I discovered almost accidentally through my first opportunity to travel on a mission, that there could be so much more depth and purpose in travel than the glamorous exhibits I saw posted on all my favorite travel blogs. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a sucker for a great photo opp, a gorgeous chic picture, a cute travel outfit and outrageous food pics. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with all of that in my mind. But I’d be lying if I didn’t share with you how life transforming it was to travel to the most remote places, in the humblest conditions, and how equally incredible it was to serve and work toward a more significant goal through travel.
It started with a willingness and openness that simply put, must come from within yourself for this entire premise to be possible at all. “Emily…we’re invited to serve on a short mission to my friends’ family orphanage in a remote area of Honduras. Are you down?” – “Um…yes! Absolutely” The world is an astonishing place if you let yourself really see it. These fears we have in developed countries (and I say we because I’m admitting I’ve had them all too!! Even in that moment of ‘UM’ right before taking the leap) like: Where will I stay? Will it be just like home? Will I be comfortable the entire time? What if I don’t like the food? Oh but it’s too hot/cold there! Etc, etc. only keep us locked inside our comfort zones. Living in a prison of our own reality is no way to go through life, and I’ve been so shocked to speak to people who are simply not interested in travel, or who will find every excuse to not attempt it or pursue it. Let me be clear – of course traveling is not for everyone, not every destination is for everyone, and not all “missions” are what we think of them to be traditionally, I’m in no way saying everyone should think like me. But so many other times I’ve met and spoken to people who love watching me travel, who want to do it just as much, who have so much to give and gain through traveling but hide behind these fears unreasonably. Or, on the flip side, just don’t know how to start? How to book things on my own vs a travel agent? Or how to go about planning any trip – or a mission trip if that’s where you’re hearts at.
How I feel about mission work can be summed up in: I always feel I am going to give so much, and I end up receiving exponentially more. The experience of sharing with those who need you the most, of learning how they live so happily with SO little, of being contaged by their joyful, empowering and overcoming spirits, is like nothing else I’ve experienced in my life.
I don’t have answers to all the questions that are keeping you from reaching out and making your travel dreams come true. The factors that come into play – money, work, family, schedules – are wide ranging, variable and unpredictable. But if you take anything from this at all, there’s one thing I do know and it may sound simple but you JUST have to be willing to TRY. I hear my mom’s words in my mind as a kid when it came to tasting new foods – "just try it Emily! You might like it!" And think back on all the crazy places where I’ve said “Sure, I’ll try that”, the insane foods, the inspiring people I’ve met along the way, the indelible memories and most of all the fact that I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.