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Looking back in retrospect.

In the present moment, I feel like it can be so hard to see the purpose, hard to see what is next, hard to see how what we are doing right now fits into the big picture of our life. But in retrospect, oh man, in retrospect it is so much easier to see how the mundane day to day life aligns into God’s plan and the path He has ultimately already paved for our lives.

Four years ago, I was in the midst of applying for short-term mission trips to Ethiopia, through the church I was attending at the time. I was discouraged when the first trip fell through for not enough interest within the congregation. And even more discouraged when the trip fell through a second time, this time for the Ebola crisis. I knew God had put missions on my heart; I knew it was what I was supposed to do. So why was He shutting down my attempts at going out on the mission field?

Little did I know how those two mission trips falling through would affect me four whole YEARS later! Little did I know that those two mission trips falling through would be the catalyst for the mission trip I did do! Little did I know that those two mission trips falling through would be the catalyst for me to go to leadership / discipleship school four years later through an organization I had never heard of had it not been for those two trips not happening. 

Recently, I was on the phone with a friend chatting about fundraising, and I had the opportunity for the first time in a long time to share this whole crazy story because she asked me a simple question. How did I even find the World Race?

I gave her the “long story short” version. I am notoriously a long-winded story teller and I am learning to be okay with that. I like details and I like when those details are correct, so sometimes I fumble in a story trying to remember the exact little details because they are important to me. Even if they are entirely not important to the person listening.

So, sweet friend, in case you have not heard this “long story short” before, let me tell you, because I learned so much about this whole “in retrospect” thing when I shared my heart with my dear friend.

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In the fall of 2014, I had been following this girl named Katie on the good ole’ Instagram. She was doing some really cool mission trip that not once had I really questioned in the several months I had been following her. When the second trip to Ethiopia fell through, I stumbled upon one of Katie’s posts. It caught my attention because she was in Africa at the time and her feed was filled with those precious little ivory-skinned babes who I just can never get enough of (someone, take me back to Africa, pronto, please and thank you!).

She used this bizarre hashtag “#11n11” and I was curious as to what it meant. I clicked into it and started scrolling through so many photos, quickly wanting to know what this was all about. I finally found someone who had also tagged the World Race. I googled it. And then I spent four hours reading their entire website because I was so intrigued. I straight up told God “heck no, I do not want anything to do with long-term missions” but I felt convicted to apply and I agreed with the condition that God needed to clearly show me this is what He had for me.

For most people the entire process from application to acceptance can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks. I was accepted in EIGHT DAYS (if that doesn’t scream “this is a God thing,” then I don’t know what does!)! This was December of 2014. I did the World Race from September of 2015 to July of 2016. Upon returning home, I shut God out of my plans because I wanted to be back in Bellingham, I wanted to nanny for the family I had been nannying for previously, and I wanted to be on the Collide team (the local women’s ministry where I have spent the last two years serving as a part of the team that makes the events happen).

This two years home has been every emotion under the sun. For the last year or so, I realize when I truly light up and get excited about something, it is talking about the mission field. In March, I felt convicted, like really convicted, that God wanted me back out on the mission field. Through a lot of prayer and processing and wrestling, guess where I ended up? With the very same organization as the World Race. Why? Because I whole heartedly believe in everything they do and everything they stand for and believe.

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Four years ago, when those trips fell through, I did not understand why. But now I do. When I did not get an internship for my college ministry that very same year, I did not understand why. But now I do. Both of those things happened so the World Race would be brought into my life.

Five years ago, when I spent an entire week in Huehuetenango, Guatemala on my second mission trip with traveler’s diarrhea, I had no idea why God would make me so miserably sick overseas on a mission trip. But now I do. It happened so that when I spent all of Albania with a stomach virus that left me severely dehydrated, I was able to push through and know God would allow me to go to every ministry related thing and be violently sick only at home. Because He had done the exact same thing in Guatemala. And he did the exact same thing two months after Albania in Zambia when my whole team got food poisoning and my body took an entire month to recover.

This summer, when Adventures in Missions, the organization the World Race is under, told me they did not believe I was ready to go back out as an alumni leader, I was devastated and did not understand why. This is what God told me He had planned for me. In that very same email, Adventures suggested I attend their leadership & discipleship school. But I understand now. God has a life of missions planned for me, and this school will give me the training and equip me to be a better leader on the mission field long-term.

I could go on and on as I look back at how God has woven the last handful of years together to pave the path He has me on. In the day to day life, the mundane and the chaos that life is, it can be really hard to see why things happen the way they do. It is not always obvious. Sometimes not for years. But as we look back, in retrospect, it can be so much easier to see why things happened the way they did. God has already gone before us; He is just around the corner continuing to pave the path He already has in mind for us. 

When I was in Romania, my squadmate Jason stood up in front of the little church we were attending and three years later (almost to the day, actually), I could not tell you what he was talking about. But he used this bible verse and it has stuck with me ever since. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.”

So you, sweet friend, I do not know what season you are in or what you may be walking through, but know that God is just ahead of you paving the path He already had in mind for you. Remember that He is going to use you, all of you, to do His good works and the things you feel are mundane and irrelevant just may be the catalyst for what God has for you.