Brenda became an honorary member of our family when we first met her in the summer of 2015. Following the Lord’s leading, she moved to a remote community in northwestern Alaska where she worked as a travel nurse. Part 1 of her story is here. This is Part 2 . . .
1.Briefly describe a mission experience you’ve recently had.
Recently, I had the opportunity to relocate my life for six months to living in a small community of people, or hub village, just north of the Arctic Circle in Northern Alaska, USA. During this mission’s experience I worked as a registered nurse for a critical access hospital, worked at plugging myself into the community, and focused on the relationships that I could nurture in the people that I met and partnered with through events, activities, and communal interests.
Much of the experience was enjoyable as the opportunity and change was something that I had been looking forward to. The new-ness of figuring out how to live in a different way was exciting and an adventure that was an overall enjoyable, yet at times challenging, experience.
2.What were the most challenging aspects of this assignment?
Even among the many enjoyable moments, there were challenges that had the ability to cause me to question if I was supposed to be in the position that I was in or if I was “qualified enough” to be in that position. Thankfully, and reassuringly, the Bible tells of how Christ shows through stronger and brighter through our weaknesses, and is able to use anyone, no matter their ability, to share the love of God with others.
The most challenging aspect of my time working in Northern Alaska stems from the emotional drain that can come from watching, witnessing, and/or hearing about the negative, dark choices that those in the community live in or have dealt with in their past. Knowing how to properly react, comfort, and counsel community members, and those that have become friends, on the consequences, albeit self-inflicted or involuntary, of drug abuse, sexual abuse, molestation, suicidal thoughts, or the grief of close-family loss is challenging at best.
Living and working in an environment such as this, where I personally felt that you could feel the weight of these issues could, at times, clouded my ability to see goodness through others and redemption through Christ happening in the lives of the community members. Much of the things that I found to be challenging during my time in Northern Alaska stemmed from these areas.
3.How has your faith changed/grown with each new experience?
When working through challenges that are outside of your abilities, I feel like your faith only grows deeper in who God is, or it shrinks. I know that through a lot of these experiences it has grown deeper for me personally.
“Trusting in God through changes and having faith that His plan remains the best for me is one area in which my faith has stretched and continues to adjust.”
Many of the things that I thought would come from going on a mission’s experience, or the way that it would occur, looked differently than expected when it was all said and done. With only small hints, or nudges from the Holy Spirit to guide me to continue moving forward – to a location that was never an original consideration – definitely stretched my faith.
People have said that hind-site is twenty-twenty, and I believe that generally this holds true. Looking back at what came from the Lord taking me to a location, in this experience, that was “un-planned” and Him holding me protectively each step of the way has considerably increased my faith in who He is, in that when He asks me to be obedient in another area of my life I am more quickly and confidently able to act on His calling.
The neat thing about faith is that as you grow and step out in following and obeying Christ I believe that He continues to push you in deepening your faith and trust in Him more and more; consequently, you learn more about the deeper intimacy that you can have in Christ and this is the exciting part of it all – you are never done learning or being shaped!
4.What advice might you give to someone looking into a mission opportunity?
My advice to others that are looking at going on mission opportunities is to keep an open mind about what the trip might look like, what the Lord might ask of you, and to keep prayer at the center of your focus. Being open to where the Lord leads you and in what He asks can be at times an unanticipated barrier to keeping us from doing what He is directing us to do. I believe that when you keep prayer at the center of your focus, you are better able to hear clearly what the Lord is directing you in.
After this, just hang on, expect to be stretched in your character and abilities, and know that the Lord is right there with you, assisting, protecting, and opening the way for you to be used most effectively for the good of others.