The Descent

Reflections from an East Mountain Intern
East Mountain is a missional community in South Africa, dedicated to developing leaders in the local and global Church. They have two Kelsey Grahaminternship programs that help them grow African and American leaders: Summit, a 6 week summer internship, and a year long internship. Interns serve in local churches and ministries while being mentored in spiritual formation and Biblical knowledge by experienced missionaries.

Waking up during Summit: Alarms annoyingly beep and the snooze button is hit. The sunlight shines on my face, and I hear a conversation going on in the other room. Slippers scrape across the floor as morning sighs and yawns echo throughout the room. Alarms go off again. Loud laughter rushes into the bedroom from the kitchen. I jump out of the top bunk and head toward the crowded closet. The front door is pushed open and the security beep echoes throughout the house. Conversations are heard as staff arrives for morning prayer. The day is beginning.

Waking up after Summit: Alarm. Silence. The day is beginning.

What a difference one week can make! On Saturday the Summit interns headed home and the house quickly transformed from bustling activity to eerie silence. The six weeks of Summit were full of activity and community. Spending every moment of every day for a month and a half with the same 12 people leads to some unique bonds and great friendships. The relationship between the 12 of us blossomed throughout the program, making it very difficult to part ways and say our goodbyes. (Thank God for technology to stay connected!)

I want to share briefly just a few of my takeaways from Summit and random bits of South Africa:

kelsey beach1. Authentic community among believers is a breeding ground for growth. When Christians come together and commit to life in community,  we are setting ourselves up for success. God is able to use us to encourage and be encouraged, to challenge and to be challenged. I have experienced the body of Christ here.

2. “Just now” is a South African expressing that does not mean “now,” but rather “in the semi-near future.” This makes getting ready to leave in the morning slightly confusing.

3. There is power in speaking words of truth to one another. The evil one likes to prey on our false beliefs about ourselves, others or God. When the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is spoken, powerful transformation can begin to take place.

East Mountain Worship4. South Africans love to braai. What’s a braai? A barbecue! It’s an important and tasty part of SA culture.  We also include singing and worship at the Braai.

5. Having prayer as a part of my daily rhythm is life changing. Prayer is powerful and intimacy with God is amazing.

kelsey summit6. South Africa brings out my adventurous side. Since arriving, I have had the opportunity to hike 3 mountains, reaching the summit of 2, which has sparked my interest in hiking as many mountains as I can over the next year! Good thing hiking season is year long here 🙂

7. Saying goodbye is better than never having said hello. A friend posed a question in the midst of all the goodbyes going on last week which was basically this: “Is it better to come into relationship with people knowing you will only have a short time together and will soon have to depart from them, or never to have met them at all?” During the departure process this question seemed very appropriate, although reading it now it seems sort of obvious. I am grateful for the relationships I made, although they were for only a short while, because, to put it simply, relationships are a gift. We are gifts to one another and a gift is a gift, no matter how big or small. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to enter into relationships with others, even if the goodbye comes weeks, days, or minutes after the hello.

There is much more I could share, but I hope that short bit helps to give you a window into my life in South Africa. As the Summit has now been reached, I am entering life in the descent from the peak. It’s different, and the view continues to change as I walk on, but the view from the top remains fresh in my mind.

By: Kelsey Graham, Serving in South Africa

Kelsey is a Summit alumni and is currently serving as a year intern at East Mountain.