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  • Writer's pictureJules Arata

&& that's nodak for ya dontcha know

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

Fargo, ND

walking into an event as established as this, 9 years in the making, 2 million meals at the junior hockey arena in Fargo, was daunting. especially since they have already planned to do a bigger packing event next year for their 10th anniversary: 10 million meals in 10 days at the Fargodome where NDSU plays.

&& YET the event started w this prayer in the middle of Scheels Arena:

"He cries when the littlest of us falls, & we get to be a part of providing hope to those. i pray that this place would be holy ground: full of celebration & laughter & dancing"

&& YET when talking about our jobs for the day, we were met w this answer:

"what are you this morning? saved by grace! && that is the only identity you need"

i always bring my physical bible with me on trips, to do my quiet time and bible studies, to be able to reference it. but i did not have the space to pack it for this trip due to the extreme weather i would be experiencing in Canada south. i know that is an excuse, but i truly felt the impact of not having it with me. but the Lord intended to teach me through this experience && that my bible actually was going to be needed where it was.

&& YET i was regularly reminded of some things:

moment-by-moment grace

Ephesians 4:29 communication: showing love through soft answers that deflect anger w good, helpful, encouraging words

relationships grow && unity develops among people ppl whose speech is seasoned w grace

shame is not from God, so don't let the world put it on you

Acts 20:35

use God-directed words, spoken w wisdom & love

coworkers allowing for space to not be ok when you get a phone call full of bad news

&& YET i got to see Fargo through the host's eyes:

their friend keeping their brewery open late so we could go at the end of a long day

eating at a restaurant called "Space Alien" which is literally real-life Pizza Planet

getting to go to a curling tournament && see my friend advance to nationals

it was -25 degrees and i could not find a way to be warm

&& YET i got to worship alongside my new Nodak friends

the Lord provided all of these "yet's" to allow for community to thrive && fears to be turned into freedom. He allowed me to sit in a church on a sunday morning in Fargo, hear a sermon about Sabbath, take communion, && sit under the sound of a man who had become my friend, Pastor Mark, pray over members of the congregation by name.

while yes, it was the longest, largest, most physically demanding event i have yet to work, it may be the most transformational experience i have had on this job.

what i learned

  1. pacing yourself at work is just as important as rest is

  2. being a utility player is very helpful

  3. simply checking in on your coworkers in the middle of the crazy is beneficial

how i grew

i was overwhelmed by the size of the event, but having some of my best friends from work there was a huge comfort. the host team met me with friendship, it was not one that was gradual, but it was immediate.

i grew in how i saw jobs that needed to be filled but also how to ask my boss for clarity when given too many tasks to do at one time.

favorite parts

the fact that my new 2-year-old bestie went to the monster truck rally

the importance of the word: watermelon

slow mornings off to drive a truck around in the snow

a "heat wave" meaning it was 26 degrees

blowing bubbles in 20 below weather

to atonement church && the greater Fargo/Moorehead area

thank you for your enthusiasm, your willingness to show up no matter the weather, && to so easily surpass the goal. thank you for your servant hearts, your work ethic, your prayerful spirits, && your passion for community. you changed the game for us, encouraging us at every step && filling each session w laughter and joy and excitement. thank you for welcoming us into your family and investing your time in showing us your Fargo.

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