Jun. 16, 2016

What God Has Done to Get Me Here: Friday, June 10, 2016

Today I made a cake for Aline’s third grade class. There was no real reason other than just to have cake, and that’s all the reason I ever need for cake. I baked a giant chocolate cake and made homemade icing and iced all 24 students’ names on the cake, along with Aline’s. When I walked in the classroom all the students jumped and cheered and applauded for me (for the cake). In that moment there was so much happiness erupting from those kids it was ridiculous. All the kids kept hugging me and telling me thank you and how delicious the cake was. They each felt really special to have their names on the cake. There was enough cake for each kid to have two pieces. I was very thankful that we waited until the end of the school day to give them chocolate.

I visited preschool for a little bit and Sophia was really happy to see me. We played gatito, also known as tic-tac-toe. She is practicing more and more English with me each day, as well as teaching me more and more Spanish. All the kids have come such a long way in such a short time. I’m not looking forward to the end of their school year.

This evening we attended the prayer meeting in someone’s home. There were twenty-three of us all sitting in a circle in a very small room, and it was hot. I was almost certain I wouldn’t make it out of there without passing out first. But I made it, so all is well. I love hearing the different praises and prayer requests from all the people here. I am slowly understanding more and more of what they say. Many of them ask prayer for their families, that they would come to the Lord. I’m still practicing saying my praises and prayer requests. So when they pray at meetings like this a few people will say their praises and prayer requests, then someone will pray for each of them specifically. I can understand enough to know that they specifically pray for me. They mention me by name and pray for my prayer requests right then and there, regardless of what they may be. The only things these people know about me is that I’m not from here, I don’t understand them, and the few things they’ve learned through my praises and prayer requests, but that doesn’t give them any hesitation in sharing the love of Jesus with me, and it’s something more beautiful than words can describe.

I had asked Aline to take a group picture of me and the third grade class. They all ran to be next to me and were really excited. When I posted the picture on Facebook, the response was huge. My tennis coach at Asbury commented, “Brianna, it is so evident in this picture that you are exactly where God wants you to be right now.” That comment really stuck with me. It meant a great deal because looking back, I now know everything that God did to get me here, to Mexico, and in line with His will for my life. So I’m going to go way back to my senior year of high school in the Fall of 2012.

My plan that far in life was to study medicine. I had had my own experience with the field of cardiology so that’s what I wanted to go into. I was fascinated by the heart, and still am. But at that moment looking towards the future I knew that God was calling me towards something different. I was a typical confused senior in high school with no idea what to do with my life. Back then I didn’t trust God enough to follow His plan, but rather tried to make my own.

Over Thanksgiving Break, Mom and I went to visit Pensacola Christian College. I really liked the school and the people were all so loving and kind. But something didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like home. I didn’t feel like I could live there for the next four years. So midway through my senior year I had no idea what to do and was still trying to figure it out on my own. Little did I know that God was right there the entire time using different people and circumstances to guide my footsteps where He wanted me to go.

Mom wanted me to go to Shawnee State University and I absolutely refused. I absolutely did not want to go to a small school only twenty minutes from home. I refused to even submit an application. But that didn’t stop Mom from being a mom and sending in an application behind my back. I didn’t know what she had done until I received the acceptance letter in the mail offering me a full scholarship. Since I didn’t really have any other prospects I decided to stick with the original plan and study pre-med so that I could later go on to medical school to study cardiology.

While at school there I happened to see a flyer for Club Tennis. I was so pumped so of course I joined. It just so happened that the guy in charge was friends with Shawnee State University’s Women’s Tennis Coach. He thought I was good and told me I should talk to the coach. I was certain when I graduated high school that my tennis career was over. But again I was wrong. I made an appointment to meet with the coach hoping for the best. In the meeting I realized that this coach had never seen me play and for him to let me on the team would be a long shot. And he said it himself. But he also said that he had seen me play racquetball and I was good and I was nice so why not. So out of the blue I was on SSU’s Women’s Tennis Team. This is all relevant I promise.

While at SSU I saw another flyer one day (I know, flyers everywhere) about the job of Orientation Leader where the OL would interact with incoming students, giving them campus tours and whatnot. So I decided to apply. Out of the large group of us interviewing for the positions, only a small fraction of us were hired. So at each orientation we had to divide students into different groups and we did so randomly by giving them the next group number on the table. It was all random, or better yet, it was all in God’s hands.

At the transfer orientation God put someone in my group, (they had held the door for someone allowing them to go first in line, therefore landing in my group) who was transferring from Asbury University, a school that I had never heard of before. They talked about Asbury all the time and about how amazing the school and all the people there were. I had to check it out for myself. I had always wanted to go to a Christian University. They took me to Asbury to visit their friends with the promise that they’d look out for me if I decided to transfer (which they did). They even paid for my housing deposit, which I did not find out about until much later.

When I scheduled a campus tour at Asbury I also scheduled a meeting with the tennis coach, again, knowing that this would probably be a shot in the dark. The coach later told me that he was walking into that meeting ready to tell me no, that his team was already full, which he did say at first. But as we sat and talked he said that he liked my personality and thought I might be a good fit. And he had actually seen me play before. When I was playing for Shawnee State University we had a match at Georgetown the same day that Asbury Men’s Tennis had a match at Georgetown. Praise the Lord that that match was probably the best I’d ever played because he saw it and it likely swayed his decision a bit.

So being on the tennis team I had to go to Asbury a week early for pre-season. Then I was given the chance to get to know the other 12 girls on the team. That’s when I met Sarah Beth Alford. I love this girl so much. She is one of the best friends that anyone could ever pray for. In becoming friends with Sarah Beth she invited me to Global Café at the WGM ministry center on campus. I fell in love with the atmosphere and the people there, so I kept going back every week. Going to Global Café is how I heard about the VIA program. Once I talked with Kristina Gleason about my interests she said there was a trip to Mexico that sounded perfect for me. To state the obvious I was accepted by World Gospel Mission as a Volunteer In Action. God began to prepare me for this trip in ways I couldn’t imagine, and He provided over and above the funds that were necessary to get me here.

Mark and Serena Dunbar teach Theological Education classes as part of their ministry. Aline is a student in the classes. Aline is also an English teacher and the English Coordinator at Los Pinos Bilingual School close by. Aline informed Mark and Serena that she could use help in teaching English at the school. Therefore the opportunity arose for a VIA to come to Mexico and volunteer and spread the love of Jesus in a school that is not a Christian school. So God brought me to these kids because whether or not they needed me, I needed them.

God used all these different steps to get me exactly where He wanted me. He used countless people and circumstances to take me on this crazy journey. To be where I am now and look back on everything that God has done for me I am left in awe. God is a good, good Father. The way He works is none other than miraculous.