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Wrapping up in El Paso

7-11-2017

Wrapping up in El Paso

Emily Lopynski, a long-time Floris UMC member, just finished her experience as a Border Fellow in El Paso, Texas. This is her final blog post to help people interested in the Wesley Fellows learn more about what exactly a fellows program is all about. 

My year as a “fellow” has been like a prickly pear cactus: totally foreign to me before August, a little scary looking at times from the outside, requiring a strong dose of endurance and perseverance through rough climates and dry spells and given just a little bit of water, will flower.

Being in a new place, 2,000 miles from home, right after college was not easy for me. A new environment, unknown people, strange places, intense and unforgettable, much like the desert terrain and the accompanying heat.

Doing ministry in a new setting, with families who are going through some really rough situations was also hard for me. Prickly, in a sense.  Learning about the difficulties and complexities of immigration and the tension that arises when different groups have conflicting thoughts and experiences concerning the topic, was challenging and painful for me at times.

But, ultimately, this year produced beautiful fruit in the short-term that I am confident will continue to produce growth in the long term. I have learned to persevere from the examples of many strong and enduring individuals. I have watched and admired people who keep on going with grace and love. I have learned, or rather begun to learn, how to enter into potentially divisive conversations and tense spaces and start to bring people together. I have learned how to filter my passion through the eyes and heart of God.  

Over the course of this year, I decided to take the LSAT, took the LSAT, applied to law school, and then committed to go to law school this coming fall – none of which was part of my plan before I left Virginia. At our “End of Year Celebration” people from the church prayed over each of the fellows. One woman prayed over me something like, “May she do no more and no less than what You want her to, Lord." This concept will be crucial for me as I go forward. Making sure that the ends that I am pursuing are blessed and ordained by the Lord, not by Emily. Without this rooting, I think my law school experience and beyond could be much different.  I am very thankful for The Fellows Initiative and the opportunities I’ve had to grow and stretch myself as a young professional and as a follower of Christ.

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