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  • Writer's pictureJules Arata

the great north

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

Burnsville, MN

not gonna lie, going into this trip, i am nervous. i am worried about my mental and physical toughness and just how severely the arctic tundra that is Minnesota in January will affect me. i am nervous about the physical demands of this event from just looking at the layout and size.

what i do know? what i find rest in?

the work i am doing is important. it is making a tangible difference and furthering the kingdom.

when we landed, the pilot apologized for the weather outside, announcing that it was 9° and snowing. that first night in MN, my friend called me crazy. i had ordered chicken nuggets and had gone outside in my pjs (this meant shorts) in the 2° weather. but i did what i had to do.

the thought that woke me the next morning was such a good one. it was the joy and excitement of getting to meet more of my coworkers on the Minnesota team. right as i got into the minivan, i felt safe. i was met with kind eyes and a caring soul, exactly what you want to see from the person who will be your supervisor for the week. the drive was short to the church, but within it, the anxieties i had about the week faded away.

as we walked into the church, we started to gain more members of the team, all bundled and masked (due to company protocol & in search of warmth). as we started to set up the space and figure out the flow of the event, i started to notice slight differences in how each person worked, in how they were trained.

as the event went on, i formed relationships with the host team, interactions that were full of laughter and genuine connection. i was constantly wanting to know more about Minnesotan culture and that curiosity propelled me to be bold and ask questions and further these relationships.

the main feelings i felt over this event were: overwhelmed and frustrated and joyful and grateful and awestruck. now these more negative emotions are common to an event due to miscommunication or an unforeseen conflicts that arise. but the positive feelings always win out in my experience.

i got to work with a great team, one with some of my very best friends from work. and yes i met some of those best friends this week. i got to experience a small bit of a minnesotan winter and go out on a frozen lake. i got to meet people with russian last names i couldn't pronounce and work alongside hosts that i was sad to leave.

you know you've made a friend for life when they run across the parking lot in the -6° weather just to say bye. when you come up to them for the goodbye hug, and there is a shared look between the two of you, confident you will see each other again, fighting and wanting so badly for the chance to be able to work together again.

i am absolutely sure i forgot something BUT

now its tradition time

what i learned 1. "minnesota niceness" is real and it is profound 2. how important wording can be in instructions 3. things that may seem like common sense to me, aren’t to these people doing it for the first time.

how i grew i have never really been that person who was afraid to ask for help, but on an event this big, i realized just how good it is. being on both sides of the question, i think i appreciate the simple act more just because of the feeling it gives you. the feeling when someone asks you for help shows that they trust you and your knowledge and ability to teach them.

favorite parts the moments of laughter at meals. the conversation that seemed to flow with someone i had only known for a day. the high school girls who asked me what my job looked like and hung on every word.

to berean baptist church

i asked mark if we could borrow a table, he said "if it's not screwed or glued, its yours to use". i think this perfectly sums up the hospitality and warmth that you gave our team this week. you sought us out in friendship and fought for the power of this mission. you gave of your time and space for an entire week to allow for children to be fed and the kingdom to be grown. thank you for allowing this texas girl fall in love with minnesota and take away a bit of an accent too.

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