By Courtney Mintz
June 11, 2014

As I write this, my fellow interns are in the community room watching the NBA finals, and I can't help but sit back and reflect on how well we all hit it off from the moment we got here. While we've had enough free time to relax as individuals, most of the time we can be found in a group exploring the neighborhood, arguing over which movie to watch on Netflix (because, really, there aren't that many), or congregating in the Aquinas Center garden for dinner. It's nice to take a look at all of this from the outside and see six individuals begin to turn into a family.

Last week was a whirlwind of experiences: the Philadelphia Fire Department paid us a friendly visit (which means Dan is no longer allowed to make grilled cheese); we attended a Catholic quinceañera (15th birthday) Mass that was performed entirely in Spanish; we visited Love Park, Reading Terminal Market, and the Rocky Statue near the Philadelphia Museum of Art; we hosted a salsa dance party; and we had to say good-bye to one of our fellow interns. All of these events, all of these wonderful memories, especially the departure of our Jacob, reminded me of a verse that I stumbled upon a few months ago:

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go." (Joshua 1:7, NIV)

This verse really spoke to me as we blessed Jacob for his journey home. We are definitely making our six weeks in Philadelphia count. With the help of the program administrators, we've been placed exactly where God wants us to be, and I feel as if I am witnessing His love for this city each day. We have been called to "be successful wherever we go," and not one of us has missed the opportunity to do so. Shannon is planning a summer camp program for the Aquinas Center. Matt, Dan, and Jackson are working with City Team and the Bethesda Project to minister to the homeless in Philadelphia, and they're forming great relationships in their communities. I'm learning about the need for women's empowerment at Alpha Pregnancy Services.

Sunday night, we all sat down to discuss our temperaments and spiritual gifts. It was entertaining to discuss the gifts we didn't know that we had, but already saw in one another. We all agreed that Shannon's gift of Administration was pretty much the only thing that got us through the SNAP challenge (until that fateful night where we ended up at El Gallo Pinto), and gifts such as Mercy and Service were common among all of us.

We've made quite a few "turns" as we've gotten off at the wrong subway exits or walked one too many blocks past our destinations, but all of it was done together. These moments have allowed us to see each other's hearts - for God, for the community, and for one another. No matter where we end up during and after this internship, we will carry with us many real connections and stories; I have no doubt that these next few weeks will bless us with the means to succeed in God's plans for us and beyond.

Courtney is a Junior at the University of Dubuque in Iowa, where she is studying Business Administration and Criminal Justice. She currently runs a nonprofit organization based in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, which focuses on ending modern day slavery on a domestic and international level. Courtney plans to continue her education and earn a JD/MPA degree before she returns home to open and manage a community center for at-risk youth and human trafficking survivors in the Greater Cleveland Area.