Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Things Aren't Always What They Seem

A moment of transparency:  From Laurie

I know from the outside looking in most people think my life is full of nothing but fun and excitement and that there is never a dull moment.  For the most part this is true. After all, I'm living the life some people only dream of living as I get to travel, camp, hike and explore for my work. But, while I'm having so much fun and enjoying the life I live, I also want to share with you how it's one of constant sacrifice and sometimes even loneliness.

Let me explain, 6 years ago I began to working full time with an outdoor recreation of which I know many of my friends are already familiar with called Going The Distance Adventure Ministry also known as GTD.  GTD is a Christian- based adventure outfitter that plans, prepares and provides both private and group events.  We run day trips, weekend retreats, adventure camps, mission trips, destination type trips, leadership training and work with youth, young adults, men, women, singles and married groups from churches all over.

What that means for me is that I travel from camp site to campsite, state to state, country to country, hotel to hotel, tent to tent, cabin to cabin and sometimes house to house. It means missing out on holiday fun, birthdays, family gatherings, get togethers with friends, births of babies, time with my pets, opportunities to do the things I love or would like to do, on bible studies, plugging into a church regularly, photography, building new friendships and maintaining old, working on my business and so much more.  It means waking up in a new place all the time, losing sleep, losing any sense of balance or normalcy to my life, not having a home of my own, feeling bad because I can't keep up with anyone or anything on a regular basis, coming and going so much that it feels like nobody notice or cares, an unmet desire to connect with people on a more deeper level, not having a savings because I make $500 a month working 19 hour days, living with my belongings in storage because I can't afford my own place, having my cats live at the office, putting off dental work, car repairs, having my hair cut, debt I can't pay off, having to say no to going out with friends because I can't afford to and nobody being able relate to the day to day pressures I feel with all the FUN I'm having!

Yes, my job is fun....I'm traveling, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, rappelling, bridge jumping (which I'm deathly afraid of BTW but I do), canoeing, hiking, camping, caving, zip lining, boating, jet skiing, exploring, meeting new people and traveling to some of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, but my job is also work.  Most days I'm up before the crack of dawn and the last to go to sleep around 1 or 2 a.m..  While I don't have a family of my own, I am cooking, cleaning, watching after, providing for, shopping for and meeting the needs of 100's of people all year long.  Just like a parent, my job never ends...when I'm on a trip I am managing personality conflicts, problems, dilemmas, emergencies, last minute changes, sickness, scheduling issues, special request, interns, volunteers, parent and church leaders, the GTD Adventure dogs and myself all at the same time!  I'm like the duck on the water that looks as calm as can be, but underneath the water I'm paddling like crazy to stay afloat...which for me means being "ON" all the time, smiling through difficult times, holding back tears and frustrations, always being composed, saying yes when I want to say no, putting my feelings and emotions aside for others, being last, missing sleep and MISSING OUT on the "fun" because I am cooking, cleaning, fixing, photographing, setting up and breaking down equipment, running errands while doing everything else I'm suppose to be doing.

By title, I am the Prosperity Director and Missions Director for GTD, but truly I wear so many hats I can never focus on what I was hired to do.  I help answer phones, field questions, clean, organize, grocery shop, pack and unpack the trailer, clean equipment, banquet  plan, drive vehicles with our gear, create advertisements, recruit volunteers and interns, plan every detail of our mission trips, speak, cook, train, lead, build and the list goes on.  You see there are only 2 of us that run the ministry...Doug and myself, and while I share with you all I do to make a trip run Doug is doing double, sometimes triple of what I do!  He himself plays the roles of CEO, leader, planner, purchaser, accountant, web designer, computer IT guy, secretary, assistant, repairman, truck driver, visionary, coordinator, graphic designer, blogger, travel agent, janitor, counselor and he's the man responsible for all of it and so much more!

I share all this NOT so anyone can feel sorry for me or Doug, but so people would understand what an AMAZING ministry GTD is, how much I believe in it and what it stands for!  I believe people need GTD, churches, ministries, students and adults. Yes, there are sacrifices involved and loneliness I feel from choosing to serve, but lives are changed because of sacrifices we make every day to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  And yes....I do get to have fun, a lot of fun and it's all in the name of Jesus, it's for for HIM and his glory alone that we do what we do!  We are encouraging others in their faith, teaching students to have fun in responsible ways and giving people an opportunity to get out into God's creation to grow strong and deeper into a closer relationship with him.

You see, things aren't always what they seem, there is purpose behind the fun and the sacrifices made.  We don't always know what that purpose is, but every now and then we receive a phone call from a student to tell us what an impact our trips have made on their life.  We have adults writing us to share how they still draw encouragement from the experiences they had with GTD and how their faith was renewed through the community, fun, freedom and fellowship they experienced with us. We also have parents who have a special love for our ministry because of the life changes they see in their children after a GTD trip and we even have individuals who share with us about how they've decided to go into full time ministry, missions and service fields because of our trips.

So, this is why I write and this is why I share.  It's not about me or Doug, it's about God and what he can do through us in the ministry we serve in. 

It's not easy to run this ministry with only 2 people.  We are short of volunteers, Monthly Ministry Partners, people praying for us and on donors who are willing to invest in something bigger than themselves.

November 18th is GTD's Annual Fundraiser Banquet and we are asking people to rally behind this ministry that has impacted so many lives, maybe yours included or someone you personally know. 

While we are so grateful to everyone who has already rallied around us over the years including our family, friends, volunteers and Ministry Partners, we need more help.   We need people like Moses needed Aaron and Hur to hold up his arms while fighting the Amalekites because he grew tired (Exodus 17).  Running a ministry like this can be tiring at times and we are actively seeking more Aaron and Hurs' to help support us and the work of the ministry.  Together we are believing in God for great things during this next year of ministry and for this banquet to be a greater success than we could hope for.  

If you'd like to rally behind GTD by getting more involved, attending the banquet, praying for us, becoming a volunteer, making a donation, sponsoring a table, becoming a Ministry Partner or booking an event please contact us or explore this website for more information.

Together we can make an impact.

You can make a donation here?