I love being able to adventure and experience God's beauty in the world from behind my lens. I've been blessed to go to 10 different countries in the past 10 years for mission trips, work, school, and vacations. Here are a few of my favorites from some of those adventures.
In the summer of 2013, my new husband and I went on an adventure to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic for our honeymoon. I had never really stayed at one of those all-inclusive resorts so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was pretty awesome. After a year of wedding planning, working my hardest to keep all A’s in college, and graduating at the top of my college class, I was EXHAUSTED. My Hub and I spent an entire week soaking up sunshine, taking naps on the beach EVERY DAY, listening to music, eating good food, and building sandcastles. It was a small taste of paradise in a season of much needed rest.
In the spring of 2013, I went to England for a mission trip with Lincoln Christian University. I spent the week living with an amazing host family, seeing so many beautiful sites in both London and Nottingham, and of course, teaching. We saw Big Ben Clock Tower and House of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, went to a church service in Westminster Abbey, and toured Wollaton Hall which was used as the exterior of “Wayne Manor” in The Dark Knight Rises.
We worked in a school (equivalent to a high school in the United States) with incredibly intelligent students. Our purpose was to facilitate discussion in their religious education classes during their lessons on Christianity which were going on the week we visited. During this trip, I spent a lot of time praying and learned a great deal on what it means to rely on the Holy Spirit. In these classes, we would break off into small groups to discuss certain topics related to Christianity. I remember one day in particular, I didn’t have someone on my team with me and I was very nervous. What if I didn’t answer this student’s question well? What if I didn’t prepare enough and I sound stupid? What if I answer incorrectly? The thing is, I learned a lot of what the Bible says about many things. I could give those answers. But when the students you are speaking to do not look at the Bible as a book that carries any sort of authority, answering a question with Scripture doesn’t prove to be sufficient to them. I needed to be logical. And I wasn’t sure if I would be able to give a sound, logical answer consistent with Scripture in a live setting. I remember that one student was speaking very passionately and asked me a question that I wasn’t sure how to answer. As the words came out of his mouth, I simply prayed for help. For the right words. For something that made sense. In a matter of seconds, I spoke with an answer that I didn’t prepare ahead of time. It was logically sound. It was consistent with Scripture. It even came with an analogy. The student sat back and said, “That makes sense. Good answer.” This moment changed my life. It opened my eyes to the workings of the Spirit and what it means to trust Him in the midst of an overwhelming situation.
In 2012, I went to Poland for a mission trip with Lincoln Christian University. While there, I was able to help adults learn English through a Christian church/school. At this point in my life, it was the farthest away from home I had ever been and to be honest, I was very anxious about it. I knew nothing of the language and little of the culture. But my goodness, did I learn a lot and God opened my eyes to a different kind of ministry. This ministry was so intentional about simply loving and helping others in their sphere of influence. The longer I was there, the more I learned about the culture, language, and the history. We were in Krakow most of the trip and saw beautiful churches, castles, and art. But one day, we visited Auschwitz II-Birkenau in Oświęcim, Poland. I will never forget what I felt when I stepped foot here. I had read books, I had watched documentaries, but nothing—NOTHING—could prepare me for what my eyes saw and the pain I felt in my heart. It was humbling to say the least and it showed me that darkness exists in the world in a tangible way. It also showed me that in the midst of a dark history, there is a God full of light changing this city inside and out through His people who love Him and love others.
In 2011, I went to Puerto Rico for a mission trip with Lincoln Christian University. While there, I worked in a Christian School teaching English to students—some of the sweetest kids ever. The warm weather and the warmth of the culture was amazing. It was one of my first cross-cultural experiences and it opened my eyes to how God moves in cultures that are vastly different from mine in beautiful ways. We danced in the streets, ate amazing food, and, well, I got to practice my rusty Spanish-speaking skills. The beach was beautiful and the view from Castillo San Felipe del Morro is San Juan was gorgeous!