So, to back up the train quite a bit, I want to state that it has long been on my mind that I would love to one day go on some sort of mission trip. It's been present in my mind for probably years, but it was always one of those things that I figured I'd never actually get to do.
One of the core beliefs of Seacoast Church is that we should be going out into the community and the world to do the work of the ministry. Once again, you can refer to the link to Seacoast on the blog home page, and you can find the link that will take you to "Global Missions". This month alone, Seacoast is sending out SIX missions teams around the world. A group left earlier this week for a medical missions trip to Sri Lanka. Another team headed to Uganda, while yet another headed out today for Guatemala. A few of the pastors are headed to Togo, West Africa next week. Another group is heading to Brazil, and another still is going to Nicaragua. The opportunities for participating on a missions trip are there if you choose to do it.
Since going to Seacoast, that little "seed" that was long ago planted in my mind regarding going on a missions trip has started to sprout. The desire has become stronger but until a couple months ago it was still one of those things that was probably just a nice thought. Then the earthquake in Haiti happened and my life began to change. In December, Seacoast embarked on a venture called "Hope Epidemic". It was to raise awareness and money for the global water crisis. People are dying all over the world because they have no access to clean water. The church partnered with Water Missions International and the concept was to raise money so that they could send water systems to areas of the world that needed water desperately. They had such a system on display at our church. When the earthquake in Haiti happened, the initial fundraising campaign had recently ended. They'd raised over $287,000! The decision was made to use some of that to send the water system from our church to Haiti. That Sunday, people were invited to write messages of encouragement on the system that would be getting packed up to go to Haiti the next day.
When I went to sign the system, I noticed Gary McElveen (recall the photographer from the Luke 14 Banquet) taking pictures. If you know me, you know I am not the most outgoing person. You know I don't just go up to random strangers and introduce myself. Can't tell you what possessed me to go, but I went up to him to introduce myself. Honestly, I have no clue what I said to him. I wasn't really even aware when the words were coming out of my mouth. Over a couple weeks prior to this, I'd found his work online and had looked at so many photographs he'd taken while on missions trips in Kenya and Togo last year. I was so moved by those pictures. Looking at the photos over and over just drove that desire for me to do something even more. I suppose I told him about that. Whatever I said apparently made his day, as that's what he told me.
Over the next few weeks, I bumped into him a few times and friended him on facebook. I began discussing this missions desire that I have. If you know him, you will know what an encouraging person he can be. I can't say that I "know" him well. I've talked to him a few times and exchanged facebook posts. I do know that he is a person who is full of the Holy Spirit and both he and his wife, Melinda, are people who have been called to do the work of God wherever it takes them. They're in Sri Lanka right now. I found so much encouragement from what he shared with me that my desire to do a missions trip was seeming like it might be more of a possibility....one day.
I have thought about this idea and prayed about it but, especially with Peyton and my mother's health, there were so many doubts. So many reasons why not to consider it. Oddly enough, the answer came the morning of February 14th, the day the Luke 14 Banquet was held. Pastor Greg at church gave the message in our current series called "Compelled". The message was "Compelled to Go". The message spoke loud and clear to me. He spoke of how we need to "set our heart default to YES." In any area of life. Set our heart to "yes" and then ask God what he wants us to do. We also need to "listen for the voice of God" and "confirm God's direction in community." Lastly, "take a risk by faith." The message was as if it was meant for me and this missions decision that was going around and around my head. I had so many questions. Then he showed this video:
Funnily enough, it's called "A Thousand Questions." By the end of the service, I was in tears. I knew what I had to do. I knew that this decision in my head wasn't just a dream about something I would like to do one day. It was me being led or called to do this. Why did I talk to Gary that day and not really know what I was doing while I was doing it?? Because God has a funny way of placing people in your life at exactly the right moment. Gary was the one who opened up my eyes to the idea that I could do a mission trip. God made it crystal clear through Pastor Greg's message what I was meant to do. When I left the worship center, I knew I was going over to the serve center to find out more. Wouldn't you know, but Gary was sitting there ready to answer questions from people interested in serving. I told him how amazing God's timing is that the message should address the very issue that had been on my mind. I got answers that day. You may say, yeah, but what about Peyton? What about your mother? All I can say is that I don't know how I know...but I know that (as Pastor Greg said) the "perfect time is not always the most convenient time and the most convenient time is not always the perfect time." I just know in my heart that everything will be ok if I am not here for a week or two.
All that said, by Monday night, I had gone online to Seacoast's Global Missions page and had submitted an application to be a part of a mission team going to Kenya in July. I do not know what the process is except that the deadline for the application is March 11th and that I'll have to meet with a team leader for a conversation. I've heard from a couple people that (pending background checks) if it is on your heart to go, then you're going to go. I won't say it's a done deal until they tell me it is. This particular mission trip has the team traveling to the Turkana region of Kenya, which is in the northwest. Last July, the team flew to Nairobi, spent a couple days there before going to Lodwar and getting into a big truck to drive 3 hours out into the desert where there are none of the comforts of our normal life and no water. I think this year's route is similar.
I've been praying about this constantly. I know in my heart that this is what I am being led to do and I trust in God that my family will be well and taken care of in my short absence. I just ask you to pray as well for me and for this mission trip. I will definitely keep you in the loop once I know for sure what is going on. It's very exciting to me that this is happening in my life. It's hard not to get excited about going before knowing with certainty it's going to happen. Pray anyway. Even if it's not me going, the people who are going need prayers!