Incarnation has been my family’s church for as long as I can remember. Even at an early age, it felt like home. As a kid, I spent my summers at church attending vacation bible school and summer splash. I’ve always gone to Sunday school and youth group, and when I became old enough I started going on mission trips. I discovered my love for serving the poor in our neighborhood through ministries like Austin Street Center and Angel Tree.
My experiences at Incarnation have really shaped me into a person of faith. It may have taken a while, but with the help of my friends and family, I’ve come to realize that ‘I am special in God’s way—He loves me just the way I am.’ This church keeps me grounded in God’s spirit. The sermons, especially Father Joe’s, inspire me to be bold and carry the name of God out into the world.
A couple of summers ago, I went with the youth group to Guatemala to build homes and stoves for families. There, I met a girl named Leslie. We share the same disability. It didn’t matter though, we were able to dance, laugh, and entertain the other kids around. We had fun together.
About this time, I also began to write. I thought about girls like Leslie and me. Our personalities are different from others because we have Down syndrome. Sometimes it is difficult to verbalize our feelings. I decided to blog about my experiences to help other people have a better understanding of life from the perspective of a person with Down syndrome. I hope this blog will reach young parents with children who have Down syndrome and reassure them their children will live productive and happy lives. This was one of the ways I learned to be an advocate for myself.
Recently, I learned of my spiritual gifts: mercy, helps, and shepherding. They all make good sense—I’ve always had a passion for serving the poor. This fall when I return to the University of Central Missouri I have a little bit better understanding how I can share my gifts as a future journalist: I want to travel the world and tell the stories of the poorest people. I want to tell them they are special and God loves them. I want to carry the name of God out into the world.