Adventure is out there… and also here


July 4th came and went and for me, with it came the memory of the previous Independence Day. July 4, 2014 I was in the middle of my internship in Tanzania. I spent the holiday in the bush of Africa, staying in a small brick guest house with another missionary on the field. Since we were away from most of civilization, but still wanting to celebrate, we had a “treat:” Mexican rice, fake Oreo cookies and a ton of laughter at the ridiculousness of our situation as our friends back in the States sat around with loved ones eating barbecue and setting off fireworks.
Flash forward one year and I was struck by the vast difference at my circumstances while I sat at Freedom Hall with my new husband and in-laws watching the huge fireworks show.
I realized this week that this summer will be the first since my sophomore year of high school (6 years) that I will be staying state-side all summer. Last year I went to the Dominican Republic and Tanzania, summer of 2013 was spent in seven different European countries, 2012 was spent in Brazil and Mozambique and 2011 was spent in Arizona (might as well be another country) and Honduras.
Most of these trips have been mission trips and I’ve enjoyed all of the different countries, cultures and food. Over the years, I’ve built up quite the support system. I’ve had literally hundreds of people pour into me financially and with prayer to send me on these trips. So naturally, when last summer came to an end, the questions everyone asked were, “Where are you going next?” and “Are you and Jonathan going straight to the mission field?”
Hopefully not to their disappointment, I’ve stayed stateside this summer and I’m going to seminary locally in the fall. And at first I really struggled with the idea that perhaps I wasn’t quite as adventurous or exciting or brave as people might have originally thought.
This week I wrote a story about Dr. Mike Mefford. He and his rotary club went to Africa last February and did incredible work bringing health care to thousands of people. Two weeks ago I covered a story of a couple in downtown who is doing great things fighting human trafficking through their fair trade store. A few months ago I covered a story about some local companies coming together to build tractors to take to Tanzania and Kenya. It seems as though I’m constantly talking with people who are doing incredible things not just for the Kingdom, but to change the world as a whole. And here I sit behind my computer screen simply telling their stories. No adventures for me, it seemed.
There’s a very common question asked of missionaries: “Where do you feel called?” This question used to cause me a lot of grief. I’ve visited a dozen countries and I’ve loved every single one. Jonathan often jokes that he doesn’t have to ever worry about moving, because I fall in love with any place I’ve ever been. And that’s not really a joke. The more I live the more I’m convinced that we’re not always called to a particular point on a map. Sometimes we’re just called to love others and love the places we find our feet.
It was my last semester of college this past spring that I realized it was OK to grieve for all the places I won’t be going this summer. What’s more, the longer you stay in one place, the more you begin to see the great need for work to be done, whether that’s doing humanitarian work in the bush of Africa or spreading awareness about the dangers of human trafficking right here in East Tennessee.
When it comes to adventure, it turns out there is plenty. I’m beginning to realize all of the untapped beauty and potential right here in Johnson City and Jonesborough, where I’ve lived my whole life, but never really explored. From yoga in the park and the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, to taking time to enjoy the sunset over Buffalo Mountain, I’m learning that when we decide to be where our feet are, life starts to look a little more adventurous, no matter where you are.


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