I had no idea what God had in store for me when I heard the words “Hey, what do you think about going on a mission trip with me to Myanmar?” My first reaction was a mix of fear (Do tsunamis reach this place? What do I have to offer a trip like this?), excitement and wonder about a place and people half the world away, and doubt that it would ever happen. It happened and no tsunamis! God made it happen! It took some convincing.

I have three kids and a husband that would certainly struggle without mom around….so I thought! All of them insisted I go and that they would be fine….and they made out quite well with some help from grandparents and friends. My laundry even managed to get done! (Thanks Mom!) Money felt like a barrier but God worked that out too. I had to humble myself and ask for support. I’m much more comfortable being in the position of giving. Asking for help was hard but once I did it, the donations on top of prayers and words of encouragement rolled in. Receiving and the feelings that accompanied were a gift. I learned a lot about the generosity of the people in my life and felt a love from friends, family, and acquaintances that I never opened myself up to experiencing. My health challenged me. Eight days before my departure my daughter was diagnosed with Influenza B, then came my turn three days later. As each day passed I felt worse. The day before leaving I had serious doubts about being able to make it on that plane! Why would God work on my heart and open all of these doors only for them to be closed? My heart was sad. Prayers were prayed and a doctor got me in, gave me medicine and the green light to travel. The flight was long and hard. When I woke up on the second day my illness passed! Even when things are hard it doesn’t mean God is closing a door.

Going to Myanmar is right up there with my life’s best moments… accepting Jesus into my heart, getting married, having children, and watching my son hit his first homer. Just when you think your heart has reached it’s capacity for love and joy, God surprises you again. Gods timing was perfect! I was starting to feel a little stagnant in life. I settled into the whole mom thing and teaching gig. So now what? In my mind I knew these roles were important and served God but the “umph” behind it all was not so “umphy”. Then….Myanmar happened. On that first morning I received my very first hug from a girl that shared my name. It was as if God arranged this meeting. What are the chances? Two Judy’s! Days passed and many hugs and laughs were shared. Days later I learned more about Judy’s story. She has special needs. Interesting….I teach special education. God for sure arranged this. That moment felt like a huge hug from God with the message “You are where I need you to be, doing what I need you to do.” The sad thing about Judy is her education is done. When you stop passing tests you stop being educated in Myanmar public schools. Thankfully the orphanage plans on keeping Judy. She will become one of the adults who help the orphans. Upon my return I got straight to work on expanding the opportunities for my students at the high school. I spoke at a faculty meeting (Me speaking in front of a large group of people = train wreck!) and am in the middle of opening more doors through new initiatives at my school. After hearing Judy’s story I feel driven to maximize and develop new opportunities for my students with special needs. They have the law behind them, giving them these rights, they just need people advocating and developing it. The “umph” is back in my job!

There is no explaining the passion, love, and faith these very small children have for God. You have to see and hear it to really understand. When they sing, read scripture, dance, and pray, they do it with every ounce of their beautiful souls! It made me rethink how limiting I have been as a parent with my own three children. I hugely underestimated their capacity to worship and understand God and his teachings and to take action and be the hands and feet of Jesus. I “micromanaged” their faith. When I returned home that all changed and now I have three children who all made a savings envelope so they can go to Myanmar. Immediately when they get $1 from the tooth fairy, money in an Easter egg, birthday money, etc…. they place it in their envelope and excitedly tally their new total and figure out how much the still need to raise. These are children that love to shop. I am shocked and overjoyed at the spirit of giving that has grown so much in such a short amount of time in them.

For every step of my journey, a lesson from God happened. My heart is full and I am thankful.