Arriving last Monday for an intensive time of orientation that covered a wide range of topics — from neighborhood tours to seminars on community, conflict resolution, Spanish language training, spiritual formation, First Aid, working with youth and more, to learning about servant leadership and even including a pool party — 14 high school and college-aged interns have successfully embarked upon the summer-long Global Footprints program with Mission Centers of Houston. While most of the summer interns are here for the first time, one 20 year-old elementary ed major has returned for her second summer commitment with Mission Centers of Houston. “I discovered last year that I’m really drawn to inner city life,” Tennessee-native Hannah stated. “Even though I was really excited and nervous before I first came to Houston since it was my first time away from home with an experience like this, I really fell in love with this place. So of course I came back. I really couldn’t see myself anywhere else — it’s too unique here. This is where I want to be more than anywhere else.” Hannah will be serving at Joy Fellowship Center for the summer.
Ginger Smith, executive director, shared her hope that this summer will provide the summer missionary interns with a space to experience, some of them for the first time, the way in which their unique and God-given giftings can be used to serve others, and to have opportunities to mentor our children and youth. Through a combination of mentoring, disciplining, teaching, and supporting, each full-time staff member is committed to empowering the summer interns with a radical and transformational experience of personal growth, relational wealth, vocational exploration, spiritual formation, and future direction.
For the next 8 weeks, the summer interns will participate in the daily programs run at each center, including food and clothing distribution with homeless and low-income individuals and families, senior citizen ministry, nursery care during bi-weekly ESL classes, ongoing work with children, youth, and teens, and outdoor work and maintenance. Staff member turned Resident Assistant, Karenie Reyes, and summer house parents, Wayne and Glenda Riley, also provide the summer interns with a built-in support structure through Bible studies, regular times of prayer, and other forms of personal investment.
One of the interns, 23-year old Flip who is wrapping up his major in mass communications at Midwestern State University this year, is partnered with Fletcher Center for the summer. His responsibilities include working with elementary-aged kids during ESL classes in the mornings, helping out with Vocational Beginner’s School in the afternoons, and then engaging in various cleaning and maintenance jobs in the afternoon. While he now greatly enjoys the various adventures he experiences throughout the day, Flip’s original response to learning he would be placed in inner-city Houston for a summer was initially a bit less favorable. “My BSM director was the first one to recommend I apply for a position with Go Now Missions,” Flip explained, “and while I was excited to serve for the summer, I wasn’t necessarily thrilled about where I would be — especially after my college roommate shared some horror stories with me about the type of neighborhood I thought I’d be living in. Let’s just say I experienced a lot of sleepless nights before I got here… but now — I love it. What it’s really like is completely different than what I thought it would be like.” Flip then went on to point out how grateful he is for this opportunity and how it’s allowed his eyes to be opened over in less than 2 weeks regarding how he “has it a lot better than most people do.”
Jessica, a 19-year old junior at A&M Corpus Christi, shared a similar experience with Flip in a transition from surprise to satisfaction with her decision to commit to living and serving in Houston’s inner city for a summer. While she wasn’t initially considering Houston as a possible destination, Jessica now feels convinced that “God had everything set up even before I knew it was an option and I can tell this is exactly where I am supposed to be.” The Arizona native helps teaching lessons with the 7-year olds at Gano Center three days a week, participates in the pre-teen programming as well as the senior citizen ministry, and also serves in the Gano food pantry on Mondays. Her favorite part of the week? “Working with the seniors, hearing their stories, and just talking with them.”
Mission Centers of Houston currently invests around $1500 per student to cover the cost of lodging, transportation, insurance, program expenses, laundry, room and board for the 9-week Global Footprints summer program. Your prayerful support is greatly welcomed! We also invite you to come alongside of the daily transformation taking place in and through the lives of these young people by contributing a one-time act of generosity here: https://mch.wufoo.com/forms/onetime-donation-to-mch/.