My Leap of Faith Crossing the Midwest

Courtney SharpCourtney Sharp

Courtney Sharp is a 2019-20 NBA XPLOR Resident in Hiram Mantua, OH.

When I was accepted into XPLOR’s ten-month residency program, I was filled with excitement. I dreamed of a year spent serving others, growing as an individual, and expanding my understanding of my faith.  It’s hard to believe four months have already passed. The communities of Hiram and Mantua have welcomed me. I am constantly grateful for the generosity and kindness shown again and again by my mentors, church leaders, and friends. Their support has allowed me to thrive as I expand my mentoring skills and discover more about myself in the process. The photos selected below highlight the leap of faith I took in trusting XPLOR and moving to a completely new state.

After our initial training in Kansas, my future housemates and I drove to our host site in Hiram, Ohio. We stopped midway for the night at the home of an incredibly kind couple in Indiana. This gorgeous view greeted me in the morning, energizing me for the rest of our adventure.

A few days after being welcomed in Hiram, one of our new mentors invited us to the Great Geauga County Fair. He and his family showed us which fair food was the best, and which sights couldn’t be missed. We visited several fairs over the next few weeks, but the Great Geauga fair was my favorite. I particularly loved seeing all the horses!

In early September my housemate surprised me with a delicious homemade cake for my birthday. We shared the cake with several former XPLOR residents who have stayed in the Hiram area. It meant a lot to know I already had new friends after just a few weeks!

Ohio is a stunning state. I’ve built more confidence on my own through connecting with nature. One of my favorite places to hike is Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Shown here is Brandywine Falls. The falls were low (taken in the summer), and I cannot wait to see them in the spring after it rains!

Our Spiritual Companion, Linda, is a major source of support, kindness, and wisdom. Every time I approach her house I look forward to the support and warmth I know I’ll find there. Her home is a gathering place for our XPLOR house to celebrate special occasions in each other’s lives.

Dinners at Linda’s home with her husband John are a real treat. She expresses her warmth through her personality, delicious cooking, and beautiful table settings. We gathered at this table to celebrate Christmas early before many of our housemates (including me) went home for the holidays. After dinner we visited the church her daughter pastors for a service with hauntingly beautiful choral music. It was the perfect way to end the year together. I hope the New Year brings more opportunities for all of us to continue to grow and learn from one another.

NBA XPLOR is a 10-month service residency opportunity for young adults ages 21-30, with the purpose of empowering young adults to discern and develop a “heart for care” as they live together in simple community, engage in direct service and justice work, engage in leadership development, and discern their vocational calls to honor the various communities they are called to serve. Learn more and apply at