By Jordan Wade
Love is defined as a feeling of deep attachment, fondness, passion, devotion, and yearning for someone or something. There are probably lots of other words that can go with that definition. However, when I think about my love for Kentucky and the Christian Appalachian Project (CAP), those are the perfect words. Although I have spent a decent amount of time serving in Eastern Kentucky, this is my first time experiencing it in the fall. Fall is a season of cooler weather, but warmer colors, scents, and flavors. Often in this season we get lost in the obvious changes that are happening outside, which are worth acknowledging. It is also important to take time to witness the changes that are happening in our personal lives. I am mesmerized by the changes that are happening in my service, my community, and my spirituality.
When volunteering with CAP, we are asked to choose a program in which we will spend our year. I chose to serve as a Camp Educator. I spend my summers as a lively camp counselor. I sing fun songs, run around all day, and rock tie-dye shirts and Chaco sandals. During the school year, I get the opportunity to go into local schools and teach students an anti-bullying program. In the fall, I am teaching about a serious subject, going from class-to-class, and rocking my dress pants and ballet flats.
It is the most rewarding experience having a former camper see me in their school because they are not expecting me to be there. I am swarmed with hugs and smiles. Then, they turn to their friends and tell them all about Camp Shawnee. I also get to form bonds with new kids, who may not know me as camp counselor Jordan, but get just as excited to see me in their classroom each week. It is an honor to be able to love all the campers throughout summer. Now I get to share that love with even more students during the school year.
In addition to my service experience, I live in a community with several other volunteers. In the beginning, it can be very challenging because we are getting to know our program, the area, and the expectations that come with being a volunteer. It is easy to get frustrated with the people you live with because we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Each one of us must learn to compromise and learn to see the quirks of our housemates as endearing characteristics. If not, a healthy community life will never happen and we will find our time together less enjoyable.
With the visible changes that happen outside, there are changes happening inside as well. By that I mean inside the hearts of each volunteer and each volunteer house. I can only speak for the house that I live in, the Floyd house, when I say that we have changed. Our colors are bright and we are falling into a “family-like” atmosphere. This month has already brought great challenge into my personal life, but each day I know that I am loved, wanted, and needed in my community. I am comforted through hugs and laughter. I appreciate the challenge that comes with living in community, which is something special about volunteering with CAP. It is through those conquered challenges that I have been able to witness glimpses of love.
Finally, there is something spiritually satisfying about this time of year. The mornings and evenings are chilly, while the day is still hot. As the leaves are brightening there is less rain and humidity. When I hike the trails at Camp Shawnee, I hear the leaves crunch beneath my feet and smell the unique scent that comes with fall. I order warm apple cider and drive with the windows down, taking in the colors all around me. The mountains always manage to take my breath away, but there is something powerful about the way they look right now. I know that as the month goes on, that feeling will only continue to deepen.
Winter follows fall, my least favorite season. Still I feel God’s love surrounding me each time I look at the warmly colored trees. I believe the immensity of this feeling is enough to warm my heart throughout winter. I feel God changing within me, asking me to trust Him in His love and plans for me as I continue forth in this chapter of my life.
Jordan is serving as a Camp Educator/Summer Camp Counselor and living in the Floyd Volunteer Community. Opinions expressed in volunteer blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of CAP or the Volunteer Program.