Life After Summer Mission

(originally published 2013, updated 2018)

If what started out as the hardest summer of your life
-working the longest hours you've ever worked,
-being stretched physically, emotionally, and spiritually,
-relying on God to make it to the end of the week (much less 5 or 10 weeks),
-wondering how you were gonna live happily for that long with all these new people...

If you thought all of that was challenging, you had no idea that the biggest challenge came at the end-

-after God had pushed you through to the other side:
where the work seemed tiring but in a rewarding way,
where the schedule stretched you thin, but you now know yourself and God better because of carving out time for Him,
where you stepped into scary situations and saw God show up in ways only He can,
where you now know once strangers soul to soul, backwards, forwards and sideways, and you love them anyways,
where you experienced that they love YOU in spite of every flaw you possess,
and that saying goodbye to mission and the friends you made there would feel like someone ripped out your heart...

If this is how you feel... you are not alone on this crazy ride!

For more than a decade, Summer Mission has been a part of my life. Each one has been challenging, rewarding, and has ignited friendships that have lasted ever since. And when I get home, as excited as I am to be back in my own bed, to be near my family once again, there is always a little mourning period. I call it the "Post Summer Mission Blues." Reality sinks in and I find myself thinking, You mean I'm not going to have breakfast with all of my friends this morning? Breakfast seems so lonely. You mean I'm not going to have a richly significant conversation before 9AM? I'm used to having 4 or 5 meaningful interactions a day! You mean I don't have a hilariously fun activity planned for a house-full of friends this weekend? Weekends seem so dull! You mean that friend (that one whom God has knit my soul to, the one who has not only shared every moment of my day but who also encouraged me to pursue God, has helped me walk in righteousness) you mean I won't see that friend today?! And not tomorrow?! And not for a long while until some reunion planned far off in the future?? I'm already marking off the days on my calendar!

I spend way too much of my day texting mission friends. I'm holding on tightly. Can we really all message everyday forever? (I hope so!) But life starts to seep in, and people in the current life are like, "Who are these people you are chatting with all day?! Why are they so important? What do you mean you are going to spend all your money so you can travel to see them again? Weekends, Winter summer...wait you're going AGAIN? You just got back!"

It's because they don't know...

You can't put it into words and explain it to everyone else. You can't bottle and mass distribute an experience like Summer Mission. But you can treasure it. When you have the post-summer-mission-blues, you are at a crossroads...

In the heartache of missing these people now dear to me, I pull out my phone to cope. In each moment, I decide:

--Will I choose my fave app to numb my sorrows or will I choose to worship the Lord?

--Will I choose to re-read that precious text from my mission friend, or will I choose to initiate with a friend here?

--Will I choose to look at every mission photo once more, or will I put down my phone and fully engage in life here?

And the coping goes beyond my phone. I must continue to choose:

--Will I be lazy each morning because no one is making me get up and because it's too hard to spend time in God's Word when I'm alone, or will I greet my Lord with a smile and ask Him what HE has for me today?

--Will I fall in a lull that real life is not Summer Mission, or will I allow God to use what I've learned to further His Kingdom where I live?

--Will I let the enemy halt my service through laziness or will I find accountability where I'm at so that I can continue on this journey with God?

You, dear Summer Mission alum, I have prayed for you.

You are not alone. You and your bff on Snapchat are not alone. You are one of hundreds who have been given a gift this year. One of thousands who have been given a gift in previous years. You have been on a journey with your Savior! And at the crossroads after Summer Mission, you have a choice--push into the Lord, or get pushed down by the enemy. I have prayed for you--yes, YOU, right now. Take your heartache and PUSH INTO JESUS. He will renew your heart, your mind, and continue to lead you on a rich and satisfying journey!

Hampton Beach 2018

My first Summer Mission as a student (called Summer Project back then)

Bologna, Italy, 2012

Foot of the Rockies, 2013

Hampton Beach, 2007. My husband's best friend still to this day.

Ozark Lakes, 2004. Still journeying with some of these women!

Santa Cruz, 2010

These are not all of my summer mission photos, but I have to get back to real life now! ;) Let the journey continue! :)

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