Written by: Jonathan Hill, Kansas City Fellow- Class of 2015-16
Hello to all and to all a Merry Christmas!! Well another year has almost come and gone. During Christmas, we rejoice in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and reminisce about the past year. I cannot speak for all of the Fellows, but I know that personally a lot has changed for me. Over the past year, I have graduated college, turned 24, and moved to Kansas City for the Fellows program. All these events feel surreal to me. Graduating college meant that I was finally free of school and could focus on building a career. I enjoyed my college experience and will cherish all the connections I made in school, but I was done with school. My 24th birthday was a surreal experience for me. My birthday falls on August 26th and happened right before I left for the Fellows. At my birthday party, all my friends were gathered around me and saying goodbye at the end of the night. It was surreal to think that I was moving on and we were all going our separate ways after graduation. Then I arrived in Kansas City and started the program with my six other Fellows. I have learned so much about myself, about God, and about each of us within our Fellows group over the past few months.
Live: Living with a host family has enriched my life way more than I ever could have expected. I stay with Mark and Robin Askins who also host my roommate Kyle Roos as well. What a wonderful couple! They have made us both feel right at home and definitely taught me how to be welcoming and hospitable. Robin bakes amazing food, and if she ever offers to have you over you go. No questions asked.
Learn: Seminary class with Dr. Macall and Spiritual formation with Kris Fernhout have each taught me distinct lessons. First, seminary class has taught me that I do not feel called to the seminary life. I do not have enough appendages to count how many biblical references went over my head in this class, but sufficed to say it was a lot. “Why are you counting on your hands and toes like a kid?”, you might ask. Well you might too if you ended up talking about the importance of the Tetragrammaton and the implications of the Shema for Christianity. Surprisingly, I have still enjoyed the class. Mainly because the class has kept me humble about my biblical knowledge and also taught me different ways to study the Bible. Second, Spiritual formation class has humbled me as well. We have studied the different ways to incorporate spiritual disciplines such as fasting, prayer, and meditation into our lives. We each found individual struggles with each discipline, but I also think that we have grown a lot through them as well. Kris also gives practical insights into the struggles which we face as Fellows and does so by explaining sections of the Bible in ways that blows my mind. He really has a gift for giving people a fresh insight into a passage which everyone has read a hundred times.
Work: As I write this blog post at my parents dining room table, work seems so far away. All of the Fellows are enjoying a two-week break from work and reconnecting with family and friends. My coworkers were so jealous when they heard that I got two weeks of vacation for my program. It’s a pretty sweet deal. I won’t lie. I work with Heart to Heart International in their logistics department. They are a non-profit NGO humanitarian organization which provides medical services and disaster relief for clinics and people in need throughout the world. I would never have thought that I would work for an organization like Heart to Heart straight out of college, but God had bigger plans than I could comprehend. I have heard from all the other Fellows that they enjoy their jobs for the most part. A big thanks goes out to Kevin Rauckman, Carol Rauckman, Paul Morris, and the many other people who I am sure that I am forgetting who helped find us these jobs.
Serve: Over the past few months, we have gone on tours to different organizations to learn about different volunteer opportunities in the community. All the Fellows have chosen a service opportunity to help with and we start these in January. I have chosen to volunteer at Mission Adelante as a tutor for ESL to the Bhutanese and Nepalese people who come to learn American culture. Most of these people are studying for the American citizenship exam. Jason has chosen to coach a soccer team, Apryl and Kyle are helping with children’s ministries with Mission Adelante, and Mitch is doing Lead to Read. Austin has chosen Freedom Fires as his outreach and Sam has chosen to disciple a local teen through guitar lessons. All these different opportunities and areas of service make me excited to see how God will use us over the next few months!!
So yeah.. that’s what we’re up to. Christmas snuck up on me this year. Partially because the weather hasn’t gotten the memo yet that a White Christmas wasn’t a suggestion. God has blessed us in the Fellows program so much! Hopefully we can all look at our lives and see unique ways in which God is moving and working. Christmas is a great time to remember just how much God loves us and how He sent his Son to redeem us from our sin. The past year has brought joy as well as pain to all of us. God is there in the good and the bad. He works all things together for good to those who are called according to His purpose and I look forward with excitement at the plans He has for each of us!
Merry Christmas from our very own Elf and the rest of the crew!