I write from a desk tucked into a cozy basement bedroom in a quiet neighborhood in west Omaha. The much-needed furnace blows comfortingly away, providing heat and white noise. Feet occasionally track their way above my head and inspire the old house to expound on their journeys. I will venture into the blustery cold in a bit, but for now, I’m enjoying the lingering warmth of an oatmeal breakfast and the tentative warmth coming from the vent and fighting its way through the chilly morning air.
I’ve now officially entered my third week of life here in Omaha, Nebraska. I’ll fill you in on the various spheres of life I’ve encountered and experienced thus far here.
I came to support the work of Intervarsity (IV), a college campus ministry, as they endeavor to create more spaces and events specifically for athletic populations on campuses. An athletic IV chapter of good size and vibrancy had been meeting on the campus of University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) when the IV staffperson leading it had to step out of that leadership role this past September. That need prompted my installation as a temporary placeholder while a new permanent leader is recruited. When I arrived in town on the 6th of February, the IV staff here on the ground had only a vague idea of exactly what was currently happening on campus since no official IV staff had been involved this year. The first couple weeks of my being here felt slow-moving because it required lots of reaching out to busy college students, waiting to hear back, and scheduling times to meet up with various characters in the story and get a better idea of what my role could practically look like for the duration of my time here. I definitely experienced some discouraged and listless hours during those first couple weeks wondering what, if any, traction would be made. We can chalk it up to impatience and unreasonable expectations (me? Come on…).
However, even over the last few days, God has opened some key doors and allowed some extremely fruitful conversations with students and others who have either been involved with IV in the past or who would be interested in hearing more and perhaps even starting intentional activity in their spheres, whether that looks like being mentored, reaching out to athletic communities on their campuses, or starting Bible studies on their teams. It’s been really cool to watch God stir hearts and open doors to veins of ministry where I can be helpful.
I am currently being hosted by the illustrious parents of the two lead IV staff here in Omaha. My quarters came complete with my own bedroom, kitchenette, bathroom, and entrance through the garage, as well as access to laundry, treadmill, old family grand piano, and semi-frequent visits from cute children. Could it get better? I’ll live here through the end of March and then it sounds like I’ll move to the home of another family who will host me for my remaining two months in Omaha.
Besides living, my car (the little blue Mazda hatchback so many of you have doubted, with good reason I’ll grudgingly admit) is exuberantly (if not ill-preparedly) sliding and sloshing its way through Nebraskan snow and ice with dependable and slightly chaotic ease. His long-term fate is yet unknown, but for now I’m thankful to have a vehicle I can get around in.
Being me, one of the first things I investigated upon my arrival was how to most effectively and creatively secure access to a gym somewhere. I’ve found unexpected welcome in the form of not one but two CrossFit gyms who have generously allowed me to hang around and join in workout sessions with them in exchange for odd-and-end jobs like helping with their website and cleaning up around their facilities.
I’m beyond thankful for not only the chance to get to work out regularly but to meet other athletic folks from a host of backgrounds and walks of life. That’s been a great treat. I’m still working on getting access to a basketball court, but I have a few job leads that might include perks like gym availability. We’ll see what God provides.
I’m in the process of being considered for a few jobs in town ranging from the semi-monotonous (postal office worker at one of the college campuses) to the semi-cool (barista at a local coffee shop) to the semi-interesting (administrative assistant for an advancement and development director). Looking forward to solidifying what that might look like over hopefully the next week or two so that I can nail down a semi-regular schedule.
I really enjoyed the church I visited my first Sunday here and will continue attending there. In addition to an open possibility of being able to plug into their worship ministry, they have a great young adult ministry and I’ve been privileged to jump in for events and small groups right away. Looking forward to building relationships and getting more plugged in with those communities.
Well all, those are the life updates I can think of to fill you in on my Omaha experience so far. I’ll hopefully have more to share soon. But until then, let me leave you with this: God answers prayers. God cares about what you need and want and ask for. And if you feel like you don’t get to see that, examine what you’re asking Him for. Getting to see Him come through in little ways, like providing a way to work out that doesn’t break my nonexistent budget (i.e. my available gym allowance is 0 dollars) has been one of the sweetest gifts I’ve gotten to experience in a while. Asking Him to arrange divine appointments and then seeing Him connect me with students who literally ask for help starting Bible studies and express desires for exactly what I’ve come to help facilitate is an incredible thing and a new kind of gift that gets more exciting every time I observe it. When you spend time, over time, asking what He wants in your life before you lay out your own personal requests, He begins to shape your desires into ones that will match His (and thus be ones He’ll happily answer — funny how that works out). So what are you asking God for?