Friday, November 8, 2013

Where it All Began, Part 2

After my early childhood memories, I can see another major step in preparing me for missions.  As a teenager I remember my first mission trip vividly.  Our youth group went through Kentucky and surrounding states doing evangelistic shows.  We sang, did skits, puppet shows, etc.  I remember absolutely loving what we were doing and being blown away by God using me at such a young age.

Throughout my teen years, my dad stopped pastoring and we did a lot of church searching.  I had 3 main youth groups before I graduated high school.  In my high school youth group, I really started seeking God.  I was excited to hear His voice and feel His presence in my life.  I enjoyed studying my Bible and learning all I could.  I had countless conversations with my Dad as I tried to discern for myself what God wants from each person - and from me.  In this process, I remember hearing God say, "Be ready to go anywhere I call you."  At the time that was rather frightening, and exciting.  I was thrilled at the possibility of adventure!  I was also terrified to leave my family.  As a homeschooled child in a large family, the thought of not being near any of them was sad.  I was not sure I would ever be able to make this sacrifice, so I secretly hoped that I would never be asked.  I honestly do not remember if I told a single person about this struggle and "calling" I felt as a teenager. 

I also had a strong desire to sponsor a child in a developing country.  When I was 15 I asked my parents about child sponsorsip.  They told me to do some research and see where I felt God led me.  My sister, Kerri, and I started researching.  We found Compassion International and absolutely loved what they were doing!  I began sponsoring Akello Erina in Africa.  We got our youth group to sponsor another child together.  This began a process of God shaping my heart for children in impoverished conditions around the world.  How little I understood back then about what He was doing to my heart!

After high school, I was in limbo for about a year - working a couple of jobs, but not going to college yet.  Since I graduated high school so early, I was not sure I wanted to jump right into college.  A year later, I started college and met Gami.  We quickly fell in love, and decided we would get married.  I never told him of my desire to do missions that was accompanied with fear and doubt.  I never asked what he thought of missions either.  So we married and started trying to figure out life together at a young age.  It would take years before I would actually bring up missions to him and start to lay out all that God had shown me since my childhood.