On Sunday afternoon, my new boss Danielle Flood and I lugged a 46 pound suitcase, a backpack, a duffel bag and five bags of groceries up three flights wooden stairs.
“Welcome to your new home!” Danielle said as I gazed at the quaint living space on the top floor of the A-frame, the first building built on ECHO’s property.
This summer I traded the land of 10,000 lakes for the sunshine state to work as ECHO’s first storytelling intern for six weeks. I will be writing, taking photos and producing video content to share the ways ECHO is making an impact.
After Danielle left, I put my things away, storing my clothes in a woven basket, placing my paintbrushes on the shelf and propping a radio I found in the closet on a small table beside the couch.
It was strange to move into a house by myself after living as a freshman RA at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. To smother the silence, I turned the radio on. As the music echoed off the walls, I began to notice that I was all by myself.
The next morning, I skipped down the stairs and through the leaf-lined paths to my first meeting.
One of the first people I met was Bruce Wilson. After we introduced ourselves, he asked me where I was living this summer.
“The A-frame?!?! All alone?,” he exclaimed. Bruce promptly walked over to the interns and introduced them to me. They let me sit by them at the meeting even though I don’t know how to milk a cow or weed a garden like they do.
Later that afternoon as I sat by myself in my living room eating my second veggie burger of the week, I heard a knock at my door. Kelly Wilson, the community garden intern stood in front of me; her hair glistening with the evidence of Florida’s showers.
“You know, you aren’t living on this farm alone. Us interns are here too,” She told me.
“Are you doing anything tonight?,” I asked maybe a little too excitedly.
“I mean, not really. You can come over if you want!”
Later that night I visited with Kelly and two other interns named Gretchen and Ashley. I learned they had tried to invite me to eat lunch with them that day, but couldn’t find me. Thankfully, they invited me to eat lunch with them next time instead.
When I left they all reminded me that I’m not on this farm alone.
“You are welcome in this house any time, even if we aren’t here,” Kelly said.
At work the next day, I visited with Kristen Musko, one of my coworkers, as she tended to the snack table. She shared a little bit of her story with me.
Kristen moved to Florida in 2015. The commute to her new job at Living Waters Church was long, often sprinkled with accidents and bumper to bumper traffic. The seemingly endless drive began to wear on her. Why would God move her to Florida if she had to work so far away?
Then God started to open doors.
Kristen’s husband found a job opening at ECHO, and with the Lord’s leading she applied and was hired as the executive administrative assistant. Today, Kristen only has to drive ten minutes to work.
“I love working here,” she told me. “God is so good. He has you here for a reason.”
And I believe her.
While ECHO’s focus is on solving global hunger, I can tell their real focus is on their love for God and people. I can see their love when they ask how I’m doing and mean it. The love is in the dairy and egg free blueberry muffins my boss made for me last night. It’s in warnings about fire ants and lightning strikes.
So I don’t feel like I’m very alone anymore. Even though my home is 1,700 miles away, I feel like I have a home here at ECHO.