It’s been about two weeks since I arrived home from my third trip to Brisbane. It’s crazy to me how fast time goes. When I got back, it felt like I had barely been gone for two weeks, let alone six. Having been before, I better knew what to expect in leaving. However, leaving Brisbane is never “easy.”
When I reflect on those six weeks, I think first about the people: our team, the host families, everyone at camp, our church family. I then think about lessons I learned and God using those people to guide me through those lessons. It’s pretty awesome when you see God come full circle. This trip I got to see a lot of that.
The biggest blessing I have in going back to Brisbane is seeing the growth. The majority of the teens we work with I’ve been friends with since my first year. This means I had the blessing to witness them grow and mature over the past three years. I’ve seen their walks with Jesus develop into a beautiful relationship with Him. I’ve watched some of them go from being followers to leaders. I’ve watched others enter into the adult phase of life and marveled at how they transition with such ease. And I’ve had the privilege to see some commit their life to Christ. It’s really incredible when you see someone you love, grow into a person you admire.
This summer I walked alongside these wonderful people. Having just graduated, I couldn’t help but be distracted by all the emotions that come with that change. Rather than allow those distractions to separate us, they met me in the middle of my distractions. I learned that even when you may not have it all together, God places people in your life to walk through all sorts of experiences with: both the trials and celebrations. Just as God uses our team to go serve the people of Brisbane, He uses the people of Brisbane to serve us. Each year I am humbled by the amount of love we are shown as a team and individually. But this year I saw that same love poured into me through ways I had never imagined. The power of prayer is strong and I loved getting to share that with the people I love. These are the people that pray with me and cry with me, rejoice with me and laugh with me; the people who are genuinely interested in my life and who I am becoming. I cannot reiterate enough how humbling to be cared for so deeply. I may say this every year, but I am in awe of the fact that we are here to serve them, yet it is always they who serve us.
“Even when you feel like you have nothing to offer, God will still use you.” One of my host sisters told me this and I don’t think I could find a better quote to sum up this trip. There were many times where I wondered how in the world God could use me. Many times, I couldn’t even sort out my own thoughts, let alone do the work of God. But it was in these moments of feeling utterly unprepared that God spoke through me. This is the biggest lesson I took away from this summer. Let God use you because when you do, you will reap some of the greatest rewards.
The Brisbane family is one of my most prized relations. Not everyone gets to experience a love like this, and I’ve gotten to experience it three times. I feel undeservingly blessed. So thank you Brisbane for loving me so well. I cannot wait to be back and see what all God has in store for the years ahead.
Taylor Smith, graduated May 2016