When we were in Puerto Rico in 2019 for mission work, we drove around with some of our free time to explore the area. After the hurricane much of the infrastructure was damaged. We didn’t always know what wasn’t there to begin with and what wasn’t there because of the storm, but there were regularly street signs missing. Google maps’ Spanish was pretty poor, which generally meant I had to translate what it said into actual Spanish and then translate that into directions for the driver. It also didn’t help that the satellite connection for said maps was spotty, so we took a few detours. Sonya was one of the women on the trip and she and her husband, Fred, have traveled a good bit. She said that when they went somewhere new, they didn’t say they were lost, Fred just said, “We’re seeing something we haven’t seen before.” It was a lovely phrase that our team adopted easily. We weren’t lost, we were just seeing something we hadn’t seen before. And it was true, and it made it all a bit of adventure—seeing things and doing things we’d never done before.
Mission trips often push you outside of your comfort zone. For many eating new foods, or being in a country where you can’t speak the language can be challenging. It’s hard to lose the confidence of self-sufficiency and instead rely on others in such significant ways. But it also forces you to experience things in new ways and grow in who you are. It requires humility, patience, and courage.
Yesterday, when I visited with Cally and Cathy, we talked about the challenges of the pandemic. I said, “It’s an adventure.” They laughed a little and I shared Sonya’s motto. We’re doing things and seeing things we’ve never done before. It’s challenging and forces us out of our comfort zone. And, if we can keep our focus—it’s an adventure that will allow us to grow. We’re trying new things, doing old things in ways we’ve never tried before. We are exploring. We might feel a little lost, or it might take longer to get to our destination. We could get upset and frustrated about it. Or, we might relocate ourselves within our current circumstances, get the supplies we need, and move ahead into the great unknown—after all, we’ve never been here before.
That’s not me trying to wash over the very real challenges of our current situation. I’m exhausted like most everyone. And, I know that perspective matters. How we look at something will affect how we’re able to deal with it. If I only choose to grieve what isn’t, I’ll miss the opportunity of this season. It will be challenging. It will be exhausting. It will take longer to get where I want to go. AND…I’m hoping to lean into this adventure and see and do things I’ve never done before.
*Originally published for Moscow First UMC