It is funny to think that a couple of weeks ago, I was at school in Moorhead, Minnesota anxiously awaiting the beginning of my adventure to Washington DC. Coming from a small town in the Midwest, DC seemed like an entirely different world, but luckily Mother Nature delivered an abundance of snow in my first week making me feel right at home! Although I was initially overwhelmed by the idea of starting a new semester here, as soon as I completed my orientation with Lutheran Services in America I instantly felt at ease.
I am not sure that it has hit me yet that this is my last week interning at Lutheran Services in America. Next Monday, I will not put on my badge; I will not get on the Metro. I will not get to walk past the Capitol Building, Library of Congress or the Supreme Court. It will no longer matter that I can give someone directions to the Dirksen Senate Office Building or tell them where the best food trucks are. My desk will belong to a different intern and I will be back in the Midwest finishing up my degree at Valparaiso University.
As I come to the end of my first year working for Lutheran Services in America I continue to discover new and wonderful ways that LSA members are making a difference in the communities they serve. The uniqueness of each organization combined with a shared Lutheran heritage makes the LSA network both diverse and united in a common mission. I discovered the same dynamic holds true for the more than 100 organizations that belong to Lutheran Outdoor Ministries (LOM) when I attended their annual conference in early November. Lutheran Outdoor Ministries is a professional organization for camp and retreat center leaders. Camps and retreat centers encourage spiritual growth for the whole person through intentional Christian community.
My father was a refugee. I don't think about that often, but I was jolted back to this realization when I attended the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee (LIRS) "Walk of Courage" event. Each year, this event honors people fleeing persecution for a better life, and the people who prayerfully and humbly work in communities around the United States to help them realize that better life.
What makes the LSA network so unique? In the words of LSA President and CEO Charlotte Haberaecker, "we grow and we do." It is in the "doing together" that our network of Lutheran social ministry organizations achieves true impact. It is in the doing that we combine our collective strength to achieve better outcomes for the people we serve.