Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Into the Great Unknown

"You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior"
--Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) // Hillsong United

It's a little past 2am and I really should be asleep, but excitement, anticipation and last minute preparation has kept me awake thus far and there are so many emotions and thoughts swirling around in my head that I figured I might as well try to write them down (hopefully) in some sort of coherent fashion.

If you didn't already know, I leave tomorrow today to head back to Steubenville OH to meet up with my mission team for a send off Mass before we fly out early Wednesday tomorrow morning to Ecuador. This is my biggest leap of faith yet and while I am so incredibly excited, there is a certain aspect of fear of this great unknown. But first, let me back up and explain how this all came to be.

I have ALWAYS loved the idea of missionary work and have wanted to go on a mission trip since I was very young. I finally was able to go on my first mission trip last year when I went to Jamaica  with a team from my church. We were only there for a week, but I had a life changing experience. I clearly remember one day I was scrubbing a classroom floor and couldn't stop smiling. I was filled with an over whelming peace and joy because I knew that I was doing exactly what God wanted me to be doing at that moment. I knew that someday I would have to go on a much longer mission trip but I had no idea how very soon that someday was going to be!

Franciscan University sends over 300 students on mission trips during spring break every year which was one of the main reasons I ended up choosing to attend Franciscan in the first place. So I was of course determined to go on a mission trip over spring break this past year and I applied for several mission trips as soon as I could.

However, within a few weeks of my very first Spanish class as a freshman at Franciscan University, my professor mentioned the Ecuador Summer Mission/Immersion program. She didn't say much, but I was immediately intrigued. I internally battled with myself for several weeks in the fall trying to decide if God was telling me to apply for this trip or not because I had already applied for a couple spring break mission trips which I hadn't heard back from. And I knew if I got into a spring break mission trip and then also decided to do the Ecuador Summer mission trip it would be crazy trying to fundraise for two mission trips in such a short amount of time.

After I attended an information night about the Ecuador Summer Mission Program I knew I had to apply and leave it in God's hands. If I was suppose to go on this trip, He would open all the right doors. As it turns out, I did not get into any spring break mission trips, which definitely seemed to indicate God widening the door for me to go to Ecuador...but I still had to wait a couple weeks to find out if I was accepted into the program. 

And then 7 months ago I posted this on my Facebook wall: 

Somehow these past months have flown by and in 48 hours I will actually be in Ecuador. I honestly have no idea what I am getting myself into and if it wasn't for the fact that I am absolutely certain this is where God is leading me this summer, I would be terrified.

Not only did God lead my heart towards Ecuador, but He completely took care of all the necessary details for this trip to happen. For example,  I had trouble getting my fundraising letters out and ended up having about a month to raise $5,800 and it was absolutely incredible watching the money come in. Each time I checked my mailbox and found a new stack of letters from so many amazing, generous people, it was as if God was saying "see, I told you I would take care of you."

And then there is the whole issue of being a wedding photographer and normally the summer is busy wedding season. Last fall when I was talking about possibly doing this trip, one of my biggest concerns was, what if I get asked to do a wedding next summer? I would need the money for school, but if I was already committed to this trip, I would have to turn down clients. And you know what's crazy?? I had a wedding a few weeks ago, and I have multiple weddings in August and later in the fall, but not a single person asked me if I could shoot a wedding (or any other event) during the 7 weeks I'll be in Ecuador. Yet another indicator that this is exactly where I'm supposed to be going this summer.

God not only cleared my calendar for exactly these seven weeks, but he also calmed my worries about not being able to work and earn money for school by providing me with multiple job opportunities when I return from Ecuador. I am not sharing this to brag about me at all, but instead to bring glory to God because he really does take care of us utterly and completely if we just allow Him too.

"Have not I commanded you? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be you dismayed: for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

And so here I find myself, about to sleep in my bed for the last time until August, about to have my last day in America for the next seven weeks, about to switch from speaking in English to *ahem* attempting to speak in Spanish, and about to have my world turned upside down and leap off the biggest metaphorical cliff God has led me to so far in this crazy journey called life and I couldn't be more excited.

Please keep me and my mission team in your prayers over the two months as we travel to Ecuador and serve God's people. :)

(Also as I side note, I won't have any phone or internet service while down there so this is the last you'll hear from me until I return at the beginning of August.)

-Mary Kate