[This is the MUCH LONGER continuation of another post! See PART I here! And please bear with me… :)]
It was very late at night–I think 12 AM-ish–when I sent that e-mail to Tommy. I remember feeling scared and puzzled at how he would respond… actually I wasn’t even thinking he would answer back. (I have a hard time trusting e-mails.) But when I woke up the next morning, Tommy had e-mailed me back that he had been in the middle of fasting and praying for people with hearts for the lost and he had brought up my name with his team!?
I got goosebumps.
He then forwarded me on to Viv Mabuni. At the time, I had no idea who this lady was… nor how I in the year to follow, I would just replay the conversation I had with her over and over in my head–especially the part about how to share this with my parents.
Replaying it now, I don’t remember all the words that were said. But I remember feeling instantly comfortable and at ease as Viv enthusiastically greeted me and kept saying, “Wow… it’s a God-thing!” Just us two, sitting in the Starbucks at a local mall… I felt like I had all these questions, but had no words to put to them. Later, I realized my real question was: “Is it worth it–you know, following Jesus wherever He leads?”
I have goosebumps again.
One weekend while staying at my parents’ house, I decided to talk to them about it. I walked downstairs to their room and knocked on the door, they were getting ready for bed, but somehow I managed to share with them what I felt God was calling me to do. Bracing myself, I asked them what they thought. Very calmly they both asked a few questions and shared that it might be good for me to work a little “in the real world” to gather some perspective before jumping right back into the “college-scene.” We kinda struck a deal–I’d take a year to focus on working “in the real world,” and then revisit whether or not I want to do campus ministry vocationally.
After talking with them, I agreed and prayed about it some more. So I shared with Epic that I was going to not going to intern with them and because I wanted to work for a year. I was sad to not jump into it immediately but I agreed with my parents that it would be helpful.
Thus, I went to work. Followed through with the job lined up right after graduation. Worked at a bunch of different places, actually… tried anything and everything I could find. And made lots of observations and mental notes about the workplace environment, management styles, work-ethic, and interviewing. I made friends and enjoyed my time! Although, don’t know if putting my supervisor’s “easy” button (from Staples) in Jell-O was my best idea ever…
Probably the most significant moment during my “real life experience” (sorry for all the quotation marks…) was when I was working as a full-time temp. The manager of the department and I were talking one morning and the conversation turned to my future plans:
Manager: “Would you want to stay here?”
Me: “Sure! I’ve really enjoyed working here and I could really see myself working well with all the people on your staff.”
Manager: “I’ve noticed you take pride in your work. You’re not doing anything exciting or challenging but you show up early with a smile on your face and do an excellent job… you even seem to have fun while doing it.”
Manager: “You mentioned before that you’re a Christian. I can tell based on how you carry yourself, your positive attitude and how you take pride in what you do.”
The conversation continued, but I couldn’t believe he said what he did. At the time I was confused on how to really integrate my spiritual life into my professional life. I would say I’m a Christian, but people didn’t seem drawn to that initially. So, I just didn’t really talk about it or mention it again. But then he connected the two for me and I realized how narrowly I saw spirituality. And I couldn’t help thinking, “Do other recent Christian grads know how to un-compartmentalize their lives? Do college students know how to do that? God is relevant and connected to all areas of our lives… I was involved in a fellowship in college and I still missed this… what about others who haven’t even heard of Jesus??”
A year after I applied to intern with Epic the first time, I was offered a lucrative sales position! Though I didn’t think the job was a great fit, I thought it might be able to launch me into some exciting territory. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of working with college students, so I turned down the position and called Epic to re-apply for an internship with them.
My mom was in the room with me as I called. She looked at me and said, “You seem happy. You really want to do this don’t you?” I just smiled big, nodded and ran up to my room to jump up and down for at least ten minutes.
A month later, I showed up at the intern kick-off weekend in Orange, CA. Though I was excited and thrilled to be following the Lord… I was scared out of my mind! I didn’t know anyone, and was supposed to find a guy named Don Diva–the Epic Intern Coordinator at the time. “What does he look like? What kind of name is ‘Diva?’ Asian? Is he Asian because he works with Epic? I don’t see any Asians here… Am I at the right place? What am I doing here?! Why did I decide to do this?!” = my thoughts at the time. I was spiraling.
Before I could run out the door and away from this, Don introduced himself to me. I started meeting other interns and other staff. It was hitting me slowly–these are all people dedicating at least a year to the Lord! The excitement began to build again!
When I registered and introduced myself to other interns and staff, they kept asking me: “Where are you assigned?” And it dawned on me… I have no idea! So I went back to Don and asked if he knew where I was assigned. He just smiled, and said “I do know! But I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you yet.” What!!!? Then Don smiled and laughed again, “You want to know don’t you?” I nodded as enthusiastically as I could without seeming too uncool and desperate. “You’re at UCI!”
😀 I wasn’t expecting to be assigned there… but as I thought and prayed about it more it made so much sense! The campus I cried over was UCI. The people I thought of that I missed out witnessing to while I was a student were all UCI classmates… the dreams I had for a campus being a beacon of God’s light and love were for UCI.
(Ooh… Fun fact! This weekend is where I roomed with Heather who ended up joining staff with me this past summer AND being in my life group all summer! She’s great and will be ministering at UCI too!!! Whaaa?? So crazy!)
And that’s the story… sorry I wish I had a cooler “THE END” but really… the above stories really were a part of the beginning of my journey with Epic!
Thank you for bearing with me through the story! This is been SUCH a joy to just… think about again. I honestly feel so blessed to recall all these things and moments and people… God has been SO amazingly faithful and good. Wow, what a gracious God we know!! 🙂 Thank You, Lord!!!