It’s here. I am currently in my hotel room in Fargo, and I’m flying to Youth in Mission training camp in the morning. Honestly, I kept looking at the calendar, knowing that each day brought me closer to this point, but I kept thinking that it was always so far away. But now I’m here. I have a flight to El Paso, TX in the morning, where I will meet up with my fellow team members (as of right now, they are all still strangers to me, well, we are all friends on Facebook, but I don’t think that really counts). We will have training for three days, and then my team and I will head to London. We will then be in London until the end of July.
My pastor, his wife, and my mom drove me up to Fargo. We ate dinner at Red Lobster, but the entire time my stomach was turning flips. I kept telling my mom that I was scared. And to be honest, I am scared. I am extremely scared.
I texted my best guy friend, Cole, a week ago, telling him that I was scared to go to London for two months. He responded, “Good. Now I know you are human.” Then he followed it by saying that he will check back with me in two months and I will tell him how amazing it was. And the logical part of my brain knows that. I know that this is going to be a great experience. I also know that this is God’s plan for me to do this.
But the nerves fight the logical part in my mind and my stomach feels the exact same way it did when I was standing in line for the Patriot at Worlds of Fun. I hate roller coasters. I don’t even like using the word hate, but I seriously do not like roller coasters. Okay, fine. Maybe hate is a strong word. Because the logical part in my brain tells me that I will survive them. I just don’t find the stomach flip part to be fun. Anyway, I spent the past Nazarene Night at Worlds of Fun (it happens every year during MAX, which stands for MidAmerica Xtreme—MidAmerica as in MidAmerica Nazarene University, my college, and Xtreme, which is where teens from all over the region come and competent and have fun, and on Friday night, go to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City) walking around with one of the teens from the youth group I intern with. I tried to be upfront that I was not going to ride any roller coasters, but it soon became the goal of my teen to get me on a roller coaster. She said she didn’t even care which one. Any roller coaster, but I had to go on one.
I told her I would go on the Patriot, so we got in line. The entire time I wanted to back out. I was standing behind my college roommate’s mom and next to the teen from my youth group. I was so scared I told my teen that I felt like I was going to pee my pants. I think she found all my fear amusing. We kept getting closer and closer to the ride, and I literally begged my teen to let me back out. To let me leave. I would have felt no shame in walking back down all those stairs. I wanted out. I wanted the ground. I wanted safety. I wanted my comfort zone.
But God does not call us to stay in our comfort zones. God calls us to follow him.
Several months ago, I applied for Youth in Mission. Several months before I applied, I remember having a conversation with the youth pastor I intern with about how I would never do Youth in Mission. Him and his wife had both gone on Youth in Mission trips while they were in college, and still are strong supporters of Youth in Mission and what they do. He said to me, “You should do Youth in Mission.” I laughed and quickly said no.
So I guess this is where you tell me that God has a sense of humor, but several months later, I was filling out an application for Youth in Mission. At that point in my life, I had recently gone through a breakup, so the realization came to me: I could do anything I wanted this summer. If he and I were still dating, I would have tried to stay around the area so I would not have had to be so far away from him. But when it didn’t work out, I felt this sense of freedom. It was the freedom to follow God with everything I had.
I started reading the Youth in Mission website, and started filling out an application. Part of me knew that I would never be able to get my mom to agree to letting me do this. (My mom isn’t really a fan of me leaving the country all the time. Go figure.) Also at this point in my life, it was October, and I was preparing for a trip to Thailand at the end of December. When I received the acceptance to Youth in Mission, I knew I would have to decline. There would be no way my mom would want me to do this. She and I were in the car over Christmas break, right before I’d leave for Thailand, and I told her I got accepted to the London Youth in Mission team. I also told her that I knew I had to decline. I think she just kept saying, “London,” over and over. My mom went to London when she was in her thirties and loved it. She said she doesn’t know how you turn down an opportunity like this.
So I accepted.
And now here I am. But I am so scared. I know God is in control, and I appreciate any prayers.
I will continue to write as much as I can as this journey continues.
Grace and peace,