It all started with a phone call from my mom as I was on my way to meet a friend for milkshakes. The Pastor said there’s still space on the mission team. Do you want to go to Costa Rica?
Costa Rica. Central America. A country I’d never before explored. Do I want to go to Costa Rica? Does God want me to go to Costa Rica? Lord, is this what You want me to do with my summer?
I’d known about the mission trip for several months, but the deadline to sign up had passed during a rough spot in my life. I’d been dealing with some difficult things at school and hadn’t been able to look beyond the Spring semester enough to plan out my summer. I just wanted to finish my classes before thinking about anything else.
But then my mom called.
When I met my friend for milkshakes a few minutes later, I was a little shaken. Was this God telling me I was supposed to go on a mission trip, or was I so caught up in the idea of an international adventure that I was replacing His still, small voice with my own loud mouth tendencies?
As my friend as I slurped our shakes, we talked it out. Oddly enough, she was struggling with the same decision; she’d decided not to go, but had also been given another opportunity. And so we both decided to pray about it. We decided to pray for each other and for ourselves.
At the same time, I was also aching for more wisdom. Aching to have a spirit quiet enough to hear what God was telling me. So what did I do? I started reading His Word. And I started praying. And I started turning parts of Proverbs and Psalms into prayers that I whispered to the One I was desperately waiting to hear from. Before long, as I thumbed through the topical index at the back of my Bible, I came across this verse:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” – Proverbs 9:10 (ESV)
But I already knew wisdom came when one feared the Lord and learned about Him. After all, that’s what I was trying to do! Plus, I had two days at the most to make my decision, and I knew delving deeper into my relationship with God wasn’t something I could turn on just when I needed an answer. Should I go? How do I know if it’s You telling me to go?
But then I came to this verse:
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”– James 3:17 (ESV)
That’s it! I told myself. The verse resonated in my mind, and I knew that somehow, God had led me to this verse. Yes, it’s a definition of wisdom, but when I read it, I saw it as a list of criteria off which we should base our actions if we’re seeking to make wise choices. Was I wanting to go on this trip for pure motives? Yes, I wanted to serve God. Was I “open to reason?” I’d like to think I was. If I didn’t go on this trip, how would I be spending my summer? At home, most likely. Here was an opportunity to see beyond my norm and reach out to a new group of people. When I read that verse, I felt a sense of calm. I spent a little more time praying about it before I decided to sign up. Then, once I did, I applied for a new passport, mailed a support letter, and began preparing for the journey.
I had the time of my life in Costa Rica. It’s hard to put the experience into words, but I’d like to try. At the start of the trip, we were each given a journal in which to record events, prayers, thoughts, etc. Parts of my journal will remain in my journal, but there are parts I’d like to share with you. Because I could try to recount the stories and the ways in which I saw God work…or I could share pages from my journal. Pages that were written in the middle of the moments that mean so much to me. Pages that were written as I saw God’s wonders unfold.
Over the next few blog entries, I’d like to share pieces of my Costa Rica journey with you. I’ll share more than just what’s within the pages of my journal, of course, but I’d love to try to give you a glimpse of my life-changing experience. In reading this story, you’ll see moments of tears and laughter, heartbreak and joy. But most of all, I pray you’ll see the hand of God at work, not only in my life and the lives of those I met, but also in your own life. Because even if you never leave your home town, you’re on a mission field. If you know Jesus as your Savior, you’re a missionary, called to spread the Good News. And if you’re not a Christian? You’ve got a Lover relentlessly pursuing your heart. Don’t be afraid to give it to Him. I promise it’ll be the start of an incredible adventure.
From my travel journal, written while flying thousands of miles above the ocean:
“International = Inter national = Into the nations.
God, may we take your message into the nation of Costa Rica with boldness, with gladness, with courage.”
Come back next time, and I’ll share some memories, some pictures, and some pieces of my heart.
In His love,