September 23rd, 2013
We arrived at Spokane International Airport around 6:30 am, two hours before my flight. We sat there for a few minutes, but the tension was almost unbearable. We said our goodbyes and I got in line to go through security; it would be 88 days before I saw my family again. I had been preparing for this trip for months, raising money, getting my paperwork together, but nothing really prepares you for the moment you walk through security and sit and wait; sad, scared, and excited all at the same time. I waited in the concourse for an hour an a half watching as the empty seats filled with travelers. I was 19 years old, travelling by myself for the first time, but I don’t go partway, so why not make my first solo trip an international one. 19 hours and 5880 miles later I arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece my home for the next three months.
I was there to study abroad with a program called ENGAGE. During my time there I would have the opportunity to host a Bible Study, volunteer at a local church, serve at a safe house for human trafficking victims, run my first 5k to raise awareness for human trafficking, and host groups of volunteers church groups. I would have the opportunity to serve the community, to go on trips, and to build great friendships, but what I didn’t anticipate was the change it would start in my life.
During those 88 days I learned to value community, I learned to live intentionally, and I learned to live life on purpose. My worldview changed during those three months, and the changes in my life didn’t stop the day I got on the plane to come home. In fact, I would say that the greatest changes in my life came in the following months as I began to discover who I was and who I am called to be.