Reflections from an Intern: Anna Marshall

Anna playing games with her campers

This week, you’ll hear end-of-summer thoughts from the three interns. The order will be when they sent me their answers, which (you may notice) is exactly opposite of their introductory post. Today’s post is from Anna Marshall, but be sure to check out what Greg Massullo and Joseph Berry had to say.

Besides being a key leader and program developer at our Elevate Summer Camp (and see our Elevate Facebook page), Anna volunteered at other summer programs for children, built connections with teenagers and adults, and was a huge blessing to our family (she lived with us).

(Note: her original version of this post was 1296 words long. That’s a double-spaced, 5 page paper. Below you’ll find her edited version. What a good college student!)

Reflections from Anna Marshall

Living in Allendale this summer has been such a great experience. I have learned so much over the past couple of months, and I’d just like to share a few major highlights of my summer that God has used to challenge and grow me.

My summer basically began by jumping right into planning and preparing for Elevate summer camp. I loved every second of camp, even when it was challenging. I loved spending time with our kids every day, whether we were playing or just talking during lunch.

However, it became evident that I struggled to put people before programming. It was very easy for me to pour so much of my energy into what we were going to do each day, and I began to allow my day to be ruined if an activity didn’t go as I had planned. Then during circle time one day, one of my kindergarteners said something that put everything in perspective for me. She talked about how happy she was to have made so many new friends and said that she was glad that there were adults who wanted to take their time to do camp for all of the kids.

In that moment I realized that all of the programming that went into camp didn’t matter to her. She valued the people and the relationships that she had made at camp! That’s why we were doing this camp, and that’s why I was here in Allendale. When it came down to the bigger picture of eternity, all the activities and itineraries in the world meant nothing if I couldn’t focus on building relationships.

That revelation I had at camp was something that I carried over into the month of July. With camp over, I was able to seek out opportunities already available in the community and get plugged into what was happening in Allendale. This included volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club, helping with a Soccer/Arts and Crafts camp with the rec department, attending community events,  and even pursuing a relationship with a high school girl I met in June. I had to develop a mindset of pursuing relationships with people here, even though I was the outsider. Typically, it’s so much easier for me to let others be the first to approach me and begin the relationship, but I was challenged to fight that mindset and go pursue others. If I was going to meet anyone and get plugged in, I needed to take the initiative.

I also had the opportunity to live with the Espinosas for the past couple of months and let me tell you, there is never a dull moment here! I’ve learned EVERYTHING there is to know about Legos, Poptropica, Webkinz and American girl dolls from the kids, and have been beaten by both Sender and Elijah in chess. I’ve also spent time talking to Joey and Joanna and gaining wisdom from them. It has been so humbling to watch their family living here and reaching out to the people around them. They left everything they knew behind in Greenville to come to a foreign place where there is a need for the gospel and the life change it brings.

Their act of obedience to what they know God has called them to speaks volumes to me, for I know that my heart is so selfish and I’m constantly putting other things before Christ. It’s hard for me to part with my comfort, my security and my desires. But living with them has opened my eyes to the fact that Jesus asks that I give ALL of myself to Him, because losing everything in this life means that I actually gain everything in Christ.

Now I think back to before my summer began, and I am so sure that God was directing me to spend a summer here. Being in Allendale has pushed me to be as intentional as possible with the people that I’ve met, regardless of our differences. We are all eternal beings created in the image of God, and that is more than enough reason to invest in people with the gospel.

I have been challenged to be more intentional than I ever have been in the past. And this mindset of intentionality is something that I cannot leave here. It has to become a part of the way I see and live life every day. I’m overjoyed to think of the opportunities that lie ahead for this community, and I’m glad that I got to be a part of it this summer. The experiences that I had here and the relationships that I built will be something that I will never forget.

I can’t imagine having spent my summer in any other way.

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One response to “Reflections from an Intern: Anna Marshall”

  1. Tracy Collins says :

    What a beautiful, authentic testimony! Thanks for sharing, Anna, and for your heart for Allendale. Thanks for giving of yourself, and allowing God to teach you so much in return. Your testimony challenges & encourages me!

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