Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The next big adventure

If I were to sum up my life for the past six years in one word, that word would be "wanderlust." These days, when I proudly announce my intention to travel to a new (and in my mind exciting) locale, my friends and family just shrug their shoulders and send me off with a cursory "take care of yourself." Last year my wanderlust was satisfied by two semesters abroad-first in Ecuador and then in Morocco.

Ecuador was indescribable, a whirlwind tour of jungles, beaches, volcanoes, mountains, and cloud forests. I loved my classes, my professors, my friends, and most of all, my wonderful, loving host family. At the end of the semester I was ready for more travel, more incredible adventures. So, I applied to study abroad in Rabat, Morocco. Morocco was a somewhat different experience. I had more adventures, but they were of the harrowing variety, the kind that teach you just how quickly things can go wrong. I longed to go home; I became angry and inconsolably lonely. At the end of the semester I thought I was done with traveling forever.
Two months later I felt the first pangs of wanderlust. Unfortunately, my urge to travel could not be satisfied until after I graduated. I settled down to rebuilding connections in Boston, applying for scholarships and graduate schools, and studying, studying, studying.

Although frustrated with the prospect of remaining within the borders of the US, there was one bright spot in the future. I applied to be a missions intern in an exciting and dynamic program. Only one application out of eight, nevertheless, this was the opportunity I was most excited for. I did everything in my power to maximize my chances of receiving the internship, from calling, to personally visiting the office just to show my enthusiasm. I cared enough about the internship to turn down all of the other summer prospects I had applied for. I was certain this internship was what God was telling me to do.

My phone buzzed incessantly during the last final of the semester. As soon as I finished the exam, I rushed outside to return what I thought must have been an emergency phone call. It was the internship, telling me that if I took the internship I would have to give up an equally important ministry fellowship I had already committed to. I was devastated. I couldn't give up the fellowship; I desperately wanted the internship. I was not only out of a summer plan, I was confused about how my summer played into God's plan.

God is not Santa Claus; I don't believe in predestination. However, I do believe that God is an active force in my life, and that each of us have a God-given purpose on this earth. God works well with poor decisions; my semester in Morocco proved this to me. Through the awful and misguided decision to go to Morocco; I grew into a more mature and capable person.

It therefore seemed strange to me that a missions internship wouldn't fit in to God's plan for my life. Wasn't I being called to missions work? What better way to spend my summer? So, I returned home, disconsolate and perplexed. I didn't wait long for the answer to my questions. On the train ride home I received an email offering me funding to study Hausa in Niger.

Hausa has been my passion for two years; going to Niger is a twin dream. With the United Methodist's committed involvement in Nigeria, I believe fluency in Hausa is a valuable tool in missions work. The dates are perfect. The program is amazing. With the grace of God, I'm ready to set our on the next big adventure.

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