My first missions trip was not what I dreamed. For years, I envisioned what missions would be like. I thought I would love every moment of it and be excited by the different people, smells, and cultures. I knew there would be difficult moments but I thought I would love to push through each one because that is my personality. I attempted to schedule a mission trip many times but it never worked out. One day I saw photos on my friend Aria’s account. Each photo represented contagiously happy children. I signed up for the Global Encounters trip to India immediately and was amazed how God provided the funding within the month.
An unexpected storm caused our plane to land in a different city. As soon as we arrived at our destination, we started working with a Muslim group. The facility was tight and we were restricted in what we could share with them. Yet, the kids were gloriously happy to be squished in there. They were engaged, rambunctious, and eager to learn. It was a joy to tell them stories but by the end of the first week, many of us felt sick, tired, and stressed. Oftentimes, when we get tired or stressed it is often because we are making sacrifices for our own version of success.
During the second week, we began to experience challenges with some of the people we were working with. The shock from the different sights, smells, food, and culture made me feel very homesick. I felt physically ill and I struggled with the temptation to close off from people. In spite of it all we had more kids than we were expecting. They just kept coming.
Seeing the kids run towards us beaming, enthusiastically singing, and exuberantly dancing made every sacrifice worth it.
Emily and I worked with older kids that week and the stories weren’t really targeted to the audience. We had to figure out ways to make it more applicable to them. One day we had a conversation with them about how God is always there. We shared some personal struggles that we thought they could relate with. For the first time, I shared about my story about abuse I experienced as a child. At one point our translator stopped translating because she felt it was too personal for the kids to hear and got up. Even after she left, the kids figured it out and translated what we were saying to each other. I was terrified and struggled through the tears. But, what a glorious response I experienced. Watching their faces light up with recognition caused me to realize God used even those awful experiences for His glory.
He used my weakness, fatigue, and vulnerability to demonstrate His love to these precious girls, whose lives are exponentially harder than I could ever imagine. When I finally gave up my dreams for a successful mission trip, God revealed His.
Elise grew up in Evergreen, CO, with a younger sister and a younger brother. While her family regularly attended church, her Christian walk grew most while attending summer camp IdRaHaJe annually in Bailey, CO. She grew up with a love for dance, and moved to Indiana with her husband, Jonathan, in 2016 to finish her degree in dance and small business management. She will graduate in the spring of 2019, and is looking forward to what God has planned for her and Jon, as well as their puppy Luna, after graduation!