Posts by eringabreski

ERIN GABRESKI – Final Update!

August 22nd, 2017 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2017 0 comments on “ERIN GABRESKI – Final Update!”

Man these blogs never get easier to write…this is Erin here writing my last blog post! This internship has been one of discovery, self-reflection and joy. I’ve never felt God’s presence more than I have these past eleven weeks. God challenged me, awakened me and filled me up. When I didn’t feel His presence and checked out of a situation, He made Himself known where I was by turning the situation around.

Even before I knew the Lord, control has been a constant struggle in my life. In high school I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and ever since that was spoken over me I’ve felt like I cling to it as if it is part of my identity. Recently, I took part in a Restore session which was led by Abby. Restore helps you get clarity and resolution about what holds you back and weighs you down. It might sound crazy, but in my session I spoke to Jesus and was fully restored back to the child of God that He created me to be. I was able to let go of things I was clinging to and will no longer declare OCD to have control over me. Now I no longer say that I have OCD but I say I had OCD. For a long time I thought I was letting go of control but by saying I have OCD I was still clinging onto control as part of my identity. This internship has taught me to continually let go again and again because I felt God’s presence more than ever and I’d rather have God be in control of my life than me any day.

When I think about going home what comes to mind is the word bittersweet. I’m excited to see the people I miss so much and eat some of my favorite foods but there is nothing like living, discovering and learning among other believers. Each one of us interns was brought up differently. Not all of us have grown up in Christian homes. Some of us have never seen love like Jesus intended us to. Others have had to raise their siblings because their parents didn’t. For me, I don’t even know what my time here means for me because I’m still here. How do I sum up eleven weeks of experiencing a new culture, new communities, new relationships, new situations, things my eyes have never seen and being comfortable with the uncomfortable? I can’t. Contact me in a month and maybe I’ll have a better answer for you!

Erin Gabreski • 2017 International Immersion Intern

ERIN GABRESKI – Second Update!

July 24th, 2017 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2017 0 comments on “ERIN GABRESKI – Second Update!”

Putting into words what has challenged me and what I have learned the past twenty-five days is a big task. This whole internship is one of continual learning and reflecting on the experiences we have each day. So much happens here. The days fly by in a blink without understanding what happened. Therefore, figuring out what to write about is a task in itself. I think why it’s so hard for me is because I often compare myself to others. Other people can write so well and I want to be able to do that. An intern said something today that really resonated with me; if your writing doesn’t sound like you then why would people want to read it? This directly correlates to me still learning how to be comfortable in my own skin. If I don’t know who I am then how can I share that with others?

One night after doing outreach in Malawi John told us that we should ask God how He wants to bless us. This sounded strange to me because I didn’t feel like I did anything to deserve His blessings. After some more thought on this I realized that we never deserve God’s blessings. However, God still wants to bless us because He loves us and it pleases Him that we went out to the communities in a country we barely knew to share His love for people. God wants to bless me but I must love myself and God first in order to receive His blessings and give to others in return. This goes back to the important Core Truths I learned the first week of teaching: I am loved, I am God’s image, I am valuable/worth it, I am forgiven, I am God’s beloved, I am pleasing to God, I am a conqueror and I am good. God wants to bless me and He does everyday. Each morning is a new day full of promises. The sun shines and there is expectancy in the air. I ask myself: How will God use me today? But because I am human, I feel like I am constantly striving to understand what God is doing. If you know me you know I’m a curious person, always searching, always asking. I never feel fully satisfied with God because I know there is always more He has to offer me. On the other hand, I must be happy with the truths I do know about myself because of Him. At the end of the day, there still is a longing in me to live fully in knowing who I am being made in God’s image and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. In order to know what being made in God’s image means we must first believe in Him.

Before the experiences I had in Malawi I thought believing was just believing. I believe in God therefore I fully believe in Him and all that He is. To my surprise, God really challenged me with belief during our outreach week in Malawi. I so wanted to see His healing power because so many other interns would share stories about how they saw such marvelous healing after praying for someone. My group never saw complete healing but I thought if I saw someone walk who couldn’t or someone see who was blind I would believe how powerful God really is. I thought seeing something like that would draw me deeper in relationship with Him. At first I thought my faith wasn’t strong enough for God to use my prayers to heal people. Then I learned that believing isn’t seeing. God’s spiritual gifts (healing, tongues, prophecy…) are wonderful ways He uses us to show His mighty power but they are nothing compared to the love He has for us and His command to us to love others. After going out in the communities a few times I had to let go of the fact that I might not see a miraculous healing. Seeing God work isn’t what He intended us to do in Malawi; God sent us to love others alongside what He was already doing there. This whole challenge was one of letting go for me. I had to let go of my hopes, my expectations, my wants, my desires, what I thought I knew and my doubts.

Letting go of control has been something I’ve struggled with almost my whole life. Growing up with OCD I’ve constantly been wrestling with control. I like to control others, control what I do each day, control what I will do in the future, control how I look and control how others see me. During this internship I have also struggled to let go many times. I remember at the beginning of the internship one of the interns saying that they never ask God for things when they pray. This surprised me because I always ask for things when I pray. This is probably me trying to control what happens in my life. There is a balance between thanking God and asking God to move in my life when I pray. I’m striving too much for more from God and not letting the love He has for me sink in so that I can fully live it out. I want to control everything God does in me so that when it flows out of me I understand it. Letting go is very hard for me and I hope that God breaks the desire I have to control in my life, especially when I want to control Him. The scariest thing is that wanting to let go of control means I have to let go.

God, thank you for filling me up so much this summer. I’m soaking everything up because I want so much more of You. The more You show me the more I want of You. Help me to not be overwhelmed by all that You’re doing in me. Right now I can’t make sense of it all but I know it’s all for Your glory. You will show me what I need to know in Your perfect timing. Help me to trust You as I continue seeking after You. Even if my words don’t make sense You know my heart, God. Thank you for working in me and for memories that help me reflect on what You’ve done in me. In Your Son’s perfect name, Amen.

Erin Gabreski • 2017 International Immersion Intern

New Things

July 5th, 2017 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2017 0 comments on “New Things”

Hi there! My name is Erin Gabreski and I’m from Buffalo, NY. I’ve been on this God given planet for twenty four years. The college I attended was in Rochester, NY and my major was graphic design and photography. After earning my degree I worked for almost two years. My first time to Zambia was with the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg the summer of 2016. Our team came for ten days and helped run a camp for high schoolers in Livingstone. I learned about the internship and felt God telling me back to Zambia, so here I am! These are a few things that I love: hand lettering, dogs, ice cream, mangoes, meeting new people, ice breakers and laughing.

My time here has been one of growth, learning and self discovery. There have been many highs and lows. I’m not sure why I’m in this internship but I’m trying to be patient and not look to far ahead.

I’ve experienced some culture shock since I’ve been here, which I wasn’t expecting because I’ve been here before. I went on a walk through Mwapona with Uncle Jack, Izzy, Meg and Kelsey as a part of the knitting ministry. My job this afternoon was to take pictures of Kelsey for the Poetice intern spotlight on Instagram. We encountered a homeless man who was the thinnest man I’ve ever seen. He was an older man who sat on the ground. The most shocking thing was that I could see his ribs. If I had any food I would’ve given him some. A few steps away was a woman who looked like Grandmother Willow from the movie Pocahontas. She sat on the ground just like the man did. Her eyes were so sunken in and her high cheek bones protruded out. This woman was so happy to see us and shake our hands. Joy exuded from her. She was so overly happy that it seemed like maybe something was wrong with her mentally. I felt sad after seeing them.

On a different day some of the interns, including myself, and a woman from an Immersion Trip went into Mwapona to tell people about the community night we had coming up. Some kids followed us; we talked and played with them. After inviting two woman to community night we decided to head back to the base. As we were walking we passed a teenage/twenty something aged guy and one of the girls from earlier. I turned around and saw the guy beating her with a big stick very forcefully. The girl was probably twelve or fourteen. I turned back with a deep sadness and fury inside me. I cried all the way back to the base because of what I’d just seen. This wasn’t okay! It’s one thing to know abuse is something that happens but to see it first hand is a completely different story. I’m realizing that we are doing a lot of good in forming relationships with people from the communities here but there is still injustice everywhere and something needs to be done about it.
Something that’s been a challenge is not having a close friend on the base. I’m friends with everyone and I do have fun but there isn’t one intern I feel like I can have a one-on-one conversation with about something personal. There is so much to process because of what we are doing here and I feel like it would just be good to talk to someone. The staff are great people to talk to because a few of them have been interns before and they understand what we’re going through.

The situations where I feel love is when I’m with children or praying for someone. At Kids Club the kids just cling to me and want to hold my hand. I try to do this while I’m taking pictures but it’s hard. The kids also love when I take pictures of them and being able to see the picture afterwards. Another moment that touched my heart was when I was praying for a woman at her home after talking with her. She has many children and her husband works but they still don’t make enough for all her kids to attend school. She wanted prayer so I prayed while I held her child’s hand. My eyes were closed and as I prayed the woman reached for my hand. I felt love from a complete stranger in the world, which doesn’t happen often.

Abby taught us that our whole self is made up of body, soul and spirit. We are three in one like the Trinity but fully one; you can’t separate them. Spiritually, I’ve learned that I need to practice listening to God. Here I’ve discovered my conversations with God have been very one sided.
Lastly, the biggest challenge during my time here has been my OCD. I expected to struggle in my long distance relationship with my boyfriend or with what job I’ll have when I go home. However, the enemy has gotten to me another way. I’ve struggled with OCD since high school but it’s changed forms and comes to the surface in different ways. This is been the biggest distraction from God because I often feel like I have to get something done before I can sit in front of the Lord and listen to what He has for me.

Erin Gabreski • 2017 International Immersion Intern