My journey on this Brisbane winter trip was a quick, but tough and wild ride. When I got the email from Mark Jent that there would be a Brisbane trip over Christmas break, that would be two weeks instead of six, I immediately starting praying. I asked God if this trip was for me. I asked, maybe begged, for Him to make this a reality in my life. My biggest anxiety was that it wouldn’t be logistically possible. In the post-college world there are so many more barriers! Will my employer allow me to be gone for 16 days? Will I have enough “Paid Time Off” saved up for this trip? Am I prepared to pay most of the trip funds myself? But I quickly realized that nothing stands in the way of The Lord’s plans.
I have been to Brisbane two previous times, once after my Junior year in 2013 and once after my Senior year of college in 2014. After I graduated, I had to come to terms with the fact that I would not be returning to Brisbane on the Lipscomb mission trip. I knew I would be back to visit one day, because the people mean so much to me, but I knew for a fact (or so I thought) that I would not be able to take the time off from work needed for a trip like this. I prayed about the decision and asked my family to pray about it, and then the answer just came to me and it was the biggest “YES, YOU NEED THIS TRIP” that I have ever felt. There is a little selfishness behind the decision because the Australian brothers and sisters, who we work with, encourage me and fill me up spiritually, just as we are going there to do for them. Of course I want to return to see everyone I have connected with in the past, but looming in my mind were all the stressors that would become a reality in the process of making this trip happen. I made a checklist of “barriers” that would be reasons for saying no to this opportunity. There was:
1) Work: How would I be able to leave my job for over two weeks?
2) Paid Time Off: Would I have enough hours saved up to take the days off that I needed?
3) Money: I won’t be able to fundraise $3000 for this trip again, especially since I am working and not in school anymore.
I set up a meeting on Friday with my supervisor to talk about the trip being a possibility. The decision was made that as long as I had enough Paid Time Off and my classes were covered, that I could go! There are many many things that I am thankful for, but working for an organization which supports and encourages mission work is one of my greatest blessings. I quickly calculated the hours of time off I had, and I was scraping the bottom of the barrel, but I had enough to take 16 days off. (I will end up with 8 spare hours, so I’m really hoping I don’t get sick any time soon!) I had committed to this trip in my heart and just told Mark straight away, without even bothering to worry about the biggest barrier, which was raising nearly $3,000 dollars.
I had a very rare peace about raising that money that I have never had before. I worried about it on and off sure, but I was never sick with worry like I should have been trying to raise that much money in 2.5 months. This is what I always pray for: God’s peace. Because He had given me peace about fundraising, I gained a peace about everything else. When Mark sent the email about a Brisbane winter trip, I felt called to this mission. Now it wasn’t until I was on the plane to Australia that things felt real, but I knew from the beginning that I needed to try to make this trip work. I guess that is how it feels when God calls you to something bigger than yourself. Nothing could stop His plan, not even the barriers that spring up when you are a missionary will a full time job.
Brittany Bishop (’14)