Spiritual foundations are laid in many ways throughout a person’s life. As a small child I attended a Christian daycare where my mother taught Kindergarten. Each week we would have chapel with “Aunt” Pat, an older lady who is an ordained reverend in the Nazarene faith. I accepted Christ at age seven during a Vacation Bible School program at the Nazarene Church. My family never attended church regularly until I was twelve. When we began attending Alpine Valley Social Brethren Church I rededicated myself to the Lord with a much greater understanding of who God is. The church was really small with regular attendance of maybe 40-50 people, on any given Sunday I would look around and see that I was related to most of the congregation. It was a very comfortable place with an eager young pastor and a mix of both young and older parishioners.
My spiritual journey hit the gas when in 2005 we began planning for a mission’s trip to the Philippines to visit the denominations sister churches there.
I remember the stillness the most, the immense peace in the midst of the endless noise, the plane ride- long and lonely, the people always smiling, their large dark eyes seeming to see right through you. For two incredible weeks I was a World Traveler, Teacher, Dancer, Singer, Worshiper, Prayer Warrior, Daughter, Cousin, Friend, Skeptic, Photographer, Public Speaker, Exhorter, Listener, Peace Keeper, Celebrity, Scholar, Missionary.
There is nothing quite like jumping on a plane, flying around the world, working knee deep in sewage and turpentine, breathing in dense, diesel fumes, holding tiny malnourished infants, eating fish eyes and yes, even balut (eggs with chick embryos inside), singing to the Lord in a language not your own, and being surrounded by people who thank you endlessly. It is so hard to describe in words how amazing those two weeks in October of 2005 were for my soul. Webster’s doesn’t have the right words to encapsulate the emotion, the complete paradox of it all, the vast beauty amidst the squalor, skyscrapers surrounded by squatter shacks, six story malls surrounded by children selling flowers for food, palm trees and tropical paradise engulfed with grime and horrific smells. That was the Philippines, those were the people who have touched my life forever, changed who I am and who I will become. I am different now; one cannot possibly stay the same after an experience of that magnitude. In fact I sincerely believe that my mission trip to the Philippines was a rescue mission for my soul.
When the eleven of us that comprised the mission team came home, tensions that were already brewing came to a head, and the “Church Wars” began. Our Pastor resigned shortly after, and my teenage cousins and I were placed in the middle of it and were forced to stand up for ourselves, to not only our churches elders but also the denomination elders. We received threatening emails and were attacked for doing jobs and holding positions that those same elders voted us into and encouraged us to accept.
Since then I have been trying to find my new place at my home church with our new pastor and new congregation. I attended a year at Northern Michigan University and transferred to Hope last year. I have re-learned how to love my little sister for who she is despite how her biological parents effected her development. I have longed and prayed for acceptance of what I call my pedestal problem, (placing others on pedestals and coping with how they always eventually fall). I have learned on my spiritual journey so far that there are no guarantees except that God is good and He is always waiting for us to acknowledge Him. I believe that the journey we take alone and how we journey together is what makes the difference in life. The strong falter, the weak rise up. There are times that we must fall apart, knowing that distance from others can be a gift, but as someone once said; “You can no longer separate one life from another as you can separate the breeze from the wind”. I feel blessed to be able to come to a college that is expanding my horizons and taking me to places I never dreamed of.