Meet Mikaylah McGee: she longed to go, was reminded of the greatness of God, and learned that He will always surpass our expectations.
What led you to want to serve in South Asia?
Initially there wasn’t anything about South Asia that I was specifically drawn to, it honestly wasn’t even South Asia itself, but instead the opportunity that presented itself. One of my closest friends, Jonathan, used to work for a local nonprofit. One night, he mentioned something about leading a trip over the summer for them, and asked if I wanted to go. Without hesitation, I was on board. Didn’t matter the cost, the plan, the how, what, or why; I just knew I wanted to go.
Missions has been something that I’ve been passionate about since the 6th grade and all throughout high school. I had always wanted to go on an overseas mission trip, but the opportunity never really presented itself. So it was towards the end of my senior year when Jonathan approached me, and I knew that in just a few short months I would be headed to college to pursue a degree in education and missions. So my thought was: what better way to see if this was really what God wanted me to pursue, than to actually go on a mission trip!
How did you handle the language barrier while serving?
We were really fortunate and the non-profit we went through has several established relationships with people in the areas we were serving, who are native to that area and also speak english. So that was such a blessing because they were able to translate for us when we were serving and hanging out.
The first weekend we were there, we were asked to speak at a Christian leadership conference for young adults. I really really really hate public speaking, so I knew from the get go that the Lord was stretching me. The team and I were each asked to prepare about a lesson/talk that would fill about 30 minutes, with translation. So my logic was that “Okay, if I prepare for 15-20 minutes, that’ll be fine because with translation, it’s like everything I’m saying, but twice.” Haha oh how silly of me. I also might’ve neglected the fact that you tend to speak super duper quickly when you’re nervous… But anyway, the Lord is faithful and it wasn’t even about me to begin with when I was given the opportunity to share. It was simply about God and what He had been teaching me. And He was gracious enough to let me share those things with other believers.
But a lot of our time was spent in children’s homes or classrooms, where they are actually learning English along with their national and state language. One of the places we visited was a hearing impaired school for girls and that was honestly one of the most incredible things. Not only did one of the girls bless the food in sign language but in their own dialect of sign language.
And also in attending church there, it was breathtaking to worship with one voice but in different languages. Because that’s the thing, to God, it’s all worship and it’s all beautiful to Him. So, that was really incredible to witness firsthand.
What’s one thing about your trip that surprised you?
What surprised me the most were the social extremes. In attempts of describing where we were, the people and culture- I could only manage to depict it all in oxymorons such as “disgustingly beautiful,” “heartbreakingly whole,” “richly impoverished,” and “offstandishly welcoming.”
I feel like most can relate when it comes to any sort of overseas trip, after two weeks-I was so ready to come home but at the same time I never wanted to leave. I honestly didn’t really think culture shock would really be a thing. But it most definitely was, just not quite the way I originally thought. I figured it would be more difficult once we got to South Asia and transitioning into that would be hard. But by the grace of God, it really wasn’t. It was the culture shock I experienced when we returned home that was honestly the most shocking.
How has your time spring serving impact you since returning home?
I think the biggest takeaway for me, was a conviction of my own selfishness and pride, along with the realization of just how big God is. The transition back into normal life after returning was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. Not only was I jet-lagged and exhausted, but a big part of me wanted to still be back where we had left.
When I came back, I found myself asking “What is my purpose here? There’s so much I could be doing over there.” But that was honestly my pride talking. Because God has been faithful in moving and working through the established ministries over there for yearsss. So who am I to think that after all this time, His work would just cease because I was no longer there? Heck no, God was kind and gracious enough just to let me be apart of it for a split second. He’s loved, provided, and protected those kids since the beginning of time, and He will continue to whether I’m there or not. My efforts don’t define or give me purpose; it was Him that allowed me to have these passions, and it is in Him I am defined.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to commit to serve but is intimidated?
Get rid of all your expectations. Because God will always, always, always surpass them. Every stinkin’ time.
As I had mentioned earlier, missions has always been on my heart. But it wasn’t until last year that I really allowed God to correct my heart’s intentions and view on missions. All those years I was so determined to get on a plane and go love on people halfway across the world, yet I was so neglectful of faithfully loving and serving those God had literally put right in front of me. It was then that I realized that was a big part of why I experienced the frustration and sadness of not being able to go on trips before, my heart was filled with all the wrong intentions, whether I was able to acknowledge them or not. Looking back, I’m really thankful the Lord had me wait. Missions begin where the Lord has you right now. It’s in your home, in your school, in your family, the teams you’re on and the groups you are apart of. We must learn how to love our neighbor in the purest sense first, before we can ever love the least of these.
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