22 September 2009

And So it Begins...What is the Capital Fellows Program???

Here it is folks, the long post you have all been waiting for! Well maybe not, but nevertheless, in the next few paragraphs (pages?) I will try my best to layout what this crazy year is going to look like as I am a “Capital Fellow.”

Formal Mission Statement: The Capital Fellows is a Christian Leadership program that brings together recent college graduates in community to wrestle with calling and vocation. Together we explore what it means to have Christ be lord over our lives, work, relationships, culture, community, and world.

The Many Exciting Elements of Being a Capital Fellow (in no particular order):
**This is a just a brief overview of every aspect that makes up the program, I will dive more deeply into them as the year goes on and I start figuring out how to manage my time!

1. The Fellows: In all, there are 12 of us from all over the US. I am from the farthest away, but we have people from Alabama, Maryland, Maine, and all over Virginia as well. Throughout the year, we will see each other at least 5 days every week and will be able to build the type of community that Christ calls all His apostles to in the New Testament. We are all vastly different, but God-willing, our personalities are seeming to mesh rather serendipitously. I am SO excited to tell you about all these wonderful people I am already in love with!
2. Being a part of McLean Presbyterian Church (MPC): It has been astounding to me how the people at MPC have been beyond excited that the Fellows are here. I have had countless people come up to me and tell me how happy they are that I am here and that they will be praying for us throughout the year. I feel so blessed and loved to be accepted into a church with such open arms! It is definitely a much different church than I am used to in terms of traditional worship and liturgy, but I am definitely in love with the people and mission of MPC!
3. Weekly Classes: We are taking 4 graduate-level seminary classes (2 yearlong and 2 on a semester basis). It will be A LOT of reading (one semester of 3 classes is about equal to a semester of 5 classes in undergrad reading-wise) and a lot of pretty intense discussions. Three are more academic based, and one is a spiritual formation class taught by the wonderful pastor of MPC, which I am SO excited about! We also get to do a Bible study once a week with the young adult pastor (who has an amazingly awesome Scottish accent!) which is starting out in Galatians, my favorite book! I am positive that there will be quite a few blog posts regarding these classes.
4. Host Family: Part of being a Fellow is to live with a host family for the year. These are people from the church who have volunteered (and are getting no financial reward for doing so!) to let each of us live with them and be a part of their family. I am living with Amy and Dave Johnson, their 2 ½ year-old daughter, Summer (who is the most energetic little ball of fun I have ever met!), and their 6 month-old son, Caleb (who I have yet to hear cry after almost 2 weeks…seriously!). I am going to dedicate an entire post to them in the near future, but basically put, they are the most AMAZING family I could have asked for as I am going through this year!
5. MPC Youth: In our quest to do learn how to glorify God in every aspect of our life, the Fellows will also be volunteering for the youth at MPC. I am one of the 6 who will be serving the “Breakthrough” ministry to 7th and 8th graders (the other 6 are working with kids who are a bit younger). This will probably be the most challenging aspect of this year, simply because it is not something I have made a priority over the past 4 years. But I am also really excited to get to know girls who are going though what I think is the toughest part of their school career (really, who didn’t hate junior high?).
6. Part-time Internship: You can’t learn how to see God as the center of every aspect of your life, if He isn’t the center of your work life, right? I mean, other than sleeping, we spend a biggest part of our week working (or in DC, commuting) right? I will be working 3 days/week at an organization called Philanthropy Roundtable. PR is a non-profit organization that serves private foundations and helps them learn the best ways to give away money. Given my desire to work for a humanitarian non-profit, this is a little more indirect than what I was hoping for, but it will be an awesome way to learn about fundraising and potential donors for my future career! Plus, because of all the other stuff I am doing in the program, for the first time in my life I am actually going to work everyday with the thought of building God’s kingdom first and foremost in my mind! The only down side? It costs me $10.50 and two hours (an hour each way) to commute everyday!!!! I have to drive to the metro station, pay $4.50 to park and then pay $3 each way to ride the metro. For the first time, I am actually going to have to budget for transportation… about $200/month, no less!

What the mission statement and all the aspects listed above are going to mean for me on a personal level this year:
Throughout my college experience my passion for a more just world has intensified as I explored various human rights tragedies such as extreme poverty, preventable diseases (especially HIV/AIDS), women’s rights in developing nations, and an increasingly violent and war-prone world. As I have continued to dive deeper into these issues, I have felt confident in the vocational path God is leading me towards as one who will “be the change I wish to see in the world.” In combining this passion and my experience within the non-profit and private foundation world over the past two years, I am increasingly aware of God pulling me toward a long-term career improving the world through non-profit development. I am not sure if this will first lead to a graduate degree in something like International Relations (with an emphasis on gender studies, I think) or lead directly into a job with a non-profit that I am, first and foremost, passionate about. I truly believe, that no matter what kind of job I have in the beginning, if I am invested in the mission and vision of an organization, I will do almost anything to be a part of it…even if I have to start off answering phones!

In deciding to be a part of this program, I am essentially taking a step back from this path in order to wrestle, not so much with God’s call on my life, but with how He will continue to remain an active voice in this call. As ridiculous as it sounds, too often, in my need to proactively pursue what God has for me, I forget that He is the reason I am pursuing it. So this year, as I still continue to work toward my vocational goals through my internship, I am also praying that God will use the classes I am taking and the church and community I am a part of to teach me how to live everyday with a deep understanding that He is at the center of every single aspect of my life. Especially in my tendency to sometimes become desensitized to what I am passionate about because I over-commit myself and forget why I am saying yes to everything!

So there it is, my hope for this year and what God will do with it. For one of the first times in my life, I am totally and completely ready to be changed by Him…and I am expecting it. If I could ask for one thing from you people who love me enough to actually read to the bottom of this beast, it would be to pray, pray, PRAY:

- Pray that God continues to teach me how to live with a tangible and deep understanding of my place in His Kingdom and that He will be building a strong foundation in me regarding this for the rest of my life

- Pray that I continue to be open to this teaching and constantly seeking it. I want to be like Jacob, who wrestled with God and would not let go until he was blessed in what he was searching for.

- Pray that I will not die of exhaustion! Although I absolutely love every aspect of the program (and would never dream about getting rid of anything), I am already feeling like we (the 12 fellows) are dangerously close to being a little too busy. The only day we have off is Saturdays…and don’t forget all the reading we have to do! Prayer for physical energy and alert minds would be greatly appreciative.

- Pray that the 12 fellows as a community would continue to grow in our ability to be vulnerable and honest with one another and that we would continue to tease out what Jesus meant when he called 12 apostles to follow him in community. Pray for open minds and respectful opinions in class, for continued cohesion throughout a long year, in which we see each other A LOT, and for a continual reminder of how blessed we are to all be in this together.

There are lots of other prayer requests, and so much more to say, but it is late and I have probably made your eyes bleed with all the reading! I promise that I will not write such a long post ever again…let’s be honest, I probably will, but I’ll try my best! In closing though, I just have to say how much I love and appreciate who you are in my life. Regardless of how well you may or may not know me as you are reading this, I hope you know that in some small (or perhaps very big) way, you are the reason I am here! I love you!


Superman said...

Carrie, I'm so excited for you! It sounds like such a great experience. Bummer about the commute but riding the metro might give you time to read, and or just chill. I can't wait to get another update as to how your classes are going. I'm glad you are enjoying the company of the other people in your group and church, just make sure you don't start liking them more than your Portland family. I love you so much and I'm so happy for you and this opportunity you have to serve God and grow in your faith. Amy and I will be praying for you and your group. Lots of love.

Dawn said...

Carrie, I just loved reading you blog, although I kept getting lost in the way it's organized! I could hear your voice as I read you words and am so, so excited that you get this opportunity, and dare to Take this opportunity with the Capital Fellows program. I'll check regularly on you and I'll pray for you too. Hey, just think someday you may tell your little children about your big adventure on the East Coast as you dared to follow God's leading for your life! Really! I love you, Dawn

tsunzeri said...

Snuggies are cool. We love you