When you attend a Missions Service, and watch the presentation of that Missionary's burden, you think: "That is so hard, I could never do that!" "I could never live without my ________!" And, if you never go, it's okay to feel that way. You send someone else. There is nothing wrong with that. Truly.
If you do go...your entire world is turned upside down. My first trip happened when I was 18. A graduation present from my parents. It was a "fun thing" to do and a little "exotic" trip for this recent graduate and I did not put much thought or prayer (how is that for being honest) into it. It just sounded cool and fun to me. When I left, I was shy. Painfully, horribly, turns bright red if anyone speaks to her SHY. It was awful. I did not like that part of me, but I did not know how to fix it. So, I leave for this trip and have to give myself a little pep talk: "Amber, you do not know ANY of these kids. They do not know you. You do not know any of the leaders and they do not know you. You will MAKE friends and be friendly and you will have the time of your life. This is a fresh start to being the YOU you have always wanted to be." And with that, I took off to Russia for a Youth on Missions Trip. And came home--messed up.
First of all, I suddenly gained confidence in myself. Like real, genuine confidence. I was worthy! I was worthwhile! I could make a difference! This was the biggest blessing I received from my first trip. One that has changed the entire course of my life. Truly, it was the pivotal point for me...and I am so very grateful that my parents were able to send me. Secondly, I realized just how good I had it. Oh sure, I remember as a small child not having "everything", but I never felt poor or that I did without. As we got older, we were blessed with more and my parents were good to me and my siblings--all the while instilling a work ethic into us (Thank you so much for that Mom and Dad). But still, I just took it for granted that our church had air conditioning, carpet, a working restroom, quality instruments, etc. This was just normal for me. I had no idea what other had to face or deal with. I took for granted our clean water and easy access to food and transportation.
But, Russia...oh Russia...you taught me that I am so blessed. Blessed more than I ever realized. And Russia, you messed me up. You were that tiny little "mission seed" planted deep into my heart.
Now, I am grown, married and I have brought my kids to the mission field. A dream I was never even brave enough to dream. And now, after our FIRST (definitely not our last!!!) trip, I am writing this blog because my heart is aching. You see, GOING on a missions trip is easy. It involves money, time and commitment. These commodities are something that we can all manage to scrape together. Oh yes, GOING is much easier than LEAVING. Leaving has been the hardest thing I will ever face. My heart is breaking and as I type this, tears are dripping onto the desk. I do not want to leave. Not now. But yet, I know that our time (for now) is over. We must go home and do the work God has called us to do in the states. And also...raise a budget to come back. I do not know if the foreign field is a "forever after for us". But, right now it is a part of us that God has seen fit to put inside us...and we must fulfill that calling.
Trent and I are evangelists at heart. Always will be. It is what defines us. And we will GO wherever He leads us, willingly, gladly and with thankful hearts. But leaving...oh, the leaving....it is much harder.