Rachel Clements came to our community to spend a gap year with us between September 2011 and August 2012.
God is good and He is constant. He remains the same and He is my stronghold.
That was something that I repeated to myself throughout the course of my GAP year in Dublin (September 2011-August 2012). Even though things around me were constantly changing and I was always being introduced to new people and places, I put my trust in God and knew that He would always stay the same. Just when I felt as though things were spinning and there was nothing to hold on to, God reached out His hand and I gripped onto it firmly. I never let go. Even when I couldn’t keep track of all the new people I’d met. Even when my GAP responsibilities were difficult or stressful. Even when I missed my friends and family so much it hurt. I never let go. Walking with my hand in His, I grew. I changed. I was stretched. I’m not the same as I was before. I may look the same on the outside, but I am certainly not the same person I was when I left Michigan in September 2011 and headed off to Dublin. God changed my heart. He transformed my mind. He brought me closer to my brothers and sisters in Ireland, and most importantly, He brought me closer to Him.
During my GAP year in Dublin, I got to know some of the best people I have ever met. The Lord significantly blessed me with an amazing host family, a wonderful group of youth to work with, a beautiful collection of people in the Community of Nazareth, and a fantastic team at Spirit Radio. I was cared for physically, emotionally, and spiritually by people within the Community of Nazareth, and for that I am forever grateful.
Thinking back on it now, it all seems a bit blurry. Honestly, the whole year seems kind of like a dream. But when I look at my pictures and read back through my blog, my journal, and the notes tucked into my Bible, everything starts to come alive again. It was not a dream. I really did gather $11,000 of financial support from friends, family, and even strangers. I really did spend a year in Ireland, and I must say it was one of the most challenging and most rewarding years of my life. I am not the same Rachel as I was before. I am a new, more beautiful, more transformed Rachel. I am more closely united with my King and God, and I have a greater passion to share Him with others. Praise be to God!
What am I up to now? I work full-time as a child care provider for a 14-month old baby girl and I absolutely love it. I am on the music ministry team for the college-aged group at my friend’s church and I have been so blessed to have this opportunity to use my musical talents for God’s glory. On Wednesdays, my day off, I am part of a group of volunteers that reaches out to the homeless in inner-city Detroit. We provide breakfast, toiletries, and clothing to them. A couple months after I joined the outreach, I started praying with the homeless people. This experience has really softened my heart and allowed me to see God through these poor, broken men and women. They bring light to my life, and I have enjoyed building friendships with them through our weekly interactions. I am blessed and happy with where I am right now. It feels great to be back home, but I will always have a special place in my heart for the GAP year I spent with the Community of Nazareth in the beautiful country of Ireland.