Reflections on Summer (And My Summer 2016 Plans)

Its time to talk about my summer plans!

I haven’t talked much about this summer yet, honestly, because it terrifies me, slightly. But, we’re all friends here, and in the spirit of transparency here it is.

I have been accepted to the Pembroke-King’s Programme at the UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, WHERE I WILL BE STUDYING FOR TWO MONTHS THIS SUMMER!!!

Yeah, Cambridge. 

Last summer I was invited to be a missions intern in Myanmar for two and a half months and spent my summer in a whirlwind of ministry and growing pains. The Lord was so faithful to stretch me during my time there, and so gracious in his orchestrating my arrival, and the image of his grace that was left behind has shaped everything about my past year. (To read more about last summer’s trip, here is the article I wrote coming back: Ten Weeks in Myanmar)

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Ministry in the rural village of Dala meant spending all day with these sweet faces.

And while I would like to be back with my family in Asia and still  cry at the thought of the distance between us, this summer He has paved the way for something entirely different.

For the first time, I am out of the country for something outside of a mission trip. These are unknown waters for me.

I think its best to rewind a bit…

Four years ago, I went on my first mission trip to Quito, Ecuador. I remember the moment that I stepped off the plane – rattled by the commute, we arrived in the capital city to an airport exit gated on either side, fingers puncturing the air between us, rapid-fire Spanish aimed at every movement of my bone-weary body, and in the chaos and confusion, between the terror of the unknown and the excitement of expectation, I experienced, for the first time, the phenomena that can only be described as my knowing with every particle in my body that I was positioned exactly where the Lord wanted me.

I stepped into the light of the Ecuadorian air, and I knew that I was home.

The short time I spent in Ecuador – working at an orphanage and alongside local ministries – dramatically shattered my paradigm. For the first time in a while, I felt truly alive. The people that I met along the Ecuadorian road were some of the kindest people that I have ever had the pleasure to meet. In my time in Ecuador I was first exposed to poverty on a large scale, the tragedy of human trafficking, and the power of the gospel – three things which have definitively shaped the road that I chose to follow in the time after.

My first internship followed my time abroad, working as the missions intern for my church. I began to grow into my passion. I had found the outlet: mission.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving of my Senior year of high school and after a summer of interning in the missions department at my church, where I was encouraged to further delve into my love for other cultures and peoples of the world, I was invited to spend a week in Santo Domingo, in the  Dominican Republic. Here we taught a VBS curriculum at a school for the deaf in the heart of the city.

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My man, Miguel Angel, on our field trip to the park.

I fell more in love with Latin culture, and had the same sort of experience walking through the airport. I felt alive and at home. I noticed a pattern, and I began to believe that my longing to be a part of different cultures was a crutch. An inconvenient hobby.

When I tried to talk to people back home about my experiences and the people who I had left my heart in the care of, I was often met with blank stares and subsequent frustration. In coming back from the Dominican I was sure that missions were my calling, and a series of events from the past year led me to the conflict of human trafficking (read about my heart for plight of modern day slavery here: 27 Million).

Finally, last summer, by the sheer grace of God I found my way to Myanmar where I lived for two and a half months as an intern in the field.

During my time here, I felt the burden of my misunderstood travels lifted from me. It was here, that with absolute certainty I realized that a calling is meant to be uncomfortable. I began to understand best the functioning of the body as a whole, and throughout this past year, have continued to grow into the calling that I am sure the Lord has placed on my life: to be a sojourner for His glory.

And now we arrive to today: Summer 2016.

I am at the University of Cambridge. The very place where Newton discovered gravity and  C.S. Lewis penned so many of his groundbreaking works.

This is the first time that I have left the country and not lived in a place classified as the “developing world,” and upon my departure from the states, I was more nervous than I have ever been to leave on any of the other trips – despite the fact that I can read the signs here, understand and speak the language, and am studying literature in one of the birthplaces of the English language as we know today (essentially) – I was, and am still, terrified.

Not terrified in the sense of absolute horror, rather, terrified in the manner that sets butterflies in your belly and giggles on the tip of your tongue.

I am in utter awe. Every place my eye falls is something more beautiful than the last. Being here, it is hard to remember that I am not actually a player in a Jane Austen novel.

I have been at Cambridge for a couple of days now, after a three day stay in London (which was also astounding, and especially fascinating to be in during the major referendum that has just passed in the UK. I arrived in London on the day that the UK voted to leave the EU, a historical moment that I believe will shape world relations permanently, and I have yet to meet one person, since the results have been released, that has been onboard for the change… but at the risk of running way past the maximum word count for the retention of interested patrons, I digress (for now).

King’s College, where I am staying and studying within the University of Cambridge, is an absolute dream and I am looking forward to the days ahead. (Again, at the risk of being long-winded, I will put my experience thusly into a following post, consider this a preface of sorts.)

The remainder of my summer 2016 will be spent entirely at the University of Cambridge. The reason that this is terrifying (in a scary way) is that it feels thoroughly out of my league.

Cambridge is kind of a big deal on the global scene. I feel that in full effect when I walk out my front door to a world that looks plucked from the movie screens. It is a place of refinement and elegance, despite the hordes of tourists practically busting down the gate. A place of quiet seclusion from the world around, a Cambridge bubble of beauty and history.

With missions I have grown to a point where I am comfortable (not  comfortable in being there, seeing as I had an open wound foot infection and a parasite last year in Myanmar). I never did anything particularly comfortable during any of the trips, but I suppose that my comfort in exploring the world stems directly from the  discomfort – the dirt roads, bamboo homes, strange foods, foreign languages, chaos. The defined mission.

Here I am paving my own way. I am entirely responsible for me and no one else. In each of the other times that I have left the country I have left with a goal in mind that far outstretched my capacity to care for myself. Cambridge is different. And it terrifies me, because in so many ways, it feels like the beginning of something sort of like the rest of my life.

My mission this summer is to be a sojourner in a way that I have never been before, and it is my prayer that the sojourner within me is most prevalent to those who I am just now getting to meet. david

Until next time, wonder on.

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