Senior student Noelle Jacobs reflects on her summer internship

The Lord first led me to Mescalero in March of 2013 on a spring break mission trip with Campus Ministry at Grand Valley State University after He spoke to me in a dream to go there. The experience redirected my life! I knew He had instilled a desire in me to return and develop relationships at Mescalero Reformed Church and in the greater community of Mescalero. Nearly six years and six trips later, that deep-rooted desire still inhabits in my soul.

I spent just over ten weeks at Mescalero Reformed Church this summer, interning with Mark and Miriam Vellinga (Orange City, IA), fellow intern Effie VanderHelm (Shafter, CA) and several wonderful leaders from the congregation. I worked with these fabulous people to run summer programs like Vacation Bible School and the community faith walk and camp meeting. However, my primary focus was being present to people in the daily rhythms of life. I further developed old relationships and began new ones simply by practicing a ministry of presence and availability to the people I so dearly love.

One of my joys was attending coming-of-age ceremonies —called feasts—on the weekends. They were opportunities to connect with the community, exchange hugs, give piggyback rides, and eat delicious fry bread. Also, they were a great way for me to grow in cultural literacy, one of my goals for the internship. Another joy was having “Girls’ Nights” with Effie (pictured bottom left). We would welcome female youth into our apartment for ice cream, scavenger hunts, and dance parties—a way of living into our core values of discipleship and hospitality.

I assisted in weekly liturgy and preached a couple of Sundays, but my time in Mescalero was truly enriched by the people I interacted with every day of the week.

From the process of asking for financial support all the way to being welcomed as family by members of the tribe, the Lord used this experience to humble my spirit. I am forever grateful to those who supported me, prayed for me and showed me what it means to love the other and trust the Lord with all of their being. I am also grateful to Western Theological Seminary for preparing me to slow down and listen through two years of formation class.

My call to work with college students is strong in this season of life, but I am always open to return to Mescalero and would not be surprised, just humbled with gratitude, if the Lord calls me back. All He has to do is say the Word—I’ll be there.

 

 

Photos: Noelle with the lifelong friends she has made over her six trips to New Mexico