For many, many years we have been attending Compassion Christian Church and in all those years we have head a thriving missions ministry both locally and abroad, on 6 of the 7 continents. And, ever since Jeff and I began giving to missions, for the work that God is doing in places like India, China, Austria, Africa, Ecuador, and to the ends of the earth, I have wanted to go on a short term mission trip abroad. More specifically, I have wanted to go to Austria, to Haus Edelweiss. I say I’ve wanted to go all these years but every year I ignored that prompting. Then, when I listened, it was one health concern after another: a torn meniscus, symptomatic anemia, rheumatoid arthritis. I’d heal from one and another followed and all of my health issues were long term. Even my sons, as middle schooler's, went on that first trip to Ecuador that our church opened for middle school students. It was such a success that every year after they’ve added more and more student trips. The life-changing impact mission trips make on a student and those they are ministering to is immeasurable.
Finally, I wanted no more excuses. Yes, I still had health concerns, but it just didn’t look like that was going to change anytime soon. If I wanted to make missions a priority I needed to get in the game. So I signed up to go on that long-sought-after-trip. I signed up to go to Austria and Haus Edelweiss. The Austria trip is a working trip rather than an evangelistic trip. We go to serve. Over the years, when once my gift for service was low on my spiritual gifts - test, now, the gift of service, after many years of ‘practicing’ my gifts, is my number one spiritual gift. If I were to take the spiritual gifts test today I would imagine the gift of giving would be number two. It is where my heart lies. I was on the waiting list, November of 2017, to be on the 6-person team for Austria. I prayed, “God, it’s in your hands.” My health, most definitely, is in your hands." I would try and do my part, but whether I get on the GO list was up to Him.
In the middle of January, early 2018, I was notified I made the GO Team to Austria. I was ecstatic - and apprehensive! My health remained an issue and this was a working trip. I was encouraged, though, because I was reminded again and again that in my weakness God’s strength is glorified.
Then, in March, the team leader probed me if Jeff might want to join the team. She has known Jeff for many years from when he used to work at the church and all his years of service at The Journey, our huge interactive Christmas production and she knew without a doubt that Haus Edelweiss would be his sweet spot for his servant heart. There was only one spot opened and anyone else on the waiting list were couples. I had already discussed the possibility of a spot opening up for Jeff if he wanted to go and he was already praying about it. Two weeks away from work, especially when a big job was supposed to begin in the fall and he was a key component - it truly meant trusting God with the details.
Not only the details of the trip and my health but the financial aspects of the trip. While it is one of the less expensive international mission trips, Jeff and I agreed that we would fund our own trip. It’s that giving heart that has been growing over the years. And, wouldn’t you know it, God provided the monies necessary, as well. Over the coming months our team, 5 females and 1 male - my husband, prepared spiritually, physically, and relationally. We served together, and learned about the mission we would be a part of in October.
A couple weeks before our trip we were given our assignments. Of the four duty assignments, I had selected serving in the kitchen and Jeff had selected Building Maintenance and Grounds. We both received our choices! Again, God knew what He was doing. Working in the kitchen was the only place I could potentially sit down and still get work done. We not only worked but we shared life with the other short term, long term workers, the full time missionaries on staff and most importantly, the students who this session came from 13 different countries, and 10 different languages.