Farewell for now . . . yet the journey goes on!

Farewell for now . . . yet the journey goes on!

My summer adventure in Washington, D.C. has come to a close.  However what I have learned and the memories I have created will continue to live on forever.  I am so grateful for the opportunity God gave me to serve International Justice Mission this summer.  It was such an enriching time.  The amount of knowledge I collected from the amazing individuals I met cannot be expressed in numbers or word.  In this letter, I hope to share with you the highlights of my summer internship in Washington, D.C.

As the summer went by, I found myself developing professionally, personally, and spiritually.  My professional experience at IJM was incredible!  Working as the Accounts Payable intern encompassed several responsibilities. My major responsibilities included checking supportive documentation for numerous payment request forms and inputting the information into our accounting software to ensure that our vendors would be paid, processing credit card reports from over 50 different employees, as well as working on some larger scale projects.  Though some of my work was tedious, it required me to cross several different departments.  Because of this situation, I was able to meet so many people across the organization.  I also was able to develop my oral and written communication through the numerous emails I sent to people I didn’t know, as well as through a 15-minute presentation we had to prepare for our respective departments.

Since IJM Headquarters was the first professional environment to which I had ever subjected myself, there were several things I had to get used to.  Wearing suits everyday in the midst of Washington, D.C. heat and humidity was a true test of patience and commitment to the dress code.  Thankfully I was never alone in the struggle.  There were people riding bikes, taking the metro and walking around in the humidity regardless of the sweat dripping down their backs.  Nevertheless, I appreciated the value that IJM placed on establishing credibility within our office for our vulnerable clients.  The last thing we desire is for someone to discredit us and thus our clients be placed in more danger.  So dressing in business professional everyday is one small way we at IJM display our credibility.  I also had to get used to working 8:30 to 5:30 pm every day.  I quickly learned that my late night schedule I am so accustomed to at school would not transfer over to the adult professional lifestyle.  The respect I have for those who live this life everyday has escalated!  The stark difference between being a student and living as an adult is one I am glad I experienced this summer, and not later.

I found much of my personal growth through the people I was surrounded by.  The intern class I worked with had the privilege and honor to share several “brownbag” lunches with prominent people in the organization.  We shared lunch with Bill Clark, the VP of Development, Sean Litton, the VP of Justice Operations, as well as former interns who now hold positions at headquarters.  During these times, we were able to gleam so much wisdom on topics such as marriage, career choices, God’s plan for our lives, church involvement, inner healing, and many more.  One beautiful thing about the people that work for IJM is how eager and willing people are to share a lunch with you and just get to know you.  Through these conversations, I also gained much wisdom on various topics.  I really have come to understand how important it is to just live life with God and not try to figure everything out.  So many of these people had such different paths that God led them down and surprised them by opening a pathway for them to join IJM.

The coordinators of the IJM internship match every intern with a mentor – which was by far one of the best segments of the internship program.  My mentor was a ray of sunshine, hope and love.  She was so attentive to what was going on in my life.  It was such a blessing to share what was going on in my head and my heart with someone who had been there and already done that.  Sandy has a wonderful heart of prayer and a graceful listening ear that she freely lent to me.  The time we shared made me realize how valuable it is to have someone keep you accountable to your goals and to just share your immediate hopes and fears with.  No matter your age or where you are in your career, I would strongly encourage you to find someone who can mentor you, and find someone to mentor as well.  It will be life-changing.

My personal growth this summer also came from much reflection.  There were areas of my life that were in great need of humility, and I received it.  Feeling inadequate for the course I took, as well as not being able to finish a work project were two examples of how I learned to be humble and content with what I have to do.

Being in the political environment in D.C. exposed me to more of the world than I had ever realized.  I have never enjoyed living in the bubble, and it was truly burst when I explored D.C. and New York City.  There are so many oppressions that affect the people around you and me.  In the United States, you find oppressions in the forms of economic depression, poverty rates, unemployment, racial tension, foreign policy failures, and a deadlocked government.  We may never be able to escape these forms of domestic oppression, and we can choose to become hopeless and angry because of the fallen world we live in.  But I have found a way to be filled with hope and find joy despite the oppression that we see – IJM has modeled this for me in our casework.  We work to fight the violent oppressions that seem to have no end around the world.  Yet day after day in the office, stories of hope and restoration have taught me where I can find my joy base and why I believe in a powerful God.  For example, one operation we conducted during the summer in one of our offices rescued young girls from a brothel.  Our IJM team had worked diligently to secure aftercare assistance for these girls.  However, two of the girls, still in a frightened state, ran away from the aftercare home, making them vulnerable for being trafficked again.  We lifted these two girls up in prayer during our corporate prayer time and God answered within a week by directing our team to where one of the girls had ran off to.  She was returned to the safe haven of the aftercare home.  It is at moments like these when I can look at the oppressions happening in my own country, but know that God is sovereign and will answer our prayers, and give us a new hope.

What I have shared is truly just a snapshot of the amazing journey I went on throughout the summer.  Though I have really been learning much and discovering much, none of it is for me to keep to myself.  When I think about the work that we do at IJM, a verse comes to mind.  To the little girl shivering in the corner of the dark brothel, to the young boy about to collapse from working 14 hours at a brick kiln on ravishing stomach, to the old man who has been illegally detained for 3 years in the unsanitary jailhouse, to the woman whose home and the little property she had to provide for her children was stolen from right under her, this is what it says:

"All those people who are angry with you
will be ashamed and disgraced.
Those who are against you
will disappear and be lost.
12 You will look for your enemies,
but you will not find them.
Those who fought against you
will vanish completely.
13 I am the LORD your God,
who holds your right hand,
and I tell you, 'Don't be afraid.
I will help you.'

I have truly learned this summer that not one act can go without impacting someone’s life.  Every action we take has meaning. I hope that your summer adventure brings you to live every moment intentionally.

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