Viva Las Vegas: Week One

Nowhere has felt like mine faster than Las Vegas. No church has felt more like a home church faster than Grace City.

Currently, I’m one week into my ten week internship and my heart is bursting at the seams. I am writing this from an airplane a few thousand feet in the sky as I fly back to Fargo for a wedding this weekend. Honestly, as excited as I am to photograph a sweet wedding, it hurt my heart to leave Las Vegas – even just for 48 hours. In one week, it feels like we’ve been here a lot longer, even as all of us interns are still adapting and just finally got our bodies on the right timezone.

I am going to do my best to do an update once a week complete with photos. I may also do a few other blog posts with specific stories throughout the summer. For the sake of organizing my thoughts, I’m going to share updates from 4 categories: Goonies, Grace City, Me, and Miscellaneous.

News from the Goonies:

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The Gospel Goonies (aka: any variation of goons or goonies) is the name that my intern team gave ourselves. And boy, are we a motley bunch! It’s so cool to see how God brought 10 individuals who are extremely different from each other and set them in place to serve, live, and worship together for an entire summer. We are from all sorts of backgrounds, life experiences, and personalities. Yet our prayer from the beginning was for unity and I really believe that as long as we seek God on that front, we are going to build some of the most amazing friendships of our lives and have an amazing summer. I have no doubt that God will use our unique gifts to compliment and grow each other.

We are already having a blast on the shenanigan front. Starbucks, smoothie, Target, Walmart, and thrift store runs have all been a part of the first week. We went down to the Strip on our afternoon off on Thursday to see a few hotels, and even though that’s a so-so thing for me, it’s great just hanging out with the goonies. They’re the type of people that are fun to get stuck in traffic with after long 12+ hour days. Which is a good thing, because that’s a pretty common occurrence. We are working over 50 hours a week and our first full day off isn’t for another week, so it’s really exhausting, but everyone has been a good sport thus far. We are guaranteed to be a bit loopy by this next Thursday, but it makes for the most laughs and the best quotes.

What God is doing in Grace City:

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Grace City is an incredibly unique (and wonderful) church. They have three locations: the high school where they have Sunday morning services, Grace City Flamingo (GCF) where they have Sunday evening and Wednesday night services + an outreach center, and the House of Prayer where they meet for morning prayer and have the offices. They really and truly embody the concept of loving God with your head, heart, and hands better than any other church I’ve personally seen.

This week was Burn week – where the church gathers every single night in addition to a prolonged time in the mornings, in order to worship God and seek His heart for the city. They are seeking to see revival and as Pastor Dave said on Monday: “God is revival. The more of God we experience, the more of revival we experience.” We have had times of repentance, confession, praise, praying over each other, reading truth from scripture together, and a fair amount of dancing. (Which is seriously so. stinking. fun. There’s so much freedom tied to so much biblical truth.)

Our schedule has looked like worship, prayer, and studying the Bible from 9am-noon and then again from 7-8:30pm every single day this week. Pressing in like this is incredible. It’s also amazing to spend so much time around the Grace City family. The mornings are heavily staff and committed church members (including former staff who have gone off support to get paid jobs, but are still heavily involved). The evenings are such a wide variety! Tuesday we had a ton of middle school students as it was youth group night and Wednesday night there were many families and homeless individuals as we served a meal before the service.

Though this schedule has been spiritually exhausting (us interns have also had orientation/staff meetings/testimonies most afternoons as well), it’s been such a good opportunity to get to know people by seeing many of the same faces every day. There are so many amazing individuals and families that come to Grace City: from nonprofit interns to single moms to college students to homeless individuals. It’s a beautifully diverse crew.

What God is doing in my heart:

This is the hardest part for me to write about and put into words. God is doing so much in my own heart, but there hasn’t been a ton of time to process it all. He’s growing me, stretching me, and molding me. He’s healing areas of my heart that have been broken almost all my life and areas that have just recently been damaged.

He is teaching me about humility, vulnerability, honesty, fear, forgiveness, bitterness, compassion, spiritual discernment, His worthiness, and about how to do this lifestyle of ministry + missions. If that seems like a lot, that’s because it is. It feels like a fire hydrant most of the time.

This summer is not about me saving Las Vegas. This summer is about three things: 1) obedience to God’s calling. 2) increased intimacy with God and knowing Him better. 3) learning how to better do ministry and be a missionary.

Honestly, this season is not about changing the world, it’s about God changing me. Recognizing that I cannot do anything apart from Him, that I need changing, that He desires my heart more than my service, and that He is worthy of obedience no matter the results.

Miscellaneous:

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One of the sweet things about Grace City is their close partnership with YWAM. We are living at the YWAM base, being trained/overseen by a lifelong YWAMer, cooked for by YWAMers, and making friends with the YWAM girls. The base is in the inner city in a very rough neighborhood. There’s a lot of poverty, drugs, and prostitution. Despite that, we are safe and use proper precaution. It’s beautiful being in a neighborhood that reminds you every single day of the brokenness that exists in this city. My heart is just in love with that neighborhood and I love that it focuses my heart on the mission.

We just got a short term church team in on Thursday from Indiana and us interns get to hang out and help out with this group of college students for a week. They are an awesome team of 6 that we affectionally nicknamed “The Brethren” due to their church having brethren in the name.

The weather is beautiful. 95 degrees never felt so good. I can understand now why people live in the desert. And the mountains… oh.my.goodness.gracious. I’m in love with mountains! Vegas is surrounded and I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of the sweet views everywhere you look.

Overall – we are off to an amazing start! Thank you all for praying for me and for following along on my summer adventure!

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