I’m getting ready to leave for the Dominican Republic on my first international mission trip. And actually my first mission trip in a really long time! I’m lucky, because I was asked to go and my trip is paid for generously by the staff budget, but I think if it was up...
In less than a year, God has completely turned my life upside down. My family and I began attending the Church at Severn Run about two and a half years ago. Though I missed my old church, I tried to get in the swing of things, participating in the college-age Connect Group, SMASH, and working...
The pastor graciously invited the team to his church for refreshments. Joe ducked through the doorway of a shed no taller than 4 feet high and 10 feet long. It had no electricity and the walls were made of mud. He and the nine members of his team sat shoulder to shoulder, crammed into what they...
I’m getting ready to leave for the Dominican Republic on my first international mission trip. And actually my first mission trip in a really long time!
I’m lucky, because I was asked to go and my trip is paid for generously by the staff budget, but I think if it was up to just me, I might let my fears get the best of me. I hope that by putting some of my fears on digital paper, that I can address them when I get back and maybe encourage you to take a step towards an international mission trip soon.
A Foreign Language
I took three years of Spanish in high school, but that was over a decade ago. When I cracked open the Duolingo app that I downloaded eons ago to brush up on my “skills” I couldn’t even remember the word for blue. That’s my favorite color, I should know it! As a person who really values communication, it’s pretty terrifying to realize that everyone there is going to be speaking a language I can’t understand!
Different Food and Water
And now a moment for TMI: my digestive system doesn’t like to travel. Like at all. My first solo mission trip as a high schooler I got elevation sickness and spent most of the trip hiding in the bathroom or my bunk horrified while VBS songs played in the background. A new cuisine and not-safe-for-drinking tap water makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it.
At our last pre-trip meeting I found out that we won’t learn our roommates until we arrive at our hotel. I think most people are probably like “Eh whatever!” but an introvert me likes to mentally prepare for what’s ahead. And now a mystery roommate is adding to my nerves. Don’t get me wrong, everyone going on the trip is awesome, and I’m really looking forward to getting to know them. I’m just generally awful at social interaction so I have to plan for it a lot. (Can I get an “Amen!” from the introverts hiding in the back?!)
Being Away From My Family
My husband and I have done a lot of long distance in our relationship in the past, so I know eight days away won’t even touch our relationship. But I’m just not sure how to explain to my toddler that I’m going to straight up abandon him for eight days, and daily calls not guaranteed. I find that little monster of guilt trying to slip up into my brain telling me that my son will be damaged forever if I leave.
Our team is serving with a couple of construction projects (cue laughing that I’m included). I’m a measly 5’1” lady with no muscle mass whatsoever, and I definitely don’t have any steel-toed boots in my wardrobe. Oh, and I’m totally out of shape right now! Good news, I do know the names of most tools though…just not in Spanish.
So these are the things that are making me nervous about our take-off on Saturday morning. When I get back I will write an update on God’s faithfulness in each of these areas, or maybe what He taught me as I faced them.
Here’s what I do know and what makes me excited to go!
I’m about to get to see God in totally different ways through very different people in different places. Any time I get to exit my worldview for a little while, I get to see a new facet of our very big God. This knowledge outweighs all of my fears, and has me counting down the days joyfully!
What are some of the things keeping you from taking your next big faith step? What’s in that step that could be worth more than hiding from your fears? What are you going to do next to walk towards God’s leading in your life?
In less than a year, God has completely turned my life upside down.
My family and I began attending the Church at Severn Run about two and a half years ago. Though I missed my old church, I tried to get in the swing of things, participating in the college-age Connect Group, SMASH, and working in the preschool wing. Other than teaching Sunday School for the three year olds, which I’d done before I came to Severn Run, I wasn’t really interested in taking up any other leadership positions.
Last summer, I attended a church conference that encouraged those of us still in college to start Bible studies on campus, and to spread the Word particularly on secular campuses, such as UMBC. Initially, I thought about it, but ultimately decided I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t outgoing enough; I didn’t know enough about the Bible. I came up with dozens of excuses.
I went home, and life went on, until, last fall I was asked to co-lead SMASH when some of the original leaders were moving away. My mind went back to the sermon at the church conference, and after good deal of prayer and discussion with my parents, I agreed. It was scary and outside of my comfort zone, but this, I figured, was all God was going to call me to for a while.
My life continued to change, though I didn’t see it at the time. I’d kept in contact with Joe Thompson while he was in Hawaii with YWAM. [Read Joe's story here] One night, after attending a campus Bible study that was focused on missions, I remember telling him that I would never be able to do what he was doing. I couldn’t go so far away from my home and my family. I’ve never even been away from my parents for more than a week. I’m also extremely introverted. So many excuses, all saying that I felt I was not made to go to distant lands to teach or spread the Word.
Meanwhile, I was beginning to feel run down. My education classes, though rewarding, weren’t teaching me what I felt that I needed to know. They told me that I needed to adapt my lessons for students with learning disabilities and linguistic differences, but they weren’t telling me how to do it. I felt that I was inadequately prepared to be a teacher even though I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was in kindergarten. I began to pray about whether this was the career path that God wanted me to follow.
Not long after, I saw a video posted about a Teaching English as a Second Language Program at YWAM. The program would teach the students how to create lessons and units for English Language Learners, and then, because Hawaii has such a diverse language population, it would allow the prospective teachers to actually teach those students.
I was somewhat interested, but knew that there would be too many obstacles. I start student teaching in the fall, and the schedules obviously wouldn’t line up. The funds were also an obstacle. As a child in a family of six where the parents are now trying to put three kids through college at the same time, my family simply doesn’t have the money to fund this type of trip. Nonetheless, I was strangely compelled to look into the program, and the scheduling.
Surprisingly, due to the new law in Maryland that schools cannot start until after Labor day, I wouldn’t have to start student teaching until after the program had finished, and my job, which is directly connected to that of the school system, would only be marginally affected. UMBC’s academic schedule cooperated too. The more I looked into this option, the more it looked like God was giving me a good kick in the pants. It was as if there were a billboard saying, “Cara, this is where I’m sending you. Now, go. Apply.”
I’ve learned I’ve been accepted into the program, and I leave July 11. With some donations from family and a bonus for extra professional development from work, I’ve bought the plane tickets, and I will officially be going to YWAM for a 6-week program over the summer. I don’t know what God has in store or how He will provide the funds for the tuition, but I do know that God has a plan for my life. I can’t wait to see what it is!
Cara Campbell is a senior at UMBC, majoring in Literature and Elementary Education who works in the after school childcare program. She is the oldest of four children and has been a believer for as long as she can remember. If you are interested in learning more about this story or Cara’s mission trip, please contact the church office.
The pastor graciously invited the team to his church for refreshments. Joe ducked through the doorway of a shed no taller than 4 feet high and 10 feet long. It had no electricity and the walls were made of mud. He and the nine members of his team sat shoulder to shoulder, crammed into what they were told was a church building. As he sipped his tea and nibbled biscuits, Joe realized that after being in the country of Nepal for less than 24 hours, he was already getting a glimpse of the kingdom of God.
Joe began his journey in Hawaii, at the training base for Youth With a Mission. Out of the group of trainees, 9 would become his lifelong friends. After two and a half months of training, they were ready to head to Nepal.
It was in Katmandu, inside the church (shed) of the pastor, that Joe understood for the first time the gift of the mission he was about to undertake. That he would be forever changed not because of anything he was going to do but because of how the Holy Spirit would use the people of Nepal to teach him about being in relationship.
In Katmandu the team worked a lot with the church youth. They went into the slums to share the gospel through the season of Christmas, lead music, minister to shut-ins, and do intercessory prayer at Buddhist and Hindu temples.
After about 3 weeks they boarded a bus to ride 25 hours over dirt-packed, rutted, winding roads to the eastern Nepal city of Dharan. They spent another 8 hours driving and 10 hours hiking to a village that was building an orphanage to house abandoned children.
The team helped with the construction of the orphanage. In doing so, Joe met a village woman who had been taking orphans into her own home for years. She and her husband housed and fed the children and taught them to farm. This woman was not a Christ-follower. However, some of her adopted children became recipients of Operation Christmas Child boxes. In the boxes they received, she found and read the gospel message in Nepalese. She accepted Christ and is now starting a church in the village.
Next the team traveled 36 hours in the opposite direction to west Nepal. They served at a medical camp in a remote village where they treated some seriously affected individuals. In addition, they helped in church ministry by preaching the gospel, leading soccer camps, and taking food to the slums.
The Himalayas can be quite chilly in February so the team sought warmth within the mud walls of an out-kitchen. As Joe huddled next to the stove a young orphan began to describe the hopelessness of being born into the caste system. With no ability to rise any higher than the lowest caste, he found little will or reason to work hard. Joe shared with him that God sees his unlimited potential. That God has a special plan for him and that he is unique and priceless. But as God often does, even as he was sharing with the boy, God showed Joe his own worth and identity in Christ.
Over the course of six months, Joe had some amazing experiences. God showed him the importance of relationships. People are the same in Nepal as they are in Severn, and those people want to be seen and be in relationship with others, and with Jesus. Joe learned the importance of being able to depend on his teammates for everything from safety, to borrowing items, to living and traveling together, to prayer. Most importantly, Joe realized, “God is bigger than I allow him to be”.
So true. We all need to BELIEVE BIG and allow God to do what only he can do!
Joe has just accepted a position to be a leader with YWAM this fall, read more about it from his personal blog here. If you’d like to support Joe and celebrate God's call in his life, and Joe's willingness to serve, please follow this link to get more information.