Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

This was always one of my favorites by Dr. Seuss.

I like to think about traveling to far off and exciting places. To think of how differently people might live, the languages they speak, the food they eat. Dr. Seuss could get my imagination going.

But, now that I’m grown (most of the time), I realize, he couldn’t come close to how God gets my imagination going. After all, the whole universe is his, and he wants me to discover it. He’s the creative genius behind it all. It makes me so curious to see and explore his creation. And after 19 countries, I feel like I’m just getting my feet wet.

God is such a patient teacher. As I think back on these travels, I see so many different lessons learned. I see God’s faithfulness and also his bigness. I am reminded that He is at work in the details.

Several years ago, during my second summer in Kenya, God spoke very clearly to me about his plans for my life: that I was to serve him in different places at different times. This came in response to questions I wasn’t even asking at the time. I had often wondered if I would spend
the rest of my life in Kenya, a place I had kenya-stock-photolong desired to visit (and when I say long, I mean, since I was about 10). But, God clearly said that wouldn’t be the case.

As I listened to God words to me, he began to do a work in my heart-I think there is a truth principle in that. He began to grow my heart for the whole world, not just Kenya, not just Africa. He began to show me how he loves all of his creation and desires to see it restored to him. So, I opened my heart to the possibilities of serving God outside of missions in Africa (where I would still go in heartbeat <3). After that, God took me to the Middle East, and then to Europe, then back to South America a few times.

When God gives us different gifts and abilities, he asks us to use them. Otherwise, we are just being selfish. God has given me gifts of learning languages and understanding other cultures well. Why would I not invest that in his kingdom? Like the parable Jesus told in Matthew 25.14-30. At first glance, it’s easy to feel sorry for the third man in the story who hid his talent (money) in the ground because he was afraid of the Master. But if you look deeper into the parable, you realize, the master is a good Master, bringing those who truly know him into his happiness (or kingdom). The third man was afraid and hid his talent because he did not know the Master truly. If he did, he would have made every effort to invest that talent for his Master because his Master was worth it. He would have done it out of love and admiration for his Master. But instead, he saw only the harshness that awaited him.

If we truly belong to Christ, how can we not give every ounce of our lives, our time, our energy, our abilities, for his glory? When we consider this reality, suddenly, the possibilities for what we can do with our life become innumerable. We just have to start! When we are faithful to do that, God grows us and guides our steps into the path he has for us. But what seems to be the common thread among many great stories of obedience is that we start first and then God reveals more later. That is faith.

If we truly belong to Christ, how can we not give every ounce of our lives, our time, our energy, and our abilities, for his glory?

My husband, Kirby, and I have been in the U.S. the entire 3 years of our marriage. International missions has certainly been on our hearts, but we have been waiting and trusting upon the Lord to open the doors at the right time.

From the beginning, we both felt, independently of each other, that we should spend the first two years of our marriage in the States building a solid foundation and learning to give up ourselves a little better and see what God wanted to teach us. As those two years were coming to a close, we began to look at some mission opportunities and decided to travel to a big mission celebration with World Gospel Mission in Indiana. And I have to say, my heart was doing cartwheels! Finally!

A few weeks before we left for the celebration, however, we were approached about leading the youth ministry at my home church. God seemed to be clearly leading us to this opportunity through scripture, prayer, and conversations with believers.

Then, at the mission celebrations, we had great conversations and learned about so many ministries. But, no one handed out any specific invitations. It didn’t really go anywhere.

“God, what are you doing?” I wondered. My heart longs to do foreign missions, and here you are getting us involved in youth ministry in my hometown. That’s something that requires a big investment to make a difference in these teenagers’ lives. I don’t want to be tied down here. But God said, “Do this,” so we did.

hondras-team-pic
June 2016, we took a trip with some of our youth group to Honduras to serve at a school, Escuela El Sembrador.

In the year and a half that we have been doing youth ministry, God has grown our heart for the local church, reminding us that the Church is the bride of Christ, and not to give up on her. He has also developed our marriage around ministry, and helped us to grow into our different roles in that. Oh, how much we have learned!

And now, the doors are opening. We are helping to lead a team to Haiti in just a few short weeks to repair homes damaged by Hurricane Matthew. Then, Jan 1, we fly to Peru to be a part of a Bible Storytelling Workshop (I helped train pastors and lay leaders in this in South Sudan while I was there). Then, in March, we have the opportunity to travel to the Middle East with a dear friend of mine to be a part of a visioning team for a new ministry there. And lastly (at this point), we have been given an invitation to join a full-time ministry in the Czech Republic doing evangelism and discipleship.

We don’t know how we can cover all the cost, but God is opening doors left and right. He has a plan and he has the resources to get us there. And he graciously gives us the gift of hindsight. I look back and see all that God has done in the past year and a half to prepare us for ministry as a couple – to ready and grow Kirby’s heart leadership for our family and in ministry, and to teach me to submit to both God and Kirby, and to trust when it doesn’t “feel” like this is what I want to do or believe I am called to. God is never sleeping. He is always at work in our lives. He uses everything we do and go through to grow us more into the image of Christ so that we may be useful for his Kingdom. If we listen for God’s leading, he will be faithful to guide us. Every. Single. Step.

And from the time I started this draft til now (1 week), the cost of our trip to Peru has already been paid!

If you would like to donate to any of these trips, or simply hear more about the opportunities that await us, or get on our mailing list surrounding these mission trips, fill out the contact form below and we’ll gladly get back to you!

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