I was first called to mission when I was around 8 years old. We got to write to children at a partner church in India and I knew, then and there, that one day I would be the one delivering the letters. I knew that one day I would be a missionary. Every time after that when someone in my church came back from serving abroad, I would feel the pull again, and God would tell me once again that I should do mission work. So when I gave up my law degree to go on a gap year, mission work was my first thought. But I got depressed really quickly when I realised that most of the "amazing" gap years were full and that I should have applied for the months ago.
And then God gave me Sudan.
A man came to talk at my church about Flame International, an organisation which gives not only physical aid, but spiritual aid. They hold healing conferences in war-stricken Africa and teach forgiveness. Something in his talk spoke to me and I approached him afterwards. He told me that there was a "youth" trip in September to South Sudan but that they don't really accept people under 20 and as I was only 18 I probably wouldn't be able to handle it. It wasn't a cookie-cutter mission project, a trip to do some aid work and some tourist sights; this was going to be unbelievably tough.
So I forgot about it and got on with my exams. But God didn't. Through friends and people at church, I was prompted over and over to go back to Flame and look into the trip further. I met with the man who had spoken in the service again and spoke to the lady who was running the Sudan trip (Jan) to try and ascertain whether I was really being called to go. But I was busy, crazy busy, and I didn't hear from the organisation for a week until I text Jan to explain that I was going to Cornwall the next day and that she wouldn't be able to get hold of me whilst I was there due to poor signal, I explained that I really needed to know whether I was going to Sudan. On the train down to Polzeath, she phoned me and told me that she'd love for me to join the team.
Cut to shot of me frantically trying to sort out jabs with my mother, money transfers with both my dad and Jan, trying to arrange some sort of fundraising, all from beach mission. Everyone there was great, so enthusiastic about the trip, praying for me and generally supporting me when I thought was going to go mad (mainly when I broke my phone by going into the sea and couldn't access my emails or contact either my parents or Jan).
On Monday this week I got the first two of eight jabs.
On Saturday I have a training day and I get to meet the team.
On Sunday I get to speak to my church about the trip and pray that people sponsor me.
It is all happening really fast and is kind of scary. How am I going to raise £750 by September 8th? - just one of the many questions wizzing round my head. But at the same time I know that God is at the centre of this trip and has placed me here very carefully. I can see it in the little things, like the fact that the travel nurse only had slots free when I needed them, every other time was fully booked, and the fact that our holiday is perfectly timed to be the one week when I don't need any jabs.
I can't wait. It is going to push me to my limits and change my life.
I want to serve and to see people's lives change. I want to find a new identity solely as the child of God, founded in love. I want to put aside my own needs and comforts and just get stuck into the work of the Lord.
God has called me and I have listened. I wonder what else he has in store.