Well I guess the face of today's missionary is ME...
I definately never thought that would be the case until this year. I was pretty darn sure that I was not going to get involved in anything involving church work because I had seen plently of it with being a P.K. (preacher's kid) and my mom is the Music and Children's Minister! I grew up emeresed in the church and as a kid I loved it, as a teen I suffered through it, and it wasn't until college when I took a little break from church freshman year that I realized how much I wanted to be apart of the church. I realized how much it meant to me, how it was a family for me, and I couldn't leave my family. So I went back, got involved with The Wesley Foundation and Boone UMC.
But how I got to that point is all because of service. It was the one thing that I missed so much! My boyfriend, of it seemed like forever, and I broke up sophomore year and I was really upset. A friend encouraged me to go to a college bible study. This was in my phase of "I need to find MY OWN church NOT my parents...and I need to WANT to go, not feel obligated". I honestly didn't want to go, but after days of crying and being upset I felt like I had nothing to loose. With worn out red eyes I went that thursday night. I was greated by a goofy new Associate Pastor with Young Adults, A.J. and a great group of college students. I enjoyed it, but the best part of the night was when A.J. mentioned a trip to the gulf coast to do Katrina Relief. Well this just jumped out at me...it was like Workcamps! I took the form home and stared at it for a long time, was I really actually thinking about going on a trip with a bunch of people I had only met once, and with this college ministry the Wesley Foundation where I had never been before. Was I ready to go BACK TO CHURCH??? I prayed about it, and God answered loud and clear. The next day I signed up for the trip. At that point, like Brennan Manning (a wonderful writer, ex-Catholic priest, and spiritual leader) whom I had eaten icecream with once, said in his book, "The Signature of Jesus"..."the call is enough". At that point the call was enough, I knew God was calling me to start back a life of service, and I said yes, not knowing where it would take me.
I tell that story because it is pretty much parallel to my story of how I decided to become a missionary. It's funny I didn't realize this until I was doing my devotion the other morning and i stumbled upon that phrase, "the call is enough"...I thought about the times that applied to my life and I came up with 2, that was the first, here is the second...
How I decided to become a missionary...
Well let's just say the last year of college can be the best and worst time of your life. As a senior History Secondary Education Major I had the joy of writing numerous papers and doing tons of field experience in the schools. I had to write a 30 page senior research paper on "The impact of the Quakers on the Anti-slavery Movement" for my senior seminar class, along with reading 8 books for that class. I also was taking 19 hours, working as a Peer Leader for Freshman Seminar, and leading a small group at the Wesley Foundation. Not to mention changing friendships, college ministries and more. Needless to say I stretched myself too thin! I had come off of a wonderful summer as a Mission Intern for Cornerstone Community Church in the neighborhood of Kensington in Philly. I fell in love with the kids and teens I worked with, my heart broke for all of them and I didn't have much interest in coming back to college. I did though and worked my butt off to get an A on that paper and some how succeed with 19 hours. I had little time to spend with my friends, and God. It took its toll on me hard. I had a rough time that semester. It didn't help coming off that to the spring with Student teaching.
If you ever student taught, you understand me and feel my pain. You go from a college student with the ability to procrastinate and create your own schedule, to a real person with real responsibilies and a job to help teach the future of America! Talk about a drastic change! I got lucky, got a great teacher to work with, an amazing school, and some wonderful student teaching friends to eat lunch with, grab a beer on Fridays and vent, and carpool the 45 minute drive with every morning at 6:30. So in the end it wasn't so bad, but it was a challege. In the midst of all that I was attempting to find a job and figure out what I wanted with my life.
After my plan failed of not being accepted to Teach for America. I decided to take a break. During that break everyone else tried to help me out...at first it was like salt in a wound and I didn't want to try anymore options for awhile, but I decided eventually I had to listen to someone. My dad called me one day and said, "I have something you might want to look into"...after rolling my eyes I decided I would listen. He said, "It's for people that aren't really sure what they want to do with their lives, but they are really passionate about social justice and peace". I liked the 2nd part a lot. I thought I would at least listen to him. He told me he had talked to some girl named Alycia in NYC about the program that is apart of the UMC. I decided I would look it up. A few weeks later I came across the post-it with the information about it and I decided I would apply. I mean what the heck, I couldn't loose anything.
A month or 2 later....I got a letter in the mail saying that I was being asked to the interviews in NYC for the position with US-2. It kinda through me off because at that point I had figured I was going to be teaching after graduation. I went to the interview. After lots of intense interviews...this isn't a normal interview, they ask you some intense questions about life. Yet it was really nice to reflect. I loved the people that were interviewing and the staff. One of the other girls asked us on the last night, "If you had to decided right now, would you do it". I said, "I'm not sure why, but Yes, I would." That is totally not like me, I need to know details and exactly what is going to be going on for me to say yes to anything! I had no idea where I would be going, and would have to agree to the program before I would find out my placement. But for some reason at that moment, and a week later when I was offered the position, "the call was enough".
So now I am a US-2 Missionary, and I will be working with The Cunningham Children's Home in Urbana, Illinois. I will be the Mission Intern for Special Therapies and Spiritual Activities. I might not be your typical "missionary" that you think of. Yet I will be sharing God's love with kids and teenagers that need it just as much in Urbana, IL as they do in Kenya. So this journey begins and for now, "the call is enough...".
I urge you to find times your life with the call was enough...if you can't think of anything....pray that you will let your heart and life be open to the call. God is funny, you never know where he might send you or want you to be.