Archive for June, 2018

Leadership Challenge

Posted in Uncategorized on June 24, 2018 by amylawrencepxp

The summer of 2018 won’t look like any other in my past. It’s not because I’m traveling outside the United States for a missions trip. This is actually my sixth one in the last decade. It’s not the destination either since this will be my third consecutive summer working in Havana, Cuba. No, this July will be different because someone put me in charge!! Whaaaaat??

It’s true! For the first time, I will LEAD a team on a trip outside the country. It’s challenging enough to prepare for an international adventure when I only have to worry about ME; but this year, I’m responsible for making sure a group of six is ready to go. From the recruiting to the incessant emails to the paperwork to the plane tickets–it was a LOT to juggle for six weeks this spring. But with the team committed and our flights secured, we’ve set our sights forward! Time to plan a daily schedule (as much as possible) and put together our packing lists because it’s coming up FAST!

I’ll admit I’m slightly overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done between now and departure. None of the young women making the trip has ever been to Cuba before; and for all but one, it’s the first time they’ll serve in another country. As the leader, I want to prepare them by telling them as much as I can about the past two summers. It’s also important to get the six of us together for team-building (easier said than done, ha). Once we arrive in Cuba, I’m accountable for money, meals, lodging, transportation, communication, and the safety of our group. In Havana, that can be more complicated than it sounds. Americans in Cuba are still relative oddities to many locals; but most importantly, we don’t want to attract any extra attention from government officials. We want to avoid undue questions about why we’re visiting, and we also want to protect the church with whom we work all week. I can feel the burden of responsibility as the trip gets closer, especially since I know I won’t be able to ask for help or guidance once we leave the United States.

Every time the doubts begin to swirl and I wonder if I can juggle all the tasks as leader, I’m reminded why I accepted this challenge in the first place: it was an answer to prayer! When I returned from last year’s adventure in Cuba, I asked God for the chance to do more. I’ve learned so much from my missions trips the last 10 years, and I realized I shouldn’t be keeping it to myself. So it’s not an accident or coincidence that I was asked to lead. It’s also not a mistake because God doesn’t make those. Instead, it’s an honor to share the wisdom and experience, the highs and lows, and the incredible blessings from my previous visits to Cuba, Mozambique, and Ecuador. My heart swells with gratefulness at this opportunity.

My team of young women, ages 16 to 25, is so enthusiastic and full of great anticipation for what we’ll see and do. When the weight of decision-making threatens to drag me down, their energy and spirit lift me up. They remind me to be excited for what lies ahead: for another chance to see the little Cuban church that I love so much and for the time we’ll have to teach and share with the young people. Once again, our team will be participating in Youth Week! The church invites all kids and teens in the village to attend over several days. Generally, there’s a combination of services, music, small groups, food, and games. Oh the games!! They’re fantastic and extremely competitive, and we Americans get to play, too!

The pastor in Cuba recently sent me the theme for the week, so the team is busy brainstorming lessons, arts and crafts, even a song we can sing in Spanish. We’re also collecting donations and gifts to take with us! This is one of my favorite parts of the journey. Over the past two summers, our groups have packed clothes, shoes, medical supplies, and books with us to Havana. Last year, I lugged soccer balls and other sporting goods, vitamins for all ages, murder mysteries, and 50 pounds of diapers. It was like Christmas in July–awesome!

No trip is ever the same; the itinerary is always fluid when traveling to a country where communication is limited and difficult. Flexibility is necessary always! On two separate occasions last year, we went to bed dreaming about a field trip to the beach the next day, only to find out transportation for the youth group and church families had fallen through. In the middle of the night, we were awakened by banging on our doors to let us know the plan had changed–that we shouldn’t show up at the church at 4am, ha! As much as I’d like to prepare the young women on my team for every possible scenario, that’s not realistic. Instead, we must expect the unexpected and accept that we can’t control our schedule or our daily routine. Things happen! But there’s definite freedom in letting go of the illusion of control.

GO and SERVE and TEACH and SHARE are among my favorite action verbs. These trips outside the US are the perfect opportunities to get involved and make a difference. And this year, I will add LEAD to the list. My desire is to encourage, support, motivate, reinforce, sustain, reassure, assist, validate, and confirm. But above all else, I need to watch, listen, and pray. I can’t wait!!

 

 

Advertisements