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Travel That Has Shaped Us, Part 4: Missions Travel

This piece is part of an ongoing series we did a couple of years ago. In this series, we explore how travel has shaped our lives - who we are and how we see the world.

When we look over our lives, we can see milestones and events that have shaped us along the way. We can observe the ways they’ve shaped our world-views, our sense of culture, our characters, and shaped the way we look at others who are different from us. We are exploring the traveling we've done over the course of our lives so far and how those travels have shaped who we are up to this point. Our hope is that this multi-part series will prompt you to reflect on your own experiences and discern how your life has been impacted by your adventures and journeys.


In my junior year of high school, I went on my first church youth group missions trip. I remember very little about the trip because of my Swiss cheese brain, but I do remember that we were at an orphanage serving, doing a little minor construction, and hanging out with the cutest kids I had ever seen. While at the orphanage, I bonded with one particular little five-year-old girl. I can still see her face in my brain thirty years later. It was on that trip that my love for tiny kids really took root.

Christie with a sweet 5-year old orphan in Mexico

While I definitely grew up poor, this was really my first experience of abject poverty. Going into that region of Mexico, I was actually laying down part of my privileged life and entering into another arena - one of survival. This type of experience as a teen broadens one’s view of the world and a sense of compassion and open-heartedness. It exposes a young person to environments dramatically different from their own, which is a good thing. In me was shaped a heart for missional ministry and a desire to bless and serve others in dramatically different cultures than my own.

That trip was also my first time out of the US. While it wasn’t rare to hear Spanish in Texas where I lived during high school, it was rare to not hear your own language being spoken all around you. I actually loved the experience of it. Of course, we were only there for a week, but traveling outside of the US was the beginning of something much larger being shaped within me.

Christie with Mexico orphans


I (Christie) attended a Christian university starting at the age of 17. Almost immediately, I knew missions trips were going to be a part of my experience. Missions and music were even my initial declared majors (that changed later). During my freshman year, I was on a team heading to Honduras in Central America that following summer. We prepared like crazy and once the school term ended, I embarked on a 2-month adventure to a foreign environment.

Honduras was wonderful. I savored every moment. I had several “firsts” - first time in a 10-seater airplane, first time on a horse, first time snorkeling and actually, the first time to the Caribbean Sea in general. It was the first time I had experienced double translation - English to Spanish, then Spanish to Miskito. It was also my first time dragging heavy luggage down a sandy beach for miles, first time seeing a spider the size of my open hand, and my first time being hit in the head by a falling mango (ha ha). The trip was memorable and shaping in more ways than I even knew at the time. More compassion was being built. I was falling in love with Latin American people and the Spanish language. And my ability to work as a team and collaborate for the good of a larger purpose grew stronger.


Honduras was an amazing experience, and the following summer, I re-upped and joined a 2-month team going to Peru in South America. The adventure was more urban than rural this time, and I loved every second of it. On this team, I learned more about my personality as I bumped up against team members in interesting and embarrassing ways at times. I experienced aji pepper, had soup with chicken feet and neck sticking out of it, drank chicha morada, and ate cow heart. We stayed in a house that was in the shadow of a beautiful, picture-perfect volcano, Misti. My love for Latin America turned into a passion during this trip.

No matter where we go, travel shapes us in ways we could not predict or imagine. The world is so big and full of limitless opportunities for growth and the expansion of our minds and our hearts. We share these stories to inspire you to reflect on how you've been shaped by your own journeys. And what about tomorrow's adventures? How might your future travels develop you, your family, and your circle of friends into the people you want to be? We'd love to hear from you about how you've been shaped by your travel experiences.


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