Betty Wiseman speaks frequently about "Divine Appointments" on mission trips and asks team members to pray specifically for those times, somewhere in the future, when God connects you with a person who needs something that you are equipped to offer. Sometimes, that means sharing the gospel at a personal level, sometimes it is just a hug, sometimes it means going to 'one more school/church/playground' when you are already exhausted, sometimes it is no more than a friendly smile.Through all of these trips, team members learn not to question the importance of those connections but to just be keenly aware of what is going on when those opportunities arise.
This post may be the only one you will see that features Debbie. She isn't one of the tall, athletic-types that draw instant attention when they appear anywhere the team shows up...but Deb is definitely there. Somewhere in the background she is taking care of business, seeing that logistic details are covered, handing out a Tylenol, providing water, sewing on a button, or being her life-long resourceful, servant-leader self. The picture you see on the left was taken in 2005 in Koresten, Ukraine while the student athletes were playing volleyball and soccer with a group of church youth leaders. Debbie found herself in the middle of one of those Divine Appointments that Betty talked about. Sure, there were language barriers in this case, but the young Ukrainian women surrounding Deb found fellowship with an American visitor who shared a common love for knitting. Pretty amazing if you think about it. When Deb took needles and yarn on the trip, she had no thoughts that somehow that might lead to an opportunity for ministry. Her plan was to make a scarf during some of the quieter moments. Before this particular day was over, one of these women smiled and waved at the departing bus, holding a set of Deb's knitting needles. All of the women parted, understanding their common faith with a deeper appreciation of how big the familiy of God is...something that probably woudn't have happened if Deb had not been in that specific place at that specific time, half-way around the world.
If we have learned anything on these mission trips through the years, it is that even though we make plans and have a certain amount of pre-conceived notions about the things we will do in ministry, our plans turn out to fall short of what God has in mind when we submit ourselves to His plans. If you ever hear a team member say something like "it's not about us" or "it's not about me", think about Deb's experience and how God will use whatever gifts that you bring with you, at times that you may not expect, in ways that you never dreamed imaginable.