Summer Missionary – (n) A joyful (slightly exhausted) person who has surrendered to the Lord’s calling on his/her life and is, in return, continually amazed by the Lord’s astounding faithfulness.

Even though I was a camper in 2008, when I pulled into campus in the summer of 2013, I had no clue what to expect as a Summer Missionary – and that was a good thing! Being a summer missionary is more than just a job – it’s a lifestyle. Every day is filled with something new: new people, new places, new experiences, new ways to encounter and experience God, and definitely some new comfort zones… The only thing that is guaranteed in the day of a summer missionary is that it is definitely not boring!

New People: As a summer missionary you meet A LOT of new people. You become really close to new people. New people become friends. Pretty soon you are saying goodbye to new friends and hello to new people again. But it’s such a beautiful thing because you see just how diverse and talented the church really is. The body of Christ is simply amazing and it’s HUGE. As a summer missionary you meet so many new people: campers that come and go from week to week but manage to sneak their way into your heart every single time, homeless who become near and dear to you as you see them from week to week, local children whose joy is so contagious you get giddy at the thought of spending the day with them, ministry partners who allow you to partake in the kingdom work they do day in and day out, and other summer missionaries who become lifelong friends and family (figuratively and literally… currently married to my best friend and fellow SM, Jake Ready, #ThanksMLab). People are people are people, and God loves every single one. What a joy to experie­nce the diversity of His creation and the vastness of His love.

New Places: Never been to New Orleans? Well, she is something to behold, and it won’t be long before you fall head over heels with this crazy, eccentric, resilient, beautiful city that you call home over the summer. Ministry sites are just as different as the city itself, so whether you are cleaning up the lower 9th ward, singing on the steps of Jackson Square, encouraging the children of Hollygrove and beyond, walking under the bridge engaging with homeless, strolling the streets of the Bywater in prayer, or driving to District Donuts for a good meal, you WILL encounter the glory of the Lord and the presence of His light amidst the darkness. And before you know it, those new places feel just like home, and you can’t wait to find your way back.

New Experiences: Every person, place, and thing you meet will be new – Good news, our God is constant. Never cut grass that is above your waist? Never led a Bible Study for kids? Never walked from door to door praying over a community? Never played basketball with a crowd from the neighborhood? Never sat with a homeless man and talked with him for hours? Never helped gut and renovate a house? Never had the opportunity to pray with someone as they step from death to life? Well, get ready because you may just experience all this and then some.

Thanks to MissionLab, God was able to teach me so much about Him, myself, and the world around me. I met new people, went to new places, experienced so many new things. I was shoved out of my comfort zone and into his presence, and ultimately, God expanded my view of himself.

God is ready to show you the vastness of his creation and the beauty of his people. He is ready to stretch you and teach you. He is ready to guide your feet into new and exciting territory all for his name sake. He is ready to show you what it means to truly love and be loved. He is ready to tug your heart and open your eyes. He is ready. Are you?

Hayley | Former Summer Staff