Sitting by a Lake in Florida, or, How to Get 28 Bug Bites in Five Days

It’s 8:00pm and I’m in Orlando, Florida, sitting on the edge of a lake watching the sun set. Tomorrow is the first day of training with a missions agency I’m hoping to join, because in a year I want to move to the other side of the world to tell people about Jesus.

…what?!

Even when you know the facts, and even when you’re glad they’re true, “freak-out moments” are sometimes necessary. Truth be told, this wasn’t the first freak-out session I’d experienced while transitioning to the mission field; if I were to give a rough estimate, I’d say it was my 527th, not counting a couple dozen ugly-cry’s and one or two complete meltdowns (which we won’t discuss here). The first one happened last Christmas, when a long-time family friend and visiting missionary told me about a team of artists that traveled around Southeast Asia with the purpose of telling the stories of how God is moving and working through other missionaries. At the end of his explanation, he casually mentioned, “They’re looking for a writer, is that something you’d be interested in?”

<Freak-out #1, insert here>

Because what this friend didn’t know is that one month earlier I had received the fluke chance to go to Bolivia with my church, and not only had that trip reawakened a love in my soul for interacting with people of other cultures, but it also reminded me of dreams that I had given up on years ago. Like, for example, the dream I voiced to the person sitting next to me on the plane ride home (who happened to be my dad) that went something like: “I want to travel around the world, spend time with missionaries, and write about the amazing things God is doing through them. But that’s kinda crazy, right?” As you can probably guess, my dad said, “No. It’s not,” leaving me, for the first time in years, utterly without excuse.

Riding the momentum of Bolivia and my dad’s prompting, I began to look for this “dream job”, finding nothing but disappointments and dead ends. Then one morning, I went on a run (a rare and exotic sighting in these parts), and somewhere in the middle of it I became so overwhelmed by my desire to follow this passion that I stopped dead in my tracks and almost yelled out loud, “God, take me anywhere. Please. I will go.”

I suppose it’s important to remember during prayer that God actually listens; it’s a good motivator for specificity. Because in my enthusiasm I had forgotten to mention “preferably to a Spanish-speaking country,” and when I brought this up with him a few weeks later as I oh-so-hesitantly considered Asia, all I could hear him say was, “You said anywhere.” And he’s right. I did.

Back on the dock, freak-out #528 is nearing its end, and something is shifting in me. Call it what you will – jet lag, being carried away by the beauty of nature, God – but all at once I am at peace about the whole thing. As I settle into the calm, I can finally see how everything connects. I see the mission trips to Mexico as a teenager, the writing classes in college, the plane ride home from Bolivia, my reckless running prayer, the now infamous Christmas conversation, and I finally realize that it’s all pointing towards one truth: I am supposed to be here. In Florida. Preparing to go to Asia and fulfill my dream of writing about the incredible things God is doing to reach his beloved people.

It’s 8:15pm, I am sitting on the edge of a beautiful lake in Florida, and I am laughing. Because he’s right. He’s always right.

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