traveled the smoothest road to get here, but my story is my own, and I wouldn’t take another road if I had the chance.
So, you may be wondering how I did end up here. . .
After five schools, six majors, and three degrees, I am finally finished with school. For now. My last degree—a bachelor’s in Christian Education/Youth Ministry from Northwestern College—has led me down here to Opelousas. I ended up at Northwestern after taking a psychology class at Mankato State University in Minnesota forcing us to work with an age group we had never worked with before. This assignment brought me into the youth group at the church I attended where I realized my passion for working in ministry. That’s when I transferred to Northwestern and changed my major once again.
During my time at Northwestern I experienced a wonderful community, learning so much about my faith and ministry. During finals week this past fall, I spoke with Steve Van Wyhe about his plans after college. Steve is a friend who also majored in Christian Education/Youth Ministry, and after sharing his plans Steve asked me what my hopes were for the future. When I explained my desire to work for a non-profit community ministry serving youth in education, relationships, and spirituality, he told me that I needed to check out HFO. Steve had previously visited HFO on a Spring Service Project and said that it was exactly what I was describing. So instead of studying, I browsed the internet and read all about ‘Hope for Opelousas.’ After reading up, I knew I had to contact them.
I spoke with Hannah, filled out an application, interviewed, and the waiting game began. I was thrilled when the call from Loren came offering me the ‘Grace Corps’ internship position.
So after spending a week with my family in Minnesota, I packed up my car to make the trek down here. I am thrilled to be here in Opelousas, and pumped to see how God works in and through me during this time. I will have the privilege and blessing of working with Raegan Quebedeaux in aspects of the tutoring program, helping out with summer camps and Bible studies with other interns, working and dreaming with Loren and Kristina, and loving on the kids and the people of Opelousas.
I would love to have your prayers as Christ blesses me throughout this year while working with HFO, and your prayers for the people of Opelousas that they too will be blessed. I hope to share more of this journey with you throughout this year as God works through this ministry and the people here.”