In my last post I began to tell the very long story of how God has used mission trips to change me. I left off in 2008 with a girl who received a word from God and had no idea what to do with it. So what did she do? She told EVERYONE. I remember that night so vividly.
I went to Jamaica with a group of 45-50 people, and I spent that night pretty much walking around and saying, “Guys! God wants me to do mission work! ME!” I was so amazed that He would even consider using me, someone who wouldn’t think of stepping outside just a few short years before.
When we got back from Jamaica, I was pretty confused. I wondered what mission work meant for me. Where would I go? What would I do? When? With whom? For how long? And what about my future? Will I ever get married and have kids? With all these questions rolling around in my head, I almost lost sight of what God said to me.
That year was an odd one for me. We had a transition in leadership within my youth group, something that always makes life uncomfortable. But 2009 brought in a new leader and a new way of doing missions. Previous to this year, all of my mission trips had been led by adults with students who do the work. But that changed.
Our mission trips in both 2009 and 2010 were both entirely student led trips, with adults there only for supervision. It was very different and stretched my limits of patience and endurance.
In late June of 2009, a small team went to Costa Rica. I was one of three people who were in charge of VBS. And when I say in charge, I mean completely in charge. We had planned for months prior to the trip deciding on Bible stories, verses, crafts, games, worship, and everything else that comes with putting on a VBS. It was difficult and challenging, but so very good for my leadership skill set, which up till that point was fairly void.
We also built a sidewalk in those two weeks, marking the hardest physical labor I’ve ever done. Ever.
I can easily recall some challenging moments from that trip. I remember when we had our first run-through for VBS. It was just a rehearsal, but boy did we bomb it. No one was prepared, and I was stressing out. We started VBS the next day! But God, who is always reminding me that He has all the little things under control, had given me a verse that day through a letter from my dad, a verse that was able to encourage the team. That moment was one of the moments that I felt like God wasn’t speaking to me, but through me.
Fall of 2009 brought about yet another change. The trip that summer was to be student led like the last trip, but there were to be two student leaders who would be in charge of leading the team in everything. These leaders would interview students and decide who was going, place them in their leadership positions, mentor them and help guide them through their decisions, and all sorts of other things that grown-ups typically do for students. It was a huge task, and I was approached about interviewing for it. I was terrified, but I said yes.
I ended up getting the position, and after a crazy string of events, became co-leaders with one of my best friends. We had a ton of last-minute changes and rescheduling to do for the trip, and somehow, in all the spare time you have in your senior year of high school, we got everything done.
There are just too many moments from our trip to Baja to recount them all. But in spite of us, God showed up. He showed up in so many ways. He showed up in the clouds that would keep us from overheating during our work sites. He showed up through the woman who, the same day we ran out of food, generously gave her fruit to us. (Oh, Melon Lady!) He showed up in the almost instant healing of one of our students. He was so present there in the desert. It was beautiful.
All during the process of preparing and during the actual trip, I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what God had for me. Is full-time mission work my calling? If it is, when do I leave? And where do I go? And just like that, those questions came at me again. I had to really discipline myself out of asking the questions and start simply trusting God and that He would reveal the answers to me in time. In His time.
I usually hated coming home from mission trips, but Baja was different. I was exhausted. Mentally, emotionally, physically, and strangely enough, spiritually too. This was something I hadn’t experienced on past trips, and to this day I can’t really figure out why. It may just be because of the amount of leadership I had. I don’t know. Whatever the case may be, I was very glad to no longer be in charge.
I promise I’ll finish this little series in my next post; I didn’t realize I had so much to say! So until then.