Mission Year Fund

 My name is Esa Vance. For the past eighteen years of my life I have lived in the Twin Cities. Five months ago I moved to Lansing, Michigan to partake in service and mission work as an intern through the Kairos Gap Program. An internship with the Kairos Gap Program spans across nine months. During this time I have received formation for living  the Christian faith, leadership training, and the opportunity to experience and  serve with a number of local charities and organizations. I have another semester but I need your help to be fully funded.

     During my last year of high school I had a pretty good vision for what I wanted my next year of life to look like but despite the good I saw in the choices for my future I felt unsatisfied and after a time of discernment I decided I wanted something more. I had friends in the past who set aside one academic year to serve as interns through the Kairos Gap Program before continuing their education in university. They would come home matured in mind, heart, and spirit and approach their college life with a new outlook and vision. I knew this was what I wanted for myself, not to settle for mediocrity or to lose myself in college culture, but to root my Christian faith firmly so that I may not just merely survive college but thrive in it. 
     I spent four hours on the application, was interviewed a week later, and two weeks after I received my answer: I was accepted along with five other young adults to be an intern for the 2017-2018 academic year. 
     I flew to Lansing at the beginning of August. Since that time I have been living in a Christian household of women, including three other interns. One is from Michigan, one from London, and two of us from Minnesota. The two other male interns, also from Minnesota, live down the street in a Christian men’s household.  Each week we package food at Greater Lansing Food Bank, serve with two Christian after-school programs for elementary students, we cook in two soup kitchens, we upkeep the Lansing Habitat for Humanity warehouse, we stock the Lansing City Rescue Mission Thrift Store, we clean a home for impoverished pregnant women and a shelter for women who are victims of abuse. We are a part of University Christian Outreach for Lansing Community College and Michigan State University as well. This is an on campus Christian organization that forms students to be high impact leaders on campus. Our outreach efforts have been incredibly successful as our numbers grow by the week. 
      One of my hardest services is a program called Fire Up. It is a Christian after school program for elementary students who come from rough backgrounds and sometimes challenging family situations. The kids are very difficult to work with and require a lot of patience. For three months I could not get a young first grade girl to co-operate. One day during the week of Thanksgiving I decided to stop pushing her to do the work and instead sat down and asked her if she was doing alright that day. She broke down crying and said "no" but then threw her arms around me and whispered in my ear "will you be my sister?" I picked her up and said "Yes, I'd love to.” Then to brighten the mood asked “Hey, what are you thankful for?" She answered "Fire Up." Since that day she sits in my lap like a little sister and we get her work done together and every day when her mom comes to pick her up and they walk away together she turns  around and gives me a big toothy smile. Most of my services are “behind-the-scenes” work. The homeless people who come into the soup kitchens do not so much as glance up at us and it humbles me with a serving attitude as to not look for “thanks.” One day someone made an exception. A man who comes in regularly to be fed ended up sitting next to me on the city bus. He recognized me, smiled and said “I am so grateful for the work you do. I know how much effort you put into serving us and it blesses me everyday.” I took this as an opportunity to ask if he was a Christian. After sharing my personal testament to why I am a Christian, the conversation resulted in him agreeing to start going back to church. The city bus is my main mode of transportation and the time I spend on the bus has ended up being some of the most effective time spent. I ride with many people whom I serve during the week and I use this time to build relationships with them. It can be very painful to see the lives they live on such a ground level but I use witnessing their hardships to fuel my words of motivation and encouragement for them.
     The past five months have been the hardest and best time of my life. I am humbled and challenged each day. This time has increased my capacity for joy, hope, and love.  I grow in gratitude for every moment I've lived the past few months. I have received so much support that has made this year possible for me. I have another four months in which I need to raise $5000 to pay for my living expenses, travel expenses, and mission trips. I would like to ask you or anyone you know to consider supporting me through donations of any size or prayers. I never knew how stagnant the life I had built for myself had become until I allowed to be flooded with movement this year. This is my year set apart, for a life set apart . What I learn this year I take with me for the rest of my life. My faith is instilled deeper in so that I may go further out into the world. I thank the Kairos Gap Program and I thank you for making this possible . 

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Esa Vance 
Lansing, MI
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