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Posts from the ‘Intern life’ Category

A few last adventures

I came back from camp on Friday. The last few days have been a blast. I couldn’t have asked for a better end to my internship. When I came home, E came running into Sheri’s house yelling my name. I was exhausted, but so happy to see her. Another intern asked if we wanted to go on a hike. I thought she was crazy. A hike? It was already 7:00 and I was pretty much ready to fall in bed and sleep for a few days. But we went anyway. We drove up the mountains and hiked up to an overlook to watch the sun set. North Carolina is beautiful!! I am so glad we went.

Sunset on the Parkway

On Saturday, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. When you live in the mountains, you don’t bother going to the pool on hot days; usually you head to the river. We cancelled all our plans and went to a little spot known as Trashcan Falls. We climbed up the rocks to some little waterfalls and soaked up some sunshine. When we showed up, there were dozens of butterflies floating around. I felt like we were in a movie. I have no idea why they were all gathered in one place, but it was beautiful to see!

Trashcan Falls

On Sunday, we went to Sheri’s house and pulled out some tie dye we’d been saving all summer. We made some tank tops and some pillowcases. E had never dyed anything before. She was so excited to see the results that she asked if we could go home and grab all of the donated clothing and bedding for the Hope House and dye it, too. It was fun to splash around in the hose and the sunshine and dye stuff all day. (Don’t worry, we left the Hope House donations alone.) Afterwards, Sheri took E and I out to a nice restaurant in downtown Boone. I really enjoyed spending time with my two new friends from the summer. Sheri kept making fun of us because our hands are stained purple from the tie dye. We wore gloves, but apparently they weren’t very dye proof. Lesson learned: don’t trust the gloves in the kit. Buy your own.

Tie dye pillowcase

Today we’re planning on making some of E’s favorite strawberry cupcakes. I made them for her birthday party, and she asked if we could have some more before I leave. I can’t wait to taste that strawberry cream cheese icing. It’s my favorite!

Kyle

Spiders and flies

This is about to be an ordinary post about the stuff of life. Nothing profound here. If you’re not into that, you can just skip it. I won’t be sad. (But you might as well finish reading because it’s not that long anyway.)

I am going home in just two weeks. We keep a group calendar at the Hope House, so I wrote “Kyle goes home to Indiana” on August 1. The next day, E scribbled, “Kyle comes back to North Carolina” on August 2. I think that was when I realized E and I are friends. I mean real friends. We have shared jokes and stories and experiences and things we like to do together. She makes me laugh. In case you weren’t already aware, her goal in life is to be a chihuahua lady. (As in, an owner of a socially unacceptable number of chihuahuas.) Every time we see someone with a dog, she gets so excited. Today we passed a car with a dog hanging out the window. Then we realized there were two dogs. Then three dogs. Then four. This lady had a lot of dogs in a very little truck. E said, “Aw man. Everyone has a pet and all I have is spiders and flies.” Her exaggerated, pathetic sadness kept us both laughing for the remainder of the car ride home. I’m going to miss her a lot. I really don’t think it’s a coincidence I ended up in the mountains in western North Carolina with E. It seems a little too perfect that we happen to have so much in common. She loves running, art, and Spanish. (Can you say soul mates?) I’m just really thankful God is incredibly good at orchestrating gifts like friendship with a girl from another country. I know we’ll be keeping in touch. It’s hard to realize I’m going home to my life’s previous routine while she is going to face the same obstacles and challenges that stand before her today. I wish I could pick up the pieces and put it all back together for her. I want to give her a college education, a family, a home, a visa. There are so many issues to address, and she’s only one girl out of thousands of trafficking victims in the U.S. It makes me realize how important it is for organizations like the Hope House to have a long-term commitment to these girls. All the more reason to do what I can to support their ministry.

Kyle

fiesta!

Hello, friends. Yesterday was a beautiful day in my life, because we were able to celebrate E’s birthday together! Check out some pictures:

Our little party with Sheri’s gorgeous styling/decorations

Our table settings and colors.

A display of birthday treats

Wishing for chihuahuas!

E has never celebrated her birthday before, so Sheri and I wanted to make it a special day. We chose bright colors and decorated the house in lights, candles, and orange and pink flowers. We welcomed our guests with salsa music and  glasses of (virgin) sangria. We served a burrito bar with a bunch of different salsas and toppings. We showered her with a pile of gifts and cards, and we finished off with an array of her favorite desserts- strawberry cupcakes and chocolate covered strawberries. And she was totally surprised!

At first, she wasn’t really sure what to do. (But can you blame her? She has zero birthday party experiences.) I think she felt awkward with all the attention. But by the end she was relaxed and enjoying herself. There were many moments of laughter… someone inhaled helium from a balloon, which she had never heard before. Also, we put a trick candle in her cupcake so that it re-lit three times after she blew it out. (She wished for a chihuahua. When it re-lit she said “Yes! Two chihuahuas!” and the third time “Three chihuahuas!!”)

I want to say thank you to those of you who sent gifts and cards- she was surprised that a bunch of strangers would send things when even her family doesn’t bother. Thank you for the many beautiful gifts and notes!  She loved them all. Thanks for investing in her heart and telling her she is loved! I feel so blessed to be a part of her life, and to have help and encouragement from all of you. More to come soon!

Kyle

You’re Invited!

E’s birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks! During one of many fabulous late-night talks, Sheri and I decided to throw her a surprise birthday party, because she’s never celebrated her birthday before. We want to let her know that she’s loved by taking the time to celebrate her life together. So party it is. I’m talking about a serious fiesta. Like the kind of party you’d find on Pinterest, with flowers and lights and balloons and music and great food and a table full of gifts.

As it turns out, Sheri is kind of an expert at this stuff. She does weddings that have turned up in numerous magazines. (And her gift shops may or may not be showing up in a future issue of Southern Living… no big deal.) So we got the whole decorations and food thing down, and we’re working on a guest list. If it were up to me, I would invite all of you. But, seeing as that’s not really possible, you’re still invited to participate. This girl needs some birthday cards and gifts. I mean, how cool would it be to say that a bunch of people she doesn’t even know wanted to celebrate her birthday just to let her know that she’s loved? And what a great picture of God’s selfless love for us. So if you want to help out, here’s what you can do.If you are interested in sending E a birthday card, money, or a birthday gift, please comment below and I will send you an email with all of the details, including card/gift ideas, and the address you can send them to. Got questions? Ask away. But don’t wait long- the party is only two weeks away!

Kyle

drizzly days

Today is all drizzly and gloomy, but I am not even sad about it because I am at Sheri’s house. Sheri is the woman who volunteered to let me stay with her for the summer. She is the sweetest! I mean it. This woman is strawberries with sugar and cream on a warm summer night. Also, she has the prettiest house in the world, and it’s hard to be sad about the weather when you’re sitting on a pretty chair at a pretty table on the prettiest wraparound porch in North Carolina.

I love living at Sheri’s house. That’s because it is a safe haven to come home to when I’m not at the Hope House. It’s also because of Sheri. We don’t get to see each other often because she is a very busy lady- she runs two beautiful shops (think Anthropologie meets boutique meets the South). However, she always leaves me encouraging notes on little papers and flowers for my bedroom. She’s the main reason I don’t feel like such a stranger here. This lady is Southern hospitality on steroids- her heart and her home are always open.

When I am not with Sheri, I am at the Hope House. We’ve had a crazy week- resident director Meredith went on vacation, there may be some big changes underway, and one of the residents moved out to live with a family that will continue to love her and invest in her. So we’re down to one girl right now. I will call her E. We’ve been together almost 24/7  for several days now, which makes us compadres, if you ask me. Or friends at least.

E is Hispanic, so basically I stalk her culture a lot (Spanish major, remember?), which means we have a lot in common. We listen to Daddy Yankee music in the car on repeat. Sometimes we turn it up as loud as we can, roll down the windows, and drive slow like we’re thugs, even though I drive a Honda Civic and that’s not very thuggish. Also, we’re slowly working our way through the entire foreign movies section at Blockbuster. I’m pretty sure the guy working there thinks we’re a little loco.

Speaking of my Honda, I’ve been teaching her to drive it this week, which she thinks is hilarious. We go to a huge church parking lot and drive around in circles. Now I know how my dad felt when he taught me to drive, because I was a terrible driver. Sorry, Dad. Nobody needs that kind of adrenaline rush. One time, E got really excited about doing something well. She started singing “I’m driving! I’m driving!” and dancing in her seat and forgot to keep her foot on the break. I started yelling “BREAKS! BREAKS! BREAKS!” and we rolled over a median where she finally came to a halt. She looked at me nervously and said “I’m parking, I’m parking” and then we both burst out laughing for a few minutes. After that, we made a rule called “No Dancing in the Driver’s Seat.” And then we got lime sherbet to celebrate.

So we’ve been having fun, despite the mediocre weather. Right now I am focused on praying for her, being her friend, and making sure she feels loved and accepted. Her birthday is coming up in a few weeks, and I want to throw her a party because she told me she’s never celebrated her birthday before! And I think Sheri’s prettiest porch is the perfect place! Once I have a plan, I will be sure to let you know how you can help because this party needs to be a serious fiesta.

Kyle

welcome to North Carolina

Dear friends, and mostly my mom:

Welcome to North Carolina. As you probably know, I am spending a couple of months in western North Carolina to work at a house for girls who have been trafficked in the United States. You can learn more about the Hope House on their website. The home I am working with is for girls ages 18-25. It is not a rehab facility, meaning that girls who need extensive therapy or have a drug addiction or other complications are not sent here. Instead, the house is  a transitional living facility. Girls who have been rescued out of trafficking situations are taken here to receive counseling and life skills training (such as cooking or how to balance a checkbook) to aid them on their way to independence in a safe, healthy lifestyle. Additionally, they are taught the Gospel, because we truly believe that hope can only be found in Christ. Usually, the house is a long-term (1 year) transitional step after a girl has been rescued.

I am an intern. Mostly, that means my job is to fill in the gaps. Sometimes there are a lot of gaps. Right now, there are two girls living at the house, and one woman to provide all the care/transportation/emotional support. Her name is Meredith, and she is kind of fearless.  Basically, she has a 24/7 emotionally demanding job and she lives where she works. That’s a lot for anyone to handle; I don’t care who you are. So for the summer, I am the fill-in care/transportation/emotional support during the afternoon and nighttime so that  Meredith can have a life sometimes.

I guess maybe it sounds thrilling to spend a summer in the mountains, supposedly changing the lives of girls who have been trafficked. But actually, it’s kind of regular.  The girls aren’t a tragic accident to gawk at; they’re real people trying to figure out how to live. We don’t talk about the trauma, mostly. What I really want is to be a friend. I want to tell them that God loves them, and Christ died for them and has offered them hope- and then I want them to believe it, trust it, and live it. I want to help them move on and figure out where to go from here. But things like that don’t happen overnight; and sometimes not at all. They kind of happen slowly, during regular life. So we go to the Chinese Buffet together for dinner because we like it. We rent movies from Blockbuster and avoid romance films because they trigger too many ugly memories. We roll down the windows and turn up the music and sing Pink songs at the top of our lungs because laughing is fun. And sometimes we just do the dishes and sit in the house and do nothing, because real life is like that. Not all the moments are life-changing or thrilling, and that’s good. I think in the scheme of things, I play a very tiny role in their lives. I’m just here to do what I can, even if it’s just taking the girls to yoga because they were in the mood today. And I pray for them, because I know intimately the Hope they so desperately need.

I’ll post a few things about my summer on this blog, for those who are curious, and for those who wish to pray. And for my mom, who is the only one that will actually read this. I plan to post a little about trafficking, because I have been taught so much in recent months and I feel compelled to share. Lastly, I plan to let you know how you can help if you feel convicted to do so, because nothing feels worse than desiring to help and not knowing how.

Thank you to those who are praying for the girls, and to those who are praying for my heart! I’m not always sure what I’m doing but I am always certain that what God is doing is for their good, my good, and to the glory of his beautiful name. Until next time,

Kyle

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