I never wanted to be the person that comes back from a mission trip and says “I’m a totally different person” and “that experience changed my life” and “this was the most incredible experience of my life.” It feels cliche to say any of those things. I don’t want to be that person who’s stories sound superficial and stereotypical. I won’t say that it changed me completely. I will say, though, that my time in Thailand has molded my perspective in a few different areas. And, a little over a year later, I might as well finally write about it.
This entire journey started, for me, during Give Your Life Away week. Give Your Life Away Week is a week where we talk in chapel about mission trips that our school is doing this year during spring break, and over the summer after. I always had interest in doing one before I graduated but I never really thought it was something I could do. I didn't have the time or the money or the personality to go and serve. That's what I told myself every year. "That would be such a cool trip...but maybe not for me." Then, senior year, during Give Your Life Away, Dr. Kristy Ingram's name appeared on the list of trips next to the country of Thailand. I said, out loud but to myself, "I'm going on that trip." She is by far my favorite professor that I had the honor of learning from at Olivet so who better to go on a missions trip with? In that moment, I was prepared to do whatever it took. That day there were tables set up in Ludwig (our dining hall) so that you could get more information on any trip you thought you may be interested in. As I walked towards the doors, the Thailand table caught my eye. I stopped for a moment, and took some photos so I had the valuable information. I looked at the price tag, saw $3,000 and immediately thought that I was wrong initially and it couldn't possibly be the trip for me. How could I raise that much money?
I walked straight out of the building. I made it about four steps before something told me to turn around. I went back inside, having decided in an instant that it couldn't hurt to get a little information. I wasn't obligated to go on the trip if I just took the time to find out what it was all about. I grabbed a pen they had sitting on the table and I signed up. Fast forward a week, and I get an email talking about how the informational meeting was going to be on a day where I was already scheduled to work. Super. I got in contact with my professor who was leading the trip, and accommodations were made. She informed me that this meeting wasn't as absolutely necessary as it may have seemed. Fast forward another couple weeks, and we have about a week to complete an application and send it in. Since I did not take the time to sit down and do the application the moment I got the information, I forgot about it. Pushed it off a couple of times because procrastination is a talent of mine. When I had time to complete the application, I wouldn't because I thought, 'oh, I'll have time to do it later,' and more often than not, I had homework I was working on was due that day.
Then THE Sunday came. It was due that day, by midnight. I had to work a closing shift so I told myself I would do it before I left for work. Only I didn't. So I got home from work, looked at the time, and instantly became a wreck because I hadn't turned my application in and there was no way they were going to accept me now. After about 5-10 minutes of overreacting and being ridiculously emotional, I pulled out my laptop and went to the website. The application was still available. It would time stamp it but I could still submit one that they would hopefully accept. So, I wiped the tears away, filled out the application to the best of my abilities and sent it in. At about 2:30 am. Two hours and thirty minutes after the cut off time.
Immediately after I sent it, I received an email stating that they had received my application. In the days following the submission of my application, I received an email from Dr. Ingram asking us to send in a video answering five questions. So obviously, since I learned already that I shouldn't procrastinate with this, I waited until the very last minute. I, along with a few others, received a second email, telling us that they had wanted the video by the past Friday. They extended the deadline to Tuesday evening for those of us that had not yet turned it in. The Tuesday they were talking about just so happened to be Halloween. My job allows me to dress up for Halloween to make it a little more fun. At the end of my shift, I sat down in the office, still in my mermaid costume with my mermaid make-up on, and recorded the video. When it came time to send it, the video would not go through. I had the spinning wheel of death trying to load the video forever. It felt like when you watch water boil and literally nothing is happening. I locked my phone and hoped for the best.
Even though I was late on turning in my application, and the video didn't work properly, I was hopeful that I still had a shot. And obviously it worked out because I'm writing about this trip. I would find out later from Dr. Ingram that the people who run the program were sure to inform her that my application came in late, and she did not ever get the video that I was trying to send her. Not even a little. She did at least receive the email I sent her about the fact that I was having issues with the video sending, so there's that. When I think back on the application process, it makes me smile because I literally did everything wrong that one person could do and I still somehow ended up being accepted onto the team.