Two summers ago, I was visiting Super Summer, a church camp that is held every summer at Hannibal-LaGrange University in Hannibal, Mo., and while I was visiting, a speaker named Dr. Alvin Reid challenged the students who were there that week to go on an overseas mission trip before they graduated high school or went back to college in the fall. Having been the summer before my senior year of high school, I knew I was called to do something the summer after I graduated high school. So I took Dr. Reid up on this challenge.
I came back home from Super Summer that night and started praying if going somewhere overseas was what God wanted me to do before I went to college. I had no clue where to even begin looking for somewhere to go. There were no known mission trips that I was aware of that was happening at the time. So, like any other girl would do, I called up a good friend of mine and told her what God was doing in my life. She asked me what I was going to do next. I said, “Well, I don’t really know because I don’t know where to even start looking and this feeling of going on a mission trip before college just won’t go away.” My friend told me to check out iGo Global, a non-profit organization straight out of Wylie, Texas. So I did. I went to their website and eliminated some of the options because I didn’t meet some of the qualifications age-wise. The only one left was the UK. I said, “Okay God, if this is where you want me, I’ll go.”
And that’s just what I did. I got permission from my parents to go, filled out the application, sent it in, waited patiently and eagerly for about a couple of weeks, and after softball practice one day, I received a phone call from a lady at iGo Global saying that I had been accepted to go on the trip the next summer! I was so excited I almost knocked one of my teammates over.
After the call, I began going to work finding ways that I could raise the money to go. Exactly three days after Christmas in 2011, God provided more than enough money for me to go! He is so faithful!! After the money was raised, I received word from iGo Global that due to the Olympics and other circumstances, the trip had been moved from the UK to Paris, France. I wasn’t going to complain! God kept providing and everything kept falling into place. Fast forward a few months and it’s now the end of June 2012, where my family and I are making the trip down to Oklahoma so I can attend Base Camp for a couple of days before I actually ventured out to Paris. Base Camp was a two-day preparation in the fashion of a made-up country called iGosia, where we focused on spiritual preparation, cross-cultural training, and team building. Base Camp was so fun and so intense. It’s been labeled as one of my favorite parts about the trip.
As the final day of Base Camp closed to an end, we all headed up to our rooms to attempt to “nap” until we had to wake up at 3 a.m. to catch the bus that would take everyone to the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and begin to make our way to Paris! Once we left Dallas, we landed in Detroit. We left Detroit at around 5:55 p.m. which got us to Paris at approximately 8 in the morning. Since we were all jetlagged something serious, our lovely JSI’s (Junior Summer Interns from iGo Global who were sent to Paris to lead us) went with us on a scavenger hunt all over Paris to help prevent some of the jetlag. It worked to some degree.
Each day started with nutella and baguettes, an hour of reading the Word (the Bible), and studying the four seasons of harvest with our Journeyman (who works with the International Mission Board) Leslie. The four seasons of harvest were plowing, sowing, reaping, and vintage (discipleship). We were then dismissed with our treks groups to go out to our site and being the day. After spending about 6-7 hours every day prayer walking and building relationships with people, we came back to the Foyer, ate supper, which consisted of sandwiches and chips, had worship and teaching time with our speaker Toby, then had Celebration, which was a time at the end of each day that one person from each trek group got to tell everyone something awesome that God did that day or how He worked in someone’s life. It was a pretty awesome time to hear all of the stories that were shared!
On our last full day of prayer walking and building relationships in the parks that we as trek groups were assigned to, something awesome started to unfold before I could catch my breath. While we were in the park, I spotted a lady on a bench and my friend Katie had been asking me if I felt led to go and talk to anyone. I wasn’t going to go over and talk to her because she was talking on the phone, but as soon as Katie asked me that, the lady, whose name I later found out was Adele (she wasn’t the singer, sorry), hung up her cell phone and brought out a book to read. At that moment, I felt like that was nothing but a sign I had been praying for all week. So, off we went. Katie and I had the opportunity of sharing our stories of how we became Christians and Katie explained the Gospel to Adele. It was in that moment that I knew God had been listening to me beg all week long to give me just one person to talk to while in Paris. I’m still amazed at how He worked it all out!
On our last full day in France, we got to experience Paris by having a free day! As any tourist would, I saw the Eiffel Tower, shopped a little bit, ate in cafés, and just spent some quality time getting to know my trek group more. When the day to come home rolled around, I was definitely not ready to leave, but I knew good and well that I was to go home and be on mission every day like I had been in Paris; that I was to be intentional about sharing my faith with the people in my hometown.
God really opened me up and completely wrecked me while I was in Paris. He taught me that I need the Gospel every single day, and that if I don’t have it, then I won’t share it. He also taught me that I’m completely replaceable by Him. If I hadn’t accepted His call to go to Paris, He would’ve easily sent someone else in my place. He doesn’t need me to be a part of His ancient work, but He CHOSE me. He asked me the summer before I began my senior year of high school, “Carli, will you take some time out of your summer next year and come be a part of the work that I am doing in Paris, France?” You want to talk about a humbling experience this has been! I want absolutely no glory for simply being obedient to God’s calling. It was all Him.
I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who encouraged me, prayed for me, and supported me financially. Without you, and God, this trip wouldn’t have been possible at all. I simply will never be able to explain to you how much this meant to me. Thank you for sending me to do work to further God’s Kingdom. This one’s for you.