When I first visited Utah with my college’s worship team Momentum, everyone said they would move there, except me. It was too hot. To be fair, it was the heat-wave week when we visited so it was 102 degrees. God has a sense of humor.
When I first met Garrett, I pretty quickly came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t end up with him because he wanted to join the Marine Corps. God definitely worked on both of us in this relationship. God has a sense of humor.
All growing up, I told myself I wasn’t going to be a missionary because I’m not built for it. I have trouble eating a lot of foods, I struggle with sleeping in different environments, I’m horrible at evangelizing and new people in large groups scare me. In college I even took a spiritual giftings test, and on Evangelism and Missions I scored 1 out of 20.
Needless to say, God has a sense of humor.
When Garrett and I first decided to join Final Greetings, I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. I was joining a band like I had toured in before, just smaller and more focused on serving. I was so utterly unaware that I was joining a missionary team within a missionary organization. But as we started applying and talking to people within A Jesus Mission, I started to understand a little better.
My mom came to visit me and help me go wedding dress shopping as it was almost time to say goodbye to Garrett when he started touring. She told me a story I’d heard from her many times as I was growing up. When I was two, my parents couldn’t find me anywhere. They searched the house top to bottom and still I was lost. After frantically calling the neighbors, they found out that I had gone out the front door and walked to my friends’ house because I wanted to play. My mom was so mad, and as most parents do she prayed a sarcastic prayer: “God, why does she do that?!”
This time my mom told me that God answered her in her frustration: “Because one day, she needs to leave and never look back.”
My mom knew in that moment that I was going to be a missionary, even though I blinded myself to it for years. I guess all the stories of pastors saying they never wanted to be one actually came true for me too.
This year at the AJM Gathering of the Bands, we had a few Q&A sessions where people were asking questions about how to raise donors, how to deal with expectations from family and how to walk through leaving behind your original idea of what your life would look like. And one of the things Andy shared caught my attention. Now that we know our lives aren’t fulfilled by what we were doing before, we can never go back. We can’t leave the ministry to have a 9-5 job and feel fulfilled if it’s out of selfish desires instead of God’s calling.
This break was absolutely amazing. We got to spend time with all of our immediate family members, both in Washington and in Utah. We had a chance to rest and really enjoy being with family, and also with friends. But the hardest part was knowing we’d have to leave.
The last couple months has been for me learning what it really means to be a missionary. I know that Garrett and I will be a part of AJM probably for the rest of our lives, because of the community but also because, as Andy said, we can never go back.
The past few months I’ve been thinking about what I really do have to give up in order to serve God fully. It’s been hard, realizing that we may not be having kids within the next 5-10 years. It’s been hard realizing I won’t get to see my niece and nephews more than a couple times a year. And it’s been hard knowing that when we do eventually stop it will most likely be across the country, or more likely in a different country all together.
But through it all, there are two things that have given me hope. The first is that it’s only for a time. I’m sacrificing my own wants to push forward God’s kingdom, for a time. It’s 70 years of sacrifice for the rest of eternity, and though I may not be rewarded here I will be there. I will still get to see my family, my niece and my nephews in heaven(hopefully! I’ll be praying for them like crazy).
The next encouragement is this verse: “Truly I tell you,” said Jesus, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for My sake and for the gospel will fail to receive a hundredfold in the present age—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, along with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).
This kind of ministry is hard. It’s late hours, seeing different people week to week with no assurance of white time we’ll eat, sleep, or have time to just be a married couple. In the midst of leaving our families, we gain more families across the world. In the midst of giving up our own plans for life, we gain a better life in heaven.
Being a missionary is both the easiest and the hardest decision I ever made in my life. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t, but I know I’m better off for it, and so are the people that we’ve met this past year. I’ve been learning to keep an eternity perspective, because this life is only for a time. I’m learned to leave and never look back.