Part 2 showed some of the fun I had and some differences in the countries….This part will show you WHY I compare my missions trip to my honeymoon when it comes to negative experiences.
As I mentioned earlier, a day or two into the trip I started having headaches consistently. Since I didn’t have the option of just opting out and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss anything anyways, I ended up taking pill after pill JUST to manage every day. I only got to talk to my mom one time while I was in Wales. Back in 2001, believe it or not, cell phones weren’t as big of a thing and neither were laptops so I didn’t have a cell phone to just call people I loved whenever I wanted. Our leader had one, of course, and he arranged for all of us to call our parents for a short time after we arrived just so they could know we were safe. Of course, if there had been a problem, I’m sure we would have been allowed to call them as well.
It was lonely for me, though. I missed home ever so much and thank God for me having my own room that I could go to at night and cry and pray by myself. I needed that alone time when so much time on the trip was spent with new people. I also loved to gaze down from the window at the street below and wonder what the other people in the other buildings were doing at that moment. One day, as I was gazing out the window, I felt a drop of water hit me. It wasn’t raining outside so I was confused as to what I was feeling. I stepped back and noticed that not only was there a leak from up above dripping down but there was also some hair leaking through? Yea, I was completely mortified. It turned out the third floor shower was leaking into that room so that meant less showers and quicker ones for them and a bucket placed under the window. As I lay in bed, I could hear the water dripping every now and then and oddly enough, it didn’t keep me awake. I suppose because I was so tired. A few days later, the leak emerged down the wall next to where my bed was. I simply scooted the bed over a little and went on my way. All I cared about was that it wasn’t leaking on me.
Then, horror of horrors, came the night where I was laying in the bed and the water started leaking from the middle of the ceiling right above the light fixture. There was no longer a place safe enough to sleep in the room. The thought of having to move this late in the game, into the room where ALL the girls were, was frightening to me so I came up with my own alternative. The room at the end of the hall, right next to me, housed tons of VHS movies and while there wasn’t a bed in there, there WAS room enough for a mattress. I hauled my mattress into this room, laid it on the floor and that was my makeshift bed for the few remaining days of my trip. It might not have been the best situation but it worked for me and I could still use the other room to dress and store my stuff.
We eventually found out OUR shower was leaking into the daycare so all of us had to start taking really fast showers as to reduce the leakage factor. Like I said, this building had seen better days!
One of the things I had wanted to do on this Missions trip more than anything was to sing. I was shy, yes, but I loved to sing and I was willing to try to sing solos or duets, whatever was needed. Shortly after the headaches started, my voice started getting raspy and hoarse. I could talk fine but the singing wasn’t happening. That was hard for me because when I’m not able to sing, I feel empty. The fact that I wasn’t able to do something that I thought I could offer on a Missions trip above anything else really shot down my confidence and saddened me. So…headache, losing voice….pop more Ibuprofen to deal with the pain.
Then I walked into VBS one day and tripped over the bottom of the door frame. I ended up twisting my ankle and it HURT. Since I had no choice but to walk on it and A LOT, I popped more medicine to make the pain just go away. It worked, I didn’t feel my ankle hurting as bad, my headache was a distant aching pain and while I couldn’t sing, I could still talk fine.
By the end of the trip, I had gone through almost a whole thing of Ibuprofen…one of those big economical sizes. As we drove to the airport and got on the plane, there was a little bit of sadness in saying goodbye to Wales but I was also homesick and my body was giving out on me. I was exhausted. On the way to Pennsylvania, my headache came back with a vengeance and my back starting throbbing and aching. It seemed like I would never get home.
As we touched down in Pennsylvania, good byes were said and I was pointed on my way to my flight to Texas. Here I was again, on my own, all alone, walking to my flight. Kimberly had a connecting flight too, for Georgia, so luckily I had a companion for a bit of my walk. Then I found my connecting flight and got on. I freaked out when I saw I was seated next to two good looking college age kids. Great…here I am, a big girl with glasses, feeling like crap and stuck next to two guys….Good looking guys! UGh, kill me now!
The 3 hour flight to Texas seemed to drag on and on forever, my head wanted to explode and I began to feel nauseous. Oh no….please let me hold it until we get there!…….Perhaps, I should have been more specific? As we landed and were pulling up to our gate, I couldn’t hold back anymore and I had to grab one of those paper baggies in front of me…and yea, I think you know what happened next. I THINK the college guys were busy looking somewhere else but I am probably just deluding myself. When we got off the plane, I honestly could care less what anyone thought anymore, I felt horrible and I wanted my mom, I wanted my bedroom with my own bed and I wanted it now!
We still had a 2 hour drive to our house though and I lay in the backseat of the car, sick as a dog, all the way home. I got sick yet again on the road.
When we got home, I went right to bed and stayed there for quite awhile. I later discovered I had strep throat, so it wasn’t that much of a shock that I had felt so bad. So why was my trip not so good? Well…a leak in my room, sick with a headache and strep throat for almost 2 weeks without knowing it, a very much probable close to overdose on Ibuprofen AND a twisted ankle….that’s why…
Do I regret my trip? No. Obviously, it would have been nice to not have been sick the whole time, but it was a growing up, life experience. I grew up so much from that trip, I learned new things about the world, I learned new things about myself and how much I can take and still overcome. I learned to be appreciative of what I have and how much I truly have to be thankful for. I had moments when my faith was tested in ways that I had never yet been exposed to at 17; eye opening experiences that really made me start to think for myself more and molded me into what I would later become in life. Before, I just believed things because it was what I was taught and I never really thought any deeper than that. There were tough questions I was asked by people that I was shocked that I didn’t have answers for. Though my shyness lingered for many years after this trip, on the inside I was changed from this trip and was slowly realizing that the world was about more than just believing based on what you were told. It’s also about searching out the truth for yourself and knowing the reasons behind WHY you believe what you believe. Learning to become confident and secure with not only what, but why you feel that way.
It was a great experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.