MEET ASPEN MEDLEY: she headed to Greece, learned that our plans aren’t always God’s plans, and discovered she could hear Him in a whisper.
What made you decide to go to Greece?
So, I actually thought God would call me to Thailand since I do a lot of work with Anti-Human Trafficking. I thought surely with the strengths God’s given me, that’s where I would be able to be used the most, but it wasn’t. The way my school does Action Teams (Short-Term Mission trips) is you pick three teams you’re interested in serving on and interview with the student leaders. From the second I met the Greece leaders, I felt connected to them, and later on they shared they felt it too. So after the interview I felt conflicted between what I thought was my calling and what I was actually being called to. After the interview process you were suppose to fill out a paper and rank which team you would most like to go on to your least out of the 3, but I just couldn’t decide so I never turned one in. But I got a call from one of the leaders that I had been selected for team Greece, and I had no idea what God had in store for me. Additionally, what had initially peaked my interest of working with refugees which turned out not to be the main focus of the trip.
What did serving the homeless and marginalized populations in Greece teach you about the love of Jesus?
I think the biggest thing I learned is sometimes when I think about how powerful God is when he works I think of these huge life changing gestures. But I forget that Elijah didn’t hear God in the mighty wind or the powerful earthquake or the wrenching fire. He heard the Lord in the softest, most gentle whisper (1 Kings 19: 10-13), and I saw that in Greece. I didn’t see God in these huge grand gestures, I saw him while I looked into the eyes of a Roma girl as I painted her nails. I saw him when I handed someone a coffee and they looked back at me with kindness. I saw him during youth group in the children’s laughter. I saw him as women freed of human trafficking created beautiful hand crafted bags. I saw him in my team as they poured their hearts out, and looked like God’s image at work. I think I learned that Jesus loved people so seemingly effortless because he saw God in them, and I hope to continue to see God in the most simple encounters too.
How has your time in Greece impacted you since returning home?
Well in my short week back in the US I have missed Greece every second of every day. I miss Greece because I fell in love with how the church I worked with lived out the Bible in their everyday lives. I think the missionaries there taught me more than they could ever know, they radiate Jesus’s love in everything that they do. I think I’ve learned how to better live like Jesus because of them, and I want to bring that back to wherever I am. I think the people of Greece have taught me for one how to be resilient when even your own country has all the cards stacked against you, these people wake up and still choose life everyday despite some of them being homeless for 7+ years. That is bravery. But more so I found it amazing how even though some of them have lived through things some of us can’t even begin to imagine they still trust God, and I want to continue to chase God with that much certainty.
What did your trip teach you about yourself?
The trip taught me that I can be used beyond what I even thought for myself. God really pushed me on this trip, yet continued to confirm the promises he has previously made me. He nurtured me in my strengths and helped me re-find my confidence in my calling. God taught me not only how worthy each one of his children is because I see that but how to see that in myself too. I think one of the most common misconceptions about mission trips is that people think you go to make a difference, and while it’s true you will, I found that the people of Greece made the biggest difference in me.
What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about serving others?
I wish people knew how much it feeds your soul. After a long day of serving when your body feels like its going to give out, and your head cant possibly think anymore you can rest in the fact that what God meant for that day was done. You never know what that coffee you served, that park you cleaned, that shirt you gave away, or that meal you served was meant to do. Just like you don’t know what each and every interaction you have can lead to. Whether you feel pushed to serve locally or internationally both equally as important, I encourage you to really open your heart to serving others. Because hands down being the hands and feet of the lord and serving his beloved people is one of the most fulfilling experiences you can have. And after every time I’ve served I feel like I can see God better and clearer.
I would love to talk more about the missions in Greece, and what the missionaries doing there. I would love to talk more about the different marginalized groups, and why each of them in so unique. But lastly I would just like to ask for your prayers over a country that is breathtakingly beautiful but full of many injustices in need of prayer. Thank you!
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