When I found out I was going to Opelousas for Spring Break I was excited about the team I was going with but I wasn’t as excited about our location. I knew almost nothing about Opelousas or the Hope for Opelousas mission. All I knew was that we would work with kids and do some physical work. But once I showed up and we had our first day or two of work I knew this was a place and a group of people I was going to fall in love with. Being around the people here and the kids in the Hill made me feel like this was where God made me to be. After an amazing week and a half here in March Loren mentioned the option to come back over the summer. This idea sounded amazing to me but I had already signed on in the same internship at a corporation in Des Moines that I had worked for the summer before. After some serious prayer and talking to my mentor at college and my boss in Des Moines I decided to ask for the first month of my internship off and spend it here at HFO. This is a decision that has changed my life.
But before I was to show up here God had one other challenge for me and my family. In early May we found out that my dad’s cancer had return and looked as though it was spreading. This news came just a couple weeks before I was to leave. While we still don’t know the extent of the spreading we are in constant prayer for the Grace of God as my father prepares himself for chemo and because he still does not know Jesus as his savior. This has been a trial God has laid on my family that we are working through together.
But through this trial God was also preparing my heart for what I was to learn about His Grace here in Opelousas. Every message, book, and conversation that we have here seems to focus on this one issue: God’s Grace can’t be bought, it can’t be earned, and our good works can be very selfish things if we don’t see the true reason we are doing them. We can say we are doing them for God but in reality we are doing them to justify ourselves to God. I am learning that what I often fail to understand in that God doesn’t need my good works and doing all “the right things” won’t change my life. I must invite God to change me from the inside out, daily, and then works will come from the joy and peace and love that come from the Spirit God gives.
As I continue to struggle internally with the sins Satan has always used to make me feel like I needed to prove myself to God, I continue to get encouragement and hope from those around me here and the Word God has given us. My prayer is that God will continue to move in me and show me how His Grace and continue to change me.
And as God teaches me He is giving me an opportunity to love His children. Many of the kids in The Hill don’t have a whole lot to be joyful about but they bring such joy to myself and the other interns that we can’t even comprehend how we could ever give them as much as they have given us. I have been blessed by this place, the people here, and the God who has lead me to this place beyond my wildest dreams. My heart has broken for Opelousas and HFO and I pray God continues to break my heart and show me news things every day.