Pastoral Internship Finished!
My pastoral internship at Casa Linda UMC finished. Yes, I did it; I completed the internship! Indeed, this day, May 10 (my last Sunday), brought back memories since I never imagined I would be called a "pastor" one day.
It has been 3 years since I started my master's in divinity degree at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas. I remember the first day I visited the school in an Inside Perkins event; I immediately felt at home. I knew that this was the school where I get to grow my faith and theology. It has been an incredible three years, where I have known many people whom I have learned, shared my struggles, and received incredible support and prayers.
In August 2019, I began what they call an Internship. I was blessed to do it in my home church Casa Linda UMC. There have been two aspects that I find as the most formative experience during the internship. First, I have learned to combine theological education with ministry experience. To ask the questions such as: Where is God in this situation? What is God revealing? It is easy to see God's work and presence in those excited, happy, and enjoyable moments. But it's harder to see God when difficult, challenging, or terrible situations come. During these past months, I discovered my capacity to lead and approach different problems and be led by God in stressful situations.
Second, I believe that I have grown in a much deeper way and understanding of myself. I have been incrementing my awareness of myself and be curious about those things that perhaps I never noticed before. But never so much as I was involved fully into ministry like today. I’m a number 7 on the enneagram which means that I’m enthusiastic. Enneagram is a 3 x 3 arrangement of nine personality types in three centers; intuitive, feeling, and thinking. I’m very optimistic, eager, outgoing, future-oriented, spontaneous, upbeat. But I can get into conflict by being distracted, impatient, demanding, excessive, restless. During this internship, I have been aware of those behaviors that can get me in trouble, especially when I take care of myself. Most of the time, I'm super energetic, but there is a day that I need to recharge. I have recognized that I need to take those days of recharging seriously and do what I have to do to be myself again. Also, my mind is always “restless and filled with ideas and plans for activities to look forward to.” Cause of this, I can get distracted a lot. In the past, when people talk to me, even though I may be paying attention, my mind continues to plan. During this internship, I have been able to practice being focus on the moment. Being focus has been a new accomplishment that I'm proud of.
I have learned that I'm a natural leader, committed to serving others. Not only in the local church but wherever I am. On several occasions, I have heard from my peers that I'm always embracing everyone that I'm in contact with a broad and inviting smile. That even in the difficult times that I went through personally, I maintain a contagious spirit of grace and joy. Also, I have learned that I'm a faithful disciple of Christ, who is continuously looking for ways to grow. Attending pieces of training from the North Texas Conference and what Perkins School of Theology offers has been one way. Creating my blog More Faith has also been another way to grow in my faith and leadership. All of this has helped to improve my knowledge and practices of hospitality, counseling, preaching, worship planning, and ministry logistics. I had noticed how I had changed the way I talked about theology and spirituality, which has been seen in my sermons.
Throughout my years of experience at Casa Linda, especially this internship year, I was able to define my Christian ministry as part of our final self-evaluation. I would love to share this with you.
“In the beginning, God created heaven and earth and every creature. Where all the creation was and still exist based on love. God created creatures to be in communion with Godself. Because of sin, God's grace is present in our life to restore our communion with Godself by love. The love of God, an action represented in the Trinity, transforms, restores, and redeems the relationship between God and human beings, drawing all into gracious, reciprocal, eternal communion with God.
The scriptures are one of the sources where we see God’s acting love throughout history. “Beloved, let us love one another because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8 (NRSV) God’s work has been active waiting for humanity to take the step to accept and experience God’s love. It begins with me, then the church, and then with the church to the world. These experiences, as John Wesley teaches us, can lead us to spiritual maturity, to become much more like Christ, as we continue to work on our sanctifying grace.
If we genuinely began a transformation by God's love, we would want others to experience the same. We would want others to know that God is real, that exists, and that they are waiting for them to restore their communion with Godself. The love of God is here, and not just to experience in our mortal life, but to experience God's great love for us for eternity.”
Also, I was able to create a vision for my Christian ministry practices as follow:
“Since the moment I began to serve God, I have been known by embracing everyone with a broad and inviting smile sharing the love of God with others. My vision for Christian ministry practices will be:
“Embracing people with the love of God, guide them into a deeper
understanding of their faith, and grow our faith in God together."
Jesus commanded not only to love God but to love our neighbor as well. By embracing people, God can use us to share God's love with others. As they experience this love, they may come to know God, since God is love. After they had been embraced (in reality, it doesn't end), we guide them into a deeper understanding of their faith. This guidance includes helping them to see where God wants them to be in the body of Christ. As Methodist, every one of us is part of the body of Christ, and God has given us gifts and talents to serve him toward his mission here on earth. Finally, since the beginning, we know that God created us not to be isolated but together. That is why I believe that part of our growth in our faith, our sanctification, is to do it together.”
I want to thank Casa Linda UMC for receiving us four years ago with open arms. For showing us God's love and support us through this ministry journey that I accepted to begin three years ago. I want to especially thank my amazing husband, Luis, or Jun, as I call him. For the unconditional love and support. I know that this journey has not been comfortable for any of us, but you sure make it better, and with God as the center of our family, it makes it possible.
I'm excited and eager to begin my fourth and last year at Perkins. I can't wait to see where God will lead me. Stay tuned!