I don’t think I can remember a time when I wasn’t yearning for South America. Ever since I was young, I knew I’d end up there someday. I’m not even really sure I knew what country I’d be in or what purpose I’d be serving, but somewhere in my heart I knew that be seeing the skies and eating the foods and hearing the music of the other side of the equator. In high school, I had a friend who did a mission trip in Guatemala and he told me all his stories of the people he’d met and about working with his dad and other men on building a school in some remote place. Then in college, I knew a girl who went to Peru and saw Machu Picchu and held a sloth. She was a fierce lover of Jesus and she came back with such an invigorated faith. One day, it would be my turn.
My freshman year of college, a Peace Corps recruiter came to Baylor to hand out pamphlets and give a few presentations. I just happened to be walking by the Student Union Building to mail something off and noticed his little set-up. I spoke with him about what areas they serve and told him about my desire to do some good somewhere in South America. I went to his informational presentation later that day, took home a business card and a pamphlet, and searched all the info I could online. When you apply to the Peace Corps, you don’t get to choose the location you’re sent to, you just go wherever you’re assigned and serve a 2 year term. In my heart, I knew they’d send me to South America. Right then, I made my decision that as soon I graduated, I was joining.
Well, over the course of finishing my bachelor’s degree, things had drastically changed. The very next semester, I met the man that would become my husband. My priorities changed. I could no longer imagine spending 2 years on the other side of the world in a foreign country after finishing my degree, not without him. So instead, I pondered a summer studying abroad in Argentina and I added a Spanish minor to my degree plan, even though it would put me a semester behind and would be insanely expensive. My scholarships didn’t cover summer school and they definitely didn’t cover semesters abroad. In the end, I dropped my minor and put South America on the back burner for a little while. Stephen proposed to me my last semester of senior year and our focus was on graduating, getting married, and finding our first teaching jobs.
Then, right around the time Stephen and I got married, our Lifegroup leaders at church began organizing a mission trip to Brazil. It was a week to be spent in some of the most unreached areas along the Amazon and it sounded like exactly the kind of thing I needed to be a part of! We both signed up for the interest meeting and I had already decided in my mind that I was going. I just had to believe that somehow, we’d be able to raise the money.
Once again, things changed. We were about to get some unexpected news that would forever change our lives. Just three short months after getting married, Stephen and I found out we were expecting our first child. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. This was definitely not part of the plan! It was so soon into marriage. I’d just graduated two months before and I didn’t have a job lined up yet. I didn’t even have health insurance! I spent the next few days soaking in my new reality, and I became okay with becoming a mom. I started to get excited about, actually!
Needless to say, I pushed that dream aside. Again.
It’s been about 4 years and I still haven’t been to South America. To be honest, I don’t even have a passport. But putting this dream on pause in order to bring babies into the world isn’t something I’m sad about. As a matter of fact, this whole journey has helped me to learn that God’s plans are much bigger and much better than my own plans. He gave me this dream, and I firmly believe he intends on fulfilling it. Until then, I remain in the place he’s put me today- a wife, a mother, a teacher, a friend, and a servant of the church.