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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer's Life (05/13/10)

TITLE: Journaling for Jesus
By Robyn Burke


Kate is the missions director for the church, my husband, Bruce, the project leader. The rest of our team come from various backgrounds with painting, tile laying, and carpentry being among the skills possessed. I am the official recorder for the team. We are heading to Macedonia for a two week mission trip, our primary focus: being the hands and feet of Jesus through helping with renovations at a sports ministry center.

The first day of work on the project, I sit under a shady tree, getting my bearings. A Roma (also known as Gypsy) woman, with her baby, interrupts my solitude. Despite a language barrier we connect as we exchange smiles and hand gestures. She takes me to see a litter of pigs in a field near the sports hall. As she manages to communicate to me that these pigs are hers, I scrutinize the proud expression on her face. I understand then the hope this offers her in a life of otherwise very daunting existence and it humbles me. My team mates comment that while they strive to make inroads with the natives through their labor, I have been given a gift by connecting on the heart level. I anticipate writing about this later.

As the days go by and we endeavor together in this foreign land, personalities shine and titles emerge for each team member. Bruce is the Teacher, Don, the Spokesperson in the group. Audrey, her guitar never too far away, is our Musician and Si is soon recognized as the Confidant. Mike constantly proves his label of Protector. Kate is gifted with words of knowledge or Prophecy and Wendi is our Faith Warrior. My title is Journalist and this pleases me.

Occasionally I watch from the sidelines feeling a moment of disconnect. The sweat, blood and tears that the team is giving to the mission unites them with a strong bond and I feel left out. Taking a break from my writing, I join them one afternoon, to catch the tail end of an ice cream party. The laughter and camaraderie in the group is obvious. A small wave of uncertainty tugs at my confidence for a brief moment. I remind myself of the role I play and that it too has value. Sometimes a writers life is lonely.

Each day I divide my time between reflection, prayer, photography and writing. I wander around the sports center observing action and progress. I perceive the joys and sorrows, frustrations and successes. Stories unfold before my eyes. In the evenings, over dinner, I listen to the conversations around me, my fingers subconsciously typing out narratives in my head. I blog daily, sharing our days adventure with our readers, the prayer warriors back home. My team mates and readers applaud me for capturing the scenes of the day so vividly with my words. I modestly accept their praises.

I can be quite outgoing but at my core I am all introvert. I love to tell a story but it sounds better on paper. I love to joke and laugh and entertain but would gladly hole up alone and continue to write. As a result, my team mates may not get to know me as deeply. Unless they read my daily blogs, they may think I am aloof and disengaged but in truth I am so emotionally connected that I am exhausted by days end.

On the last day of our mission trip, we take an R&R day and tour the ruins in Philippi, Greece. As we stand in the remains of the ancient amphitheater, and read aloud from the book of Philippians, I weep uncontrollably. The reality of what our faith can cost us has hit in a way as never before.

Later we visit the waters of Lydia's baptism. So moved am I by the events of the day that I ask to be re-baptized. With my husband on one side of me, Kate addresses the call on my life to reach the world for Jesus, through my writing. They gently usher me under the water.

As I come back up I am too choked with emotions to speak. But I know that later, the words will come. On paper, they will come.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst05/20/10
This experience has had quite an impact on you and thus on this reader. Writers who engage their emotions are the best kind, in my opinion. Your journaling flowed beautifully.

My favorite line is "the evenings, over dinner, I listen to the conversations around me, my fingers subconsciously typing out narratives in my head." Yep, happens all the time! LOL!

(Only critique I have is one of punctuation--the absence of several possessive apostrophes.)
Rachel Phelps05/24/10
I confess I found it hard to get into the story because of the first person present tense - just a personal hang-up of mine. Great concept and right on topic. Love the ending!
Elizabeth Cain05/25/10
I tend to get tipped up by present tense too, but for this entry I felt that present tense worked best. It made it feel like I was reading from her journal. Iíve been on one mission trip before, so I could relate with the emotions of being on the sidelines (I was only like twelve at the time), the wall of communication, and the mixed emotions of returning home. Excellent work!