Scotland Trip: T-6 hours, I am SOOOO Nervous

Oh my, I didn’t realize I was going to be this nervous.  Now that my arrival in Scotland, and beginning of my mission trip is only 12 hours away, I am shaking in my boots… or, socks, at the moment.  I am praying that everything goes well with travel, and that I can somehow be useful to someone during this trip.  I’m afraid people might be disappointed in me, or my abilities.  What if, instead of lifting people’s burdens, I become a burden?  What on Earth can I teach the people of the Airdrie church, or anyone else anyway?  I’m just a college student, a music major of all things, with no job, and little experience, and I can’t even keep track of paperwork!

But I know that’s not true.  If God sent me on this mission, which he did, he has a purpose, and will work through me, and others, as he has planned.  And it all goes back to trust.

God, this, is, terrifying, but I trust you.

Packing is nearly finished, and we are about to get on the road for the airport.  Here’s a bit of Scottish music to send us on the way!  It is a pipe and drums corps I recorded at a celtic festival.  Enjoy!  See you in Scotland!

[audio

http://vocaroo.com/i/s07hUOHYWSkV%5D

 

Scotland Trip: FInger printing, Paperwork, and the Nonexistent Quantum Vacuum

Preparing for the Mission Trip and What I’ve Learned So Far

“I need you to stand right over here.” the lady said, guiding me to the proper spot with a gloved hand on my arm. I smiled at her and complied, finding the tall desk with the machine atop it in front of me.
“Left hand please.”
I felt the cool, soggy touch of a paper towel as she wiped off my thumb. She lifted my hand and pressed the digit against the warm glass of the machine, and was rewarded with a business-like, “beep”.
Yes, this was me getting finger printed, and no, not for the reason you are thinking. I am NOT a blind-supremacist criminal. The blind protection agency has turned over a new leaf—I promise.
No, my finger prints were necessary for my charity workers visa, which I need in order to participate in my mission trip to Scotland with RP Missions.
If there is one thing I’ve learned about opportunity, it’s that it’s not always easy. In fact, more often than not, it takes a great deal of preparation, and committed care to carry out. When I felt God calling me to missions back in October, I didn’t really think about all of the pre-cursory work that would need to be done before we entered the field. I was too wrapped up in financial considerations to think much about travel plans, team instruction, or spiritual development. That is, I knew they were all part of the process, but I underestimated the way they would affect my second semester as a whole.
It all began in late December, as I filled out the online application, wrote the required essays, and secured recommendation letters. I had already decided that the calling I had felt to missions work was legitimate, but actually submitting the application made the whole thing real to me. Suddenly, I felt rather like I was jumping off an airplane, without quite knowing how to release the parachute. This particular leap of faith was going to take more faith than I had realized.
The next weeks were crowded with activities, as I returned to Nashville and resumed my many collegiate pursuits: attending class, studying, practicing, performing, studying, occasionally cleaning, and practicing (Did I mention practicing?). Soon, it was late February, and readying for our mission trips began in
earnest. We received emails instructing us about how to handle fund raising, how to go about making travel plans, and the paperwork we would need in order to travel overseas. We also began attending weekly, online training sessions, led by RP Missions’ wonderful director Mat Filbert, where we learn about various topics related to missions, from discussing the very purpose of missionary work, to exploring some of the challenges we might encounter during our time there and how we might overcome them. Our sessions have been useful too, in that they have in many ways informed my personal preparation time. Not only were the missionary handbook and reading list they provided helpful, but their suggestion to go through the book of Acts has been instrumental for me. I don’t know why, but it never previously occurred to me that studying the way Jesus’ earliest followers handled missions might be a good way to figure out how to do it myself. (Don’t judge me, I’m a blonde)
Of course, the problem I ran into was: all of these things take time! research, Training sessions, bible study, fund raising, phone calls, flight plans, and paperwork didn’t get finished in some sort of quantum vacuum. I was happy to be doing them, but they were minutes I would have otherwise spent… you guessed it—studying or practicing. However, it did teach me an important lesson; my relationship with Christ IS something I have to (and should want to) MAKE time for, not an assignment I can push off until midnight. Umm, hello Shea! We are talking “God of the Universe, King of All Creation wants to have a personal relationship with you” here, not music theory homework!
It also gave me a new sense of purpose. I have a responsibility to the people I will serve in Scotland, to be as well-equipped as I can possibly be. That means my relationship with Christ and my knowledge about His Kingdom has to be the priority, if not for my own sake, then for the sake of others. Maybe that’s not how it should be, but it motivates me for the moment.
So (to conclude this outrageously long entry) hurray! Most of the practical preparation (paperwork, flights, etc) has been completed, and I am free to concentrate fully on the spiritual side of things. As my sweet, former-roommate would say, “Rejoice!”

Aside

Hi! I’m… Who am I exactly? (By Oleta Renee)

So here’s the thing… in trying to introduce myself, I realized I’m in a bit of an identity crisis.

I am originally from New York, Patterson, New York to be exact, and I grew up with my AWESOME puppy raiser around there, but I’ve heard through the grapevine (that is to say Shea and the people we meet on a day to day basis) that labrador retrievers as a race (breed is so demeaning) began in Newfoundland, whereas Newfoundland dogs claim they are routed in Labrador… weird!  So, really, should I even be calling myself a labrador, if we came from Newfoundland, and am I Canadian, or American?  But then, people don’t talk about American or Canadian labs, they talk about American or British labs, which makes no sense at all!  So, am I American, Canadian, or British?  And shouldn’t they be talking about American, Canadian, and British Newfoundlands, not labs? 

People tell me I’m an American Lab (Newfoundland?), which basically means I’m stunningly gorgeous in comparison to those stocky, blocky, British labs.  I am inclined to agree with them.  THere’s no doubt I’m slim, trim, and looking American, right down to the stars and stripes pin on my harness.  Besides, no offense to Canada or England, but America is the best.  I’ll have to expand on that in a future post.

So, with that decided…

Hello, my name is Oleta Renee, and I am a black, American labrador retriever, except I’m actually a labrador guide dog.  Shea is my person/Mom/best friend/partner in…er…completely legal activities.  I have earned my doctoral degree in guide work (attained at the acclaimed University of Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, NY), and went back to receive a human high school diploma with Shea.  I am now currently studying music, with a minor in squirrel management and dog therapy at Shea’s university in Nashville.  By the way, fellow educated canines, if you are thinking about getting a degree in squirrel management, my university is a great place to do it… a lot of practical experience.

Anyway, you will come to know me and more about my work as I post along with Shea on our blog.  I look forward to getting to know y’all as well!  Guide dog friends, make sure you drop in so we can swap guiding tails (see what I did there?).  

Off for a frappuccino on the patio with Mom.  (What? You don’t think she’ll give me a sip?)Image

The Story Behind the Second–SQUIRREL!!!

A continuation on the explanation of my blog title.
I consider my college campus basically perfect when it comes to location and overall vibe. It is in the heart of Nashville, but it is not, like some universities, integrated into the city itself. Rather, it is a separate community of its own, with plenty of green grass, gorgeous gardens, and giant trees. Of course, that means the allergy season is a little bit miserable, and it also means our campus is completely overrun by squirrels. That’s right, squirrels LOVE our university, and who can blame them, when the only other comparable population on campus (college students) carry food with them nearly everywhere they go?
Unfortunately for me, I have a guide dog that loves both food and squirrels, and while the combination may seem perfect to her, it is slightly frustrating from my point of view. I can’t seem to convince Oleta that she is not a squirrel wrangler, and that licking the cafeteria floor is flat out gross. Still, she sees food on the floor right under her nose, and squirrels that run feet from her on the sidewalk as opportunities, and usually, she takes them without hesitation. If I let her off the leash, she might actually fulfill those opportunities, I.E. Catch those darned squirrels, and lick the cafeteria floor until it’s shiny clean.
So yes, I’m saying the possibilities in our lives are squirrels, and we are the labradors, always ready and eager to chase after them until we’ve got them trapped between our teeth. (Ooh, that was graphic, sorry.) Ironically, we are also the handler holding ourselves back from chasing every last one of them down for fear that we might not succeed, or that the rodent in question might turn on us and slash us across the nose, or bite us and give us rabies. But here’s the thing: God is the ultimate hunter/veterinarian combo; he wants us to go after them, and even if we do get a little hurt in the process, He’s got the cure for anything those tree rats can throw at us. Besides, we’re labradors–squirrels are tasty.
So take off the leash, because we are in a world full of squirrels, and it’s time to take them on!