For those who don’t know, I have decided to go on a missions trip to Kenya this summer with a group of Bible Quizzers. We will be growing their existing Quizzing ministry, doing service projects, attending church services, experiencing their culture, spreading love, forming relationships, strengthening friendships, and changing the lives and faith of both ourselves and those around us. This is an opportunity that I am blessed to have gotten and am excited to take, but it’s one I almost didn’t.
I have always considered going on a missions trip, and my church has provided many chances to do so. From Flower City Work Camp to trips to Romania, there have been no shortage of mission opportunities. However, there was always a reason not to go. While the reasons and excuses did not have much merit and were not good reasons not to go, I used them anyway. And even as I used them, I knew that they didn’t have much value, and they weren’t really reasons at all. However, looking back, I believe that they were really my way of telling myself I wasn’t ready to go on a missions trip, and God’s way of confirming that it wasn’t in His plan for me to go. Because if I had taken any of these opportunities, it would have been for the wrong reasons. And besides, they were not places I could really see myself going, things I could not really see myself doing, or opportunities where I could see myself doing God’s will and growing.
When I heard about this opportunity at Nationals last year, I initially got really excited. It sounded like something I would, could, and should do. So, I planned on going to the meeting that evening. However, as the day wore on, all those reasons I had for not going on missions trips filled my head and convinced me it wasn’t a good idea. By the end of the day, I had decided I wasn’t going to go to the meeting. It didn’t matter that the meeting wasn’t a commitment to the team. I had decided I wasn’t going on the trip, so the meeting would be a waste of my time.
On the way into dinner that evening though, I had an experience that I believe was God’s way of putting me back on His path for my life. While walking, I ran into one of the girls who had gone on the last trip. She asked if I was planning on attending the meeting. I told her that I didn’t think I was going to the meeting, but I wasn’t sure. She suggested that I should come to the meeting, and if I didn’t she would find me and drag me to it (or something like that.) If these words had come from anyone else, I would have ignored them. But this girl is the sweetest, kindest, most honest person I’ve ever met, and, because the words came from her, they were enough to convince me to at least go to the meeting. And for that, I thank her. And I thank God that He put her in that place at that time.
As the meeting went on and the leaders explained more about the trip, I got more excited. As others shared about their experiences on the trip, I began to envision myself being there and doing all of it. I began to realize that this was something I thought God was calling me to do.
After the meeting, I talked to my parents and other Quizzers. From these conversations, I learned that not only could I see myself going on this trip, but others could as well. I didn’t make any decisions at Nationals though, because I was afraid that the spiritual high I was on would lead me to make the right decision for the wrong reasons and that my fear would lead me to make the wrong decision for the wrong reasons. So, I waited a few weeks before I even considered it again.
During that time, and up until the application process, I continually prayed about this decision. I was praying that I would make the right decision. That I would go on this trip not because I thought I had to go on a missions trip before I graduated high school, or because I felt that it would make others think more of me, or because others had told me I should go, or because it seemed like everyone else around me had gone on one, or even because I really wanted to go. I wanted to ensure that it was what God really had in store for me. So, I prayed. And God’s answer was not as explicit as I had hoped.
I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe some sign, event, word from someone, or a perfect verse read at just the right time assuring me that I was making the right choice. But I never got the huge obvious sign I was hoping for. Instead, God’s assurance came in a quiet, subtle, almost unnoticeable change in my attitude. Throughout the entire process of praying over my decision, waiting for the application to come, getting my references, applying, and then waiting again for the response, the excitement I had initially never died down. And that’s when I realized that this is what God wanted me to do. Because for all the other missions trips I had considered going on, I had never felt this way. I’d never felt so content, terrified, excited, uncomfortable, or peaceful.
And I’m still feeling all these things, and more. I feel overwhelmed. I feel like this experience is unreal. As I’m writing this, I’m staring at the binder with the information for the trip, and I am still not sure I completely believe it’s really happening. And I don’t think I will ever believe it- even as I am on the plane on my way. But I know I’m excited for all that God has in store for me. I have the opportunity to share with others one of my biggest passions in life. I have the chance to build relationships with my team and the people I’ll encounter. I have the ability to show love and spread encouragement. I have the opportunity to go on a missions trip to a foreign country and do something I’ve always hoped I’d be able to. I have the blessing of being able to share this experience with others who are part of the large Quizzing family that I have so often found comfort in. I have the opportunity to give back to a ministry which has given me so much these past seven years. But most importantly, I have the chance to do what God has called me to do and to respond to His voice and His plan for my life.
So, as I embark on this journey, I ask for prayer. Prayer for myself and the team. Prayer for the necessary preparations to be made. Prayer that we can begin to form and strengthen our relationships. Prayer that we can prepare ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Prayer that we will make an impact on those we meet. Prayer that God’s hand will be present and His will will be done. And prayer thanking God for giving me this unbelievable chance.