Monday, October 18, 2010

Day Eight: A Place I've Traveled To

When I was a sophomore in high school, my tiny Baptist church decided to send my youth group to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands on a mission trip. We wanted to put on a Vacation Bible School for a group of children there, and it was going to cost a lot of money to send us all overseas. We had to raise thousands and thousands of dollars, doing fundraiser after fundraiser after fundraiser. But we finally raised enough to go, and I was so excited I couldn't stand it.

I was fifteen, and it was my first time "outside" the United States (although I'm not sure if it really counts). And I was actually helping teach the Bible lessons to the little kids, so there was a lot for me to learn, but the Lord was faithful to help me remember. I remember feeling so disappointed because my boyfriend's dad wouldn't let him come (he was insanely afraid of airplanes), but I look back and see (once again!) that God always has a plan bigger than mine. I was in desperate need of some one-on-one time with the Lord, without all of the distractions of my first serious relationship, and I definitely got it.

When we got there, I was struck by the disparity in wealth throughout the island. One one side, there were resorts and beautiful beaches, and expensive homes. On the other side, there was more poverty than I'd ever seen, being the small-town girl that I was (and still am). It was a far cry from the calm, quiet pastures I was used to.

When we arrived at the place we were staying, I marveled at how excited the children were to see us. Most of them were so attention-starved that they didn't want to leave us at the end of the day. And I remember thinking how lucky I was to have grown up in a home where my brother and I were the center of my parents' world.

By the end of the week, after several days of Vacation Bible School, those sweet little kids had stolen my heart. My favorite was a precious little girl named Kerri. She held my hand everywhere we went, and I bawled my eyes out on our last day. There are so many things the Lord showed me in St. Thomas, but mostly I learned to have a passion for missions. I went on four other mission trips while I was in high school and college, and I definitely plan on going on more later in life. There's nothing like serving others who are truly in need to remind a person how blessed they really are.

All of my pictures are still packed away in boxes, but I do have my scrapbook out. I took a picture of the page I made a few years ago, and, though it's not the best quality, I think it'll work. :)

Matthew 28:19 "... go and make disciples of all nations..."

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