Marjon has been a Student Ministry intern for Covenant since her sophomore year at the University of Texas. She’s been around Covenant a whole lot longer, experiencing the church first in preschool and later in the children’s choir.
“If anywhere in the world is a home to me, it would be Covenant,” Marjon said. “I’ve been here for 19 years; I don’t know a life without Covenant. I didn’t speak English yet when I first went to Sunday school, but my mom wanted me to have faith in something bigger than myself or this world, so she brought me here and trusted this community to support me, teach me and love me.”
Marjon’s journey has been full of valuable lessons. “As a kid in children’s choir, I stuck out like a sore thumb – black hair in a sea of blonde and brunette,” she reflected. “This was the early 2000s before we had refugee programs and very much diversity. Covenant taught me to be comfortable in my own skin because they accepted and appreciated what made me different.”
Fast-forward 15 years. After graduating from high school, Marjon was hired as the Student Ministries summer intern, working for Whitney Bell and Nathan Richards. That same summer and fall, she worked in the Covenant nursery. During the school year, she helped Stacy Curtis with the children’s choir. In her sophomore year, she went back to the Student Ministry and became a youth intern – a position she would keep for the next three years.
While many Student Ministry activities stand out for Marjon, mission trips top her list. “I’ve taken a lot of mission trips with the students. I’ve done the Oklahoma trip, South Padre and Belize. I’ve encouraged a lot of missions within Austin, too. I loved taking the kiddoes to Street Youth Ministries this past February because I volunteer there on weekday mornings. It was cool to have some of my favorite people working toward a common goal.”
At times, her job has been downright entertaining. “Probably the most memorable thing I’ve done with the team was choreographing the Single Ladies dance for Love Austin last year and having Billy, Jake and Andrew (Streu, Pluenneke and Bell) perform it for the students in their all-black get-ups with ring-pops for bling.”
Her contributions have been appreciated. “I am so stinking proud of her and can’t imagine my ministry here without her,” Student Ministry High School Director Billy Streu said. “We have been working together for three school years and she is awesome!”
Marjon and her D-Group
Marjon said she’s gotten really close to the tenth-grade girls, whom she has been working with since they were sixth graders. “They’ve been with me through this whole journey; they’ve watched me grow, and I’ve gotten to watch them.”
“Marjon was a wonderful D-Group leader,” said sophomore girls D-Group member Kennedy Weatherby. “She taught me so much about my relationship with God over the past few years. My group – tenth grade girls – is certainly not the easiest to handle, and Marjon does it wonderfully.”
Both remember a certain Love Austin. “At my first Love Austin weekend, we had a scavenger hunt all across Austin, and one of the locations on the hunt was VooDoo Donuts on 6th Street. The group split up and the other leader had to take a girl back to the van,” Marjon said. “I was left wrangling 12 eighth grade girls in the middle of Sixth Street during a thunderstorm right before it got dark, and somewhere in the middle of it we all just started cracking up because they realized how unqualified I was feeling in that moment.”
Kennedy reflected, “We always had so much fun with Marjon as our leader and will definitely miss her kind heart and leadership skills. She has formed a relationship with each individual girl in our group, making all of us feel welcome.”
Love Austin and many other activities have contributed to Marjon’s growth. “I’ve learned that to gain respect, I have to lead by example. If I want to connect to a student, I have to be willing to share about myself; and if I want to be relatable, I have to be honest,” she said. “These girls teach me to not fear standing up for what I believe in. They are my role models. They are strong and bold. And that’s the kind of friend, parent and doctor I want to be someday.”
Marjon is a UT pre-med student, graduating from the College of Natural Science. She is busy filling out medical school applications. “I’m sending my applications to medical schools this month and from there, we wait and pray and cross our fingers and toes, since I won’t find out about where I get into med school until January of 2021.”
She’ll stay busy throughout her gap year, working as a medical scribe for a clinic over the summer and fall. Next spring, she hopes to travel and work on a medical mission.
Fitting school, work and volunteering in over the past three years has, at times, been challenging. “Honestly, I couldn’t have done it if not for the grace that Whitney and Billy showed me. They always made sure I put school first, so I definitely missed a few Wednesday nights to take ochem (organic chemistry) tests.”
“It is so hard to express in words how thankful I am for Marjon and how she has served this ministry, this past year especially,” Billy said. “She deeply loves this church and the people, and this has always been evident in her work with the students and their families. She is incredibly reliable. When she is given a challenge, we have never had to doubt that she would follow through effectively. Also, she has been a source of strength and peace through the transitions over the years, from new babies to new staff members. I am so thankful for Marjon, and she will be greatly missed here.”
“I have loved working and worshipping here, and I’m going to miss it,” Marjon said. “Of course I’m nervous what a life away from Austin, and my family and Covenant will look like, but I have peace knowing there is always familiarity I can return to and that Jesus has gone before me and He is holding my hand.”