Janice is a graduate of Cal Baptist University and was part of the Philippines team this year.
From beginning to end, this whole trip did not go according to plan or how I imagined. I thought the missions experience had to be a certain way for me to receive the optimal level of lessons learned. As a graduated senior, I didn’t want to lose what was my first, and also seemed to be my last opportunity to go on missions. Therefore, I wanted to squeeze out every drop from this trip to make it the “best experience”. However, God rebuked me from the beginning, starting with the location. The only country I wanted to go to was India. I thought the ideal way to grow was to leave the comforts of familiarity and physically suffer, which India seemed to offer, but that didn’t happen. However, I was placed in the Philippines, which, from rumors, seemed to have the opposite reputation. My first thoughts were, “Great, am I going to be able to learn and experience everything I want in a place that is so comfortable and so similar to home? Is all this work and time going to be worth it?” Behind all the good things about missions, everything was about me, me, me.
Starting with that and onto every preconceived notion that I had about missions was proved wrong on the field. The missionary contact, Manang Chit, said that missions didn’t have to be physically difficult or even difficult for us to receive the message that God already plans to teach us, because our God is sovereign. In obedience we go and trust as God does the rest. I was reminded once again of how my plans could fail but that His sovereignty never does, as He worked in every aspect of my life this summer in ways I could not have imagined or planned.
Socially, I understood how important it is to be intentional with relationships, which was an area that I was trying to grow in prior. I learned the value of real and vulnerable Christ-centered relationships among fellow brothers and sisters as we all strived towards the same goal with different talents and gifts that God gave us. We helped each other identify and affirm our strengths that God gifted us with and to address and bring to light our weaknesses, in hopes to grow together. Now this is the body of Christ.
Mentally and emotionally, God uprooted my deepest insecurities and brought them to the surface as he affirmed me and told me that this didn’t define who I was. Through people and the Word, I was able to identify and accept my insecurities as God worked to heal me and free me.
Spiritually, God helped me embrace simple foundational truths that I knew in my head all my life but didn’t quite understand in my heart. The personal game changer: God is good, especially to me. This is something that Manang Chit verbally recites and preaches daily into her life. This truth hit home. Despite everything that happened and my circumstances, God is unconditionally good to me. He promises that He is before us and after us. Not only was I able to apply these gains on the mission field but it had a lasting impact back at home. I began to understand what it meant to be changed from the inside out.
Walking into missions training, I thought that the years of serving at church put me in a good place to offer good things to the people abroad but I returned so filled. I didn’t know that God would be mindful of the little cracks and holes that needed to be repaired. The areas that I didn’t know were empty. Going in, I thought this would be the first and last trip but even that was not true. This summer was definitely a stepping stone to future missions. I don’t know what that looks like yet, but what I can say with confidence is that this is just the beginning.
Trust – Go – Be Filled