One thing about mission trips that makes facing fears easier is that when you are on a mission trip, you are naturally separated from all of the things that are familiar and comfortable - those things that we often cling to in times of fear.
When we are removed from those things we rely on, you realize that you are completely at God's mercy. You have no other choice but to put yourself in God's hands and trust Him. It's freeing. And comforting.
In each situation where I found myself facing something that would normally scare me, I felt nothing but peace. Of course at first I felt fear but I soon discovered the peace that comes from putting yourself in the hands of the God who loves me. It was wonderful to be able to "let go and let God". At home, that's not as easy, but when you are away from the comforts of home, it becomes much easier and your faith grows as a result.
While in Romania our team was divided up and placed with host families. I was alone with my host family since I was the only woman on the trip. Each morning our ride would come around and pick us up to take us to the work site. Normally we had the same red VW van with the same driver we had come to know.
One morning however, the lady I was staying with told me my ride was there. I walked down the apartment steps and saw a different white van and a man I had not seen before. I asked my host if she was sure this was my ride. She was. I was a bit uneasy but what could I do? I got in. The driver spoke no English and I spoke no Romanian so communication was not happening. We drove through Timisora and I began to feel even more uneasy because nothing looked familiar to me. We had not taken that route before and I wasn't convinced that I was with the person I was supposed to be with. I thought, "This is great. I'm in a foreign country, I don't speak the language, I'm with a man I've never seen before, going God knows where. This can't be good".
Finally we stopped and the driver got out and went up to another apartment. Soon a lady I had not seen before came down and got in the van. I was a little relieved until I realized that she was French and spoke neither English or Romanian. So there we were, three people in the van and none of us could communicate. Wonderful. By this time I was sure I was in the wrong place with the wrong people and that I would never again see my team or my home and family. What to do? What can you do in a situation like that except to trust that God will work it out. Somehow, regardless of where we ended up or what happened, He would get me to someone who could help me. I rested in that confidence and felt much more at peace. Soon we stopped at yet another apartment and I was relieved to see two of the guys from my team come downstairs and get in the van. They however, we a bit disappointed. Apparently the drive had gone upstairs to their apartment and said, "I have two women, one American, one French". They looked at each other and said "YES!" and headed for the van - only to be disappointed that it was me.
These two incidents were strangley easy to trust God in, maybe because I didn't see them coming - they both just "happened" before I had a chance to realize what I was in to. Other situations were more of a challenge .....
(to be continued)