It has been a month since the fellowship ended. I know; I’m really late in submitting this blogpost, and there is an amazing new group of fellows at NFS. There was just so much to process, and every time I wrote the blogpost, more exciting things happened in the abolitionist movement that I wanted to include in this post! I am currently on a 15-hour flight, looking at the beautiful snow-covered landscape of Siberia outside my window, listening to Adele, and thought there was no better time to write my final post (for a 3rd time).
I want to start by sharing a couple of thank you’s…. First, Keturah- YOU. ARE. THE. WOMAN. I’ve said this before, but without you (and the abundant grace of God), I would have not made it through the fellowship. Thanks for the figurative butt-kickings, encouragement, listening ear, and the list goes on. You helped me learn the power of my story, and how to tell it effectively. Thank you. You definitely are the only person fit, equipped, and able to run the fellowship.
Jill- Queen Bean. You are wealth of knowledge and encouraged me to put my all into my work. You never let me settle for anything, and helped me see my strengths and develop them. Thank you for all of this, and for helping me better myself so I can be the best abolitionist I can be.
I look forward to keeping up with you both!
The fellowship ended with so many uncertainties for me – not knowing details about what was next. I was exhausted from the fellowship, and needed rest to clear my mind and gain a fresh perspective of my place in the movement. Well, rest didn’t come, but I was refreshed and have a better grasp on the possibilities that lie ahead and a better perspective on what went on the past 6 months.
Reflecting back on the fellowship, I would say it very well was one of the most formidable experiences I have gone through. I learned so much about myself, my character, strengths, weaknesses, passions – what makes me, me – and how to use all of this for the fight against modern-day slavery. I also learned what all goes on to eradicate slavery in our lifetime, all angles, needs, controversies, and innovative solutions. The fellowship helped develop some very important professional skills, as well. New Fellows- be open, be flexible, and have fun (remember to have fun sometimes… you’ll need goofy times to survive). Others reading this- remember, and encourage, these young people that have committed 6 months of their lives to training in how to end slavery in our lifetime. It is a hard (but oh, so good) time, and they will face a lot during this time, both professionally and personally.
Ok, onto the exciting stuff I mentioned… I caught the redeye to the Carolinas the day after the fellowship to visit with friends and family for the holidays. When I landed at the airport, I had 3 missed calls from friends, all with the same message: “Mandolyn!! You have to meet with the pastor! He preached about human trafficking!” In short, this started a whirlwind month of meetings with pastors at my church in America, lots of people from the church and the community, and former professors that wanted to know more details about the issue and how they can get involved. Also, the Passion 2012 conference, held in Atlanta every year, was focused on modern-day slavery! This has sparked a fiery passion to be part of the movement in over 44,000 young people, many whom I know from the Carolinas. In the past 30 days, I was given the opportunity to meet with over 450 new abolitionists!!! In a place where there was no real understanding of human trafficking, this is amazing! When I got on the plane leaving NFS, I knew for sure what my next steps were- be in the Carolinas for a month, then hop on a plane headed back to Korea (thank you generous soul for the ticket!). But with the looks of the movement spreading to the Carolinas, I’ve got more options to think about and pray through. The future now is bright, full of such incredible opportunities and possibilities. I absolutely would not have been equipped to handle these incredible and strategic meetings, or be able to fully evaluate future endeavors, had it not been for my time as an NFS Fellow. I wouldn’t trade the experiences I had while at NFS for anything. The good and the difficult molded me and shaped me, professionally and personally. The motto that NFS headquarters always says has stuck with me… “Are we better this week than we were last week?” I am a better abolitionist now than I was a week ago, a month ago, or 6 months ago, and I will continue to be a better abolitionist through the invaluable tools and relationships I gained from the fellowship experience.
I am now off to Korea, to figure out what is next, and serve with HOPE Be Restored and NFS Korea. Looking forward to the future!