Tomorrow marks my one month in Missoula, MT!
So much has happened and yet I know it is just the beginning! I was able to sit in my first staff meeting last Wednesday and it is awesome to see how so many of the giftings and things that God has placed in me will help the ministry here. I am so excited to be heading up Ministry day for the ladies and finding volunteer opportunities for them to be a part of. I am a strong believer in reaching out to others when we are hurting because for one it takes our focus off of ourselves and the pain we are feeling. Secondly it helps you to see there are others out there who are going through difficult times also and your not alone.
Another awesome opportunity my program coordinator and I just spoke about today is the opportunity to be on a planning committee to help birth some new programs and plans. The way the center is set up is that the women complete a 12 month rehabilitation program based on christian beliefs and principles. During their stay they switch off in groups who has kitchen duty and who goes to work at the Teen Challenge Thrift store. We also have a drive thru coffee shop that only 2-3 girls work at once they reach a certain level and are approved by the coffeeshop manager. These girls have to be able to work under pressure as it gets busy and be trustworthy enough to be able to work unsupervised. Only a select few girls get to that level during their stay in the program.
What we are working towards is more job opportunities for the ladies while they are in the program and as they graduate to be able to work at and transition out of the home to living on their own. We want to have a christian gym here in Missoula, a dog grooming, boarding and training place along with a sit down coffee shop/ bakery and a boutique thrift store with higher end clothing. This is all a process and still in the prayer stages of existence. Along with the job opportunities we are also praying in to existence transitional housing for the women that want to stay in the Missoula area and build a life. What that would mean is God raising up some people that would be willing to house a girl in their home or would have an apartment like area in their home already that they would be willing to rent out to a women coming out of the program. We are also hoping to expand on the land that we have our home on already and put an “apartment” like building behind that would house the interns and the “phase 5” graduates.
God is doing an amazing work in this place and I am so excited to see it starting to take root and bloom! We have several women who are graduating within the next month or so! This will be the first women to graduate from this program in over a year! When the new program coordinator came in there was a huge transition from works based rehab to one that focused on the heart of the matter and it has been a process.
In Isaiah 66: 9 it says~ Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
9 In the same way, I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.”
The Lord says this: “I promise that if I cause you the pain of birth, I will not stop you from having your new nation.” Your God said this.
Though this is going to be a time of growing, stretching and birthing this new vision for myself and this new Teen Challenge I am confident that the above verse still holds true today! God will bring something new and I am believing that our vision for the future of the center will start out small but will grow into some of the above endeavors if not all and then some! God has a way of taking our dreams and doing something beyond what we could ask or imagine when we diligently seek His face and plan!
So this is what has been going on in my life in the last month! I have also started my courses through the Teen Challenge Ministry Institute (TCMI) and am about half way through my first book. I along with about 20 students learn online via Blackboard where we answer questions for each chapter and complete discussion board questions as well. I work 40 hours a week plus have been helping out at the thrift store as they have been short staffed and have been doing my school work also. Along with this I have been trying to build a relationship with each girl and get to know them on a personal level in order for me to effectively help encourage them through the program. It has been a challenge to build relationships as they are all broken women who have a hard time trusting. I learned this the hard way a couple weeks ago. I came in and easily fit in with the women, creating a pseudo sense of connected-ness. However because I was just thrown in (they do that in TC to see who’s really going to stay and who’s not cut out for this) and since I was just treading water trying to keep my head above, it made it difficult to know what I was and wasn’t supposed to do. Me being the kind of person that unless I am sat down and trained I will try and figure out everything on my own, I didn’t call, text or ask the program coordinator anything because she was so busy and didn’t have time for me (so I thought.. lol) Fortunately she functions much the same way I do and so she could identify with what I was doing and knew that once I reached the end of myself that I would either quit or come to them for help. I did come to them and it helped shed alot of light on the way that I do things, helped me to see how I function and it helped the girls to confront me on ways that were not effective with them and what their reality of the situation was. Because I had the support and backing of the program coordinator (her nickname is Red by the way) Red was able to explain to the women that I had never been through a TC program so I wasn’t aware of all the rules and needed grace given to me because I was learning just as they were. Put all that on top of me quitting smoking cold turkey and she was very understanding of all the changes that I was attempting to work with plus all the new people and being in a leadership position. Wow! It was alot to take but God was there through the whole thing and because of the house meeting it cleared the air with the women and helped us to truly begin to build trust, not just fake masks of friendliness but the kind that the bible talks about where iron sharpens iron! I am so thankful for that!
So in the coming month please keep the below things in your prayers!
-As relationships continue to build that God will work in me and use me to help each women grow deeper in their walk with the Lord.
-Please keep our new girls in your prayers. We got one new girl the week after I got here and a new one today. They expect there to be 3 more by the end of the month. This can cause chaos in the home as it changes the dynamics of the home and each bedroom.
-Keep the women that are graduating in your prayers as their future unfolds it is both exciting and frightening at the same time for them. Please pray that God will open doors for them as they look for housing, jobs and provisions.
-Please pray for health energy and stamina to be able to do the things that God has called me to do this year.
-Please also pray for the other intern and I as we go to Eugene Oregon February 24-27 for the Intern Intensive. It is a 10 hour trip and we are driving. We are praying about possibly breaking up the trip and leaving Sat. night and staying in a hotel so that we don’t have to start the evening of Sunday tired out from the long travel.
I look forward to hearing back from yall if you have any extra time!
God bless and thank you for your time!
Teen Challenge Intern