We are well into the second semester. Homework and school activities are becoming more demanding. I have become pretty focused on the tasks that are ahead of me this semester. Last week, my attention was shifted when I received an email from a student that had me thinking about my summer.
I received the email from a student who is on Northwestern’s Summer of Service (SOS) team. The Summer of Service program helps students connect with and plan a trip for six to eight weeks to work with long-term missionaries in various locations. Each student can choose his or her own site to work for the summer. There are usually around 15 students on the team. Everyone prepares for SOS together, and when summer arrives, they all go to their own sites.
The student who contacted me plans to go to the same site I was at last summer. She is hoping to go to the Dublin Christian Mission in Dublin, Ireland. The Dublin Christian Mission focuses mainly on homeless outreach in the city. As she prepares for the trip, she thought it would be a good idea to meet with me and learn a little about what to expect. As I get ready to meet with her, I have been thinking a lot about my time in Ireland and how grateful I am that Northwestern provided me with that opportunity.
Over the summer, I lived in an apartment in the middle of Dublin. The mission runs on volunteers from Ireland, but I was considered more of an intern and did some behind-the-scenes work. Four days a week I had the chance to work in the kitchen. I would help make food, mainly by peeling carrots and potatoes, and then serve it as guests came through. On Saturdays we would also open our closet, and individuals could ask for clothing or hygiene items. However, the mission goes beyond just providing for physical needs.
I would have a chance to get a meal and sit with those who came through the building. I had multiple conversations with people every day. Some people I knew their name and would see them on almost a daily basis. Actually working in the mission allowed God to become more real to me and to work in me more than I had ever experienced before. There were days I was exhausted and grumpy and didn’t think I could have the love or patience for those that came through the building. On those days, I felt more giving and joyful to be working, and I knew it wasn’t something I had done but something that had been given to me.
Being in Ireland wasn’t all work, though. I made a lot of friends who made the experience feel more like a home than a trip. One close friend was another intern who came from California. I lived with her the entire time. It made exploring easier because I always had a buddy to go with me.
We made a lot of friends at the church we went to. They were all from different parts of the world: France, Venezuela, England and South Africa. They took me in like I had been a part of the group for years. We would go out to eat, to the park, to the movies, and salsa dancing every Friday night. This group of people loved every person that showed up to their church and made sure they felt included the entire time.
My time in Ireland through Summer of Service is one of my favorite memories so far. I am so thankful Northwestern has a program like Summer of Service, because without it, I don’t know if I would have ever had an experience like it. I am so excited to be able to share my experience with this student on this year’s team, and I can’t wait for her to go and experience Dublin in her own way.