I remember when I landed in Texas on August 17th, 2012, after a long flight from my hometown Boise, ID. I got off the plane, my eyes red from crying most of the flight over (after an emotional goodbye with my family and best friend), and made my way to the baggage claim. I got a text from my house mentor, someone I had never met and only talked to on the phone briefly, and told her I was short and wearing an orange shirt. She found me and I remember walking out of the airport and being smacked in the face with the heat and humidity that makes mid-August infamous in Texas for. The drive to my apartment was so much to take in. The sky felt so huge…and I realized that’s because there were no mountains. Everything was flat. And brown. I remember thinking, ok, Lord, here I am sacrificing this year to You like You asked. Let’s get it over with so I can get on with the life I’ve dreamed of having – being a pilot in the Air Force, maybe studying Journalism, and eventually becoming a missionary pilot (long down the road, that is).

Here I am, nearly a year later, still disliking Texas and the heat as much as when I first came, but so thankful for the year I’ve had here and so completely changed by the Lord that I’ll be coming back to live here and serve as a full-time staff member of Gospel For Asia for as long as the Lord wills me to. Isn’t that crazy? Tell me this is where I would be a year ago and I would have smacked you! Just kidding. But seriously, when you buckle down and seek the Lord’s will – actually desire to know what HE wants for you, not what YOU would like Him to want for you – surprising things are going to happen. You might just have to give up dreams you’ve cherished since you were tiny. You might have to give up comforts, like living in an area of the country that is absolutely beautiful and perfect to go to one that nearly kills you with its humidity and heat and insanely large insects. You might have to accept the fact that you won’t be around for as many family holidays as you would like…you might miss important family milestones and even feel a bit lonely, seperated from the people you’ve lived with and loved all your life.

It’s different for each person, but giving things up comes with picking up your cross and following our Savior. Does that sound depressing? It’s difficult, yes. But when I understand that the desires of my heart are now irreversably entwined with the desires the Lord has for me, and when I dwell on His incredible love, and how like in Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete only in Him, and chapter 3:3, my life is hidden with Christ, and He is now my life, then my perspective changes and there is nothing I would rather be doing than following where He leads.

Home is with Him. That’s one thing I’ve learned this year. If He calls me to Antarctica it would be all right, because He is with me in Antarctica and I am fulfilling the purpose He created me for by obeying Him.

Spending a year here at Gospel For Asia’s School of Discipleship has taught me a marvelous paradox…to obtain freedom, I must become a slave. To experiance life to the fullest, I must die – only in sacrifice will I gain my heart’s desire. Prayer is the most powerful weapon given to mankind – the ability to enter the presence of the Lord God Almighty and to intercede before His throne. Fellowship and transparency with the body of believers is vital to spiritual growth. Brokenness and submission are worthy goals I will be striving all my life to attain. And the greatest of all is LOVE.

As my year here ends, so does this chapter of my life. But the full story, the great adventure, is just beginning.