I’ve alluded to this on social media and my husband has commented about it. But until today I haven’t really publicly said anything because it wasn’t certain. But I received notice that my application has been accepted. I have my passport. I’ve emailed the travel agent for tickets and my doctor for vaccines.
I’m going on a two week mission trip to the Philippines with Wipe Every Tear at the end of May.
It’s so REAL to type that.
I don’t know what to expect. Even after reading about the experiences of and talking to several others that have gone, even after stalking their facebooks and twitters and blogs…I don’t really know what to expect. In fact, I’m really trying not to go into it with expectations. I want to open to whatever God wants to show me and teach me, accepting of any experiences He wants to drop me into. But if we’re being perfectly honest, there ARE expectations. I expect to have my world rocked. I expect to love it while hating it at the same time. I expect it to be emotional and challenging and fun and wonderful and horrible. I expect it to be an EXPERIENCE.
I’ve wrestled with a few issues while deciding to go ahead with the application and waiting for the acceptance (Or denial. My husband never doubted that I would get to go but it seemed so arrogant – on my part – to assume that approval was a given and I honestly couldn’t make that assumption. I love that he never doubted my “worthiness” though).
One – I can’t spell out WHY I’m going specifically. I can’t give you a list of goals or what I hope to accomplish. When it boils down to it, I’m really going for me. The people who do the real work are the ones that live there, the team that functions in the middle of the battle field, the ones who handle the day to day grind and build the relationships. I want to meet them and hug them and pray with them and support them and love them. I want to meet and love on the girls who are still enslaved. I want to show them they MATTER, that people world wide care for them. But I also love to travel and I can’t say that didn’t play more than a small part in the decision. (Although arguably God created me to love travel and can use that. Right?) This trip is simultaneously for me and not at all about me and I don’t know how to deal with that dichotomy yet (and may never).
Two – There’s always the argument of how the money is best spent. This is not an inexpensive trip (obviously). And the money could directly support the organization and the girls it serves. Then there’s the point that these trips change the perspective and lives of the people who go. Both are valid and important points. I never completely resolved this one either. Because on top of the above “this money could be used directly by the organization” issue, my entire family is sacrificing for me to do this. My husband set aside the funds, yes. But those are still funds that could have been used for the entire family, not just me. So this is a complicated issue that I can’t fully articulate. I just know that this was an idea I couldn’t seem to shake. The whole slavery issue (especially sex slavery) has become a obsession of mine. And – most importantly – my husband not only fully supports this, he encouraged it. Which brings me to issue #3….
Three – I can’t say I feel “called by God”. I know many people can say that. And it puts to bed pretty much any argument. God called, they responded. Done. But I can’t say with confidence that God is directing me specifically to take this trip. I CAN say with confidence that He broke my heart for the abomination of slavery. I get emotional easily, yes but I’m also easily distracted. However, this doesn’t directly benefit me. And it’s been an obsession for longer than a few weeks. That’s just not how I usually operate. History shows I should have found some shiny new issue to champion by now. I can also say that everything to this point has fallen into place with remarkable ease. School and work and schedules that I thought might be stumbling blocks? Not even a hiccup. And my family and friends support me – namely my husband. I can’t emphasize enough how important that is. But I can NOT say God told me to pack my bags and go the Philippines. On the flip side – I can’t say He’s saying “no”. And the couple of times I have CLEARLY “heard” Him speak? He was telling me no. In fact, I will confidently say I was not supposed to go on a trip any earlier than this summer. I know because I wanted to go. And He very clearly told me to sit my butt in a chair and stop. Stop planning, stop making lists, stop learning the language. Just stop. And pray. So I did (although I’ll admit some of those prayers could not be classified as “nice” or “polite”). He’s not saying “no” anymore. But I haven’t “heard” the equivalently clear YES. And so it seems disingenuous to use the reasoning of “God has called me to this”. Because all I know for sure is He’s not calling me away from it.
I have been very hesitant to say anything about this publicly. I don’t have to fund raise – thanks once again to the generosity of my husband. And so, posting it on social media feels like…bragging? I recognize the irony of a long blog post about it but these thoughts don’t fit into a Facebook status. I don’t know. I know I don’t want it to be JUST about me. I want to shine a light on the issues both in the Philippines and right under our noses. I don’t want the trip to JUST be a meaningful and challenging vacation. I want it to give me perspective and insight. I want to come home educated and aware and more sensitive. I want it to be part of what shapes me into being able to effectively fight – not to show what *I* can do but show what God can do and to give girls the opportunity to see what THEY can do. I really feel like the most valuable players in this thing are those who have been freed. They have the insight and experience that a privileged woman in Boise Idaho can never replicate. But they need to be freed. And then they need to be supported and loved and encouraged. There’s not an easy solution. My two weeks overseas is not going to abolish slavery. But I have to start somewhere. Might as well be with a bang, right?