Friday, August 19, 2011

North Dakota: Discover the Spirit!

South entrance to campus. So pretty!
After only six days of unofficial residence in Fargo, North Dakota, I absolutely love it! From the first time I saw a North Dakota license plate proudly proclaiming "Discover the Spirit" and that it is the "Peace Garden State" due to the fact that the International Peace Garden shares territory in both North Dakota and Manitoba, I knew I would love this place. It is true that I was ready to move out of Madison and on to a different path of my life, so I think this is exactly that.
As I have spent personal time with many of the readers in this audience over the post-training summer, I think a few simple words will sum it all up nicely: family time, beautiful weddings and much joy, and as always busy, busy, busy. It seems as there just may never be a dull moment in the life of Kelsey Kaufman! And in all honestly, that is exactly how I seem to thrive. After being in Fargo for only six days my teammate Jenne and I have been running around from one place to the next--running trips back and forth from the store to pick up essentials, purchasing a table and putting it together (although we've currently only got the four chairs assembled), sitting in team meetings with Tim and Lucas (our team director and other male missionary), spending a couple short days out in Hope at our friend's farm for a team retreat, getting new tires put on the Taurus, meeting Lee Ann at OfficeMax and having outreach materials printed, hanging out with Fr. Cheney and getting accustomed to his sense of humor as well as the Newman Center at NDSU, moving major furniture, kitchenware and other goodies from the old female missionary house to our new apartment and of course today's 8-hour evangelization workshop for the returning student leaders!
Jenne and I enjoying the evening in Hope, ND.
Whew! Deep breath! Looking back on the week I will rate it at ten out of ten. I absolutely adore Fargo and the people here, and as Jenne has noticed and been reminded by me often, it is pretty obvious. For those of you who know me well, I enjoy traveling and being new places, trying new things and the whole bit. Well, this entire experience with FOCUS will be exactly that for however long I choose to do this, I just get to talk to students about Christ! After meeting a healthy helping of the student leaders (a.k.a. students that lead the FOCUS Bible studies on campus) and having full energy from 7 am until past 10 pm, I am even more convinced that FOCUS truly is my calling for the next few years.

NDSU Newman Center Chapel

To sum up my feelings about my current state of life as of now, I'd have to say everything is totally great. To be exactly where God wants you to be and have that align with where you want to be feels absolutely incredible. I will admit, however, this peace and comfort still feels new and unusual. After spending all four years of college wondering just what the heck I would do after graduation took such a toll on me, and now to experience this calm, relaxed joy with no anxiety whatsoever is such a blessing! Another cool thing that I have slowly been realizing throughout my young FOCUS life: I have not been nervous at all. Not once! From the application to the interview and from being at summer training and coming back home to fully fund raise my salary, never once have I been anxious or felt uneasy about this. From the moment I decided to do FOCUS it was very clear that this is the path that God chose for me and that He will provide! He would not call me do to something I could not handle or was not ready for, and I am so grateful. I firmly believe this is a testament to God's faithfulness and ability to know what all of His children need and when they need it.
The real country roads.

I was reminded of this lesson as I sat down to eat lunch today with the student leaders and was talking with one of the seniors. He asked me if I was a first year missionary and I was honored! To think that I might actually be compared to the level of the Carrie Wagner's and Gina Zaccagnini's (two wonderful missionaries I knew well at Madison) was such a compliment! What struck me the most was his surprise at my lack of nervousness when speaking in front of the group, which is something that usually causes me great anxiety! This was just another example that I truly am meant to be here in Fargo as a FOCUS missionary in 2011.

Pumping a stranger's gas
Wearing a stranger's ha
Bright and early tomorrow morning will come the day I've been waiting for since day one: freshman move-in at the dorms! The missionaries as well as the student leaders are able to help the freshmen move in, meet them and talk with their families, hopefully revealing to them a better part of campus and getting to know them. After hearing an entire day's worth of talks from our students about the dire necessity of outreach during the first two weeks of school really got me re-jived up to go and meet some students! Along with that was the photo scavenger hunt that we did as an activity today in the afternoon. We had to go ask strangers to do the most random things! And I never even had a problem with it! Hugging fast food employees, tackling NDSU football players, running with joggers, shaking a police officer's hand, helping strangers pump gas, making sand angels at the volleyball courts with strangers (5 points!), and wearing stranger's hats were just a few examples, among sitting with families at a restaurant and weeding strangers' gardens! If that didn't get you out of your comfort zone I'm not sure what would, but let's just say that after today I have no problem going up to students on campus and asking them to play volleyball with us or to join a Bible study, and I don't think the students do either. 
Getting an entire tour group to salute while standing on one leg
Drinking a giant cup of coffee, with a stranger
Kubischta farm, location of our retreat! L-O-V-E.

I'm so excited for the coming few weeks of outreach and meeting students! I will do my best to stay up-to-date but will definitely keep you all in my prayers. If you ever have any intentions I'm only an email away. God bless you!

With love,
Kelsey Marie


  1. Kelsey girl,

    So glad I stopped by to see what you were up to. Seems as though you are packed with activities right now, but well taken care of. I am so glad to see you thriving already, just a week in, but you're right - it's to no surprise since you are right where you should be :)

    I miss you terribly and cannot wait to talk to you. I'll keep working on my patience as I await our schedules to match up so we can chat :)

    All my love,


  2. Hey Kels,

    That's awesome that you feel like you're exactly where you're meant to be. Not too much feels better than that. Take care!

  3. Kelsey Girl - you're in my hometown!! I'll be back there visiting two of my kids next weekend. I couldn't believe it when I checked out your Linkedin update and read you were in Fargo - and at the Newman Center, what an amazing coincidence!

    Take good care and hope to see you in Fargo!