My Other Calling

I will readily admit Cuba was never a place I wanted to go. I LOVE to travel, and I keep a mental bucket list of locales that I desperately want to see. Cuba was never on it, not remotely. In March, when President Obama threw the door open wide for Americans to travel to Cuba, I actually declared on my radio show that I wasn’t interested–that I would wait until the masses had been going for years before I’d think about it. That was partly because I knew there would be a huge influx of people making the trek and partly because Cuba still operates under a Communist government. I can’t help but recall those words and my confident stance as I make my final preparations to land in Havana this week. Ha! God definitely has a sense of humor.

When I first heard that my church was sending a group to Cuba, I knew instantly it was something I needed to consider. I had no doubt God was trying to get my attention, but was He calling me to GO? As the various personal and professional obstacles systematically fell by the wayside, the choice became crystal clear. A few months after I denied any interest, I committed to a 10-day journey to Havana. It’s amazing how my heart and attitude have changed since then. At the beginning, I was apprehensive and uneasy over leaving the US for the first time in five years; joining a group of people I didn’t know; asking my family and friends to invest financially; and entering a country where the government is still oppressive and the people are not free to live, work, shop or worship the way they desire. I was nervous about leaving my dog and house for 11 days and being disconnected from work right before the NFL season kicks off. While I can’t say those notions have completely disappeared, the anxiety is replaced by great expectation! I’m positive the trip will be a blessing.

Even as the atheist Cuban government warms up to the idea of its citizens attending church and practicing their faith, visitors are not generally allowed to enter the country for any type of religious venture. Our group has secured tourist visas, and we won’t be using the word “church” (or “iglesia”) while we’re in Havana. Each day, we’ll take a van to a poor suburb across the bay and work with an “illegal” church and its pastor. We want to protect his identity and make sure we don’t draw any undue attention to his church. He already runs the risk of the government shutting it down. So we’ll bunk in the tourist district of Havana but spend our mornings on construction and repairs at the church. In the afternoons and evenings, we’ll work with kids and teens. In fact, the pastor has designated our visit for Youth Week. Awesome!

The reality of the trip hit me recently when a large box arrived with two soccer balls and a kickball. I ordered them to take to the kiddos. Since then, my excitement level has been off the charts. My suitcase is more than half full of school supplies and materials for sports and games to leave at the church. That’s always my favorite part–taking gifts with me to share with families that can’t purchase them at a local store. This will be my fourth missions trip outside the US, and it’s always the chance to interact with kids that gets me on board. I don’t possess the ability to teach as well as my amazing Mom who can corral a room full of teenagers like nobody’s business. What I DO know is that working with kids–spending time with them, talking with them, making them feel important, sharing Jesus with them–is my other calling. After surviving a tumultuous childhood, I am compelled to offer the peace, joy, and compassion in my heart. I look forward to being a mom someday soon, but for now, this is one major way I can impact the world around me.

My previous trips revolved around soccer. High up in the Andes mountains of Ecuador and deep in the African bush of Mozambique, we took soccer balls, invited the local kids to play, and listened to their screams of delight as they got involved. Such amazing experiences! As I head to Cuba, I’m praying for more of the same. In addition to the soccer balls and kickball, I’m carrying air pumps, a bag of bouncy balls, Frisbees, and street chalk. Our team may also take them to the beach and a popular ice cream store. The goal is to connect with them, give them a chance to have FUN, and let them know they’re special. It’s pretty simple and always worth it. I just never anticipated Cuba.

On the phone with my 94-year-old Grammy Helen recently, I was recounting the various places I’ve visited so far in 2016. My first trip to San Francisco for Super Bowl Week and then Houston for my first ever Final Four (with a Villanova buzzer-beater to win the championship)! I completed my first real half-marathon in Oklahoma City and then took a short vacation in Albuquerque and the New Mexico mountains. There was a quick jaunt to Los Angeles to receive my first Gracie Award and a weekend in Atlanta to see my best friend. This spring, I also drove to DC twice and made a handful of forays to Connecticut. And then my annual trek to see HER in Wisconsin. Her response as I ticked off all those trips? “You sure have been a lot of places this year.” Understated but accurate as always, Grammy! However, I got quite a reaction out of her when I told her I was adding Havana, Cuba, to the list. She was surprised. Me too, but I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

 

 

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23 Responses to “My Other Calling”

  1. Carla Hartsell Says:

    Good luck and your trip! It is a remarkable experience, the life you are living in this moment. Savor it; learn from it. Will missing hearing you for a few days, but the stories you will have !

  2. You go girl! We will miss you on the radio but I am sure you will be blessed on this trip. Know you will be in my prayers and lots of other people’s prayers as well. Looking forward to hearing all about it.

  3. God bless you, Amy. This will be a life changer. As one who made two similar trips to Estonia in the ’90s shortly after the Iron Curtain fell, I experienced things I never thought I would. My wife and I will pray for you and your mission team.

  4. God does tend to give you these helpful hints as long as you are willing to keep your eyes and heart open to them. Great to hear about the trip and best wishes for doing God’s work each and every day.

  5. God bless Amy! As your Grandma Helen says “you’ve sure been a lot of places this year.” Perfectly said. As a baptized Roman Catholic,
    I praise your spreading the word of Jesus in
    places like where you’re going. Here’s to a safe &
    fulfilling trip! 🙏🏻🗽👣✨❤️ ~ Greg

  6. Jim Dykstra Says:

    Amy, prayers for your trip to Cuba. Remember, the work you do will be awesome but the relationships you build, in Christ, will be life changing! Our church goes to Cuba twice every year and one of these days I will join them. I have committed to pray for you every day of your trip. Blessings.

  7. Tal Denny Says:

    Amy I just read your blog about going to Cuba on a Mission trip, and I am excited for you. I will be praying for you and your team. It is so refreshing to know someone in the talk media has a heart for God. You are a credit to him as lead a sports talk show. May God continue to lead you!

  8. Wow, girl…you know how to be used by the Lord! I am so excited for you and will be praying for you and the team. You guys are kind of like ‘007s’ for Jesus…keeping identities hidden…I love it.

  9. God Bless You, Amy, and may your journey be a most satisfying and wonderful trip. Will keep you in my prayers for safety.

  10. Keep ROCKING IT Amy. What you do both on the air and in your work for God & others is incredible.

    Blessings & Be Well

  11. I love you on Twitter, I just found your blog. I think this trip sounds so interesting! I always “talk” with you about the Redskins and enjoy that so much but I loved getting to “know” you better by reading this! I hope this trip meets or exceeds your expectations! I can’t imagine doing things like this! I will just do it through you!! Haha!! Be very safe and enjoy your time in Cuba! Can’t wait to hear all about it!! #HTTR

  12. Thanks for sharing your heart for missions, and for this trip specifically. I enjoy your work on the radio, but even more, I love your heart for the Lord and we will be lifting you and the rest of your team in our prayer.

    Sean

  13. Stacy Fleming Says:

    Thanks for going and helping to support your church’s efforts to help others. U are great lady!!!
    Stacy

  14. Kip Busick Says:

    Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

  15. Jay Pierce Says:

    Congrats on you going to Cuba. I agree it’s not a place most people wouldn’t consider in their lifetimes. But times are a changing. And if you can bring some joy to kids, so much the better. Have a good and fun trip. Catch you on the radio when you get back.

  16. Wow Amy, I had “assumed” your trip was sports related. I can’t wait to hear about your journey when you get back. The positives and the negatives.

  17. janet alden Says:

    Amy, you constantly continue to grow in your professional life and spiritually, and inspire and encourage everyone along the way. Prayers for you and your team as you bring God’s love and grace to the people of Cuba. Love you always.

  18. Havana at one time was considered the Paris or jewel of the Caribbean. Many of the old buildings and architecture still exist. I am a cigar aficionado so I would have no problem falling in love with Cuba. Also I understand the nation has a very vibrant textile industry. I have heard truly wonderful things about the Cuban people and their quest to be recognized. Obviously they are big baseball fans and starting to influence our national pastime with the caliber of players entering the big leagues from Cuba. Surely the time has come to open our arms to the people down there. We need to be more loving and forgiving of all nationalities. There’s too much blood and hate in today’s world. We need to turn the page.

  19. Hi AMY,,nice message,,and thoughts,,have been to Cuba several times,,politics aside,,this place has wonderful people,,and it is a beautiful,,island,,miss you on overnite!!,,Jeff

  20. Fantastic…the Lord called & you have answered. Rewards will be on going. God Bless Amy. Cuba is been blessed by you caring.

  21. I am late writing but I wanted to thank you for sharing your passion and your testimony for helping others. It’s great to see the other side of you! I look forward to hearing about your mission trip and how the balls you took as gifts worked out.

    Proud of you.

  22. Iceland Mike Says:

    You are great Amy, a great talk show host but more important a great person! Hope you had a wonderful trip, and I’m glad you are back…

  23. truly inspirational – thank you for all you do

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