A Foreign Concept in a Foreign Land

I’ve been camping a handful of times with a friend’s family, but I never lasted longer than 3 days. Not because I couldn’t hack it, but I’m sure self-doubt was hidden in there somewhere. During those times I learned how to put up a tent, and take it down. I learned to live without technology (although the dependency was not quite as crippling 10 years ago). I learned how to fall asleep to the whistling of the wind, and awake with the sunrise. I learned these things as a teenager, but just like my high school trigonometry, I quickly forgot.

I wish I could say, Let’s fast forward 10 years, but the past 10 years have shaped both my decision making skills and my character (just as it does for most people in their 20s). I allowed my anxiety to control the way I lived my life, and the older I got, the more it immobilized me. Through personal circumstances, education, and an increased sense of self-awareness, I am now able to identify triggers and even prevent attacks, not just avoid them. After recently struggling with more debilitating incidents, I decided to take back control of my life. I made life-altering changes, such as eating Paleo, and I lived the past few months with a “don’t think, just do it” attitude. So when a friend insisted that I join her on a mission trip to Mexico (just 2 weeks prior to departure), it only took me about 3 hours to make my decision (first, it started with uncomfortable laughter, then denial followed by panic, and ultimately a 10 minute conversation with Mom and Dad). I spent 2 weeks asking about a thousand questions, digging my old clothes out of the “Donation” pile, and reintroducing beans into my diet (the smartest move I could make).

The 6 day trip in Tecate, Mexico consisted of tent-sleeping, baby-wipe showers, and hole-in-the-ground toilets. Weather conditions were less than ideal – rain, wind, freezing night air encompassed the first few days and then the end of the week we had a shade-less hot sun – but this did not make the work impossible. Paleo eating was not an option, but fortunately, my body didn’t protest too much. And the tendinitis in my right hand did not flare up until the day we returned home (#blessed would be an appropriate response to this). Since I took French in high school and Latin in college, I had no Spanish-speaking skills to help me speak with the people of Tecate (aside from the popular “gracias/no gracias” and “uno, dos, tres”), and yet, that did not stop other forms of communication from occurring (more on this in “How To: Communicate with Someone Who Speaks a Different Language“). Our mission in Tecate was to build a house (four houses in total), which we accomplished in about 4 days (the other 2 days were set aside for travel). We built from the ground up, using our hands (ok fine, God’s hands) with no assistance from power tools. And, not to brag, our team did a stellar job.

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But at no point during those 6 days, and beyond, did I ever regret my “quick” decision. When I think back to that Sunday night 3 weeks ago, I remember immediately grabbing my necklace; a necklace that reads Jeremiah 29:11 (“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper…”). I wear this necklace every day to be reminded of my new attitude and to always trust God. I will no longer make decisions based on fear of the unknown, because each time I take a hold of my necklace, I am reminded of my decision to go to Mexico. The meaning of my necklace has transformed along with my heart. And that alone was worth it.

Sláinte! (with water, of course)

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