Q&A with Lutheran Young Adult Corps Participant Courtney Haag

Courtney Haag reflects on her service in New Orleans.

When Courtney Haag of Aurora, Colo., first heard about the Synod’s Lutheran Young Adult Corps, she was at the 2016 LCMS Youth Gathering. As a volunteer with the Special Olympics, she already knew the joy of serving. She applied for both college and the corps, then decided that “a year of service in a new community would propel me toward finding my vocation and deepen my faith.” Haag was sent to Camp Restore in New Orleans to help neighborhoods still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Below, Haag reflects on her gap year with the corps, which wrapped up in May.

Lutheran Young Adult Corps participants (left to right) Hayden Duncan, Madison Ezzell and Courtney Haag share a lighthearted moment together during a visit to the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Describe a typical day as a corps volunteer.

: There is no typical day. One day I’m making cakes, washing rags and cleaning sinks, and the next day I’m joining a volunteer group at a horse farm.

Having now served almost a year, what do you think makes a good corps candidate?

: Flexibility and passion. We do a lot of small tasks to keep the camp running smoothly, and we’re constantly switching gears to make sure people have what they need to serve to the best of their ability. The actual jobs sometimes seem mundane and unimportant, but as my supervisor once told me, “Anybody can do this job, but nobody is doing it. That’s why we need you.”

What will you miss when your service ends in May?

: I will miss cooking dinner for the volunteers with my [co-worker] Kathy and calling the meal “Fine Dining Tuesday” because we put tomatoes in the salad or we served tacos. I’ll miss riding with the other interns in our 2001 truck with the windows down, singing to one of our four CDs. I’ll miss talking with the volunteers about their work. I’ll miss Pastor calling me “Courtney-without-the-glasses” because the other Courtney wears glasses. I’ll miss the crawfish, river, lake and oak trees. I’ll miss the love of this city.

What was the most challenging part?

: Saying goodbye. Volunteers come in, and we welcome them, encourage them and share stories about our experiences, but at the end of the week, they always leave while we start another week. The job is emotionally exhausting, but I wouldn’t choose to stop engaging and building relationships. After all, the hardest part of our job — building relationships with people who will leave in the end — is also the most fulfilling part.

What’s next for you?

: This summer, I am going back home to Denver to work. In the fall, I will attend Colorado State University to study Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering.

What encourages you on the difficult days?

: My go-to Bible verse is Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” It helps me to remember who I work for, who I live for, where I’m going and that nothing I do is wasted.

Haag (center) and the other corps participants pray during evening worship at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, New Orleans.

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