I got the book Coming Attractions by Robin Jones Gunn for Christmas. I had wanted it for a while- it's the third book in a series, and I loved the prior two books. I knew it would be a good book, sure, but I had no idea that it would affect me the way it did.
If you don't want the ending to be spoiled, stop reading here. If you don't care, well... keep reading. :) At the end of the book, Katie, the main character decides to go to Kenya for an indefinite amount of time. Well, that got me thinking... what if I went to Kenya? It had always been an idea kinda in the back of my mind. Along with Ethiopia and a couple other countries, I wanted to visit Kenya at some point. But it had always been just one of those things that I wanted to do but had no definite plans. And it was something I wanted to do for no particular reason, just because I wanted to be able to say I could.
In Cru (Campus Crusade), they make a big deal of Summer Project, which is basically a summer missions trip. So I went to look at what Summer Projects they had in Kenya. There's one with Global Aid Network (GAiN) and one with StudentVenture. The GAiN trip is May 28-June 10 and is going to work in churches, a small slum (with a clinic and a small school) and helping the Maasai south of Nairobi. StudentVenture, on the other hand, works with high schoolers in Nairobi and nearby Nakuru.
But looking at these summer projects got me looking at others. I found a project that was 6 weeks in Paris. Paris. No, not in Texas- in France. :) I LOVE Paris. I'm so obsessed with Paris that I have a map of the area and even a Metro map. That was a definite option. There was also the trip that our campus partners with in the Dominican Republic. That one ministers to the 160,000 or so students in the local university. I honestly considered that one mostly because it was the partnership with our campus.
But I'll be honest, I was kind of hooked on Kenya from the start. I read a lot about it, and honestly, I thought about it a lot. I forced myself to think about the pros and cons of the other trips and several field schools I got information on (including one in Kenya- but once I saw that that one was like 6 weeks in a tent eating beef jerky... I decided against that one pretty quickly after seeing that). I bounced around from Kenya with GAiN to a primatology research program to an archaeological program in Italy (God shut that door when I later found out it was canceled).
Then I realized that the GAiN trip to Kenya said it required experienced missions experience... I haven't been on many mission trips, so I figured I couldn't go on that one. I was disappointed because I felt like God was really giving me a heart for humanitarian aid-type projects, and I also felt drawn to Kenya. But I didn't think I could do both.
So I began to think more seriously about the StudentVenture project. I was practically set on that one. But then I talked to a friend who had been on a StudentVenture project, and she said some things that made me think that it wasn't the right choice for me. Besides, I don't think my heart was ever really in reaching high schoolers.
I kind of stopped thinking about summer plans because I was so disappointed and frustrated. The deadline to apply for summer projects passed without me applying- due to the fact that I didn't think I was being called, not because I was slacking and didn't think of it, although I admit I had a small amount of apathy towards the trips, quite honestly. Then I began thinking of other GAiN projects. They have three more I was thinking about- in Western Russia, Siberia, and Ukraine. I requested information on all three, as well as on Kenya, even though I didn't think I was going on that one.
Well lo and behold, when I get the information of the trip to Kenya, they say I don't need any prior experience. It would have been nice to know that before that point. So with literally like two weeks to raise support before the registration deadline, I could have made the decision. But I didn't. There was something holding me back. And to this day, I don't know what it was.
I still have a passion for going to Kenya; I will probably go next summer. I find it very ironic that I have next summer planned out when I don't even know what's going on this summer. The leading contender right now is an archaeological excavation in Italy (see left). It works with my major and minor, I get college credit, and I get to spend six weeks in Italy! Plus, I wouldn't have to miss my friend's wedding! :)
I guess what I've learned from all this is that I need to trust God more. I don't know if all of this was to get me to go on a trip or just to consider it, but I feel like I honestly said, "Okay, God, show me where you want me to go and I'll follow you to the ends of the earth." Maybe I won't be going to the literal ends of the earth this summer, but is it enough that I was willing to? Is that what God was trying to teach me?
I have more thinking to do on this topic, but I have many many things to get done today, so for now, I should probably end this blog here. I'll leave you with this verse from Jeremiah (29:11). "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'"