One of the things we really love here at The Joyful Project is listening to people tell real stories about their lives. Every now and then we have the opportunity to support some of these people and when those opportunities come our way we are happy to contribute to the story. During the summer of 2016 we met a young woman who shared her story with us. Her name is Jenna and she has made the decision to attend YWAM in Kona, Hawaii. We have the honor of helping support her in a small way financially and in a big way cheering her on. Youth With A Mission is a global movement of Christians from many cultures, age groups, and Christian traditions. Also known as YWAM (pronounced “WHY-wham”). YWAM engages in humanitarian work around the world and has numerous programs to train and develop youth who have a passion for helping those in need. You can find out more about YWAM on their website http://www.ywam.org
Here is the interview that took place between Andrew from The Joyful Project and Jenna who will be attending YWAM.
Andrew : Jenna, give us a little history here, what have you been doing during the last 12 months of your life?
Jenna : The last 12 months have been a whirlwind! Last year at this time, I was finishing my finals for my last semester of university. Since then, I have graduated with my degree and have a job as a support worker with chronically homeless people. Outside of my job, I'm a bit of an over-committer so I love to spend my time with friends/family/church/community. This past year, I've been learning how to juggle my job and my personal life as I transition into the "real world" out of university.
Andrew : Who has been the biggest influence in your life during this time as you have been deciding to make this move to Hawaii?
Jenna : I think I would say my friends would be a big influence. My friends are all in school or careers but one things that they are mostly doing is pursuing their passion! That has been very inspiring for me. I think of one of my friends who is currently in school to be a teacher. If you meet her, you can immediately know that not only is teaching a career aspiration for her but it is a joy and something that God has given her passion for. Teaching is not just a passion but something which builds her up and is a part of her identity. When she is pursing education, you can just tell that something is clicking... something unseen, something supernatural. She is doing something that she was destined to do. That passion really made me envious especially when comparing it to my job. 3 months into my position, I found myself looking the mirror and seeing a stressed out social worker. I was feeling the effects of burnout. One day, I was driving home thinking "There must be more to life than this." There must be more to life than this mundane cycle of a 9-5pm job which is stealing my joy. I felt like an empty version of myself. A shell of who I really am... which led me to pray for YWAM.
Andrew : What challenges are you expecting to face while you are with YWAM in Hawaii?
Jenna : I think my main challenge will be the transition from working back to being a student. My current job is high stress and it has made me a bit more high strung than I have previously been. I will really have to fight to learn how to relax and just enjoy the season of life where God has placed me. I'll have to fight against my nature for over scheduling myself and learn how to slow down. Another challenge in in relation to slowing down is learning how to listen. Listening to God, listening to my body when it tells me that I'm too stressed and listening
Andrew : What would you say to other people who are in the midst of making a tough life decision?
Jenna : When in doubt, go to God. Pray about it. Talk to God about your frustrations, hurts, and joys relating to your decision. He wants to know how you really feel. Write down your thoughts and feelings during this time. Do not bottle them up.
ASK FOR ADVICE. Humans aren't meant to be alone, we are social and relational beings. Don't feel like you need to make a decision alone merely because it's your life but go to trusted people. The wisest man in the Bible wrote
""Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed." - Proverbs 15:22"
For me, I have an awesome Mum, small groups, and mentors I went for advice. I have some amazing people I have in my life who I can go to for advice. Make sure they are people who you can open your heart up to and talk about anything from spiritual advice to the silly stuff. I would strongly urge everyone to have a mentor in your life. A lady who has known me my whole life and is like a big sister to me is my spiritual mentor. I sometimes just go to her place to vent about the things which are bouncing around my head and get a second opinion on my thoughts. She has helped me by walking through what I am going through, by being a role model to me about what a healthy life looks like by being a great mum, wife, and big sister to me.
Also, don't give up! I know it feels difficult and uncomfortable you may be right now through whatever choices you are struggling with. Remember that you can't grow without a bit of growing pains.
Andrew : How have you been encouraged by others as you prepare to start this new adventure with YWAM?
Jenna : I have been encouraged through tons and tons of prayer. I also felt really encouraged when people told me they were thinking or praying for me and told me what they were praying about over me.
I'm a chatterbox so I vented to my friends about all my worries. They supported me by genuinely listening to me stress out for the 30th time about the same thing which really helped me work through it!
Many people sent me encouraging texts and some friends even wrote me letters to take with me in case I feel homesick or need a pick me up! I seriously have the greatest community.
Andrew : Ok, random question just for fun, do you still wear the Joyful Project t-shirt you won at the No Greater Love music festival? haha
Jenna : Heck yeah! It's super comfy! I actually wore it a lot when I went to India last minute during the summer. My flight was at 4:30pm and I needed to be at the airport by 2:30pm. I'm a big ol' workaholic and wanted to tie up most of my loose ends before leaving so I only ended up leaving work at 1pm that day to rush home and pack. That's right... I'm also a bit of a procrastinator. I literally threw anything in my bag which would be suitable for a tropical, humid climate. I found that I wore the shirt quite a few times.
Andrew : Well Jenna thank you very much for taking time out of your day to talk with us and we hope you have an amazing adventure in Hawaii.