I know that “we” don’t do sappy, but I do. I do. I feel. I worry. You’re going to Kenya. With Bible Quizzers, which are your favorite group of people on this planet. And I’m so excited for you! But I’m oh so very nervous.
And I know I shouldn’t worry, but I’m a worrier. I worry about anything and everything, and I always jump to the worst case scenarios. But I’m not going to jump this time, because you’ll be fine.
You’ll be more than fine. You’ll be great, spectacular.
But just in case, you know, because you’ll be there and not here where I can make sure you’re safe, and because it’ll make me feel better, I’m going to give you some advice (not that you need it, but I need it because I’ve done a missions trip before, and it’s my job to teach you).
So, here’s what I know, what I hope you learn.
When you wake up one morning and feel like you can’t do this, like you can’t minister to people, and trust me, you will wake up one morning on this trip and feel like it’s all too much, I hope you remember that while leading people to Christ is important–it’s our duty as Christians–sometimes giving people what they need in that exact moment is just as important. If you can lead even one person to Christ, good. If you can give one person what they need in that moment–a listening ear, a friend, food, water, clothes–even better.
God works in mysterious ways. And sometimes one simple act of kindness is all you need to open the door.
Your comfort zone is being left an ocean away, but I hope that by the time this trip is done your comfort zone will have expanded to include the ocean. Because the most amazing, life-changing, heart-wrenching moments happen when we step out of our comfort zones and let God do what God does. And I hope God does some amazing things in your life and on this trip.
If you can do this, you can do anything. And you’ve already done so much–overcome so much. I hope you’re proud of that.
I hope you hold on to every feeling you have, every emotion you feel during this trip. Embrace the fears, the sadnesses, the happiness, the triumphs. Wrap them up. Put them in the pocket of your favorite jeans. Pull them out when you need a reminder of who God is, what He’s capable of. Pull them out when you want to reminisce. When you want to remember the first time you really challenged yourself.
Because this trip will challenge you in ways I can’t even possibly begin to describe. And I hope it changes you. I hope it leaves you on fire for God, for His kingdom, for spreading the news that we are all one under Him, for showing his love.
When people ask me if I’d do a Missions Trip again, I say yes. And when they ask, why, I respond, “because of the people I’ll meet along the way.”
The people you meet will change you. I hope they have as much of an impact on you as you do on them. I hope the mark they leave on you will last a lifetime.
Because it’s so easy to forget that we’re not the only ones in the world. You know, you and me, we’re pretty privileged here. So many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are not, even the ones who live here.
I hope you don’t forget the people you meet, both those who are in Kenya and those who are going with you. I hope you don’t forget they way they challenge you, inspire you. I hope you learn their stories, help them shoulder their burdens. I hope you share your story, too.
We all have a story. Nobody’s is unimportant.
I hope you going into this asking yourself, “What can I learn?” Instead of “What can I teach them?”
They will teach you more about yourself than staying here ever could. They will teach you more about God than you ever thought possible–even if they don’t believe in God, God will work through them like He will work through you.
I hope you remember what they teach you. I hope you leave a small part of yourself in Kenya when you leave, so you remember to pray for them when you return. Because it’s so easy to come back and return to everyday life, forgetting everything that just happened, and return to normal.
I hope the life you live when you come back is anything but normal. Not in a bad way, but in a way that inspires you to change the world, to have an impact, to create a mark, to leave the world a little bit more beautiful than it was when you entered.
And when you come back and begin college, I hope the skills you learned while in Kenya you carry with you while at college.
There will be people there who challenge you, whose beliefs don’t line up with what you believe (yes, even at Roberts). Listen to them. Learn from them. Expand your worldview. Believe what you believe because it’s what YOU believe, not because it’s what you grew up believing.
Go into all of these new experiences with an open mind, allow God to work, allow your views to change if that’s what needs to happen.
Don’t let what you believe stop you from seeing other people’s beliefs.
Don’t let what you see stop you from seeing what other people see. There is more than one way to view the world, and each person has only a very limited scope made up of lenses of their experiences and where they live. Sometimes understanding means putting down your scope and picking up someone else’s, trying to see the world through the eyes of someone else.
I hope your time in Kenya changes the way you see the world, the way you see God, the way you see yourself.
But most importantly, I hope this trip leaves you energized, hungry for God, eager to change the world.
I hope you share your stories of your time in Kenya. I hope you hold close the most precious moments.
When you become weary of the future, I hope this trip serves as a reminder that you can do anything if you let go and you let God do what He does.
I hope I can remember the same.
So, go in peace, go with joy, go with eagerness. Go with the hope of a life-changing encounter with God.
I’ll be here. We’ll all be here, praying for you the whole way.