Since I was ten years old, I had decided that I wanted to be an international missionary when I grew up. I wanted to help people that were helpless and to bring the love of Jesus to those who had never heard of Him.
At thirteen I went on my first missions trip, which was two weeks in the slums of Jamaica. I was hooked. We visited orphanages, schools, and spent much of the trip interacting and serving people in their homes. Not only telling people about Jesus, but SHOWING them Jesus by loving them, giving them practical necessities, and helping them in any way we could. Giving the children school supplies, food, and toys were one of the most life-changing things for me. As most teenagers were obsessed with receiving, at that moment, I fell in love with giving to others. I will never be able to forget the joy on the children’s faces when we would give them even a simple little pencil eraser.
Throughout High School, I traveled to India working with orphanages and widows homes, as well as two mission trips each for a month in Africa. Maybe someday I’ll write about my stories from living in an open tent for a month in the bush, but this story is about something different.
The beginning of 2015 I was praying and was quite honestly a bit frustrated with things. Even though I have had an amazing life, I wasn’t feeling like I was living out the calling of God I was supposed to be. I asked God why He wasn’t sending me to the nations, and a heard Him say back “you’re the only one stopping yourself.” He was right. There wasn’t anything tying me down or holding me back from “going,” I just needed to step out and do it!
Two months later a friend told me about an orphanage in Mexico and before he could even give me the details I had set my mind 110% to going. I found myself in strangers pickup truck driving over the Tijuana border by myself a few weeks later. As it was “logically” the dumbest decision I ever made, I felt this aching in the pit of my stomach that if I didn’t do it, it would be one of the biggest regrets of my life. I felt an unexplainable amount of peace in that truck knowing that God was about to do some HUGE things in my life that I was completely unprepared for. The trip that was originally supposed to last four days turned into four months.
I fell completely head over heels in love with Tijuana. The children in the orphanage, the culture, the people, the food, the language (that I didn’t know more than 10 words of), all of it. A few days into my “4-day trip” I felt like God was asking me to give up everything and move to TJ. I was reluctant at first, but I decided to trust in God fully and dive in all the way, giving up every other thing in my life. I quit booking weddings (my full-time job), I gave up all of my comforts by sharing a bunk bed/bedroom/bathroom with 9 little girls that I took care of full-time, I sacrificed my health (I had lice and was sick almost the whole time), I left my friends and family not being able to communicate with almost anyone in English, and (through a long process) I laid down the idea of marriage and even bought myself my own wedding ring between God and me. I genuinely believed that it was where I was going to spend the rest of my life. For the first time, I wanted to be committed to something 100%.
Through a series of unfortunate events, displays of terrible integrity, and a stalker, I started feeling that my time in that particular place was coming to an end. I fought the feelings for the last two months I was there. I was at a complete crossroads of wanting to stay and fight so badly for the children and starting to feel God slowly pulling me out of the situation as it was starting to endanger me. Through talks with multiple different family members and mentors, we came to the conclusion that the doors were shutting for me to be in Tijuana at the orphanage. The hardest part was leaving the children I had grown so attached to. The last thing in the world that I wanted to be was just another person that abandoned them. I will never forget the girls bawling as left that day, pretty much just as hard as I do every time I think about it.
I moved back to California not knowing what my next step was. I just kept praying for direction and trying to figure out another orphanage to be able to work at. I kept feeling a sense that I wasn’t supposed to be there anymore, and I couldn’t understand why. I told God I would go wherever He wanted me to go, but I never thought it would be back to California. It just didn’t make sense.
Crazy things started happening. God brought in the most incredible man on the face of the planet into my life, I started booking shoots in California, I found an INSANE deal on a place to rent, I found a Church that I fell in love with and started to be a part of, I started building some amazing friendships, started a Bible study, and blessings after blessings were coming left and right.
I began to feel bad about everything good that was happening in my life. I felt like God asked me to give up everything and be in Mexico, I gave it all up, and then five months later I had it all back again. I was at such a confused place. Feeling like I disobeyed God by not continuing to lay everything down, but also feeling a peace of God where I was at. I didn’t know what was right and what was wrong. If I was supposed to go back and work at another orphanage, or if I was meant to stay in Los Angeles. I didn’t want my flesh to get in the way of making the decision to stay because good things were happening here if I was supposed to be there.
While I was on a date with my boyfriend, I went to the bathroom of a restaurant and started talking to God and asking where I was supposed to go. I asked if I was disobeying him by not being in Mexico. His response changed everything. He reminded me of the story of Abraham and Isacc from Genesis.
Abraham was very old and never had a child, his wife was old in age as well and far past childbearing years. God promised him he would have a son, and he miraculously had a child with his wife. Then God asked him to kill his son Isacc. He mourned for his son, and I’m sure hesitated in the beginning, although he knew that his obedience to God was most important and that God had a plan. When he took his son up the mountain to kill him, an angel stopped him right before he struck his son. It was a test of trust for Abraham. Would he give up what he loved the most to obey and trust in God? God saved Isacc and did not make Abraham put him to death, although he wanted to see if Abraham would lay down what he loved the most for what the will of God was. Because of Abrahams obedience, he made his descendants as abundant as the stars in the sky (the Israelites).
God reminded me of this story and showed me that Abrahams test was exactly the same test that He had for me in Mexico. Like Abraham, God wanted to see if I would actually lay down everything that I loved for what I believed the will of God was for my life. It was the hardest test of my life, but I did it. When I sacrificed it all, God suddenly gave it all back and MORE. I wasn’t disobeying God, rather He picked up “my life” from the alter, added a crap ton of awesomeness, and handed it right back to me with a big smile on his face. Like God was saying, “you did, you made it, you passed the tests.” I began bawling in the public ladies restroom and had the greatest sense of joy and relief. My boyfriend at the time (who just became my FIANCÈ last weekend) was so confused as I came back to our date with tears running down my face, but it was just the most incredible sense of confirmation from God that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
Although my heart still aches for the children, I know I am where I am supposed to be without a doubt. Those were some of the most challenging and greatest four months of my life, and I am FOREVER grateful that I obeyed God. I know my calling is to be a missionary, and for now, I will gladly accept the challenge of “The City of (Lost) Angels” as my missions field… until God takes me on my next adventure.
Although you may not know where to go in your life, if you just continue to be obedient, God will take you on the greatest ride of your life. Just stay close to His voice, and obey even when it doesn’t make sense. He sees the beginning from the end and has AMAZING plans for your life!