The World Race: 11 countries. 11 months. One ministry.
I sat on my bedroom floor hopelessly looking around at the possessions scattered across the room. A blue backpack, which seemed huge at one time, now seemed the size of a shoebox as I tried to cram all my possessions for one year inside. Clothes, toiletries, and equipment surrounded me on the floor and seemed all at once too little and too much stuff to carry around the world.
What on earth was I thinking? I must be loosing my mind. This is crazy.
My sister and best friend came into my room to hold my hand through the first of many packing meltdowns and reminded me to laugh instead of cry about how strange it is to carry all your belongings in a bag around the world for a year.
In September 2013, a few days after the first packing meltdown, I left the USA, my roots in the deep South, and all my family and friends to go on the World Race. The World Race is an extreme mission trip where participants travel to 11 different countries in 11 months. Each month ministry is unique so it is almost like being on 11 individual mission trips, one after the other for a year.
The first five months of my trip were spent in Asia. I walked the Great Wall of China, danced in the rain in Thailand, cried over injustices in Cambodia, spent my first Christmas away from home in Malaysia, and fell in love with the culture in Japan.
Now, I am in Bulgaria after entering my time in Eastern Europe by spending a month in Albania. I am in my seventh month of this journey and I have learned more about myself, God, and community than I ever thought was possible. Every day is hard and amazing and sometimes I want to stop and pinch myself to check and see if this is really my life.
This is an incredible journey that I dreamed about for years. I would daydream while sitting in my college classes about traveling the world and writing stories about all the amazing things I would see and do. When I first heard about the World Race half way through college, I thought a trip like this was too good to be true!
[pullquote width="300" float="right"]I walked the Great Wall of China, danced in the rain in Thailand, cried over injustices in Cambodia, spent my first Christmas away from home in Malaysia, and fell in love with the culture in Japan.[/pullquote]
When graduation rolled around, I was still stubbornly holding on to the idea that this trip was for me. I was going to get away from Louisiana for the first time and I was going to see the world! I was going to love on orphans and widows and write about all my travels!
But when the time came for me to actually pack my bag and leave, I was terrified. Absolutely terrified. Everyone around me was patting me on the back and telling me how proud they were of me for spending a year on the mission field and I was afraid to tell people how terrified I truly was! I had spent years dreaming and wishing to travel the world and when the time actually came, I was afraid!
As scared as I was, I still got on the plane and flew to China. So many times in life I have let fear stop me.
What will people think if I do this? What will happen if I fail?
But if this year has taught me one thing, it is that even when we feel afraid, we have the power to choose if we will act on those fears or if we will choose to follow God’s plan for us anyway, trusting that He will never fail us.
I have seen God’s hand moving in each country I have visited and each person I have met. Although culture shock is now a normal part of my life, in each place I visited, I have met people who have challenged me in my faith and taught me what following the Lord truly looks like.
None of this would have been possible if I had not stepped onto that plane in September with all my fears, doubts, and one over-packed blue backpack.
I left home to follow the Lord and find out more about Him while I find out more about the world and what I have discovered is that He is always faithful whether you are on a rooftop in Cambodia or a college class in Baton Rouge.
Despite all my fears and doubts about this year, God has been faithful, exceeding my expectations and showing me what an incredible journey life can be when you are following Him.
What dream is God calling you to? What is stopping you from stepping out and following it?
To read more from Amanda (and see some videos from her travels!}, follow her blog at amandagoodroe.theworldrace.org & stay tuned for her monthly column here at Tirzah!
Photos courtesy of Amanda Goodroe and Vallory Moss.