Two thirds into this summer and it’s hard to believe how quickly these six weeks have flown by. Each week at CROSS, myself and the other six interns get a group of youth from across the southeast to take under our wing and into Charlotte. So far, I have had the absolute pleasure of working with an incredible 43 youth and 12 chaperones. It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle that is a day at CROSS but in order to truly take something away from this summer, I’ve had to sit and reminisce on some amazing moments I’ve witnessed throughout our ministry sites.
One that immediately comes to mind was Week 4 at Samaritan House. My group was Christ Episcopal Church from Ponte Vedra, FL. For those who don’t know, Samaritan House is a place where our neighbors can stay after a hospital stay. They are given food, shelter, and love for no cost until they recover. This is a popular site at CROSS, seeing that when we visit, we spend two hours playing board games, eating cookies, drinking lemonade, and building relationships. That specific week, they were taking a break from their regular round of “Apples to Apples” as they had “Uno Attack” ready for us. Now this isn’t regular Uno, there is a machine that spits cards out at you if you aren’t prepared for your next turn. When I got my cards, a solid half of them were skip cards, skipping the next player’s turn. Sitting next to me, was rising 8th grader Ethan who had a large personality and loved to make others laugh. If I had to continuously skip someone, I’m glad it had to be him. And that is exactly what happened. Turn after turn, Ethan kept getting skipped by yours truly. This got funnier as the game went on and ultimately made Ethan break down into tears. We weren’t sure if they were happy or sad tears, but it was still funny. Everyone in the room was laughing, even one of our neighbors who had remained fairly quiet throughout the game. When she started to laugh, she couldn’t stop. Seeing the joy in Ethan’s demise brought so much light into her heart and you could tell she hadn’t seen something so funny in a long time.
Week 5 sent myself and fellow intern, Emily, a #BethesdaBlessing through Bethesda Presbyterian Church from Aberdeen, NC. A god moment within itself… we weren’t originally going to have Bethesda visit us at CROSS but a last minute cancellation sent them our way and I am SO thankful that we had the chance to get to know this group of kids. A specific highlight from Week 5 comes to us from YWCA Billingsville, a summer program for children. Bethesda absolutely adored our time with YWCA. The kids at the program gravitated so quickly to ours which led to a powerful debrief that afternoon. But our time with them didn’t stop on Wednesday. Before they went home on Friday, Bethesda stopped by to chaperone YWCA’s field trip ice skating because the faculty there didn’t know how to skate. Talk about heartwarming. This action proved to me that the 2.5 hours we spend at each site at CROSS can easily led to a beautiful, inspiring relationship between us and our ministry sites. Since their arrival at home, one of Bethesda’s kids reached out to me about becoming a future CROSS intern. I’ve never felt more validation from my time here at CROSS than in that moment and it truly made me feel like I belonged here. So, thank you for that, Palmer. You’ll hopefully see him as an intern in 2020!
Lastly, I’m throwing it back all the way to Week 1 with St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant, SC. My fellow intern, Mackenzie, and I started off our CROSS journey on a high… with four brothers, three of which were triplets. Our week with the Carroll’s started off on a high and we knew we were in for a treat that week. However, later down the road, we learned that their chaperones needed to head back to Charleston a day early, meaning they would leave on Wednesday night rather than Friday morning. The boys were obviously crushed and Mackenzie and I were heartbroken. These brothers all loved CROSS so much and watching it get taken away prematurely was going to be a terrible finish to our first week. On Wednesday night, the day they originally planned on leaving, my first of many “God moments” came through. The boy’s grandmother, who happens to live in Rock Hill right down the road, was able to have them spend the night with her Thursday night. This meant that we were able to complete our first week on such a high note with the most powerful final debrief I’ve had to date.
These moments are just the beginning of many inspirational moments I have experienced this summer. CROSS changes lives, people. Thank you to these three churches, thank you to the many other churches that have visited us in 2018, and a future thank you to the groups to come.
-Preston Coleman, CROSS Intern 2018