The past week, I’ve been in Georgia at the training camp for my upcoming World Race venture. When people have asked me about the camp, my mind wanders to the great kaleidoscope of memories and activities we have done this past week and I stumble for words, saying something like: “Awesome people…interesting food…tough situations that really stretched me…yet really fun.” Today, I want to offer you some life lessons that I learned this past week:
Life Lesson #1: Eat what is served to you, no matter what it looks like
This is the picture of what we woke up to the first morning for breakfast. It’s a rice porridge named congee, served all over Asia. This one has fish heads in it. Yummy.
Each day had a different theme, where we learned about different cultural practices and foods. My favorite was Eastern Europe Day, where we got to toast every meal with our Nalgenes.
I learned the importance of eating what was served to me, no matter what it looks like. Not only don’t you know when you will get your next meal, but not eating your host’s food is an extreme sign of disrespect for their people and culture. So, eat up! I have a feeling that fish head soup will only be the beginning of strange foods that I will eat in the next year…
Life Lesson #2: We are made to be interdependent, not independent
I’m a very independent person – I hate having to rely on others and would rather just “do my thing.” Because of this, I don’t think it was a coincidence that the second night both me and my partner lost our packs “to the African airlines.” This forced me to step outside my comfort zone and rely on my teammates. Although during worship I had no idea where I was going to sleep that night, I was amazed to see perfect strangers rally around the situation to share their clothes and give me a hammock to sleep in for the night. We’re not made to do this alone – we’re all in this together!
Life Lesson #3: When we are desperate for God, He shows up
Imagine 170 young people passionate about Jesus getting ready to travel the world, all worshipping under one roof. We are a generation that is hungry for more and isn’t satisfied with church as we see it. We believe in a God who not only is big enough but who cares enough to answer the cries of His children.
There were numerous testimonies of healings that happened throughout the week, but the most striking for me was Tyler’s story – Tyler is partially deaf, and one guy felt led to rally his squad to pray for him.As we prayed, Tyler felt his ears pop and he could hear more clearly. He took out his hearing aids and now he doesn’t need to wear them at all. Hallelujah!
Listen to Tyler tell his story here:
Life Lesson #4: Nothing brings a team together like sleeping in tight quarters
One of our last team challenges involved our entire squad being “stuck on a bus overnight trying to cross the border.” Imagine trying to squeeze 55 adults with their backpacks and all their gear on a 43-passenger school bus. You get real tight, real fast. Here you can see our creativity emerge as we hung the packs from a hammock strung between the overhead emergency exits:
Life Lesson #5: It’s always a good time for a dance party
As everyone on our squad started to get to know one another, we started to realize that we all have a love for dancing. For the record, I do enjoy dancing, but I’m not very good at it :-)
This picture is the inside of the spur-of-the-moment after-lunch dance party that came about, which turned into a dance party tunnel to the song “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
We found out later that the World Race’s first H-squad was a big dancing group. We definitely inherited that one.
Life Lesson #6: Live in the Moment
My life seems to get quite full, and because of this my mind has the tendency to think three steps ahead. Although this skill can help me stay organized, I admit that it can also make me neglect the people with whom I am interacting at any given moment.
At Training Camp, the first few days were hard for me because I couldn’t plan. We had no schedule – our only agenda was to “go with the flow.” This forced me to live in the moment, to focus on being with and loving the people right in front of me. I’d really like to take this mentality back with me, so that no matter what my schedule is for the day, I can stay “present” with friends and acquaintances in my life.
Below is my new family for the next year – we will eat together, sleep together and share life together, bringing His kingdom all over the world. I was blown away to hear the stories of how God has already worked in the lives of these incredible young men and women. I feel super honored to have the opportunity to share life with them for this next year. What does God have in store for us?