Friday, October 17, 2008

My Closure to the World Race

Friday afternoon, immediately after the general session at the NYWC in Sacramento, we headed to our separate 'break out' classes. I was thrilled to see that Seth Barnes of Adventures in Missions was in town to share about how "Your Students Can Start Changing the World... Now!".

I'd been looking forward to this session since I'd heard Seth was presenting: for the past three years, he's been a major influence in my life.

In 2005, Gary and I took our youth group to Tijuana for a week-long mission trip with AIM. As part of our preparation, we got a copy of Seth's devotional: "The Art of Listening Prayer". This was the first I'd even considered that prayer could include God speaking to me, and reading that book was nothing short of revolutionary for my spiritual life.

Towards the end of 2005, Adventures in Missions offered a new program called the World Race, and Gary and I felt called to participate in this year-long mission trip. During our team orientation, I finally got to meet Seth (the World Race was his vision and project), and was touched by his ability to listen and connect, even while responding to numerous demands.

When we began our trip, we encountered the various twists and turns that accompany any first time venture. I was eager to debrief and process the experience with Seth first-hand, especially the more difficult and confusing times. Unfortunately, we were not able to reunite throughout the course of the trip, and though we've had some contact over the internet, I've been hopeful to someday sit down with him and just talk.

Well, my chance finally came. Seth noticed me in the middle of his session (I think I threw him for a bit of a loop when he was trying to present!), and took the opportunity to come check in with me during a discussion section. We ended up hanging out talking after everyone left, and Gary and I were able to join Seth and his wife Karen for dinner.

It was great to catch up with him, get to know his wife, and compare stories about what God has done over the past couple years. We talked about the craziness that was the first year of the World Race, what things have evolved over the past couple years as the program has developed, what life is like for us now as well as for other racers.

I had always imagined that this conversation would bring a huge sensation of closure to my World Race experiences. And reflecting back on it now, I think it did and it didn't.

We've been home from the mission field for almost two years now, and probably the whole first year was a journey of forgiveness for the many interpersonal hurts and betrayals we experienced. The second year has been much easier, less of trying to forget the bad, more of remembering the good. We've started to see the fruit of dreams that were born during our time on the Race. I have come to a point of feeling settled in my soul about the whole experience.

So now, in God's timing, we were finally able to sit down and just talk, without any expectations on my end of having to say anything to, or hear anything in particular from Seth. We could just meet each other where we were at and appreciate God's goodness throughout some wild times. And that's a pretty good way to wrap it all up.

Gary and I leaving on the World Race in 2006


Anonymous said...

The pic of you and Gary is priceless. It also shows how little "material things" we need. Just to think that what you carried on your backs (and fronts!) was all your really needed for a year...

G-Dub said...

And honestly, Gloria, as I look back on that picture, I think to myself, "Man, I brought too much stuff!"

A year of radical dependance on God really does change your perspective.