By Melanie Ramirez
When first starting a job, most new employees go through training in order to be prepared for what is ahead. Typically, our trainers might grant us access to passwords, demonstrate how to use the computer systems, or brief us on essential information regarding our tasks. Training at a conventional workplace doesn’t usually involve challenging us to reevaluate our identity or discussions about the importance of the gospel in our lives. But the Hawaii Conference is not a conventional workplace, we interns are not typical new employees, and these are not ordinary times.
As it has in many places, COVID-19 altered the usual schedule and plans for the intern program in the Hawaii Conference. A statewide 14-day quarantine mandate required us to live at Camp Waiʻanae for our first few weeks on the island. A camp that is usually filled with kids and activities during the summer was instead occupied by seven interns who didn’t step off the property for two weeks. While many of us had planned to be starting our ministry in our assigned local churches, instead we worked together on manual labor projects, bonded while playing games, and, most importantly, studied together and were transformed in the Word. Every day we discovered a passage in the Bible that showed the love God has for us and encountered a situation that demonstrated who we are in Him, allowing us to further prepare for our life’s purpose and ministry.
Now, quarantine has been lifted and we are no longer at Camp Waiʻanae. We interns are now in our respective churches. Beautiful leis and warm smiles greeted us as we met the congregations to whom we will minister for the next year. Many things are different, but the church family and their appreciation will never change.
As a recent graduate, I never imagined being quarantined with fellow interns in Hawaii, surrounded by breathtaking nature and the uncertainty of how our ministry might look going ahead. Yet this uncertainty provided a perfect place for us to position our confidence in the One who matters most.