In July 2012 I went on my first mission trip ever to a place I barely even knew anything about, Ecuador. I had no idea how that trip was going to radically change my life. From the moment I stepped off the plane in country I knew God was up to something. I tried to soak in every moment of that trip. The sounds, the smells, the people, and the interactions with the precious children. My heart was completely broken knowing that each child I came into contact with had no Mommy or Daddy to kiss their boo-boos, hug them and tell them everything would be ok or tuck them in each night. I fell in love with one particular boy on that trip and it's been neat to see him grow each time I have been back. About going back, I will never forget the missionary woman, Denise whispering in my ear the last night we were there on that first trip "Follow your heart, God's got something big in store for you, listen and follow him".
After coming home and not being able to get Ecuador or those children out of my everyday thoughts I decided to see what it took to be a leader. In February of that year I went to leader training and lead my first team in October 2013. I've also lead a team in June 2014 and am leading a team this November and May. My prayer is to continue to go until God tells me otherwise. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about and pray for every single orphan that I have come in contact with there. Once you go you don't forget their faces, they become a part of you. I've always had a passion for the orphan but through Visiting Orphans that passion has become a burning desire to do something and to bring awareness to the orphan crisis around the world.
I can't go without mentioning something that happened on my June 2014 trip. I was in country for less than 24 hours when I received a phone call that my 7 year old son was having emergency surgery (an appendectomy). That moment was truly the hardest moment of my life. I had to surrender everything back home to God and knew that I had to put complete faith and trust in him because I had absolutely no control. We were in the van on the way to Covi, a street kids ministry in Quito when I got the call that he was going into surgery. I was offered to go home immediately (well, as soon as we could get a flight out) but I felt like God was telling me to stay for that moment. So, I went on with the trip as planned. God has our life's planned out and while this surgery was a complete surprise and shock to us it wasn't to him. He chose to send me to a foreign country during that time for a reason. Looking back, maybe it was to learn once again to trust him. Two days later I received a call telling me that my son's body was not responding well after surgery and there were complications. I knew then it was time to come home. Within hours by the grace of God I was on an airplane on my way home. I can't even begin to tell you what a roller coaster ride all of that was but my point in sharing is this, God IS in control of every situation in your life. We go on mission trips to share the gospel and love on others and to be a light for Jesus but in the end he uses them to change us and draw us closer to him in the process.