Having lived most of my life in Florida, I sometimes feel like I am robbed of what the rest of the world knows as “seasons.” Currently, Halloween just passed and it still feels like its 90 degrees outside and the leaves may never change color. Yet, after working as the TWLOHA Intern Program Director for the past year and a half, I have adopted a new understanding of “seasons.” For us, seasons come every four months as we have the privilege of welcoming a new handful of individuals to our Florida headquarters who are passionate, talented and some of the most dedicated and hard-working people I have ever known. These individuals are called interns, but with each season we’ve realized they are more, our source of inspiration, renewing passion and creativity. They challenge us to keep learning, to keep growing and to above all love deeply. They are truly a part of our heartbeat and we wanted to give you a peek inside the experience of one of our Spring Intern’s experience. Shannon wrote this blog at the end of her “season” with us. Thankfully, one of the things I’ve learned from our “seasons” and the relationships we form with these individuals is that no matter how familiar it feels at first, at the end you realize how much you’ve changed.
If you would like more information about our intern program please visit our website. We are currently accepting Spring 2011 applications.
Intern Program Director
January 8, 2010 was one the best (and coldest) nights to catch up to me in 24 years. My plane landed late in Orlando after a long day of traveling from Southern California, and from there I headed straight to the Heavy and Light Kick-off show. I had just undergone a last-minute surgery the day before my trip, so I was the last of the interns to arrive for the term. And as I walked into The Social for the music that night, I realized it was the beginning of a life-changing journey. One with this intention called community, this paradox of brutal and loving honesty, and an unconditionally gentle family. It was also the night I met the six beautiful girls I would be sharing a cozy bungalow with — a bungalow that was soon-after filled with baked goods and board games, stories and tears, and more laughs and dance parties than my stitches could handle.
The next four months were full of a spiritual growth that I’d not yet known, and plenty of adventure. Scavenger hunts and fried pickles. Porch swings, heat lightning, and morning Chai lattes. Family potlucks. Favorite musicians on stages. Church in Orlando, beautiful conversations. Rooms that were heavy and rooms that were light. And sweet tea. Oh, the never-ending sweet tea.
And every day that passed was filled with hard and hopeful words, messages of pain and messages of thanks. It is an intricate and amazing thing to connect with someone in a dark, vulnerable place, when the easiest thing to do is retreat. But we never gave up, and the messages kept coming, and voices kept being heard. I know help is real thanks to my own experience in counseling. And I believe in hope because I’ve seen it in the stories of other people.
There are hearts behind this organization that beat twenty-four-seven to the cause of helping others. During the course of my internship, the faces to these hearts saw our tears and heard our laughs, traveled miles in maroon vans with us, danced with us to Lady Gaga, and watched endless projected movies in the bungalow with us. More importantly, these faces represent a cause I believe in, and the reason why five other girls and I gave up four months of our comfortable lives to move to a sleepy town and learn the meaning of hope. It was a privilege to be invited into their world this year and to do life together. Intentional community and deliberate relationships are a powerful thing, molded by good intentions and a shared compassion for this one life we have. I’m so thankful I found that in my TWLOHA internship.