My name is Johnny Payne and I am part of this year’s Fellows class. Since I do not attend Holy Trinity and live a good bit north of the church, I was glad to have learned about the program from my sister Katrina who participated as a fellow last year.
The program has been going for several weeks now, but we kicked it off with a short weekend retreat to Lake Wales at the end of August. This was largely a chance to get to know everyone who was going to be a part of the program this year and to set expectations of what we would be undertaking and learning throughout the year. I first arrived at Holy Trinity where I met Steve and the other fellows to carpool to our retreat destination. We were welcomed by Leslie and Missy who had prepared a wonderful dinner for us all. After dinner and some time for fellowship, we spent some time previewing the material we would be covering throughout the year and did some basic program orientation. The following day we took a quick morning trip to Bok Tower Gardens, which was near our house. This was a great trip; the gardens are beautiful and there is a tall tower on the grounds made of pink granite; it is gorgeous.
Upon returning to the house we were staying at, we spent the rest of the afternoon sharing our testimonies. This was the pinnacle moment of the weekend as we heard where each of us had come from, our stories, and the way in which God had directed our paths to this point. And most importantly, we saw how God had directed each one of us to him through the varying circumstances of our lives. This was a powerful part of the weekend, one in which we came to know and understand one another better, and a moment I came to understand God more deeply as well.
The year has just begun, but as I write this I reflect on the past few weeks of fellows so far and I realize how much I have already learned and experienced that I had not even initially acknowledged. I am excited for what lies ahead in this program and for how God will teach me along with the other fellows.