this summer, I’ll be spending a month in East Africa with Adventures in Missions on the World Race Exposure trip. through this brief series, I’ll be explaining the crazy circumstances that took me from being dead set against missions to ridiculously excited to go to Africa, over the course of one month. you can catch up with the previous part here.
That night, I create my profile on the AIM page, entering my name, email, telephone number, and the trip I’m interested in.
Later, I sit down with my journal and thumb through past entries. I find pages in September that ask God if I’m called into missions, ask Him what He wants to do with my life. Pages full of prayers for God’s will to be done in my life, surrendering my desires and plans to His use. Offering up my empty hands and my broken soul, knowing that they’re not good for much but knowing He can use them to His glory. Pages placing all I have at God’s throne, giving up the things I cling to and asking Him to move in my life.
As it turns out, Jesus does answer prayer. Apparently, sometimes His answer is “Go to Africa.”
The next few days I’m a ball of emotions. I go back and forth from excited about the trip, to terrified, to thrilled, to doubting. I tell myself that this is crazy, this is ridiculous, this is not in my plan.
I tell myself every day that this is in God’s plan. I write it each day in my journal, stare at the ink and paper to reassure myself that what I am doing is right.
And I start praying. Praying desperately for faith and trust, for strength and courage. For acceptance onto the trip, for the money that I will need to raise, for all the fears and worries I have regarding this trip to go away.
On Tuesday, I get a call from an AIM staff member. I can’t answer my phone and try to call her back, but it turns out that the only times I’m free, she’s not. We play phone tag for a few days until she finally reaches me. She asks if I have any questions about the application process. I say no.
I finish the application later that week, submit it, schedule my interview for 3:30 the next Wednesday.
By the scheduled interview time, I’m a nervous wreck. I don’t really like talking on the phone anyway, and now I have to talk to a stranger about my life, my testimony, my struggles and shortcomings. I’m worried that I might accidentally blurt out a swear word or panic and say something stupid. As soon as my class ends, I bolt back to my room and sit at my desk nervously, waiting for the phone to ring.
At 3:31, I text Sarah and tell her that no one had called. She tells me to wait.
At 3:35, I stare anxiously at my phone, not sure if I’m more nervous that it will ring or that it won’t.
At 3:45, I’m terrified.
At 3:55, I call the number AIM had sent to me in an email, the number to call in case your interviewer didn’t call.
I reached the interview coordinator, who discovered that my interviewer was sick and supposed to be working from home, but for some reason didn’t call me. It was a fluke, a random mistake, and she rescheduled my interview for the next morning.
Really? I thought. I’ve been freaking out about this for a week and I have to wait another day.
Thursday morning, I wake up at 7 as usual. I go to yoga, go to ballet, go back to my room and wait.
When the phone rings, I answer it and a woman named Stacy introduces herself, tells me she’s going to be doing my interview, and then starts to pray over the interview. She asks the Lord to calm any fears and anxieties I might have about the interview.
Okay, Jesus, I get it. You’ve got this.
She asks why this trip, why I became interested in it and why I want to go. I tell her that Jesus wants me to go, explain Sarah and Cookout and the Traveling Team and Oswald.
When she hears this, she laughs and tells me she had the same experience. She’s going to be leading a World Race team in January – not because she wants to, but because the Lord called her too.
The interview goes well. I’ve never really felt comfortable sharing about my story and my testimony even with people I know, but somehow I feel no hesitation about talking with this stranger about my failures and sins. When it’s over, she says that someone from AIM will contact me in a week to a week and a half regarding my acceptance.
I spend the next week waiting. What happens if I’m not accepted? I can’t imagine that happening. I make lists of truths in my journal everyday, reassuring myself that God asked me to do this, and God is in control. If it’s His will, He’ll get me on this trip.
Six days after the interview, I’m ten minutes into Principles of Database Systems when I see my phone, sitting in my pencil case, light up. I glance down, immediately recognize the number, and proceed to spend the next hour and five minutes of class freaking out about the fact that AIM called and I couldn’t answer the phone. As soon as our teacher lets us go, I listen to the voicemail and dial the number I’m told to call. It’s the same person who called me before.
No one answers. I try again, and again. After four tries I give up and just leave a message, hoping she’ll call back and this won’t be another days-long game of phone tag.
The next day, I’m in the middle of a class when I hear my phone vibrate. I count the number of vibrations: three means it’s a text. When it doesn’t stop after three, I grab my phone and sprint out of the classroom. No way am I missing this phone call again.
On October 11, exactly one month after the Traveling Team came to Cru, I’m accepted for the World Race Exposure trip. It’s official.
I’m going to Africa.
you can read the next part here.