As many people would start out their story, I grew up going to church. I went to Sunday School every week and sang in the choir from a very young age. I knew all of the bible stories and grasped the concept of God and His son Jesus, but never really understood fully what it meant to have a relationship with God. It stayed this way up until about the summer of 6th grade.
We had recently just moved to Charles City and towards the end of the year, one of my friends asked me to come to the youth group he went to. At first I didn't really want to, but I finally decided I'd go. I showed up at this school, and went in and was overwhelmed by the number of kids that were there, enjoying themselves and having a great time together. I met some the adult leaders while I was there. People such as Ellen, who was pregnant at the time, Gayle and Andy. Who would guess that these people would come to be such good friends and people so dear to my heart...
I enjoyed myself so much, that I told my mom I wanted to go back. So we checked out the Sunday Service that next week. My mom enjoyed Bethany Alliance, so we decided we would start coming. I started going to youth group, a discipleship group, and just began to become very invovled with the church. My whole 7th grade year is when my relationship with the Lord grew a ton. I began to realize what it meant to have a relationship with God and began to grow deeper in my faith.
The summer of 7th grade, I had the opportunity to take a mission trip to Ensenada, Mexico with the youth group. I jumped at this opportunity. It was on this trip that God put a desire for mission work in my heart. He stirred something up that trip and since then the desire hasn't grown any weaker. I came back a changed person. I went back the following summer, and each time I came back with something new that God had taught me. I began to do more with church, between a few different ministries or other things, I started looking for more ways to become involved.
Not only did I gain a deeper relationship with God on these trips, but I also gained relationships with friends that are amazing. The bond that was formed on these trips is one that can never be broken. I thank God frequently for my friends. We all get along so well, and have such a good time together...it's amazing. I'm very lucky to have such a good group of friends!
Now up to this summer...As a youth group we planned to take a backpacking trip to the mountains in Montana. We were all way excited! We were all looking forward to spending one last summer together before people started leaving for college. I had my decision made from the beginning, I was going to Montana. But then one Sunday, Kent got up and started talking about the different Taiwan trips, and I felt God stir my heart. I just pushed it away because in my mind there wasn't any way it would work, I couldn't do both, and I was going to Montana. Boy, did God have other ideas! Taiwan seemed to be popping up everywhere, it got to be the last week to sign up for the trip, so I thought I would do the second half of the trips, that way I could still go to Montana. I had my mind pretty much made up and then I met with Kent, and he told me to pray about it. So I did, and I knew then that I was supposed to go on both trips to Taiwan, Montana wasn't in the plans for this summer, and that was tough to accept.
Now as I look back, it's amazing to see how God works in our lives. He had a specific plan for these trips to Taiwan, and I was a part of it. He taught me so much and again I gained TONS of new friendships, that will, like all the other ones, never be broken. I'm so thankful for the way God works. It's not always easy, but His plan is always best...you just have to be willing to do what He asks of you. When you do that, your life will be full of sweet, sweet things.
As I look ahead to my future, I'm at peace knowing God has it all figured out. He knows exactly where I'll be, whether it's here in the US, or around the world, He knows. And I find great peace in knowing that. I find it hard to wait sometimes, I want to find out His plan and run with it now. I would love to be able to live overseas right now. But I have to keep reminding myself that God's timing is perfect, and it will all work out. For now I have to focus on serving him here, where he's put me. To honor the King and advance His kingdom...