I think it's amazing how God uses different events and/or people to change or shape our lives, pruning us into different and better individuals for His glory.
So, what are some things that have changed my life? I can think of a few, and in order for this not to take too long, maybe I'll only talk about one per blog!
So, I'm going to start with my Teen Missions trip. And I'll give you the short version. Nathan was lucky enough to get the long version on our first date, but that's a whole other story.
Wow! What an experience. I went on Teen Missions the summer between Grade 11 and Grade 12, 1994. (For those who are mathematically challenged, yes that makes me 30 now - gasp!) I read about it in Brio magazine. And, being the sun-lovin' gal that I am, I picked going to The Bahamas! Turns out it wasn't all fun in the sun.
In total I was gone for 8 weeks. The first 2 weeks were were an intensive Boot Camp training in the swamplands of Florida - let's just say we shared living space with wild hogs, water snakes and were on the constant look out for crocs - need I go on?). Then we were off to the Bahamas for 5 weeks, and then back to Florida for 1 week debriefing.
Boot Camp was horrid.
Yup, let me tell you, I wanted to turn around and go home. (In fact - this was an option at the end of the 2 weeks during a highly emotional candlelighting service.) I was dehydrated, I was sick, I was exhausted, I was in culture shock (no electricity, no toilets, no showers - what was I thinking?!). And I didn't exactly have the greatest attitude. But during mandatory devotions one day God got through to my thick skull. This trip was for HIM, not me. This was for His glory. I was not able to do this on my own. This was a big shocker to me - I've always been somewhat prideful of my ability to be independent, to be determined and to succeed. But this... this was beyond me. I had to totally rely on God for the first time in my life!
Plus, this was expensive, people had sponsored me, and my parents wouldn't be impressed if I quit and came home :)
In all seriousness though, my attitude did a 180 and things drastically improved after that.
Oh, and the Bahamas, as I'm sure most of you are aware, is a third world country outside of the resorts. The poverty is incredible.
Our team was a work team, and our job was to build a brick cabin for a Christian youth camp there. I think we had to mix cement by hand almost every day in that heat!
And tenting got old in a hurry, let me tell you! For some reason, I am not a huge fan of camping anymore. (Anymore?! Who am I kidding? I've never been a fan of camping - this just confirmed it). Scrubbing my own laundry by hand, digging our own outhouse, dumping a bucket of water over my head for a shower - nope, not fun in the sun. But great for character development!
And the culture shock coming home was even greater than it was going down there. Everything back home seemed so loud, so fast - and so materialistic. I felt guilt and yet, some sense of superiority for being above those who were so superficial - amazing how quickly sin can creep in! So, those issues needed dealing with as well.
But, yes - God took those 8 weeks and transformed me. Yes, I still like to be independent - but I started to (and continue to need to) rely on God instead of myself. No, things aren't all about me. Actually - that's another deep thought for a different post.