On January 4, 2015, I cut my Christmas break a week short to travel to a foreign country to do something I’d never done: mission work.
|overlooking the water + the Dominican Republic|
I bid home goodbye after a short and sweet two-week stay, and flew back down to my college in Florida. There I caught a few hours of sleep before leaving for the airport, along with 11 other girls, at 4:00am on January 5. After a quick flight, we landed, eagerness in our eyes, in the sunny Dominican Republic.
My mind wandered as I looked out the window before we exited the airplane, and as we soaked in our first taste of the country’s culture in the airport. I wondered what the place would be like, how fun the kids would be, what kind of experiences were in store for us. I didn’t fully know what to expect. And for me, that was kind of scary and kind of exciting at the same time.
Now, to let you in on a secret: I was panicking before this trip. I’ll be the first to admit it. And I was panicking mainly about getting sick. Several weeks before the trip, we were all vaccinated for typhoid, and we also had the option of receiving malaria medication (which I did not take). We were also given brochures that informed us of the risks and details of some horrible viruses that are transmitted either by mosquitoes, or from person to person ~ viruses that cause you to fall terribly, miserably ill for weeks.
These brochures listed proactive recommendations that would reduce the risk of catching such viruses, all of which I frantically followed. I bought all unscented body care products ~ I even purchased baby shampoo + body wash because it was the only fragrance free stuff I could find. I packed my suitcase full of jeans, neutral-colored capris, and dark t-shirts to wear in a place that would be 90 degrees and sunny every day. I stocked up on vitamin C drops and other immune system boosters to (obsessively) take while I was still home and while on the trip. All because I was paranoid that I would get sick there.
Not only was I worried about mosquitoes and viruses, I also was not ready to leave home quite yet. Being the homebody that I am, and given that, before Christmas break, I’d only been home for 4 days in 4 months (I came home once that semester, for my quick Thanksgiving break), it was hard for me to leave after only two weeks. My precious time at home with my dear family and friends was being cut short by an entire week because of this trip. My heartache over having to leave so soon, combined with my paranoia about sickness, culminated in a breakdown the night before my departure.
Several days before my trip, I had texted my dear roommate, relaying to her my anxieties and asking for prayers. And being the inspiring person that she is, she texted me back with this message (which I hope she doesn’t mind my sharing on here):
She was absolutely right. I think the devil definitely was trying to get me before I left ~ trying to make me dread the trip, or not want to go, or even to drop out at the last minute. He knew I was about to go serve God and His children in an extraordinary way, and he wanted to stop it.
|our guest house at NPH Dominican Republic|
Back when I applied for this mission trip, I actually applied for multiple trips in different countries and at different times. I recall that I didn’t care too much about how I ranked my preferences on the application. I just knew I felt called to go on a mission trip, so I narrowed it down to four options and let God do the deciding. I had no idea which trip I would be picked for, or if I would even be selected at all. I just left it up to God ~ I would be good with whatever He decided.
And He chose me for this trip ~ in the Dominican Republic, over Christmas break, working with children. And He chose me for this trip for a reason. I reflected on this thought, as well as my roommate’s words to me, before going to bed on our first night in the D.R. And then, I let go. I decided to just trust in God and His plan, and to surrender everything to him ~ even the possibility of getting sick. I decided be brave and to make the most of the trip, leaving my anxieties in God’s hands.
I resisted the devil’s attempts to sabotage my spirits and my outlook. I “let go and let God,” so that I could soak up every ounce of what He had in store for this trip (even if it included catching a virus). Surrendering to God like that was, and always is, a hard thing for me to do. But I made my best effort.
And guess what? There wasn’t a mosquito to be found the whole trip long.
To be continued in D.R. Mission Trip, Part 2 //