A Second Journey

Well, here we are again… it’s the end of the semester, in the middle of countless assignments, projects, research papers, concerts, seminar performances, juries, finals, and not enough hours to study for them, and in spite of all that, what am I doing now?  Writing a blog post.  Why?  Because it’s about time I let you know that Oleta and I will, God willing, return to Scotland this summer to serve as missions workers!!!

I am thrilled to be able to take this opportunity a second time and cannot wait to discover what new experiences await us in Scotland this year.  We covet your prayers in this venture, especially concerning Oleta’s paperwork, and my charity workers visa, that I will be granted one and it will arrive in time for my departure.  Please pray for our team, that God would prepare all of our hearts to serve together in Scotland in the best way we can.  Please also pray that I would trust him in all these things, especially with our financial needs.

As with last year, the cost of the trip is over 2000 dollars, and we have a great deal of fund raising left to do.  If you would like to donate, please go to this link:

http://rpmissions.org/donate

Don’t forget to check the “Responding to a specific need” checkbox, and write my name, “Shea” and my trip location “Airdrie, Scotland” in the text field.

We would greatly appreciate any assistance you can provide financially and even more so prayerfully.  We are so thankful that we have you as a support system and look forward to sharing this second journey with you.

Scotland Trip: T-35 Hours, Packing and These Next Two Days

I’m leaving for Scotland tomorrow… tomorrow, on a plane, by myself, without even knowing anyone there!  How did this happen exactly?

This morning, I am considering my packing list, which is really more of a packing “random conglomeration of ideas”, than a list.

Packing is complicated.  I meant to start a few days ago, but I had to do laundry, and now I am hovering over the frightening pile of clothing on my bed, wondering which pieces to bring.  I thought I could be so economical in my packing choices, but now… “I really like this dress, and this one is adorable!  I can’t possibly go without this shirt!  Can’t I just take them all?!”

Thankfully, I have recently acquired a pair of waterproof shoes, that is to say, rain boots.  They should be helpful in the Scottish damp.

That reminds me, I can’t forget Oleta’s raincoat, and I should probably bring her booties too, just in case.  I’m hoping my rain coat will be warm enough; I have been following the airdrie weather on my iPhone and it often drops into the lower 40’s at night.  Brr… Lots of layers?

We are spending the day today at an amusement park as a family.  If the boys ever get out of bed, it will be an exciting way to spend my last full day in the U.S. before my trip, and the last full day with my older brother, who will be leaving for his deployment in a week.  Yes, tomorrow will likely be very, very emotional for me.  Off to find some sustenance.  Only 35 hours now!

 

Scotland Trip: T-3 Days: Preparation, Panic Attacks, and Traveling with Puppies

Greetings!  It has been nearly a week since I last wrote.  I apologize, especially since I did wish to post each day, but (excuse alert) life got busy, and I’m still working on making blogging a habit.  So, this is going to be a long post.  Buckle your seat belts.

The weekend was full of activities, kicked off by my brother’s arrival home from army technical training, and my frantic cleaning and organizing of the house as I prepared for his home coming and my friend’s visit on Friday.  Among all of the scrubbing, vacuuming, and putting away, I somehow found time to call the vet and USDA to schedule appointments and ask questions about Oleta’s paperwork, ensure I had all of the paperwork, print and label the paperwork in braille, and have periodic anxiety attacks about whether everything would go smoothly with Oleta’s information.  Okay, not actual panic attacks, just, “Oh dear, is this actually going to work out?  Do I need to call someone to take care of Oleta for four weeks?” sort of attacks.

Our vet appointment Friday afternoon went fairly well.  Oleta currently ways about 54 pounds.  The kind, USDA accredited doctor at our home vet gave Oleta the once over, declared her healthy, and filled out most of the information regarding Oleta’s background and current state.  It asks questions about her breed and birth information, place of origin, current residence (with me of course), recent vaccine history (especially rabies), and micro chip details, among other things.  We could not fill out the rabies information, as I had forgotten her original rabies certificate, given to me by our vet in Nashville, but she assured me that as long as I brought the certificate to the USDA appointment Monday morning, things should run smoothly.  The appointment didn’t last too long, and soon we headed out with signed papers and a bone-shaped tapeworm treatment tablet for Oleta to take the following week (one of the EU’s many precautions).  That evening was relaxing, spent with my dear friend from high school summer camp, and with my family.  Saturday morning was our neighborhood garage sail (I made 7 dollars… yes!), and my friend and I entertained a few of our potential buyers with improvised renditions of “Amazing Grace” and “Christ be Our Light”, with she playing beautifully on violin, and I on guitar and vocals.  It was a lovely time.

After her departure, I resumed my search for the rabies certificate, which, no matter how many dorm room boxes and bags I sifted through, did not show itself.  I became progressively more concerned and agitated, which culminated in a brief crying session in my room, due to my pure frustration that I hadn’t put the rabies certificate somewhere safe enough that I could actually find it when I needed it.  It wasn’t a good few hours.  Let’s just say that.

I eventually forgot my troubles in a nice lunch, and a spontaneous evening rafting trip with my brothers, Dad, and Uncle, and decided that I would contact the Nashville vet on Monday to see if they could fax the certificate directly to the USDA that morning.

Sunday however, the negative thoughts returned, and I began berating myself all over again.  How could I possibly be responsible enough to go on a mission trip of all things if I couldn’t even keep track of a piece of paper?  What if they don’t accept a faxed certificate from the vet’s office?  Will I have to call Guiding Eyes and find a place for Oleta to go for four weeks?  Why couldn’t I have just put that certificate in my binder right away?  I’m such a failure!

The thoughts were paralyzing, sickening, and they were stopping me from concentrating on the more important things—putting my faith in Christ and preparing for the trip through study and prayer.  It eventually came to me that perhaps these thoughts weren’t all coming directly from me.  I’m being attacked, I realized suddenly.  Since my salvation, I have always experienced serious spiritual warfare, but they have always been very frontal attacks.  This was something more subtle, and it had caught me off guard.  Still, I know well that the only weapon against spiritual warfare is the Word.  I gritted my teeth, googled bible gateway, and read until I could read no more.  By the time I shut my laptop and let it slide gently to the floor, my faith was restored,; I could forgive my mistakes, and place the situation in God’s hands.  I’m ever so glad God led me to do that, because it made the events of the following morning all the sweeter.

We left for our appointment at the USDA bright and early, and got there a good amount of time before the scheduled 9:00 Am.  I used the extra time to call the Nashville vet, and request that they fax the rabies form.  Upon signing into the USDA office, it became fairly apparent that the appointment would, in fact, be successful.  The doctor there was perfectly accommodating with regards to the missing rabies sheet, and amiably waited the thirty minutes or so that it took for the fax to arrive.  Finally, I gave Oleta the forward command, and headed out of the federal building with a bundle of stapled, signed, officially stamped papers in my binder.  Praise God!  And I mean that with all the sincerity I can muster!  There’s the scoop!  Oleta’s paperwork is complete, and we are headed to dear old Caledonia on Friday… together!

 

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!”