When we started our time of missionary formation back in August, I had no idea what the Lord would ask of me during this year. It quickly became obvious that He desires for me to TRUST Him fully, completely, and with my whole heart. God showed me this in the most interesting ways including through a lot of physical activities like hiking, walking, biking, and some more hiking.
I had to trust God that my body was strong enough physically to do great things. During training, we hiked up what felt like a never-ending rocky set of stairs, walked 20 miles on a pilgrimage, and biked through the streets of Milwaukee.
Moving forward to November, two of us missionaries and a group of students at UW- Whitewater decided to go for a nice hike close to town on the last beautiful weekend of fall. We started with a one-mile loop around a pond where we saw a dog playing in the water and asked his owner to take a picture of our group. We finished the path we were on and then kept going on a different one, which we did not know would lead us far in the opposite direction of the parking lot.
Time flies by when you are having fun and let me tell you, I noticed that we kept walking for a while, but did not think much of it as I was deep in conversation with those around me. The sun was starting to set around us, and finally, the men came together to try and figure out where we were and how to get back to our cars before sunset.
This was another opportunity where God asked me to trust: trust the men were leading us in the right direction, trust the mile and a half we walked along a highway would end without any of us being hurt, trust we would make it back to our cars and this would be a great story to tell at a later time.
Trusting allowed me to cast my worries upon God and gave me the peace of mind necessary to keep me from missing some awesome sights: like my teammate Joe leading us all along the highway, the positivity of the students and their laughter which showed they were still having fun, and the most beautiful sunset as we reached our cars and drove to Dunkin Donuts. Let me tell you, hot chocolate was the perfect way to end such an adventure!
Let us pray together
Jesus, I trust in you.
Yeah, just kidding.
This was going to be challenge. I find it exhausting to make decisions most of the time, and planning a big event is not within my comfort zone, but the Lord has been gently inching me into scary places in my life in order to meet me there.
It seemed to be going well at first! Our little planning team was having a lot of fun, but since we were planning all this from scratch, I quickly began to feel overwhelmed with questions and busy-work. We had trouble finding speakers, there were cancellations, and a couple weeks out from the retreat I still had the feeling that it wasn’t coming together. I knew that the fruitfulness of retreat wasn’t dependent on me. I knew that the Lord is the Master of the harvest, and yet my fear was that I wasn’t leaving enough space in the planning for the Holy Spirit to guide me. It felt like my whole job consisted of trying to catch up on finding speakers, delegating, and to-do lists; I was so frustrated.
In prayer, I felt the toll of the stress, and I kept begging the Lord to enlighten my mind so that His Will might be done in the retreat. The Holy Spirit was so merciful. One day in adoration, it occurred to me that of all the things I had scheduled in the retreat, the only thing missing was a substantial time for prayer. I couldn’t believe it! That was the missing thing: prayer.
After including prayer, I felt much more at peace and I could see the Lord blessing our efforts. As the day came closer, I decided that I would try to keep the mindset of an attendee rather than the mindset of someone who planned the retreat, and honestly that was such a blessing! There were some last minute hiccups, but by being more detached from the planning I was able to see how the Holy Spirit was moving through the retreat.
There were so many themes and coincidences that I could not have planned ahead of time, and it became clear to me that the Holy Spirit had been guiding me even when I didn’t know it. What a loving God He is!
Reflecting back on the retreat now, I’m blown away by how God works in my blindness and takes care of me. My life as a missionary makes it even easier to see how God loves his children and brings good out of every situation – even by bringing surprising plans out of a poor planner.