By Heather Speckman
The brightness of dawn warmed my face as I exited the plane in the Bangui airport. It was surreal. After years of dreaming about traveling to Africa, I was standing in a mass of brightly-clad Central Africans and awaiting a breathtaking adventure with God.
I had no idea all the things that I would learn and experience. I didn’t know the stories I would hear of God’s power in the lives of Africans. I didn’t know I would be stretched to trust God in a different way than ever before. I didn’t know I would fall in love with the African family with whom I stayed for a week. I didn’t know that when I stepped back on that plane a month later, I would leave a piece of my heart.
Now as I recall the trip last July with the Mission Exploration Team (MET), I am overwhelmed. From the first meeting, the team realized we were very diff erent people. Our common link was that we loved God and we wanted a realistic picture of what it is like to serve as a missionary in Africa.
Throughout the weeks we bonded together in a powerful way. We overcame jet lag, learned Sango, listened to African speakers, helped teach ESL classes, visited orphans, visited hospitals, ate in African homes, cleared a field with machetes, lived in the bush, and left Africa attached in a way that rarely happens.
I returned to America with new friends. I am in contact with an African family who call me their daughter. I support Rubio, a Muslim girl who nearly died tuberculosis. I write to Princess, a teenager who longed for an “American friend.” I am blessed with teammates and leaders (Mike and Myra Taylor) with whom I exchange stories and encourage pursue life on-mission for Christ.
Editor’s Note: Heather Speckman, a Grace College student, was one of six young adults who participated in the 2009 team to the Central African Republic. Mission Exploration Teams are one example of how Grace Brethren International Missions is investing in future missionary workers and leaders.
Mission Exploration Teams (MET) are four to six week long programs offered during the summer months in four regions: Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. While on these trips, participants will experience hands-on ministry in conjunction with Grace Brethren International Missions staff and gain invaluable leadership skills in a cross-cultural setting. For more information: Contact John Ward (firstname.lastname@example.org) or download the MET brochure at gbim.org.