How I Spent My Summer

A Newsletter Novelette of My European Internship

MY SUMMER IN A NUTSHELL

Hi Ms. Nannette!

I wanted to share with you my summer in a less boring way than reading it in an email or just looking at pictures. I came up with the idea of a newsletter! It’s fun and helps me organize my summer's activities so that I can also do this for my for Internship Intensive class project. ;-) I’m not sure if I’ll keep the same “newslettery” theme for my class project. But I might! I hope you had a great summer and I hope you like my newsletter. Without further ado...here’s what I did this summer….

Bridesmaid, Belgium, and Forever a Bridesmaid

May Weddings Bring February Babies

My lovely friend Holly was married to her childhood sweetheart, Jair, in beautiful but cold and sometimes rainy day in Grand Junction. This was just after finals week at college and I was SO tired!! But, the wedding MUST go own! During their vows, a BEAUTIFUL rainbow filled the sky behind them!! Yeah God! Two months later, they announced that she is pregnant!

Breaking Chains in Belgium - Beginnings

Beginning the first week of June, I flew into Antwerp Belgium to begin my six-week internship with a wonderful ministry program called Breaking Chains Network (BCN). This ministry helps rescue women who have been trapped in the sex trade industry in Brussels and Antwerp and gets them into a healthy form of industry as well as nurtures their souls and hearts.

I was based out of Waterloo (the same location where Napoleon's conquest of Europe was halted by an alliance of European forces.) Waterloo, a town of about 30,000 people, is about an hour south of Brussels and BCN has a beautiful and spacious home which they use as a halfway house for these rescued women. My job and my fellow interns job was to keep the house clean, conduct the administrative functions, and run any and all errands for BCN. And sight-see on the weekend! ;-)

I was able to drive in Belgium because they drive on the "right" side of the road. But, the rules of the road seem to be that crazy driving is okay (and this coming from a girl who has lived and driven in SoCal the last three years!) Everything seemed packed in tighter and the roads were much more narrow and windie then I am used to. Some roads are over 2000 years old! I fell in love with Belgium and Europe!!

Breaking Chains - Escaping Waterloo, Lugano Conference, and Hulk Smashing

There is no such thing as air conditioning and Belgium was in the middle of a heatwave when I arrived. Whew!! Humidity and heat! During the third week of my internship, the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo was being celebrated and EVERY TOURIST ON THE PLANET showed up and tripled the population of the town! We left and explored Diant, France. :-)

During my fourth week, my entire team and the staff of BCN traveled to the beautiful resort town of Lugano Switzerland to partake in a worship and evangelism training with other young adults around Europe at a conference called Impact Lugano. I met people from Italy, Albania, France, and Finland! Because of the nature of our work here in Belgium, the BCN team was asked to do a prayer walk around a casino and a few hotels know to be used for sex trafficking. We prayed that God would free the men and woman stuck in bondage.

At first I was so mad at all the "Johns" and "Pimps" and wanted to hulk smash through the district saving the women and beating up the men. I told April, co-founder of BCN, this and she laughed and gently but wisely reminded me that, while my reaction was understandable and very normal, we needed to remember who the real enemy is. All parties involved are hurting and deceived. She also said, "It doesn't matter how any of us get into the pit, it matters how we get out of it with Christ's love." This reminded me of a quote by my childhood hero Corrie Ten Boon who said, "There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still." I was able to visit Corrie's childhood house when I was in Europe! A dream come true!

At the end of our conference, we traveled over to Milan Italy and I LOVED IT! I could have stayed there the rest of my life! The food, the smells, the sounds, the architecture, the sights!

Breaking Chains - Goodbyes

Every Tuesday, we went to help cook and serve dinner at the BCN drop in center in the red-light district of Antwerp for the "women". At first I was very nervous but grew to love interacting with the ladies along with a group of cross-dressing "ladies" who would show up. It was tough conversing because all I knew was some French (which I wish I would have studied harder in class) and a bit of German and Spanish and many of these ladies were from Bulgaria and other Eastern European countries and didn't speak French, Spanish, or German. The "ladies" only spoke Spanish so we had fun getting to know each other and they called me all sorts of sweet Spanish phrases. We all cried when I had to say "goodbye". I loved them! Uncle TJ told me about how you guys sang karaoke during drag night in Grand Junction and I wish I could have been there!

My toughest goodbyes was for a woman whom I will call Diane (privacy reasons) who was able to transition from the sex trade industry two years ago thanks to BCN. She now has a small apartment which she shares with her 9 year old son but it was in dismal shape when she moved in. My internship mates and I spent hours and hours cleaning it and got to know Diane well. I was also able to travel to Paris with Diane, her son, and her mother (I don't think her mom knew what she used to do) and THAT was an story to tell another day. The last day I was there, Diane asked if I would ever come back and see her again. We both hugged and cried. I think I told you that Diane accepted Christ a couple weeks after I returned back to the USA. Now, I can proudly say I WILL see Diane again in heaven!

I know I heard it many times how mission trips changes the person who goes and God changed mind. He softened my heart and made me fall in love with people who I would have normally not associated with. I was also amazed at the BCN ladies who work diligently in a non-Churchy missions giving love and support to so many hurting people.

Home, Bridesmade #2, Uncle TJ, Camping, and College

Directly upon returning from Belgium, I flew back to LA to attend the wedding of my past year's roommate! Her wedding was the most elaborate I have EVERY experienced!! She was married on the Queen Mary permanently docked in Long Beach, CA! The ship is soooo freakin huge! There were 9 weddings going on on the same day! But, it was sooo beautiful! I also got a little tipsy and fell down the stairs that evening! Funny but a bit embarrassing!

I returned home to Aurora, CO just in time to get the terrible news about Uncle TJ and his team. It was such a difficult time but I wanted to tell you, again, thank you so much for your support and prayers. Please keep praying for Uncle TJ as he is still healing.

After the wonderful news (but also sad) about Uncle TJ and his team, my mother quickly decided it was time for one last family camping trip to a friends cabin on the border of Larimer and Jackson County just north east of Walden, CO near the Wyoming boarder. So, we packed up and spent two nights and three days in the glorious woods roughing it... literally. Cute and cozy with outhouse (and all the smells) with no running water but a natural spring nearby. It was awesome though Nicci (girly girl) took a bit more time adjusting!

It was during this vacation that Mom told us that she was offered a job at Central Christian Church (aka HUGE church) in Henderson, NV and that she was considering accepting it. Nicci and I both told her to do it. I love my mom because she lived in a rough part of Aurora for many years in order to give Nicci and I a great chance for a private education and a stable home. The only home Nicci and I have lived in.

Upon returning home, Mom accepted the job and we packed and cleaned and packed and cleaned and packed and cleaned and packed and cleaned..... We rented a U-haul (aka U-stall) and packed everything in it. We had to pack my stuff last, Nicci's second, and Mom's first because we were stopping first in Henderson, NV to move mom into her new condo, then onto Phoenix to move Nicci into her dorm at Grand Canyon U, and onto La Mirada to move me into my last apartment at BIOLA. My mom is AMAZING! Usually Uncle TJ helps but... well, he wasn't able to. :-( But, mom did it!

Finally, Uncle TJ followed us a day behind and picked up Nicci for the weekend in Phoenix and drove to La Mirada and we spent a good two days together possibly for the last time in a LONG time. I will probably be heading overseas after I graduate (hopefully Korea).

That's All Folks!!

Ms. Nannette, I hope you enjoyed my newsletter about my summer and that I didn't bore you! Please keep in touch! Maybe you can come out to visit when I graduate!

Love,

Erin!