When I got the news last year that my scholarship, the Terry Scholarship, was going to cover a study abroad trip, I was ecstatic! My entire life I had dreamed of traveling all around Europe and living the traditional study abroad lifestyle. To be honest, going to Central America has never been something that I have desired. I truly had never even considered it before a few months ago.
I should really just rewind to the Spring 2015 semester because that’s when things began to change. February 17, 2015 was an influential day for me, as it has been in the past. That night changed my life again, in a totally different way. My college pastor at Overflow, gave a sermon about standing behind the cross instead of pulling it behind you where you go (putting God on your terms)–or even standing next to it and acting as if Christ is your partner (compartmentalizing Christ). Christ should be your LEADER because we must be hidden by His blood and love. In order to make that happen, I had to take a leap of faith and show Him I was letting Him lead me. That night, I signed up for Beach Reach (Spring break missions in Panama City Beach, Florida) and wrote a check right then. It was one of the more spontaneous things I have ever done, and for those who know me, I am not very spontaneous. That was my first mission trip and it was spectacular, but I knew that it was only the beginning. God spoke loud and clear during that trip, and really showed me that even though every day is a mission field, He wanted me to be obedient and stand behind the cross–letting HIM lead me. After I began to do that, I just kept being led towards the Spanish mission field time-and-time again. So when I started looking into the details of studying abroad, it really didn’t take too long for me to know that I wasn’t being called to Europe. I remember asking “So where God? Where do You want me? How can I use this money and this trip for You?”.
For awhile I didn’t get an answer to any of those questions. During summer 2015, God showed me a “burning bush” in my life and I took another leap of faith and changed my major to nursing. Still wanting to pursue studying abroad in summer 2016, I had absolutely no idea in what way He wanted to use me. I have found though that when you have no idea what God is going to do in your life (like absolutely no idea) and you don’t worry about it but just let Him do it, that’s typically when you get to see Him move mountains. A lot was going on during the Fall 2015 semester in my family so I really did not even dwell on the unknowing, which is also unusual for me. Then during October, I was on my computer late at night (as usual) just looking at study abroad programs. That was when I found Veritas (ISA), this is a Christian study abroad program that incorporates mission work into the study abroad experience. Okay, that was pretty cool–definitely my style, and definitely something I wanted to keep researching. It became so clear, so quickly, that was the program for me.
I remember emailing some of the Veritas advisors for awhile in October and November, and they immediately were talking to me about their Costa Rican program. I also remember being very selfish about my feelings about it. I didn’t want to go to Costa Rica. Why would I want to go to the rainforest? To a place where I would sweat half of my body weight in an hour? No way! Then, in the most abrupt of ways, my heart began to change towards the thought of Costa Rica. I had dreams, I had people who brought up the country out of nowhere in conversation, and I had curiosity in my late night google searches. I began to realize that every time I prayed for clarity and for answers, I was reminded of Luke 10:2-3 “He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” Every prayer that I prayed and every doubt that I had just kept being covered with “Beloved, Go!”. But every time I felt and heard those answers, I would deny that they came. Why? Who was I to question the Creator of the Universe? I was not at all standing behind the cross, I was trying to go somewhere and “drag” Him with me. That’s when I surrendered to the call to Costa Rica, a nation that may seem great on the outside (to tourists) but desperately needs the love and healing of Christ.
Since that day, the LORD has truly given me the desires of my heart, mainly because His desires have become my own. Costa Rica isn’t going to be a glamorous study abroad experience in almost any way, but I am so excited for this journey that I will embark on in a little over a month. I am so ready to be in a foreign country where I will have to lean solely on Him for words, actions, and opportunities.