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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Olivia/UK - “Happy Days”

Cod & French Fries. More affectionately known as "fish & chips" or "my dinner".
When I first embarked on this internship I had the time, energy, and presence of mind to spit out three posts right away. Now that I'm several weeks in, I seem to find time, energy, and presence of mind in high demand.

I continue to work at the elementary school homework club three times a week and go to prayer hour twice each day. On top of church every Sunday and outreach every Saturday, I've now added in cafechurch and food bank each Wednesday and lunch for the pensioners on Mondays. Additionally, I'm trying to keep up with my online courses.
My 9 year old friend. We worked on her literacy homework by selecting words from a dictionary and then drawing a comic strip using them.
With all of this you'd think I would feel good and busy. Though I feel busy I haven't felt good. Not that the ministry isn’t good nor the people  involved. Though I am being equipped to do the work of God and spending time in prayer and in the Bible, I have been very discouraged and even sometimes quite lonely.

I have only been here for a little over three weeks. Imagine those who have been in this kind of ministry (or any kind of ministry for that matter) for years! For some of you this is no stretch of the imagination. You're no stranger to the loneliness and discouragement that can come with the Christian life. Some of you may be feeling that now.

So often in Christianity we shy away from admitting these kind of things,especially when we are someone who is in some form of leadership or is heavily involved in ministry. Maybe we think it'll make our non-Christian friends think that being a Christian makes you miserable and that it will make our Christian friends think there is sin or something out of place in our lives. Or perhaps we're just embarrassed to admit it. When's the last time you told someone when you felt alone? How often have you asked for encouragement?

My wise mentor of my last internship, (Hello Aunt Nanny!), would often quote to me Hebrews 3:13: “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today" so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin”.
She would call this encouragement “our daily dose of courage”. Always reminding me that without it, I would run into problems. I think we often think that if we are serving God then we wouldn't need encouragement. If this true, why are we told to encourage one and to spur one another on more than 50 times in the Bible?

So what have I done? Well if I’ve learned anything from this internship it is about the power of prayer + work. So I've done both. I'm continually asking God to bring encouragement  and people into my life in unexpected ways. I have also been defying the time difference and calling, Skyping, messaging, and even sending lovely old fashioned postcards out. And you know what? It helps.

This internship is still difficult. It still can be discouraging and really quite lonely but there is a difference in me. I’ve seen prayers answered in the blessings of a simple conversation here and there. I've realized huge need within myself to be in fellowship and the work it requires. I've been humbled in my need for people and my own need to admit this out loud and ask for encouragement.

This, my friends, is why you are all lovely! Knowing that you are praying for me is huge! I greatly appreciate all your support and love and if this post hasn't expressed it clearly enough, let me say “Thank you! You are appreciated immensely!” Hopefully this will also be a good reminder to you if you feel this same way, that you can always ask God and people for encouragement.  They're happy to give it!

If you've stuck with me until the end of this post you may wonder why it's called “happy days”. Today, I bumped into a little lady friend of the pastor I live with. This lady’s age I do not know except that she would often repeat that she was 19 during the War (WWII). I asked her if I could sit with her as she enjoyed the miraculously beautiful day. She agreed and there we sat; her with her cheese crisps (chips) and me with my chocolate biscuits (cookies). 
The only cloud in the sky today.
We sat and talked for a lovely, golden sunshine hour. She told me about rationing, the American air base that used to be where we sat, and her father’s favorite line to any man who wanted to court her (“Flattery is like perfume: meant to be smelled but not swallowed.”). She said she was delighted by my American accent which took her back 70 years to when she would go to the pictures with the airmen that had lived here. Each story she would end by saying “Happy days. Happy times. Weren’t they?” With each pronouncement, I would find myself agreeing and saying that there was always more ahead.  

I wholeheartedly believe that. For this little 90 something year old woman, who most of the residents in our area know by name, I believe there are still happy days ahead. And for the 21-year-old student who has a passion for WWII history, chocolate biscuits, and cross-cultural ministry? With the encouragement and love of a great God and wonderful family and friends, I believe that there are definitely some “happy days” in store for her too.

Much love & Chocolate Biscuits,
Olivia Faith Sales

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Thank you for your words of encouragement. The Sales Family