Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Unbelievable. (part one)

"Can you believe it?"

Have you ever found yourself in a situation that you simply couldn't believe?

That's where I am right now. 

Sitting at the computer with my fingers resting on the keyboard, trying to figure out exactly what I should say to describe the past few months to you. 

Let me start at the beginning. 

Last October I attended a ministry conference with some of the people in my church. It was a one day conference with a wide selection of workshops to choose from. About half-way through the day I started to feel lousy. I knew I was getting sick. With three out of four workshops finished I was ready to call it quits and go curl up in the car and wait for everyone else. 
But instead, I began wandering the halls of a huge, unfamiliar church looking for my next workshop selection. 
I couldn't find it. I guess I'm not too great at reading maps. Anyways, everyone else was already where they needed to be and I knew that I needed to figure something out or I would look really dumb walking into class late (I have my pride to think of, after all). So, I made a bee-line for the nearest door and found a seat in the back of the room.

I ended up in a workshop from a ministry called Youth Missions International (YMI). A ministry that sent young adults (teens and college students) on short term mission trips all over the world. The workshop was an introduction to the ministry as well as 2012 trip opportunities.

"Oh great." I thought. 
I just wasted my last workshop on something that I can't even use!

Within the first ten minutes of the workshop I decided two things:

1. It would not be possible (for various reasons) for me to join a team and go on a short term missions trip during the summer of 2012.
2. Even if it was possible, I didn't want to go with an organization I knew nothing about. I'd rather go visit a missionary I already knew, with people I was already acquainted with (like my Youth Group).


Have you ever tried to limit God?

For the remainder of the workshop I had an internal argument discussion with God.

"I've been away from home two summers in a row! I can't commit another summer to being gone. I need to spend this summer at home." 

"Three thousand dollars is a lot of money. Not that You couldn't do it, Lord...But with the economy the way it is... Is it worth it for such a short mission trip?"

"I'm too busy to spend the next six months preparing for a trip, and completing required assignments. My plate is already too full!"

"My parents are not going to let me do this."

"I don't want to go."

In all honesty, I have no clue why I was so opposed to the idea of going on a mission trip with YMI. In fact, that's a little out of character for me. For two years now I have had the idea of going on a short term mission trip in my head. I did want to go on one eventually. But I had no intention of seeking one out at the time. 

By the end of the workshop I had come to these two conclusions:

1. Youth Missions International did look like a good ministry.
2. I would mention it to my parents and see what their reaction was.

When I stood up to leave I didn't talk to anyone from YMI nor did I take any of their materials with me, I just left. I figured I might look up their website later, depending on what my parents thought.

During the 3 minute walk back to the main auditorium God began to open my mind and heart to allowing Him to tell me what to do. 

God is so gracious. 

I did get sick that night and was in bed for four days trying to get well so I could resume my life. 
And I did mention YMI to my parents. They told me to get as much information as I could and to pray about it. They also told me that no, they weren't too crazy about the idea.

I did look up YMI's website. 
And I prayed. 
My parents looked it up.
And they prayed.
I presented it to my church family. 
And they prayed. 

A little over a week later, I found myself filling out an application to join a YMI team for a 2012 mission trip. 
Two days later, I was accepted. The only details I had were that my trip location would be somewhere in Asia, the financial need was around $3,300, and I would be working with children. I would meet my team and learn more details at the 5-day training camp I was required to attend. 

6 days passed quickly. 
But on Tuesday, the day before the training camp, my Grandma Ruth, who had been living with us for three years, was admitted to the emergency room.
3am Wednesday morning, the day I was to leave for the training camp, 
she passed away. ("It's unexpected")

I remember sitting in my Grandma's room at 6am, staring at the wall. Reeling from the death of a woman that I dearly loved.  In 10 hours I was supposed to leave for a mission trip training. All I could think was, 
"God, I can't go to this training. I need to be here right now with my family. I can't do this."

I had to make a decision. 

The Lord ministered to me throughout the day, and made it clear that I needed to go to the training. He wanted me there. So that evening I found myself in a group of strangers, mentally exhausted and emotionally raw, with fresh grief hiding just below the surface. 

The training was amazing. I met my team; an incredible group of 10 young people that burned with a passion to serve Jesus and a desire to be molded into His image. I also met my team leaders, a married couple that expressed the love of Christ so clearly that it impacted me in ways I can't describe. It was exactly what I needed. Jesus continued to speak to my heart all throughout week. It was definitely a time of stretching. Someone once told me that you have to be stretched in order to grow, and you have to step outside your comfort zone to be stretched. (That would involve being uncomfortable!)

We ditched our comfort zones within the first 24 hours of training camp.

I learned a lot about cultural differences, functioning as a team, sharing the gospel,  and falling more in love with my Savior. And that's just the beginning. Needless to say, I was totally unprepared for what God did that week. 


Have you ever tried to limit God to a level of predictability?

He is so awesome!

It's been months since the training. 
Between school, church activities, and life, I've been preparing for a mission trip and growing closer to Jesus every step of the way. 

I will be gone again this summer, but my summer belongs to God. However He chooses to use it, is fine with me.
Finances? Last night I received my final contribution. My funds are currently at $3,300, even though the fund-raising schedule set by YMI says I should expect to have only $1,650 by now. Money is not a problem for my Creator. 
Those assignments I was worried about? God has provided for every detail and helped me meet every deadline. 
And my parents? They're my biggest supporters.

Best of all, God has encouraged me and given me an abundance of joy! I'm excited! 

I'm going to Indonesia this summer! Can you believe it?

How cool is that?


"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
-Acts 1:8
(YMI's cornerstone verse)

NOTE: If you would like more information on my trip, and the process the Lord has been leading me through please comment below and let me know! I send out updates via mail or email every month.  


  1. This is so amazing Joanna! God is so good! I have been so in awe of watching God work in and through your life. God so wants you to go on this trip!
    Participating in praying for you and watching with the children I see God's hands on you through out it all.
    This trip will be so amazing for you and God will open your eyes to so much. Stand strong, Joanna, pray hard, and God will do amazing things through you. <3 Love you girl!

  2. wow...Didnt know the whole story till now...SO EXCITED to see what God is gonna do with you over there!!!!!