Olivia Dear Thames
Without Borders. . .
I’ve always been great at talking people into stuff.
Example A: The Dear girls would not be allowed to get ears pierced until fourth grade. However, my dad was so sick of hearing about why I should get my ears pierced that he ended up letting me get them done when Sis got hers done. Side note: I had to get an earring back surgically removed from my ear because I didn’t know how to take care of them.
Example B: Though my mom is absolutely against diet soft drinks due to the health risks associated with them, there is always a pack of Diet Dr.Peppers in my fridge. Side note: I’m pretty sure I lost the lining of my stomach six years ago.
Example C: I convinced my brother Jackson to play store with me when I was younger. Cute, right? Yep! I sold him all the groceries in the kitchen and took all his money. Side note: Jackson is more successful than me.
Clearly, talking people into things and talking myself into things hasn’t always worked for me. Especially when I try to talk God into things.
I had been dying to go on an international mission trip for years, but nothing had worked out. Then, during senior year, I felt like the timing was right.
So instead of praying about it, I told God I was going to Africa with my sister. Side note: She actually couldn't come.
Then, I told my friend that we should go on the Honduras mission trip together. Side note: We both realized we weren't meant to go.
I wrapped up my mission trip search by telling God I was going on the mission trip to Jamaica with friends for Spring Break. Yes, Jamaica. You could go on mission trips in worse places.
If my prayers (and God's responses) could be put into words from that time, they'd probably look something like this:
“Hey God. I love you, and I want to spread Your love. So please provide me with the $1,000 I need to go to Jamaica with all my friends. Thanks, and talk later.” “Instead, I will give you a sign to show you where you should spend your Spring Break. Listen to Me, because My plan is far beyond your understanding. If you obey My call, you will be rewarded beyond belief.” “But a mission trip is a mission trip. Also, it's JAMAICA with my friends! Make checks payable to Broadmoor. Thanks." “Seek and you will find, My child. I am going to put you outside of your comfort zone for the best of My kingdom and for the best of your spiritual growth. Trust Me. I will show you where My path is and why My plan prevails, if you will just trust Me.”
The Lord humbled me, and I started actually praying about where He wanted me to be. My church, Pinelake, had passed out mission trip guides telling of all the places we could minister to during Spring Break. For whatever reason, a trip to Matamoros, Mexico caught my eye, but conceited little Olivia just ignored it.
And then one day during church, I opened my Bible to a tab talking about evangelism and a mission trip to Mexico. . . I kept praying, and God verified His plan as I turned around in the library one day to see a book sticking out, entitled “Mexico.” I could think of more creative names for a book, but I took this as a sign.
And as I looked into the trip, I realized that this trip could actually be perfect. It wasn't that expensive, and it was a place in which I could communicate since I can speak some Spanish. It was an orphanage, and with my love for adoption, I could go into this trip with a lot of a passion. And you can't say God doesn't care about details, because I'm also obsessed with Mexican food.
But how could I go on a trip with no one I knew, since the group going on this trip was from a different campus? How could I leave the country on my own? Was it too late to sign up for the Jamaica trip? Yet, I was reminded that this was not about my comfort, not about my safety, and really not about me at all, but about God working to bring about the salvation of others.
And when I got to Mexico, I was convinced that God clearly prevails. I have never been in a place where the people have nothing physically, yet have so much spiritually. God’s love was everywhere at Casa Hogar. I felt safe and happy and like I was right where I needed to be.
God's faithfulness over that time (and always) makes me think of Psalm 67:1-4.
“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine on us–so that Your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.”
He is powerful enough and gracious enough to pluck us from our plans in order to pursue His. He is strong enough to break the many barriers in our world in order to bring His people together. His way never fails, and never will.