(not caught up? read part 1)
I blinked. Twice. I haven’t ever really been speechless in my life, but I can honestly say for a few seconds after I heard those words, I was indeed, at a loss for words. What do I say? “Um, okay! Well, I mailed it in at the end of January.” I heard Tom reply. Oh! You mailed it in? Well that’s different. I’ve been gone for a month, let me look on my desk. He made a joking remark about the pile of papers and I breathed a sigh of relief. I prayed. I waited. Okay, Ellie? I found it! I am so sorry about that. I will get it off to the committee and I will get back to you in about a week. I almost cried. I said thank you probably a million times and then we said goodbye. I jumped up and down. Again, I thanked the Lord. This was clue #2 that He had something big in store. I was getting the feeling that I was going to go to Guatemala. I mean, so much had happened already. Doors had opened, no blood work, getting my application in on time, finding my application. I was praying that I would go. Even though I never really admitted it to anyone, my heart was dead set on going. I wanted to be there that summer so badly. I honestly didn’t want to spend my summer any other way. When I thought about the possibility of me not going, I was torn. My heart ached for that place.
That week was the hardest one of my life. I anxiously checked my email multiple times a day, and prayed so much. God, I need You. Like, this is really hard. What if I don’t go? That would be Your plan, but wow, would it be difficult. Just... be with me now. A week went by. No news. I needed to send out letters and raise money if I was going to go right? That needed to be soon! The emotions and thoughts from that week are so fresh in my mind still. It was an inner battle of trusting God and wanting to know THAT INSTANT what my summer would look like.
Let me pause and say that I hope you see the theme here. God was seriously working on my heart in the area of trusting Him. Not just knowing that He’s faithful and wanting to believe that. But really and truly believing that God knows exactly what He is doing. He knows my future. He knew what my summer of 2012 would hold before the world began. I needed to trust in Him. It was a must, not a maybe. And it didn’t come easy! It wasn’t like, “Let me push this button and voila! FULL TRUST MODE.” No. I prayed. So much. I have never felt so dependent or needy in my life. God was faithful. He filled me. He gave me so much grace to wait. Patiently.
Okay, so usually, I’m a wonderful student. I pay attention in class, I answer questions, you know. But for some reason, on March 13, during chemistry class, I couldn’t pay attention. I got out my phone and checked my email. One new message. I clicked on my inbox. The subject of the unread email was: ROH Summer Trip to Guatemala. My heart stopped. I wanted to open and read it. But I was in the middle of class! I clicked on it anyway. As I read my heart became so happy. I felt like I was going to burst at the seams. I looked up and saw my friend looking at me. I quietly mouthed, “I’m going to Guatemala! I just got the email!” She gave me a big grin and a thumbs up. Wow. Those words came out of my mouth. I’m going to Guatemala. Leaving that class and driving home, all I could think about was how wonderful that news had been. I turned on worship music and started singing loudly. Bless the Lord oh my soul / Oh my soul / Worship His holy name / Sing like never before / Oh my soul / Worship His holy name // It was a wonderful thing to enter my house with the words, “I’M GOING TO GUATEMALA” on my tongue.
A few days later, I sent out my support letters. A few weeks went by. School was crazy and then spring break hit. I needed to get a new passport in order to go. It took 6 weeks to get one. I had two months and they needed my passport number in order to book my international flights. I panicked. We never had the time to go and get it but it was something I knew we needed to do. More praying. God, I really need You right now. I need my passport. We can never go and get it. It will take 6 weeks to receive and they need my passport information in the next month. Please give me faith. I’m really struggling right now. And I was. Inside, I knew that if God wanted me to go, I would be in Guatemala this summer. But it was taking so long to get everything together. Finally, I was able to go to the post office. Hi, I would like to get a new passport. I have all of the documents here. “Okay, how old are you?” 17. I’ll be 18 in four days. “Oh, I’m sorry, you have to have a legal guardian with you if you are under 18.” Oh okay. But, I’m turning 18 in just a few days. See? It’s right here on my license. Would I be able to do it because I am so close? “No. Sorry.” I walked back to my car and started crying. God. Why. I came all this way, I finally had a time slot in my schedule where I could come, and they shut me down. I called my mom. She was sorry. We would come back another time and we would get it. It would all be fine. I’m so grateful that she stayed level-headed when I didn’t. I really needed that.
A week later, my dad and I went and talked about our options. So, she needs this for a missions trip this summer and we really would like to get it as soon as possible. “Okay! Well, you can pay a bit extra and get it in under two weeks!” Wow. God again. We paid the extra money, wrote a little note on the form, and sent it off. I left the post office with very different thoughts in my head from the first time. God knew the whole time that I would get my passport in time. He was testing me. He was growing my trust in Him. I needed to be stretched. It was good for me. I got my passport in a little over a week. Clue #3 folks.
The next month was a blur. Honestly. I finished up school, kept track of the money coming in for my missions trip, and racked my brain for any other money-raising ideas. I still needed quite a bit of money. You think that I would have learned by now to trust in God completely. But still, there was doubt in my heart. Okay God. I still need $1500. I only have three weeks until I need to go. Help me right now. And please, provide the money. Again, that thought popped into my mind. If God wants me in Guatemala, I will be there. No questions asked.
A Facebook group was started for the trip. As people, my team, began to join, I learned about these people I was to call family for the next two months. They were all older than me, loved the Lord, and were extremely fun. Some never posted on the group, some posted all the time. One girl loved to run! I was so thankful and I couldn’t wait to meet these 15 wonderful people.
The last week of May arrived. Graduation rehearsal was on Friday. Graduation was on Saturday. I was going to leave for South Carolina for orientation on Monday. At the beginning of the week, I only had half the clothes I needed, none of the supplies, and still a lot of money to raise. My journal entry from May 31, 2012: Some pre-leaving thoughts. I still need $900. I still need to get pretty much all of my clothes for Guatemala. Plus, it’s graduation weekend. So much is going on. Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” God says “do not” be anxious. That means don’t. I don’t have any cause to be anxious and fretful. God has everything under control. I needed to remind myself of truth.
Graduation weekend came and went. The best time of my life. I was determined to soak up every moment. I was never going to graduate again. I spent time with my family. I went to multiple graduation parties and stayed up late by the bonfire with one of my best friends. My anxiety was gone... for the moment. I went to sleep Saturday night full of joy and contentedness. But the next morning, I woke up, went to church, and realized something pretty scary. Tomorrow, I was leaving. For two months. In a foreign country. And I still needed clothes, basic necessities, and $900.