Wednesday, June 6, 2012

All Things Work Together for Good

My name is Denise, and I am a student at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. In this blog, I will be sharing about my travels this summer as I study abroad in Vilnius, Lithuania. First, I'd like to share with you how this all got started...

At the beginning of this year, I decided I wanted to do something new and exciting with my life, and I wanted to do it soon. I needed some adventure. As far as I could see, I had two pretty obvious routes that could get me there: I could go on a missions trip through a church organization, Apostolic Youth Corps (AYC), or I could study abroad through my college, the Monfort College of Business. Regardless, I wanted something completely different in my life.

I realized I would definitely have to choose one or the other. It wasn't a matter of applying for both and going from there; it was a matter of which to apply for, as they both had sizable application fees and processes, and I knew I would only end up doing one. Being a logical person, I took to thinking and asking advice about my decision. Being a spiritual person, I took to praying about it.

Now, I thought my decision would be obvious. After praying, surely I would end up being swayed to a missions trip. But I wanted to pray about where to go too; AYC offers several options for summer missions trips, and I didn't want to choose one solely based on that I knew the leaders of a certain trip or that I had friends going on a certain trip. However, as I prayed, I didn't feel particularly drawn to any place. In fact, I hardly felt anything, an oddity for me while praying about foreign missions.

Then everything started falling in place for the study abroad trip, something I had hardly looked into at all. I came across a study abroad fair at my school and got some information. Of course, I picked up pamphlets for places like Australia, Italy, and Spain, places everyone wants to go. However, I also picked up a packet of specific summer programs the Monfort College of Business was offering. Of these, only one seemed possible; there was only one trip that was both in my price range and didn't interfere with other commitments I already had. This trip was to ISM University of Management and Economics in Vilnius, Lithuania. I remembered where Lithuania was from seventh grade world geography, but I didn't know anything about the country. I had no real desire to go there. Nevertheless, I added it to my list of possibilities and to my prayers.

As the application deadlines approached, I knew I had to make a decision. I had been thinking and praying for over two months, but my prayers had changed from being about whether I should do a missions trip or study abroad to where I should go on a missions trip. But still, to my dismay, I felt next to nothing about the missions trips. This really lead me to believe that I wasn't in a good place spiritually, but I proceeded with the only thing I knew to do and applied for the study abroad trip in Vilnius, Lithuania.

My grandmother, who raised me in church, was a bit skeptical about my decision. She knew I'd been praying about the missions trips and couldn't imagine that I ended up deciding to apply for a study abroad trip instead. "Well, do they have any missionaries there in Lithuania?" she asked. I promised her I'd look, but upon searching our church organization's website, I found none. I decided to withhold this information from her until I knew for sure whether I was even accepted to the program or not. A few days later, the news came that I had been accepted. I was excited, but also conflicted. I told my grandmother and a few others that I had been accepted, but I did not share that I had not found missionaries there.

The following Sunday, I went to the church in Loveland I'd been attending that semester. Being the oldest "youth" but the youngest "adult," I had been switching back and forth between going to the youth or the adult Sunday school classes. This particular Sunday, I chose to go to the youth class since I hadn't been in a few weeks. The pastor, Pastor Greg Albritton, taught the youth class, and before we started he said he would like to show us a video of the ministry work that some friends of his had been doing. He played the video, and I'm sure my jaw dropped as the word "Lithuania" appeared on the screen. Then the caption "2005-2010" came up, and I assumed they'd already left. When the caption "2011 to present" came up, in my doubting nature, I speculated to myself that the church was probably very far from the university in Vilnius, because this was just too good to be true. Then the caption "Vilnius House of Worship" came up, and all my doubts were silenced. I was simply amazed. For me, this was confirmation of more than one thing. First of all, I took it as confirmation that I did the right thing by applying for the study abroad trip. Second, I had been a bit unsure as to whether I should be at the church in Loveland, as I had been going to church in Johnstown during the fall semester, but this seemed to be so much of a "right place at the right time" situation that I could no longer doubt that either. Of course, I couldn't wait to share this news! I told family, friends, and of course, Pastor Albritton, right away. Through Pastor Albritton, I got in touch with the missionaries in Vilnius, Tony and Shasta Miller. I've included their website below:

When I look back and reflect on how this entire thing worked out, I am amazed. I never imagined that I would get an opportunity like this, and I certainly never could have guessed how it all fell together. Seeing the big picture of this, the only thing that comes to mind is a Bible verse...
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

 Vilnius, Lithuania

1 comment:

  1. That is sooooo awesome, Denise!!! I love how God worked everything out for you. I am very excited to be doing a missions trip this year, myself (to Trinidad and Tobago)!