We don’t always have a plan that takes us years into the future. Most of us set goals a little at a time, and once we achieve those goals we set new ones. We often change our likes and dislikes over the years. That doesn’t mean we are wishy-washy or that we compromise our core beliefs, but at one season of our lives we are passionate about something, and then at other times we are passionate about something else. It is this ability to change and adapt, and set new goals that allows us to go beyond ourselves—to get out of our box, and make a difference in the world.
This story has to do with my daughter, Aubrey, and her first mission trip with me. For years I had been going on mission trips to Albania and Turkey, and I would frequently suggest to my kids that they should go on one with me sometime. By this time two of my sons, Josh and Joe had gone with me, but Aubrey repeatedly said she didn’t want to go. She had heard the stories that inspired my posts, You Left My Baby!!!, and The Night of The Chicken, and I guess she just didn’t want any part of that.
One February, Karen and I went to Kansas City with our youngest son Joe for Karen’s birthday. Our son Jon was living in Kansas City going to school, and Aubrey was a student at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, so she drove over to spend the weekend with us. It was a snowy day, but we had a long list of things that we wanted to do.
That afternoon I was driving down one of the freeways with Aubrey, Jon, and Joe sitting in the back seat, when Aubrey just out of the blue said, “Hey Dad, next time you go on a mission trip I want to go with you.” I quickly checked my carotid pulse to make sure I was still alive, and said, “Really?” “Yea, I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I would really like to go to Africa if you ever get the chance.”
I didn’t know if she was just hedging her bets knowing that I had never been to Africa before, and it was unlikely that I ever would go, and thus she would be off the hook. But Karen and I were very excited that she had come at least as far as saying she wanted to go, since before it had always been an adamant No!
The next day, back in Wichita, I got a phone call at my office from a man named Daniel who worked with Hospitals of Hope International. He said he had gotten my name from someone because of the mission trips I had been on, and he wanted to know if I would be interested in joining a team that was being put together to set up healthcare clinics in Liberia. My jaw pretty much dropped to the floor, but after a moment I was able to come out of my stupor and ask for specific information. The bottom line was that the team was leaving in June. I told him I would have to pray about it, and I would have to see if it was even possible since I had just been in Kazakhstan three months before in December.
After hanging up from Daniel I called Aubrey who had just gotten out of class. I said, “Hey Aub, you are not going to believe this, but I was just asked to put a dental team together to go to Liberia in June.” She said, “You’re kidding! What a coincidence! So what did you say?” I told her that I was going to pray about it, and then let him know in two weeks. The next Monday I was at a continuing education seminar, and I ran into a dental school classmate whose daughter Stephanie just happened to be one of Aubrey’s room mates at KSU. She said,” Hey Rob, I understand that Aubrey and Stephanie are going with you to Liberia this summer.” I was pretty shocked, and said, “Where did you hear that? I haven’t even decided to go yet.” She said that the girls had it all worked out, and were making plans to go with me. She told me that Stephanie was very excited because she had always wanted to go on a mission like this. I called Aubrey after my continuing education meeting to find out what was going on, and she told me that they were already looking into passports, and what kind of “shots” they needed.
I am the type of person that believes that when I pray about something I expect God to answer somehow, and give me clear direction. So when all these events coincidentally took place I didn’t really look at them as being a coincidence. I thought, “Well God must want me to go to Liberia.” Along with Hospitals of Hope, He arranged for my daughter, and her college room mate to have the desire to go, and there by, giving me a nudge in that direction.
The following Monday I called Daniel and told him I felt that I should go with the team to Liberia. I told him the story about Aubrey and Stephanie, and after I finished there was a pause, and then he said, “Hmm… amazing.” He went on to say that ever since I had given an indication that I would at least consider going, and that I would pray about it, He and the rest of the team had been praying everyday that I would go. I said, “Hmm… so I guess I really didn’t have a chance.” He said, “No, it looks like you really didn’t have a chance.”
Aubrey and Stephanie did a great job while they were in Liberia, but I think it was because they were ready, and that they really wanted to be there. Aubrey hadn’t been ready to go on a foreign mission when I asked her in the past, but she knew the invitation was always open, and when she was ready—mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally—she went. Since that time she has also gone with me to the Mathare Valley slums in Nairobi, Kenya.
Sometimes we just need time to process an invitation like that. An invitation that will definitely get you out of your comfort zone, and stretch you beyond what you think you are capable of doing. When you are ready—you’re ready. When you are not—you’re not. But when you are ready be prepared to jump on the wildest ride you have ever been on, and know that your little bit can maybe help someone else’s life be better…not to mention your own.
May God Bless You until next time!