BY MARCY HOLDER, GRACE BLOGGER & ATTENDER
A Tough Decision
The decision to go on a short term mission trip was a challenging one for me. I’m an introvert and had never traveled out of the country. Self-employed, I’d need to take unpaid time off. And working out two weeks of logistics for my two children who would remain at home was no small task. Even so, four years ago with nerves dancing in my stomach, I hit submit.
My thirteen year-old son and I had just signed up to spend two weeks at the special needs camp in Zhytomer, Ukraine and there was no doubt that God led us to this particular trip. He’d confirmed it when 12 hours after I’d introduced the idea to my husband, my son asked to go on one of the short-term trips. Again, when I randomly flipped to a documentary on Ukrainian orphans. And for the third time when I picked up my daughter from a sleepover. Though I’d just met the mom, Carolina a native Georgian who grew up in the same region as Ukraine, she made an entire ethnic meal and insisted I come in and eat lunch.
Five months after signing up for the trip, $4,000 after God miraculously provided funds, and several training meetings with our team later, I went into our commissioning feeling like I might need that airplane bag just a little early. Before several pastors and staff members prayed over us, Keith Carlson asked each of us to share one word about what the trip signified for us. When a word rose up inside of me, I tried to push it back down. It seemed like a selfish word for a mission trip but it would not be silenced. Healing. I sensed God say, “through this trip Marcy, I will continue the healing I have been doing in your soul.”
Our actual travel to Ukraine was more like an adventure than a trip. When we arrived we were all exhausted and dehydrated but while the high school and college students on our team seemed to be energized by all the travel changes and delays, I was feeling overwhelmed in every possible way. On the last flight, God had used a song from my playlist to remind me that He was and would continue to be with me through this stretching experience. The song, Hosanna by Paul Baloche talks about praise calming our fears and turning our hearts from ourselves towards God. The line that encouraged me was “when you see me you find strength to face the day.” Walking onto the tarmac in Kiev, I had no idea how he was getting ready to show up.
As we stood waiting to be cleared into the country, the smells and sounds put me into sensory overload. I was struggling to keep myself grounded and feeling guilty because I was of no help to my son who was also exhausted and overwhelmed. It wasn’t the first time I’d wondered why we’d signed up for the trip. I didn’t know it, but God had set events into place months before to calm my fear, turn my heart and strengthen me in this very moment when I felt I couldn’t continue.
What God Did
Each time I remember God meeting me in the Kiev airport, I’m still completely amazed. Ten minutes after landing I was feeling intimidated by the border and customs procedures. We were crammed into a small area getting ready to check into the country and I turned around to make sure all my son’s paperwork was in order. When I looked up, I remember being confused and wondering if the sleep deprivation was getting to me because standing not ten feet away was my new friend Carolina, who had served me a four course, and her three children. They had flown out of Florida and traveled through completely different countries than we had. Our team had arrived almost an entire day later than scheduled. The result was a family from my hometown, in a Ukrainian airport, 5,078 miles from home, checking into the country at exactly the same time we were. Carolina had mentioned they’d be traveling but had not shared the dates. After hugs and explanations to our confused team members, I left the airport with the assurance that God was with me and would continue to be with me through the remainder of the trip. There were no odds for this meeting, there was only God showing up exactly as he’d promised, with strength to face the day.
I could tell you so many stories about Ukraine. I was honored to spend most of my time with the mothers and grandmothers of the campers. I could tell you about the discrimination they face in a culture that often views their children as subhuman. These women care for their beautiful children in conditions and circumstances that we, in our privileged culture, cannot imagine. I could share with you the pride the children took in participating in skits, songs, camp olympics, and the crafts. Ukrainians of all ages love the crafts! I could share about the precious souls of the boys who live in the orphanage and how my heart fractured in ways it will never fully recover from as we toured their living quarters. Or the relationships I built with team members that continue to this day or the way it took me weeks to assimilate back into our embarrassingly indulgent culture.
Each of these experiences are rich with stories of the ways God met me in deeply life-changing ways. But the biggest thing I learned from my trip to Ukraine is when God opens a door in front of me, he will walk through it with me. I could have said no to our trip. I could have balked at the price, the logistics, the difficult soul-work of preparing for, experiencing, and decompressing from the trip. But if I would have walked away from the massive challenge of being a part of this special needs camp, I would have missed out on countless precious moments that God used to show me just how much he loved me. Just how much he knew me. Just how much he would provide his supernatural strength when I needed it most.
I could have said no, but I would have missed out on countless precious moments that God used to show me just how much he loved me. Tweet This
I’m wondering about you though, have you considered one of the short term trips this year? Have you read through the information about the trips being offered? Did one of them grab you in a way you can’t explain? In a way that doesn’t make sense but that you can’t quite seem to shake? Because if it did and you’re thinking about it right now, I want you to know something. God will do the same thing for you that he did for me. If he has put within you an insistent nudge that won’t be silenced, he will add supernatural math to your fundraising efforts. He will iron out logistics with a holy heat. He will meet you in new and exciting ways and begin a work inside you that will continue for years to come. And you will not be sorry.
Will You Go?
You’ll be taken to the end of yourself and exposed to brokenness you didn’t know existed. You’ll be exhausted and challenged in ways you can’t imagine. But you will not be sorry. Go ahead, hit submit. I dare you.
See a list of trips.