As the turbulent air pressure enveloped my head, a motley of nerves screamed from within me. It was not only my first airplane flight, but my first oversea missions trip. I couldn’t be more enthused, as the calling to serve beyond the tent-city of five consecutive spring breaks in Mexico and two weekends in inner-city LA, had tugged and weighed on my heart for some time. Tranquil with my forehead pressed against the thick glass, I reflected upon the months of avidly writing letters and dialing the phone numbers of those who had nurtured my spirit and brought me up in the Christian faith. Through their abundance of support, both prayerfully and financially, God revealed himself. He made it apparent that His splendor and glory were already at work in Medellin, Colombia; that I needed to breathe it in. I needed to unwind and abandon my insecurities. I needed to let go the pain and hurt of the past. I needed Him! 3,000 miles away from home, with one suitcase and a prayer bursting from my lips, my life was changed forever.
Only the hands of the great Adonai could have crafted such an exquisite work, like Medellin. I was immediately captivated by the city: the lush forestry and vibrant flowers, the sweet-smelling air and light drizzle of rain that danced upon my skin, the winding, mountainous roads constantly filled with tiny, honking vehicles, and above all, the warm, welcoming spirits of those in which we served. With a smile permanently engraved upon my face, I could feel the Lord’s presence, so tangible in the air. Along with the unique, awkward team of six completely diverse high school students, proud to call my youth group leadership team, I was thrilled to embrace my inner-child, dumping out hundreds of color crayons, stickers, and elementary books to teach English at a local Christ-centered school.
The week-long English summer camp allowed me to vividly express and communicate my passions with the students, a group of rambunctious fifth and sixth graders. Along with worshipping the Lord by song, an ardor so essential to my core being, my ‘advanced’ English speakers eagerly created a drama highlighting the Good Samaritan. The students brought their characters to life and developed a solid, theatrical performance to share with their parents during the final day’s celebratory program. Our tearful goodbyes, led to many revelations. I will never forget my wide-eyed friend, Manuela, so mature in her faith at only eleven year’s old. Chills infused my body when she tenderly whispered, “I love you, Paige”, a message directly from God that I truly needed to hear. The worries of home: a broken family built on upon the sand, the challenge of disciplining two younger, formerly abused, adopted siblings, and the biracial identity issues faced from growing up in a dominantly Swedish town, all seemed to dissolve away. It was there that God once again wrapped me in His arms and reminded me of His strength, deeply sowed and harvested within my ever-growing spirit.
Each Colombian sunrise and sunset, was filled with laughter, scraping and painting endless school walls, serving lunch and playing with homeless children, emerging head-first into the rich culture, and delighting in team fellowship and debriefing. One of my favorite moments with the team was eating at a famous chain restaurant, Crepes and Waffles ran solely by single mothers, offering luxurious dinners and desserts. It was so unique and delicious, we visited twice!
Overall, the totality of the experience allowed me to renew and refocus. The beautiful scene of Colombia will forever remain in my heart and mind.
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