This is missions week on my blog in honor of the week of prayer for international missions. So I am telling the story of my summer as a student missionary. I realize that my experience is not with international missions, but it was significant for me and was way out of the Southeast. Enjoy part 1. I typically refer to the summer of 1995 as my missionary summer. I was 20 years old in my sophomore year of college and in October of 1994 I had dedicated my life to God in a new way. It was the first time I ever told God that I would allow Him to be the most important thing in my life. It was not the beginning of my Christian walk, but it was an extremely important time, and an anniversary I always remember. It was also my first year away from home. (I took my first year of classes at Hopkinsville Community College)
After giving God priority, I began to feel His call to spend that first summer as a missionary. However, at that time I didn't know how to hear His voice and I didn't know what He really wanted. I can look back now and say He was clearly calling me to give that summer to Him in missions, but at the time I was genuinely torn.
Here's how my decision making process went. I thought God may be calling me, but I didn't know. So I decided to simply fill out the application to be a summer missionary, and if I was accepted I would take that as a "yes." I filled out the form. It was the pre digital camera days, so I took a picture in a photo booth. (It was easily a bad enough picture to get a no from the application committee.) I mailed it in. I knew I didn't want to do foreign missions at that time, but my thought was if I'm going to go somewhere away from home I might as well go as far as I can. So I checked Pacific Northwest on the "where would you like to go" box in my application, and left it in God's hands. (I really struggled with whether or not to put Alaska)
Then I had to figure out a way to tell my parents what I as planning. This was 13 years ago so I don't remember exactly, but I do remember my mom being all for it, although nervous. Dad told me, "I kinda figured you would do something like that." I wondered why, but he suspected it because of my involvement with the BSU, and the experience of an extended family member.
That went much better than expected. And so, with no objections from anyone, I made preparations to spend my summer in Washington and Oregon. I obviously had no idea what to expect. I got instructions on how to book my flight to Portland and was ready to leave at the first of June.
The flight to Portland was my second ever flight, and it was by myself. I was obviously nervous about many things, flying, how to pack enough clothes for 10 weeks, what am I getting myself into, what if I'm miserable? 10 weeks seemed like a long time.
Tomorrow, in part 2, I will write about how I actually spent the summer, some of the adventures, what my thoughts were then, and how it changed me.